Ireland has traded in Catholicism for secularism. The nation has become greatly anti-Catholic in recent years—legalizing abortion in 2019, followed by Northern Ireland doing the same in 2020, and in their promotion of homosexuality not just in the secular world but also in the Church.
Thus, when Fr. Seán Sheehy gave his homily on Sunday, October 30th, the press and congregation treated it with “controversy.” And so did the Diocesan Bishop.
So, what was actually said that was so controversial?
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Fr. Sheehy stated that the promotion of abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism is the promotion of grave mortal sin.
He said that God has called us to repent and that every saint became a saint “because they repented and sought forgiveness.” Fr. Sheehy went further by stating that “Heaven is full of converted sinners.”
Fr. Sheehy’s homily also called out the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Republic of Ireland’s publicly-funded healthcare system, for giving out condoms to girls as young as 17. He called this a promotion of promiscuity.
Despite Fr. Sheehy’s homily being very inclusive—calling all people to repent—some of the parishioners at St. Mary’s Church in Listowel walked out during the homily.
And because the Mass was live-streamed, Fr. Sheehy’s homily went viral across the island. Following the Mass, many people sought an apology for Fr. Sheehy’s remarks.
As such, the Bishop of Kerry, Bishop Dr. Ray Browne, apologized on Tuesday “to all who were offended.” He acknowledged the “deep upset and hurt caused by the contents of the homilies in question delivered over the weekend.” Bishop Browne continued with his written statement: “The views expressed do not represent the Christian position. The homily at a regular weekend parish Mass is not appropriate for such issues to be spoken of in such terms.” Bishop Browne insisted, “The Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a Gospel of love and ever proclaims the dignity of every human person. It calls on us all to ever have total respect for one another.”
I want to ask Bishop Browne, how is it having total respect for your Diocesan Catholics if you do not guide them to Heaven? If we truly believe that to get to Heaven we must repent of our sins, then how is it respectful to tell the people of his diocese anything but that?
This is how Fr. Sheehy responded, on a radio show on Tuesday, to Bishop Browne’s written statement: Fr. Sheehy stated that a priest’s job is to provide his parishioners with spiritual nourishment. A priest’s job is also to be a disciplinarian, to bring them the truth, to guide them to Heaven. That is why he is called Father—because he must guide his parishioners like a father would guide his children.
Yet, now preaching the Gospel in a Church is offensive?
Do you see the problem with still stating that Ireland is a Catholic nation?
Not only can you not promote Catholic morals in politics on the Emerald Isle anymore, but you cannot even promote them at Mass.
I truly ask this question seeking an honest answer.
How can you say Ireland is Catholic if those following its core tenants are considered controversial?
And it gets worse.
Not only is Ireland barely a Catholic nation anymore in its laws and actions, but the freedom to be Catholic is under attack, with many bishops completely complicit in the persecution.
It feels like a story out of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church. A bishop, yes, the person who is actually an apostolic successor, has apologized for the homily not being Christian!
Instead of coming out in support of Fr. Sheehy, the Bishop of Kerry has removed Fr. Sheehy from the parish’s list of priests who may say Mass there.
Yes, Fr. Sheehy has been punished for preaching the Gospel not only by Irish civic society but by the Church in Ireland too.
Earlier this year, the prospects of being Catholic seemed dark in Ireland when the Republic of Ireland’s government proposed a ruling that would not allow people to pray the Rosary outside of abortion clinics, some of which are at Catholic hospitals themselves. And, in 2018, there were calls from their Taoiseach (Prime Minister) at the time, Leo Varadkar, to not allow doctors or other medical personnel the ability to conscientiously object from performing abortions due to their Catholic beliefs.
And now, not only exercising your Catholic beliefs but simply having them is considered a grave controversy and met with self-censorship by the Church in Ireland herself.
At a certain point, if one cannot express or act out one’s Catholic beliefs in Ireland without punishments, then how is there still freedom to be a Catholic in Ireland?
The true Irish Catholics need to really answer this.
Because right now, the Catholic Church in Ireland is denying the Gospel and not defending its Faith. Any more of this and we will see the Church in Ireland become the Anglican Church of Ireland.
Even if you do not agree with the Church’s positions, you at least have to agree that the ability of religion to be free is questionable when they cannot preach in their Church without punishment and when they cannot pray outside their Church in public.
These restrictions remind me of communist Yugoslavia or other authoritarian states. You are free to believe and speak so long as you believe what the secular powers allow you to believe and speak what the secular powers want you to speak. That is quite dangerous for our Catholic Church.
All is not lost yet, however, as many Irish have come out in support for Fr. Sheehy’s homily.
But, it still does not negate the fact that the Church has become weaker, and disdain for its institution has been growing among the Irish.
If Ireland wants to regain its Catholic prominence, it must use its collective free will to missionize, just as St. Patrick did nearly 1,500 years ago. And to missionize, one must spread the Word of God.
I have attached a transcript of Fr. Sheehy’s homily below. You can also watch a video of the homily here.
What is so sad today is that we rarely hear about sin, but it’s rampant, it’s rampant. And we see it for example in the legislature of our governments. We see it in the promotion of abortion. We see it for example in this lunatic approach of transgenderism. We see it for example in the promotion of sex between two men or two women. That is sinful. That is mortal sin. And people don’t seem to realize it. But it’s a fact, it’s a reality. And we need to listen to God about it because if we don’t, then there is no hope for those people. So God is also telling you and me today: “Look, you have a responsibility to seek out those who are lost. You have a responsibility to call people to an awareness of the fact that sin is destructive, that sin is detrimental, and sin will lead us to Hell.”
When we honor the saints, on the first of this coming month, we honor people who were saints. And why are they saints? Because they repented and sought forgiveness. As somebody said one time, Heaven is full of converted sinners. And so today God says to us, “I have come to call sinners, but if you don’t admit you are a sinner, then you are not listening to my call, and there is nothing I can do for you.” Because this is a two-way street. Now there are people, see, who won’t like to hear what I’m saying. But the day you die, you will find out that what I am saying is not what I invented, it’s not what I came up with, it’s what God is saying. And the day you die, you will find out that is the truth.
Our prayer for people is that it won’t be too late for people. But how will people know that God wants to forgive them if we don’t tell them? How will people lost be found if we as God’s people don’t call them and say “Look, God loves you. He has come to call sinners. But He wants you to have life and have it to the full. Because that is what He wants. He wants you to live life to the fullest. But since He is the author of life, we can only live it through, with, and in His grace to the power of His spirit.”
For calling us, and as the first reading reminds us, for prodding us to become conscious of our sinfulness so that we will turn to him and say “Lord, please forgive me.” And He is only too willing to do that. And it’s in that forgiveness that we experience God actually saving us from Satan and all his wiles and ways. And he has many wiles and ways.
I was talking to a woman there a few weeks ago. Her 17-year-old daughter was out with her friends in Tralee and came home, and she handed her mother a condom. Her mother said, “Where did you get that?” She said an HSE van was handing these things out in Tralee. And I said my gracious me, that is promoting promiscuity. That is horrible, horrible. And so therefore as Christians, we need to stand up for God. And if we don’t, then there is no hope for many people. So today, the Lord speaks to us very clearly, and He calls us to be His people, and to benefit from His compassion, from His love, from His mercy. So today, we thank the Lord for this.
And to those of you who happen to be leaving today, God help you, and that is all I have to say to you. God bless you who are here and are worshiping God. God bless all of you.
[Image: Fr. Sean Sheehy]