It was heartening to attend the funeral mass of former Bishop of Galway Eamonn Casey among 1,600 other mourners. I never met Bishop Casey myself. My memories in real life are of him walking up and down the main aisle of Galway Cathedral during the Solemn Novenas which still attract large numbers of worshippers every February. The large crowd at his funeral mass is testament to the affection that ordinary Galwegians had for this man despite the fact that he had resigned from his position as Bishop nearly 25 years ago, in circumstances which are well documented, and hadn’t been in active ministry in this country since that time.
Bishop Casey had apologized for his transgressions. After his fall from grace he spent time in ministry in Ecuador followed by a number of years in England. However he never publicly practised his vocation in Ireland afterwards.
I always felt the punishment of never being allowed practise his vocation in his own country far exceeded the wrong he had originally committed. While it was fantastic that he was honoured in death befitting a former Bishop, it is sad that he had to die before the Catholic Church felt they could honour him so publicly. Had he been allowed to publicly practise his vocation after his time of “penance” spent abroad there would have been few Catholics who would have objected to this.
We have seen in recent years the attitudes of parishioners when certain clergy have come out as being gay for example. Bishop Casey would have been an asset to any parish.
While Bishop Casey’s funeral was a time of mourning, it was also a healing time. His sins were acknowledged as well as his achievements of which there were many. It was also an uplifting experience to see the number of ordinary people who came out to pay their respects to a good man who had some faults just like the rest of us.
78 Lower Salthill,