New Bishop of Limerick acknowleges ‘darkness’ of Church but seeks forgiveness

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

LIMERICK’S new Bishop has acknowledged the “darkness” and “the faults” of the Catholic Church and the pain of those who have suffered abuse at the hands of clergy, and has promised to “give the time, the resources, we want to be there” for people who seek the solace of the Church.

Speaking to media shortly after being ordained at St John’s Cathedral last Sunday, Bishop Brendan Leahy said to those struggling with faith or feeling marginalised “we are a community, we are close, we want to be there for each other, there should be nobody feeling alone”.

“We want to say, look, we recognise the faults, the wounds, they don’t heal easily,” he said.

“We want to give the time, the resources, we want to be there. And we recognise that it is very difficult to hear from us, because we are part of the problem, but we want to do our part.

“From point of view, that is what I want to do. I have to learn a lot probably about that, I have to engage a lot about that, but I want to do it.”

Limerick’s three year wait for a new bishop came to an end with the first ordination to take place in the city for 40 years.

Close to 1200 invited guests packed into the cathedral to see Fr Leahy ordained the 47th bishop of Limerick, filling the role vacated by Donal Murray - who was at the ceremony - in December 2009.

In his address the newly ordained Bishop Leahy said he was “now a Limerick man”.

“Limerick is beautiful and each of us has a chance to make it more beautiful,” he said, adding: “I’ll have to start wearing the colours and supporting the teams.”

Quoting lyrics from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Bishop Leahy said: “I don’t know what Bono had in mind but these words can be applied to the situation many find themselves in with regard to faith”.

“Moments of difficulty are written into the Christian journey of faith,” he said.

In his address he made reference to recent issues troubling the Church.

“We know only too well of how many innocent people suffer terrible darkness because of clerical abuse. I want to make their pain my own and seek forgiveness seventy times seven. It is a deep wound also for all of us.

“I have been greatly consoled in getting to know how much has been done in the diocese in the area of child safeguarding. I am deeply indebted to the high professionalism of the many lay men and women involved in our diocesan structures in this regard as in many areas of the diocese,” he added.

Bishop Leahy is the first priest to be ordained to office in Limerick since 1974. He was consecrated by Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

Cardinals Sean Brady and Desmond Connell were also in attendance, as was Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe Trevor Williams and Aides de Comp Col Brendan McAndrew and Comdt Michael Treacy for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins.

Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, ministers Michael Noonan and Jan O’Sullivan, TDs Kieran O’Donnell, Dan Neville and Patrick O’Donovan and a host of local politicians also attended the ceremony.