[Editor’s Note: Fr. Seán Sheehy is a priest in Ireland who was recently disciplined for preaching against abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism.]
Dear Fr. Sheehy,
Thanks to the wonder of technology, I have been able to watch the sermon you delivered to the congregation present in Listowel. I feel compelled to write to thank you for your brave, truthful, and honest sermon, in which you directly addressed the insidious nature of sin embedded within society today; a society which actively promotes, validates, and encourages abortion, same-sex relationships, and what you describe as the “lunacy” of transgenderism. You also reminded us of the consequences of such mortal sin.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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I thank you for honoring your responsibility as a priest and reminding us that sin is an objective entity that has, sadly, been written into the infrastructure of our society. You said:
You rarely hear about sin. We see it, for example, in the legislation of 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 and two women. That is sinful. That is mortal sin.
The rhetoric of your sermon has been described by The Independent as being: “anti-trans” and “homophobic,” as well as being used “to attack gay and transgender people.” However, this is a scurrilous attempt to detract from the loving Truth your sermon reverberates with. Fr. Sheehy, you are quite right, sin is an entity that we rarely hear about today, as morality has been reduced to a subjective concept, dependent upon what individuals deem as being “their truth,” which ultimately validates your statement: “You rarely hear about sin.”
You also describe transgenderism as being “a lunatic approach,” and I couldn’t agree more! It is a fundamentally evil ideology which seeks to destroy the sanctity of life and creation as God ordained it. He tells us: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart.” Society, not content with advocating for and facilitating the murder of children in the womb, is hell-bent on destroying human nature after birth. There can be no doubt that transgender ideology simultaneously refutes the Authority of God and denigrates His salvific gift, whereby the Second Person of the Trinity humbled Himself “and became Man” and “was born of the Virgin Mary.”
As such, your words that “sin is destructive, it is detrimental, and sin will lead us to Hell,” powerfully address the sinful nature of such an ideology and challenges us to humble ourselves before the Authority of God. And yet, the vitriolic reaction to your sermon denotes that this ideology is entrenched with an arrogance that defies belief, as at its most basic principle it charges God with being careless, negligent, and inaccurate.
Indeed, your sermon is an overdue reminder of the need to humble oneself before God; to realize that all life, irrespective of what society deems as being normal, valuable, or viable, is precious and serves a purpose. God does not make mistakes—He has a plan for each one of us. And so, I pray that your fellow members of the clergy will follow your lead, calling out the sinful ideology that is transgenderism to the faithful across Ireland and the globe!
Your sermon also makes specific reference to the sinful nature of same-sex relationships and, because of this, has been labelled homophobic. And yet, nowhere in the sermon is there any inculcation of hate or predication of prejudice toward individuals who are in homosexual relationships; rather, there is a reminder that such relationships are not aligned to God’s plan for creation and that anything that is not in harmony with God’s plan is simply sinful.
The qualifier you used: “People don’t seem to realize it. But it’s a fact, it’s a reality,” illuminates this Truth, which may explain the condemnatory reaction toward you—in reminding us of the reality and consequences of sin, you may have provoked an unease, upset, and perturbation because of life decisions and/or lifestyles we choose to live by.
There is an uncomfortable yet humbling truth in your statement: “We need to listen to God about this because if we don’t then there is no hope for these people.” It reminds us of our collective responsibility to be His Voice and advocate for the Truth, most especially when governments seek to legislate against it. Your use of the collective and inclusive pronoun “we,” is a powerful reminder of our shared responsibility to be His Voice; it functions as a timely reminder that we are His Voice until the Parousia, when He will sit on the Throne of Judgment, as ordained by The Father. Again, Fr. Sheehy, I applaud and thank you for reminding us so authentically of our collective responsibility to be faithful to Him.
I also want to commend you for your courageous, vociferous, and unwavering stance in the tsunami of condemnation you have endured from the media, politicians, and, sadly, the Bishop of Kerry. I hope you can take refuge in the most precious words of Christ when He exhorted: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
I pray you are given the strength and stamina to continue to be His Voice; and I will pray for Dr. Browne, that he finds his voice and is given the courage to join you in fulfilling his pastoral responsibility to ensure the flock entrusted to him is led to God.
Upon reading Dr. Browne’s apology in the press and hearing of his action in removing you from the roster of Masses, I couldn’t help but think of Christ’s words:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?…Whosoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Please be assured that this is not a judgment of Dr. Browne. Rather, it is a concerned observation, as it appears for all intents and purposes that Dr. Browne is more concerned with placating politicians, as opposed to comforting Christ from the wounds inflicted upon Him by our sinful society.
Whilst I am strengthened by your courage, I must confess to being both saddened and frustrated by Mr. Varadkar and his spokesperson’s response to your sermon, as reported in The Irish Examiner: “The Tánaiste does not believe that gay people will go to hell for being who they are, nor does he believe that any man or woman can make such a judgement.”
Intrinsic within the opening clause of the statement: “The Tánaiste does not believe…” is an allusion to the gift of free will given to mankind by our loving and merciful God; a gift which allows us to choose whether we live according to the Truth of His Divine Law or determine to ignore it. Clearly, the Tánaiste and his spokesperson have conflated their God-given gift of free will, which permits individuals to say: “I do not believe,” with a misnomer, whereby they, and others like them, believe this gives them the right to erase the Law of God! Conversely, the ire provoked and inculcated by the media because of the Truth you spoke of in your sermon is because society does not like to be reminded that it cannot and should not attempt to erase the Law of God.
The latter clause of this sentence: “nor does he believe that any man or woman can make such a judgement,” does not contradict the Truth you spoke of, nor does it place you in a point of conflict with Pope Francis, whom he also quoted as stating: “Who are we to judge?” Rather, it upholds the very essence of your sermon when you reminded the congregation of the consequences of choosing not to live by the Law of God.
The Tánaiste and his spokesperson appear to have confused (possibly deliberately) judgment with responsibility; they are quite right when they say: “no man or woman can make such a judgement.” Judgment, as you and Pope Francis remind us, is reserved for God alone. And so, when you state: “sin will lead us all to Hell,” this cannot be read as a judgment, as it is simply a reminder of Christ’s warning that many will be “cast into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Undoubtedly, there is a clear parallel between the parental role of responsibility within the family unit and the role of the clergy within the familial infrastructure of the Church; a role and responsibility you exercised in delivering your sermon. Indeed, it is this parallel that has resonated so powerfully with me.
When my children were growing up, there were instances when I had to speak truths and make decisions that were often difficult for my children to hear and accept, as their wants did not always align with the values and Truth of the Catholic faith I was fostering within my home. Predictably, this caused strife and accusations within my home. However, despite knowing life would be easier if I kept quiet, I knew it was my duty to nurture the spiritual development of my children in the same way I attended to their physical, mental, emotional, and social growth. Sadly, this, too, was often a lonely and isolated place to be.
Your sermon and the storm it provoked illustrates the need for the Church and her Shepherds not to shy away from speaking the Truth of Divine Law to the faithful; never has this been more important, despite how uncomfortable it may be to hear. To speak in such a manner is a loving action rooted in the teaching of Christ; an action that must not be allowed to be brandished as “homophobic,” “anti-trans,” or “attacking the dignity of gay or transgender people” simply because it is not accepted by the secular narrative that is rife in society.
Your sermon is not “an attack on gay or transgender people”; rather, it is a call to Christ, one that we are free to respond to or ignore. What The Independent, The Irish Examiner, the Tánaiste’s spokesperson, and indeed the Bishop of Kerry have misconstrued is that if society chooses to ignore Christ’s call, their decision to do so does not relegate His call to a position of hate. This is quite simply an impossibility. God is love. Rather, their response is an attempt to justify their decisions and mold “their wants” to a subjective morality which enables individuals to live as they choose, not as God wants us to—an important but subtle distinction.
Once again, Fr. Sheehy, I thank you for your witness to the Truth of Christ and pray you are given the strength to continue in your most precious and important mission.
Respectfully yours in Christ,