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Bishop saddened by “zombie” comments at Kilkenny Mass

By Susan Gately - 14 June, 2019

Capuchins apologise, saying Fr Tom Forde’s comments were not intended to “cause hurt to anyone”.

Bishop of Ossory, Dermot Farrell

The Bishop of Ossory, Dermot Farrell, has said he was saddened by the “inappropriate language and sentiments” used during a homily at the Capuchin Friary in Kilkenny last weekend.

In a sermon, Capuchin priest Fr Tom Forde compared homosexuals and supporters of abortion and euthanasia to “spiritual zombies”.

According to local radio station KCLR 96FM, a number of people walked out of the Saturday Pentecost vigil, and many have expressed their anger since online.

After the Mass, Fr Forde posted his homily on an online blog with a photo of zombies and the title: “The living dead are all around us and Christ alone has the cure: the Holy Spirit”. The blog has now been taken down.

On Wednesday, the Capuchin order released a statement signed by Br. Seán Kelly, Superior of the Kilkenny Friary, saying Fr Tom had removed the blog, as “it was not his intention to cause hurt to anyone.

“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.”

At the heart of the Christian Gospel is the welcome Christ had – and has – for all people, wrote the Bishop of Ossory. “As followers of Christ, the Gospel we proclaim is about the welcome and inclusion of all; as every person – no matter their faith, or race, or sexual orientation – is made by God and is loved by God.”

The Bishop said he was saddened too that a Liturgy was used to convey “any sentiment so at variance with our understanding of God”. He said that: “Words can hurt and care needs to be taken by all, in all situations, so as not to alienate, hurt or cause offence.”

Bishop Farrell welcomed the apology from the Capuchin Order. “I know the affection in which they are held by the people of Kilkenny,” he said, expressing his appreciation for the Order’s service to the most vulnerable.

In their statement, the Capuchins quoted Pope Francis’ comment in response to a question about gay people – “Who am I to judge?” – and his comments to a gay man at an audience in the Vatican, “God made you like this and he loves you.”

“We support Pope Francis in his comments on gay people and we will continue to be guided by him and by our own Mission Statement, which states that ‘we affirm that our fraternities will be places of prayer, hospitality and outreach to ALL’,” the statement concluded.

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