A former Athy curate Fr Brendan Kealy has clarified his position over a married gay couple's leading role in St Michael's choir in Athy.
In a letter written to the editor of The Catholic Voice newspaper,
Anthony Murphy, Fr Kealy penned his position after he participated in
the mass at which the couple, Jacinta O'Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan
returned after a brief resignation to lead the choir.
The couple claimed
they felt 'pressured' to step down after they got married last July by
Anthony Murphy in an interview given to local radio station KFM earlier
Mr Murphy confirmed to the Leinster Leader that he asked the
newly married couple to rethink their position as leaders of the choir
and Ministers of the Eucharist because they 'contradicted the teachings
of the catholic church.
However after an outpouring of support locally
for the couple , they decided to return to their leadership roles
for 6pm mass on Saturday September 10 and received a round of applause
from the congregation at the time.
A video of the mass was circulated
online afterwards showing the support for the couple.
However the main purpose of the evening mass, held on Saturday
September 10, was to mark Fr Tim Hannon's 50th anniversary as a priest
and to mark Fr Kealy's departure from Athy parish where he served for
the past three years.
In his letter Fr Kealy states that his intentions first and foremost
was to celebrate the Eucharist and also in appreciation of Fr Tim
Hannon's 50th anniversary and to mark his own departure from the parish.
Fr Kealy states that in his opinion the mass was 'hi-jacked to support
the cause of same-sex marriage'.
He goes on to write “I was not present to promote or condone same-sex
marriage or what appeared to be the apparent and victorious return of
our musical directors, which seemed to become the focus of the evening.
In my opinion, the mass was hijacked to support the cause of same-sex
marriage, which is clearly in breach of Catholic Church teachings.”
“I felt Saturday evenings (September 10) principal purpose of the
mass was grossly lost and I regret my participation simply because my
presence as a priest appeared to give credence to surrounding events,
which was misleading. I participated in the mass with good intentions. I
was not consulted in any form or manner regarding the girls (Jacinta
O'Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan) renewed presence on the sanctuary to
lead the choir that evening.“
Fr Kealy goes onto say that he can understand non-practicing
catholics ignoring Church rules but for practing catholics do so was
The Leader contacted Jacinta O'Donnell about the issue however she declined to comment.
The Leader also contacted Annette O'Donnell, Communications
Officer for the Dublin Diocese under which Athy comes under, who also
declined to comment.
The full letter outlining Fr Kealy's position, which is published on the Catholic Voice website is as follows :
I write to clarify my position regarding my appearance on a video
taken in Athy church. I was one of the five priests, a curate,
con-celebrating Mass in St Michael the Archangel’s Church Athy, last
Saturday evening on the 10th September 2016.
My intentions first and foremost was to celebrate the Eucharist which
is the source and summit of our community’s Christian life. This Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass was also in appreciation of Fr Tim Hannon’s 50th
Anniversary of his Priestly Ordination and to mark my own departure from
the parishes I have happily served over the past three years.
I was not present to promote or condone same-sex ‘marriage’ or what
appeared to be the apparent triumphant and victorious return of our
musical directors which seemed to become the focus of the evening. In my
opinion, the Mass was hijacked to support the cause of same-sex
‘marriage’ which is clearly in breach of Catholic Church teachings.
How does this make sense within the Catholic Church?
This breach was displayed openly and in a very public manner from the
holy sanctuary. I felt very uncomfortable about this as I had not given
my blessing to such a union. I am not been harsh but simply following
the teachings of the Church, that we all serve.
The ladies in question have a very important leadership role in the
Church but decided to enter into a civil same-sex marriage which
blatantly contradicts and challenges the teachings of their Catholic
Church, and the instruction of Pope Francis. To me, this defies belief ?
Is it not a contradiction to our faith? How does this make sense within
the Catholic Church?
Commercial companies have best business practices and policies they
expect members to follow and if one or more blatantly breach these
practices - it would not be acceptable.
Likewise you don’t walk into
your local branded supermarket and expect to encounter staff behind the
counter wearing another branded supermarket’s T-shirt informing shoppers
there is better value down the road? Would that be considered
responsible leadership within such a company? I believe we must lead by
example as did Jesus Christ who taught us; Whoever wants to be my
disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me
(Matt 16:24). To deny oneself is to do the will of God, here on earth as
it is in Heaven (Matt 6:10), and not to follow our own human will and
As Catholics let’s not fool ourselves on how this works
In Baptism through our spiritual rebirth, we are privileged through
the gift of faith, to enter into a new spiritual family with God as our
eternal and spiritual Father, marked for eternal life. We should
understand that to follow Jesus is to belong to this new family, a
family with stronger ties than human flesh and blood. We enter into a
new order of loyalty and commitment to him before each other. It is a
family bound in love and obedience to the Word of God. That Word became
Flesh manifesting and revealing itself in Jesus who came to define Truth
and instruct us how to live our lives according to God’s will: and not
our own will. Pride can prevent us surrendering to divine will.
I felt Saturday evening’s principal purpose of the Mass was grossly
lost and I regret my participation simply because my presence as a
priest appeared to give credence to surrounding events, which was
misleading. I participated in the Mass with good intentions. I was not
consulted in any form or manner regarding the girls renewed presence on
the sanctuary to lead the choir that evening.
I can understand non-practicing Catholics ignoring Church rules but
practicing Catholics to ignore them is mind-boggling? Surely, it makes
sense for practicing Catholics to be in full agreement with the
teachings of their Church? St. John Paul II in conjunction with the
future Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 2003 that all Catholics are obliged to
oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions and where such unions
are given the legal status and rights that belong to marriage, clear
and emphatic opposition is a duty. My position is very clear, I believe
that marriage is between a man and a woman only.
I write this letter because as a Catholic priest and a spiritual
father, I have a moral obligation and duty to express my opposition to
same sex unions, regardless if it is recognised by civil law, or by
certain members within a community who ignore divine law. I was anointed
to give witness to the Truth, based on Jesus’ teachings. The
institution of marriage in God’s eyes, is exclusively reserved between a
man and a woman.
Why? Because the Catholic Church teaches us that God’s
plan of sexual complementarity, or a relationship in which two or more
different things improve each other’s qualities and fruitfulness, belong
to the very nature of marriage.
Given the natural complementarity between a man and a woman and their
natural procreative potential of their union through marriage, God does
not allow same-sex unions to be any way comparable to his creation or
interpretation of marriage and family.
Men and women are equal as
persons and complementary as male and female. Through marriage, a man
and woman use the “sexual faculty” to become one flesh and potentially
produce children. This is impossible to enact naturally in a same-sex
‘marriage’ union. Our bodies are gifts from God.
Sometimes we forget, or choose not to understand, that in the
sacrament of baptism our bodies were transformed into God’s temple where
He lives and dwells as our divine Guest. St Paul wrote that; We are not
our own; we were bought with a great price. So we are called to glorify
and bear God in our body (1Cor 6:20). As responsible adults we have to
come to our senses (Lk 15:17) and get real. When we call God, Our Father
(Lk 11:2), we are called to act like his true spiritual daughters and
sons. If we are pleased to call him Father, let him in turn be pleased
to call us his children by not insulting his teachings and instructions.
It may appear as an old argument but it is still very valid in
today’s world, we should live like the temples of God we are, so that it
can be seen that God lives in us. No act of ours should be unworthy of
the Spirit. All our thoughts and actions should be heavenly and
Jesus said; Those who honour me I will honour, and those who
despise me shall be despised (1Sam 2:30).
Each individual has their own vocation however, priests, nuns,
religious and all gay people are called to a high order to serve God
exercising chastity - abstaining from sexual activity - and remaining
celibate - by not marrying - as a sacrifice to our Father. This can only
be done by collaborating with God’s grace, dispensed by Mary. Certain
people find this absurd because sex is the source and summit of their
lives. People including priests and religious who publicly denounce the
divine gift of chastity and celibacy betray their identity and vocation -
deprived by God of his spiritual sight and hearing.
To put forward the
argument that a Catholic same-sex ‘married’ couple may be living as
sisters or brothers distracts from the fact that they live in a state of
disobedience and non-recognition of God’s divine law. Not mine but thy
will be done (Luke 22:42). Jesus is the altar of his own sacrifice and
we are created by God to be spiritual altars on which we are called to
offer the sacrifice of a holy and pure life.
Everyone is welcome in the Catholic Church
It is never too late to make a radical change in one’s life. God the
Father in his divine mercy constantly awaits the return of the prodigal
child. A gay man or woman does not offend God or the Church, it is acts
of sinful and selfish behaviour that offends God. Our bodies are created
to give worship to our Creator and our lives become an act of adoration
in spirit and truth. To defile the body is to hold the whip again at
Calvary, to be the one stripping Jesus at the foot of the Cross.
God’s purpose in adopting us as his spiritual sons and daughters is
to transform all our relationships where we enter into a new order of
loyalty and commitment to Him, first and foremost. In certain
circumstances people become consumed with its efforts not to offend
certain members of society as a priority while ignoring any offence
suffered by God our Creator.
We are called to live our lives as true
disciples, in anticipation for the next life to come. We are all called
to be victors over many trials, tests and temptations in this valley of
tears. It will be well worth it when we, with God’s grace, we qualify to
share his divine life in heaven.
Faith is our response to God’s call.
Like Mary the Mother of God, each of us are called to be sacred vessels
for the Word made Flesh within us. This is no accidental occurrence as
we were all chosen from eternity in the mind of God, and brought forth
into human existence, from our mother’s womb and prepared by God for
himself so that our souls magnify the teachings of the Church by living
Yours faithfully in Christ, Fr Brendan Kealy