Kildare DPP file on bishop homily

A file has been sent to the DPP over statements in a bishop’s homily following complaints by a former Kildare elected representative.

A file has been sent to the DPP over statements in a bishop’s homily following complaints by a former Kildare elected representative.

Former Leixlip Town Councillor, John Colgan, complained to the gardai over part of a homily delivered by the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr. Phillip Boyce, at Knock last 20 August.

Mr. Colgan said the statement breached the incidement to hatred legislation.

On 25 August last year, Mr Colgan wrote to Dr Boyce about the homily, which is published on the Diocese of Raphoe site.

It spoke of the church being “attacked from outside by the arrows of a secular and godless culture...”

Mr Colgan said the words “attacked”  and “arrows” heavily suggest war-like behaviour.

He said there was an inference that non-believers, who are not Christian, will end their lives in emptiness, and argued this is abusive of, and insulting to atheists, humanists, sceptics and others.

Mr Colgan said there was an inference those that are not with with the church were aggressively against it and that atheists, humanists and other ‘non-believers’  are somehow less moral, less worthy, less good citizens than you and your peers

“Such ridiculing, and verbal abuse is demeaning, humiliating and shames the worth and dignity of those comparatively small groups or individuals you are picking on; it is also tantamount to interfering with every person’s right to make choices on spiritual matters, and tending to isolate them from persons with whom they had previously enjoyed good relationships, by making ‘believers’ shun them,” he said.

He told Dr Boyce he realised the bishops were under pressure but asked him to reconsider the remarks.

In a letter to Mr. Colgan on 1 September 2011, Dr Boyce said he did not wish to disparage in any way the sincere efforts of those with no religious belief. “I have too much respect for each human person since I believe all are created in the image of God.” he wrote.

He said the phrase ‘ending life in emptiness’ echoed words of Pope Benedict and St. Paul who said at Ephesus that when his converts came to Christ they were “without hope and without God in the world.”

Bishop Boyce said he wished to encourage the hope of believers in these times.

Mr Colgan complained to the Garda at Leixlip and they forwarded the complaint under the Incitement to Hatred legislation to the Gardai at Claremorris, Mayo, on 30 September.

After hearing nothing for some time he wrote to the Garda Commissioner, whose office forwarded the complaint to Galway based, the Assistant Garda Commissioner.

Last week, he was informed a file was being sent to the DPP. It remains to be seen if the DPP will recommend legal action against the bishop.