Ireland’s newest bishop intervenes in abortion row


Ireland’s newest and youngest Catholic bishop has used his appointment to weigh into the abortion controversy.

Pope Francis announced the promotion of Father Denis Nulty, 49, from Slane in Co Meath, as the new Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

He will take up the high-ranking role left empty for more than three years as a result of the child abuse scandals that rocked the church.

In his first public address as Bishop-elect, Fr Nulty praised a demonstration at Knock Shrine in Co Mayo on Saturday against the planned laws to allow abortion in certain medical circumstances.

Citing Monsignor Brendan Byrne, who has run the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin over recent years, he said the need to respect life should “never be reduced to a choice or an arbitrary timeline”.

“Mothers deserve nothing less than the best medical and psychiatric care available, especially during pregnancy when the lives of two persons – the life of the unborn and the life of the mother – are at stake,” he added.

Fr Nulty also reiterated a statement from the Catholic bishops last week, that “the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong”.

He was speaking after his appointment today at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow.

Fr Nulty has 25 years pastoral experience, including as parish priest at St Mary’s in Drogheda over the last 15 years.

At the time of his appointment to Drogheda, he was the youngest parish priest in the country.

Bishop of Meath Michael Smith, who oversees the parish of St Mary’s, said Fr Nulty will bring many gifts to his task as “chief shepherd” of Kildare and Leighlin.

“His leaving us leaves a deep void since his contribution to the mission of faith in the diocese went far beyond his own parish,” he said.

“He has at all times brought to his priestly ministry great dedication, commitment and wisdom both during his 10 years in the cathedral parish, Mullingar and since 1998 as parish priest of St Mary’s.”

Fr Denis is the youngest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters.

He will take over from retired Bishop Jim Moriarty who announced he was standing down two days before Christmas in 2009 after being criticised in the Murphy Report on clerical sex abuse.

Bishop Moriarty was named over inadequate church investigations into a paedophile priest in Dublin in the 1990s.

Clarification regarding this report and the Irish Examiner have been asked to point out that contrary to suggestions in the original breaking news report that Bishop Jim Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin had stepped down following criticism in the Murphy Report, the fact is that Bishop Moriarty was not directly criticised in the Murphy report but in his resignation statement stated that he should have done more to challenge the culture of the time.

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