The Roman Catholic bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan has described the Taoiseach’s comments in the Dáil on Wednesday when he compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a secretly sinning priest, as “very hurtful.”
Mr Varadkar had said: “I am always amused and bemused that Deputy Martin likes to accuse me of being partisan and personal yet, as is evidenced by his name-calling today, he is very capable of being partisan and personalised himself.
“He kind of reminds me of one of those parish priests who preaches from the altar, telling us how to avoid sin, while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself.”
Speaking on RTE radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Bishop Cullinan said that the comment was unfortunate and it was ironic that it should come the day before a structured dialogue meeting involving the Taoiseach, members of the Government and representatives of the churches, of other faiths and of non-confessional bodies at Dublin Castle.
He said he was standing up for priests around the country. “I am saying well done, you’re doing a great job, keep going.”
The vast majority of priests work “so hard” and ordinary people are deeply offended “by the comment from the head of parliament”.
It was not balanced treatment, he added.
When asked if the Taoiseach should apologise for the comment, Bishop Cullinan said it was up to Mr Varadakar to clarify.
He said the situation was "very unfortunate" and he hoped it would not be repeated. Bringing in the church “out of the blue” when speaking about the Fianna Fáil leader, was “unprovoked.”
“I don’t know why he did that,” he said.
He urged priests not to be upset by the comment as “the majority of people love their priests.”