The Association of Catholic Priests received many messages from people applauding the organisation for coming out strongly in support of Co Cavan priest Fr Oliver O'Reilly after it emerged that businessman Sean Quinn complained about him to the Vatican.
Fr O'Reilly, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, spoke about the hatred and savagery that provoked the brutal attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings director, Kevin Lunney, in his homily during a Sunday Mass last September.
“As well as condemning the perpetrators of this vile act, we also need to forcibly condemn the paymaster or paymasters,” said Fr O'Reilly when he spoke to the congregation about the attack on Mr Lunney on the Fermanagh-Cavan border on September 17.
He said the well planned and well-organised abduction of Mr Lunney could only have happened when some person with ulterior motives agreed to pay the criminals and give instruction about what he wanted to be done to an unsuspecting victim.
“Some devious people are so consumed with hatred and enmity that they lose their moral compass and are prepared to hire the most ruthless of criminals to achieve their sinister goals. They also become compulsive liars," said Fr O'Reilly.
Mr Quinn used to run the company now managed by Mr Lunney and his associates. He is a regular Mass attendee at Fr O'Reilly's church but was not there when the priest delivered his homily. Mr Quinn strongly denies any role in the attack on Mr Lunney and has condemned it repeatedly.
A Sunday newspaper reported that Mr Quinn wrote to the Vatican asking it to protect him from what he called “the misuse of the liturgy and priesthood” to make "false charges” against him. He said his wife and family were victims of “a campaign of public vilification in our own locality on entirely false allegations.”
When the report was published the Association of Catholic Priests expressed its support for Fr O'Reilly and the position he adopted on the attack on Mr Lunney.
The organisation said:
We admire his courage in speaking the truth in a very difficult situation
The association's spokesperson, Fr Roy Donovan, said they received lots of messages from people who were delighted that the organisation had come out strongly in support of Fr O'Reilly.
Fr Donovan said some people were also saying that they were surprised that Mr Quinn had taken it so personally.
Earlier, speaking on RTÉ radio, Fr Donovan said every priest had to be free to speak the truth. "It is the duty of every priest to speak out when a great wrong has been done and be a voice for justice," he said.
Fr Donovan said it took a lot of courage for Fr O'Reilly to deliver such a hard-hitting homily and the association became concerned when it was reported that Mr Quinn had complained about him to the Vatican.
“I think the biggest victim here is Mr Lunney and what happened to him,” said Fr Donovan.
Monsignor Liam Kelly, who is the diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Kilmore, was not available for comment but Fr Donovan believes that Fr O'Reilly also had his support.
“Msgr Kelly is a very compassionate and very supportive person and I think he would be very much behind Fr O'Reilly and given him every support that he can in this situation,” he said.