Title: The beginning of the fall of the Catholic Church in Ireland
Bishop Eamonn Casey’s life and career came apart 30 years ago today.
The new Bishop of Galway Michael Duignan (51) spoke with disarming frankness at his installation in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas near the Salmon Weir Bridge last Sunday.
“We can no longer ignore the fact that much of what the church has built up in Ireland over the last two centuries is crumbling before our eyes,” said Duignan, the 13th man to hold the position in Ireland’s youngest Catholic diocese.
“Many no longer believe the message. Many of our parishes are struggling,” he said. “Despite great work done by generations of priests, religious and lay people now, at times, it feels like we have been out all night without a single catch.”
Galway holds a key place in the recent history of the Catholic Church since Duignan’s predecessor, Eamonn Casey, came to grief 30 years ago after it emerged he had fathered a son, Peter, with American Annie Murphy.
The resignation in disgrace of Casey, though it pales into insignificance with what emerged later, was a pivotal moment. Little was believable before. Everything seemed believable afterwards.
“It was seismic. The Bishop Casey affair! The beginning of the end of trust in mitred men. Eamonn Casey’s big, blustering personality had seemed endearingly chummy to many people,” said former president, Mary McAleese this week.
“He presented as not at all remote or distant like many bishops which made the revelations of his double life, his cover-up, his hypocritical preaching on fidelity and responsibility and family planning all the more galling, all the more difficult to credit,” she went on.
McAleese “had seen his narcissism, his self-obsession at first hand so I knew his public image was not the whole truth. But not in a million years did it ever occur to me just what the whole truth was and how many damaged victims he had so carelessly and easily left in his wake.