St. Mary’s Church, which dates back to the 1820s, is located in the south of the Emerald Isle. It was filled with parishioners on a recent Sunday when Friar Sean Sheehy filled in for a vacationing colleague.
And it appears he came ready to preach. During the homily, the gathering heard a blistering sermon.
“You rarely hear about sin but it's rampant,” Sheehy said. “We see it in the promotion of abortion. We see it in this lunatic approach of transgenderism. We see it in the promotion of sex between two men or two women. That is sinful.”
That is also scriptural and orthodox teachings, but the homily was called “hateful” and “homophobic” by the religion-hating British tabloids that picked it up. The wave of protest was so great the local bishop, Ray Browne, groveled for forgiveness.
"I am aware of the deep upset and hurt caused by the contents of the homilies in question delivered over the weekend," the bishop said in a statement. "I apologize to all who were offended. The views expressed do not represent the Christian position."
Back in the Sunday Mass, where Sheehy warned that sin leads to Hell, he told those who walked out, "Those of you who happened to be leaving today, God help you."
In an interview with a local talk show host on Kerry Radio, Father Sheehy was not repentant about urging the congregation to repent. The truth, he said, “hurts” but sets us free.
“Jesus, for example, did not come to make people feel good,” the priest told the radio program. “He came to save people from their sins, and that was actually the gospel of the Sunday.”
Sometimes people are lost in their sin and don’t even know it, Sheehy continued, and that is where the church’s responsibility “kicks in” to tell them. When they are warned, he said, then they are “choosing freely” to sin against God.
Asked about the bishop rebuking him, Sheehy said he “couldn’t care less, really.”
Bishop Browne needs to familiarize himself with the Catholic Catechism, he said.