Northern Ireland news

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin rebukes Fine Gael minister over Dublin mass mix-up

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has clashed with Fine Gael minister Josepha Madigan. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin has rebuked an Irish government minister for "using a misunderstanding to push a particular agenda", after she claimed there was a shortage of priests in the diocese.

Culture minister Josepha Madigan led the service at Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin on Sunday after a cleric due to replace parish priest Fr Brian O'Reilly did not appear.

Ms Madigan, who found herself at odds with the Catholic Church when she co-ordinated Fine Gael's `Yes' campaign during the recent abortion referendum, said afterwards that it was "a sad reflection of the times we live in that there are no priests available to say Saturday evening Mass in one of the busiest parishes in Dublin".

She claimed "lack of ordination and the age profile of priests mean a shortage is inevitable".

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said her comments had "caused parishioners in Mount Merrion and further afield considerable distress".

"Many have contacted my offices to express their hurt and upset at the minister’s comments, as reported in the media," he said.

"There is no shortage of priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin for the celebration of Sunday Mass.

"Due to a misunderstanding, the priest assigned to Mass in the parish of Mount Merrion on Saturday evening, failed to turn up. It is in no way correct to say that the minister `said Mass'.

"It is regrettable that that Minister Madigan used this occasion to push a particular agenda.

"Her expressed view that a mix up in a Dublin parish on one particular Saturday evening should lead to the Universal Church changing core teachings is bizarre.

"Minister Madigan might consider listening to the voices of those people who disagree with her public comments, she might consider the hurt she has caused to parishioners who deem her actions deeply disrespectful."

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