Bishop of Down and Connor: Threats to Fr Gary Donegan are ‘a weak and cowardly act'
THREATS made against a prominent north Belfast priest are "a weak and cowardly act", the Bishop of Down and Connor has said.
Bishop Noel Treanor has also appealed to those who issued the threats against Fr Gary Donegan to "stop and think".
It comes after the rector of Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne said on Monday that dissident republicans had made threats against him and other community workers.
Bishop Treanor said the threats were "intolerable" and had "no place in a civilised society".
"To intimidate clergy, social and community workers and all those who are working tirelessly and peacefully in the service of their local community, especially those addressing pastoral and social concerns, is a weak and cowardly act on the part of those who themselves are threatened by the prospect and reality of peace, reconciliation and the rule of law," he said.
"I offer my full support to Fr Gary Donegan and other community workers at this time, encouraging them to take notice of the support they have from their local community as they engage in pastoral outreach to those most in need."
Bishop Treanor also said those responsible for the threats should "leave behind the path of violence".
"I would ask those who have issued these threats to stop and think," he said.
"I ask them to engage in dialogue in order to resolve all problems, to offer hope for their communities and neighbourhoods and to build a shared future for all the people of Northern Ireland.
"The sign of true leadership is to be found in resolving conflict, not in issuing threats. It is to be found in working together to address together the needs of the weak."