Bad luck of the Irish priests

Priests used to be suspended for perverting the Gospel. In today’s Ireland they are suspended for preaching it.

Where are the other 70, Albrecht?

That’s exactly what happened to Fr Sean Sheehy, of St Mary’s Church in Listowel, County Kerry.

He could have preached multiculturalism, the catastrophe of global warming or the delights of MeToo and BLM. Instead he had the audacity to use his homily as a platform for denouncing sin.

One would think that doing so is part of the priestly remit, and I’m sure Fr Sean’s parishioners would agree with this general statement. The problem arises in the movement from the general to the particular.

For Fr Sean displays a singular lack of imagination in defining sin the way it has always been defined, both in Scripture and in Catholic doctrine. His parishioners, however, have moved way beyond such antiquarian rubbish. They, unlike Fr Sean, know that yesterday’s sins are today’s virtues and tomorrow’s diktats.

Thus, when Fr Sean vouchsafed to them the traditional understanding of sin, they were aghast. At least 30 of them stormed out in a huff, presumably to treat their wounded sensibilities with a liberal injection of Guinness (sorry about the ethnic stereotype — make it celery juice).

One of the traumatised souls complained on social media: “’That hateful man does not represent Listowel and the people of Listowel.”

That no doubt is true. Fr Sean’s job is to represent God, not the people of Listowel. And looking at his homily, I can’t for the life of me see where he was in default of that task.

This is what he said: “You rarely hear about sin but it’s rampant.

“And we see it, for example, in the legislation of our governments. We see it in the promotion of abortion. We see it in the example of this lunatic approach of transgenderism.

“We see it, for example, in the promotion of sex between two men and two women. That is sinful. That is mortal sin.”

He also added that free distribution of condoms and other contraceptives were “promoting promiscuity.” Both common sense and empirical evidence support that statement, but it’s not about that, is it?

Now, I don’t know how this incident was covered in the left-wing press, but even our most conservative paper, The Mail, has described the homily as a “bizarre rant”. And Bishop Kerry Browne publicly apologised for Fr Sean’s comments as he took him off the roster.

Is the bishop Catholic? One wonders. No such doubts about Fr Sean: he could have supported every word he uttered with scriptural references, with no dissenting views expressed anywhere in either Testament.

On the subject of homosexuality being a mortal sin, he could have quoted Genesis 19: 4-8,  Matthew 10: 14-15, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Corinthians 6: 9-10,  Romans 1:26 – and I am only scratching the surface.

Now God was too backward to acknowledge either the plethora of the 72 sexes we’ve since identified or free transition between them as an essential right. However, both Testaments preemptively if implicitly disavow 70 of those sexes.

Thus Genesis 5: 2: “Male and female created he them.” Jesus had numerous opportunities to take issue with such doctrinaire intransigence. He did indeed diverge from some OT dicta. But not this one: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matthew 19: 4)

Jesus did tend to see life in clearly defined terms, which goes against the grain of modern conscience. We like to keep things fluid, open to any quirk, and flight of fancy, any appetite. And you may even welcome such licence for all I know (although I’m guessing that most readers of this space probably won’t).

Moreover, you may not be a Catholic or any other Christian or a believer of any kind. Fair enough, it’s a free country. However, even if you don’t believe in God, you must believe in elementary logic.

And this discipline will unerringly lead you to the realisation that Fr Sean was simply doing his job. Which is neither to represent the people of Listowel (that’s what their MP does) nor to promote modern atheist superstitions (that’s what our media do). It’s to act as mediator between his parishioners and God, helping them to save themselves by steering clear of sin.

They ask God to do just that when reciting the Lord’s Prayer: “…and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…” Fr Sean lends them a helping hand by reminding them that they aren’t free to define sin and evil as they see fit.

All such definitions are helpfully provided by the Scripture and doctrine. A priest’s job is to reiterate them and explain what they mean if any unclear areas exist. That’s exactly what Fr Sean was doing – and that’s what even our conservative papers describe as a “bizarre rant”.

That dutiful priest refused to offer any mea culpas when a radio interviewer asked if he was going to do so: “Not at all – why would I apologise for the truth?

“My answer basically is that I’m giving the teaching of the scriptures and the church regarding homosexual sexual relationships: that they’re sinful and that’s it,” said Fr Sean.

Ireland used to be in the forefront of Catholicism in the Anglophone countries. Yet every report one hears points at a dramatic turnaround. These days Irish priests refrain from sporting their clerical garb in public for fear of being abused or attacked.

By the sound of it, even their job description is changing. They can now be struck off, perhaps even unfrocked, for teaching Christian doctrine. The Church is supposed to act as an extension of social services and a promulgator of every perverse idea of modernity.

I have an idea. Perhaps every Irish church should display on its façade a quotation from Ernest Hemingway: “If it feels good, it’s moral”. There, that would simplify matters, wouldn’t it?

8 thoughts on “Bad luck of the Irish priests”

      1. That’s all it takes. It’s not just the Devil who can’t endure mockery, religions can’t either. The Muslims understand this all too well.

  1. Wow! Three cheers for Father Sheehy!! When I was a lad it seemed that every local parish in southern California had at least one Irish priest in the rectory. It is sad to read of the swift and sudden downfall of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The vote on abortion (has it really been 4 and one half years?!) was a real eye opener. It seems they have made up for lost time in the race to modernism.

    The Church in America recently had “listening sessions” and sent out surveys (not to our little church – wonder why?). The general theme was “How can the Church change to better serve you?” Basically, they want to know what sins they need to strike off the list. The Church is not a democracy, but having Jesus Christ as the King means having to live by his teachings, which as Pope Francis can tell you, is not possible, based on our “lived experience.”

    I think few parishes these days get solid Catholic preaching. We are fortunate to have the support of dedicated priests from the local Norbertine Abbey. For eleven years worth of solid sermons, please see I don’t think we have anything as explicit as Father Sheehy preached, but there are plenty of lessons for everyday life and avenues for further study. When Father Sheehy is stripped of his residency and forced to fend for himself, I hope he has enough local support to survive. If not, maybe he will find support from

  2. Fr Sheehy is obviously in the right, though I have trouble understanding this pouncing on homosexuality by priests or conservatives. When one considers all the terrible sins and evil in the world, how can the sexual preference of a man for another man even rank close to them? If it didn’t have Scripture’s condemnation it would seem too trivial for words really.

    1. It’s the Third Law of Motion: for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Homosexuality is a sin, but it’s indeed trivial compared to other sins. That’s why neither priests nor conservatives paid it much attention in the past. Since then, however, it has become a political cause and, like all modern political causes, homosexuality is used as what I call a battering ram of modernity. Also like all such causes, it’s supported by shrill propaganda, corruption of schools, legislative action and so on. That’s where old Newton kicks in: aggressive offence produces staunch defence.

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