Bishop hopeful Papal visit will address and heal 'mystery of evil and the lack of courage to tackle it'

Bishop hopeful Papal visit will address and heal 'mystery of evil and the lack of courage to tackle it'
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Marita Moloney

The Bishop of Waterford Alphonsus Cullinan said he was “horrified” by abuse within the Church and believes that the papal visit will bring some healing to victims.

In an emotional interview with Miriam O'Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1’s Today programme, Bishop Cullinan spoke out about child abuse and LGBT+ members within the Catholic Church ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis tomorrow.

“I and every decent person is horrified by what has been brought out in the historical report in Pennsylvania,” he said.

“Sometimes you get emotional about this.

“It’s so hard to explain; it’s the mystery of evil and the lack of courage to tackle it.

“We understand now so much better what abuse does to a child and that is a great lesson to learn.

“Here in Ireland, we have got our act together in making sure the church is a safe place and show society the absolute importance of treating children with respect.”

Responding to comments made by former President Mary McAleese that the Church was an “empire of misogyny”, the Bishop said “she’s such a wonderful lady, that doesn't mean I agree with everything she says.”

Bishop of Waterford Alphonsus Cullinan
Bishop of Waterford Alphonsus Cullinan

However, he did note that there is “such a clerical view of the Church” and he attributed the power held by priests as “one of the problems behind child abuse”.

Bishop Cullinan believes that Pope Francis “will give us a great boost” and that his meeting with victims of abuse will be “good and its healing”.

The Bishop was then asked about comments made yesterday by an American Jesuit priest that people from the LGBT+ community were treated like “lepers” within the Catholic Church.

Addressing the World Meeting of Families, Fr James Martin said that LGBT+ Catholics had been “deeply wounded”, “excluded” and “made to feel unwelcome” by the Church.

Bishop Cullinan said that “we treat people with respect but that doesn't mean we agree with what they're doing”.

“We must treat every single person with the respect he or she is due irrespective of who they are, what they have and what their background is,” he said.

“The Lord has put these people in our path and they must be treated with respect. We can’t judge, but we will let the Lord teach us.”

Miriam then questioned the Bishop on the issue of people of faith voting in favour of marriage equality in the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum.

Referencing scripture teachings, Bishop Cullinan said: "The majority was always wrong. When push came to shove the majority was always wrong."

“Christ doesn't go with the majority opinion."

“I follow Jesus Christ and Christ himself has given us the beauty of sexuality.

“I know gay people and I know gay couples and I treat them with respect.

“It’s Christ who is calling all of us to his way, not to mine, and Pope Francis has made it clear about the beauty and the joy of love. Friendship is one thing, sexual love is another type of love and we try and live whatever vocation we have in life.

“I know that [Jesus] knows what is best for all of humanity and my prayer is that all persons will listen to Him and live as how He wants us to live."

Looking ahead to the papal visit, Bishop Cullinan said: “Pope Francis will try and bring us back to the source and the source is Jesus.”

“The the World Meeting of Families, everyone is included but we are holding up Christ’s plan [and] God’s way for the world.

“We have so much pain and human heartache and Pope Francis will bring us his healing if we're we're open to it.

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