A SILENT protest took place yesterday near the church where priest Fr Sean Sheehy last week claimed gays were going to hell.
Flowers were laid at the front of St Mary’s Church in Listowel, Co Kerry, as part of an event organised by the LGBTQ+ community as the main Sunday Mass took place.
Inside the church, local Parish Priest Canon Declan O’Connor apologised for the remarks that Fr Sheehy made when he described transgenderism as lunacy and spoke about the sinfulness of sex between two men or two women.
READ MORE: Priest likens being gay to having a disability as he clashes with Joe Duffy on RTE Liveline show
Fr Sheehy caused further anger during the week when he doubled down on his comments; claiming on radio that gays, including Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, are doomed to hell if they don’t change.
Thanking parishioners who made a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Canon O’Connor said that “God is love and all embracing and calling us to love one another”.
He added: “That’s what his message was. It was a message of love and while we’re reflecting on that it was very unfortunate you had this controversy here last weekend with the events that happened during the week and the homilies that were delivered here at your Mass last weekend.
“I’m deeply sorry to hear people were upset or hurt about what was said. Listowel parish, as you know, and I certainly know it, is a wonderful parish.
“Our church at St Mary’s is a warm, welcoming inclusive church and one where people are dealt with in a caring compassionate manner.”
It is understood that members of the Green Party in Kerry supported yesterday’s gathering, with one member saying they wanted to highlight how Kerry has a LGBTQ+ community and that they also belong to God.
He said the gathering was in response to what Fr Sheehy said last week and to “empathise with those mentioned in the sermon and wish to act in solidarity with the rainbow community in Kerry and throughout Ireland”.
During the Mass, Canon O’Connor added: “I have seen a statement from Bishop Ray [Dr Ray Browne] which was published on our diocesan website. I enforce what Bishop Ray has to say. I too add my own apology.
"The Gospel message is very clear, it’s a message of love, as Jesus said, he said to love one another. He said to his disciples ‘love one another as I have loved you’.
“So all His love is all embracing. So, as always, a sincere thanks to you all for your prayers and support and rest assured we did pray for all our parishioners on several occasions and they were included in our prayers on the parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land.”
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