Bishop: Friar's comments on former lord mayor Murray 'inappropriate'

The Bishop of Cork and Ross has distanced himself from comments made by a priest who asked mourners at a funeral to pray that former lord mayor of Cork, John Murray, would be found not guilty of sex assault charges.

Dr John Buckley described the comments as “offensive and entirely inappropriate”.

“The diocese fully respects the independence of the DPP and the Courts Service and regards it as entirely inappropriate that a funeral Mass should be used in such a manner,” he said.

Murray, 83, of Gregg Rd, Cork, was found guilty by a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last Friday of sexually assaulting a teenager in 1996. The former Labour city councillor is due to be sentenced by Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin next Monday.

However, it has emerged a visiting Augustinian priest who was celebrating a funeral Mass in a church on the southside of Cork City last Thursday asked mourners during the prayers of intercession to pray that Murray would be found not guilty. The priest knew the deceased and it is also understood he is a friend of the Murray family.

A woman who was at the funeral told the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s 96fm yesterday of her disgust at the comments. “I thought I was hearing things. Only that it was a funeral Mass, I would have walked out.”

Another woman couldn’t believe a priest would have said such a thing publicly: “We didn’t walk out, out of respect for the dead.”

The deceased’s daughter said she was disgusted when she learned of the comments the following day, and she apologised. “It wasn’t his place to say this at my father’s funeral. He shouldn’t have said it.”

Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley, said he became aware of the comments on Friday.

“The diocese was unaware that these comments were going to be made, does not stand over them and sincerely regrets the obvious hurt that they have caused,” he said. “The diocese has been in touch with the priest’s order and expects them to address the issue.

“The priest in question does not hold an appointment in the diocese of Cork and Ross.”

The head of the Augustinians in Ireland apologised last night for the hurt and distress caused by their friar’s comments.

Provincial Fr John Hennebry said the order is keen to acknowledge its responsibility in the matter and is taking it very seriously.

“The prayer was wholly inappropriate. This intervention has caused great distress,” Fr John said. “I have discussed the matter at great length with the friar and he can now see how wholly inappropriate it was.

“I apologise unreservedly for the great distress this has caused to the family of the deceased, and to those who were brave enough in bringing allegations forward.”

He said the order will investigate the matter and the friar could face sanctions as laid down in the order’s own internal procedures.


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