Northern Ireland news

Bishop joins apology after priest compares gay people to 'infected zombies'

Brother Tom Forde, and right, zombies in US television show The Walking Dead

A BISHOP has welcomed an Irish friary's apology after a priest compared gay people to "infected" zombies.

Brother Tom Forde caused outrage over the remarks in his homily to parishioners last weekend at the Capuchin Friary in Kilkenny.

He also suggested those who believe in contraception and abortion are "morally rotten".

Referring to zombie movies and television shows, he added that in this genre the "only way to deal with the monsters is to stab or shoot them in the brain".

It was reported that some mass-goers got up and left the service on Saturday after hearing the friar's remarks.

Following the Mass, the homily was posted on his online blog with an image of zombies and the title: "The living dead are all around us and Christ alone has the cure: the Holy Spirit."

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The blog post has since been removed and the Irish Capuchin Franciscans, the order representing the priest, has expressed regret over the comments.

"On reflection Fr Tom removed the blog as it was not his intention to cause hurt to anyone," it said in a statement.

"The Capuchin Order wishes to state that all are welcome in our churches, irrespective of sexual orientation.

"Unfortunate comments were made about homosexuality last Saturday, which gay people would have found hurtful, and we deeply regret this."

In a further statement, Ossory diocese bishop Dermot Farrell yesterday said he was "saddened to learn of the inappropriate language and sentiments".

He said that "when harm is done an apology is to be given".

"I welcome, therefore, the statement of the Capuchin Order expressing their deep regret and their strong reaffirmation of their welcome of all people," he said.

In his homily, Brother Forde listed films and television shows featuring zombies, including the hit US series The Walking Dead.

He said they were "ridiculous" horror stories, but suggested some in Ireland are "physically alive but spiritually dead, morally rotten or at least infected".

He added: "We see this when the mask slips and someone we thought a friend is revealed as a fiend, full of anger, spite, malice, lust, or pride we had not seen before. We see it in self-destructive, irrational behaviour.

"It is visible in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, in adultery, fornication, and homosexuality... as well as in acceptance of abortion and contraception and in the move to legalise euthanasia.

"In the zombie genre once you're bitten you're infected and there's no hope. The only way to deal with the monsters is to stab or shoot them in the brain. Otherwise they are merciless, relentless, and unstoppable.

"Zombies, thank God, do not actually exist, but I would suggest spiritual-zombiehood does."

Eddie McGuinness, communications manager of Dublin Pride, said he was "flabbergasted" by the remarks.

He told the Irish Mirror: "Those words are harmful, not just within the LGBT community but within society."

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