Defying Belief




You may recall how a previous post about married couple Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan (above), who stepped down from the church choir at the Catholic parish church, St Michael’s, in Athy, Co. Kildare (top).

It followed what they called “pressure” being placed upon them by a local church activist Anthony Murphy, editor of newspaper Catholic Voice.

After an interview on September 8, on Kildare FM, with Shane Beatty, the couple returned to the choir on September 10, and were warmly received by the congregation, as can be seen in this Facebook video.

However, one of the priests present at the mass, in which the couple returned to the choir, Fr Brendan Kealy has written a piece for the Catholic Voice.

He writes:

I was not present to promote or condone same-sex ‘marriage’ or what appeared to be the apparent triumphant and victorious return of our musical directors which seemed to become the focus of the evening. In my opinion, the Mass was hijacked to support the cause of same-sex ‘marriage’ which is clearly in breach of Catholic Church teachings.

This breach was displayed openly and in a very public manner from the holy sanctuary. I felt very uncomfortable about this as I had not given my blessing to such a union. I am not been harsh but simply following the teachings of the Church, that we all serve.

The ladies in question have a very important leadership role in the Church but decided to enter into a civil same-sex marriage which blatantly contradicts and challenges the teachings of their Catholic Church, and the instruction of Pope Francis. To me, this defies belief? Is it not a contradiction to our faith? How does this make sense within the Catholic Church?

…I felt Saturday evening’s principal purpose of the Mass was grossly lost and I regret my participation simply because my presence as a priest appeared to give credence to surrounding events, which was misleading. I participated in the Mass with good intentions. I was not consulted in any form or manner regarding the girls renewed presence on the sanctuary to lead the choir that evening.

…It is never too late to make a radical change in one’s life. God the Father in his divine mercy constantly awaits the return of the prodigal child. A gay man or woman does not offend God or the Church, it is acts of sinful and selfish behaviour that offends God…

Latest on Athy: Parish curate speaks out (Catholic Voice)

Lesbian couple must not lead choir, priest says (The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: Different Him Sheet

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105 thoughts on “Defying Belief

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      I’m atheist myself, but I find myself in agreement with this Priest. The phrase “don’t join the army if you can’t wear the boots” seems apposite.

        1. Nigel

          I’m sure the Catholic Church will be very grateful for your moral support in helping keep these unruly gays in line.

          1. Liam

            if I was black, I wouldn’t join the Klan (actually I wouldn’t join them anyway…). Regardless of the current Pope’s cuddly persona, their doctrine is pretty clear – they hate gay people.

            Join the Church of Ireland – it’s pretty much the same, but without some of the zanier stuff about gays and women.

          2. Nigel

            @Liam – The Catholic Church have softened their stance considerably on homosexuality over th years, perhaps they feel that the trend will continue and they can be a part of it.

            @Sido – it was a fairly ironic opinion, that a couple of gay people should get in line with the worst aspects of the Churches teaching about them. I didn’t think they were actually offering moral support. Ironic support.

          3. Nigel

            Then you shouldn’t be telling members who might represent a more progressive strain to get in line with the more hardline conservative strain. Learn to think abut what you’re saying.

          4. Nigel

            That might cause cultural and social whiplash as the answer to ‘Is the pope Catholic?’ suddenly reverses polarity.

  1. ReproBertie

    Perhaps Fr Brendan Kealy should sit down and take out his bible. I recommend John 13:34.
    “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”

  2. jonner

    seems weird that people who dont follow the beliefs and teachings still want to be members of the CC

    suppose that’s superstition, or a result of expectation, or habit

    regardless, this noise is hardly news.

    1. ahjayzis

      Does it seem weird?

      When you see a full congregation at mass in a church – do you expect all of them not to have had pre-marital sex? All of them have never touched let alone bought and used a condom? None have had IVF? Did they all, ALL catholics in Ireland, vote no in the referendum last year?

      Why is it just the gays, alone, who are expected to follow every petty instruction, to be alone and loveless for ever in order to be a ‘real catholic’?

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        It’s different, though, isn’t it? You’re born gay but you choose IVF, condoms, divorce, abortion etc.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          You choose to eat prawns, wear mixed fibres and according to the bible they’re as much an abomination as being gay.

      2. realPolithicks

        It does seem a little odd that anybody (and not just gay people) would want to be part of an organization that openly discriminates against them.

        1. AtNigel

          I’d say that’s reductive of whatever challenges they face in the conflict between their sexuslity and their faith.

        2. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

          Join the club. But hey guess what? Some folks are not as introspective or self absorbed as some self styled know it all truth- teller on a blog. Who knew?

      3. jonner

        Yes i do. they are the rules. it’s beyond me why anyone would follow them, or want to be seen to folllow them

        security blanket comes to mind.

        1. ahjayzis

          Great argument for not indoctrinating kids into a religion that may in later life spurn and degrade them for being who they are, nicely made.

          If indoctrination was easy to shake it wouldn’t be indoctrination – the fault is the parents and Irish society, not the women involved.

  3. Harry Molloy

    I think we’re focusing on the negative aspect of what was otherwise a very positive story, that this couple received tonnes of support from within the congregation and were welcomed back.

    There’ll always be a letter writer like that but it seems pretty apparent that they are a minority.

    Hurrah for acceptance

    1. The Real Jane

      I find it shocking that they’re carrying on their vendetta against these women in public like this. They really ought to be ashamed to be humiliating members of the congregation in this way. The Catholic Voice really shouldn’t be giving them space to do it, either. As far as I’m aware, they have not been excommunicated and a church is a public place, so they’ve every right to be there.

      1. Vote Rep #1

        It sounds more like the priest trying to please both sides, allowing the women to continue on as normal and saying nothing in front of the congregation who all seem to support them while telling the more ardent readers of the Catholic Voice that it all made him uncomfortable.

        1. The Real Jane

          We know that the most ardent Catholic Voice person is also a member of the congregation and pretty much chased these women out of choir. So if it’s a coincidence that he’s chosen to use that publication to have a go at the women, I find it a surprising one.

      2. Harry Molloy

        yeah it’s not going to grow their audience anyway.

        I know a few people who would be religious, and a couple of priests, who would be so warm, caring, and non – judgmental that I find it hard to reconcile them with the likes of this. I suppose they’re leading by example, and attitudes do and have changed. You can tell this by talking to elderly people, so many of whom supported the ref last year.

        The ultra conservative should remember WWJD and be honest about it

  4. Liam Deliverance

    Would you ever listen to yourself Father Brendan Kealy, “it is acts of sinful and selfish behaviour that offends God…” A church exists to give its parishioners a place to find and express their spirituality not so that you can lord it over all your subjects and get a power trip on dictating how people live their lives. These two ladies love each other. They also love their fellow parishioners and their parishioners love them as is displayed by the support they have shown. They are fulfilling the maxim of “Treat others as you would expect to be treated in return”. You, Father, are the one that is out of line. I suggest you have a rethink about why you are in the job you are in and if you are still unhappy go find yourself another church.

  5. Tony

    It’s a well intentioned and well written letter that sums up the challenges and contradictions of faith fairly well, as do the actions of the couple.. He seems like a decent bloke though and I hope he gets the support of his community.

    1. The Real Jane

      It neither well intentioned nor well written. It offers gratuitous insult to named individuals and also has some grammatical howlers.

        1. Cowenwatch

          I found it quiet ironic, satirical almost. He’s a problem with a couple of homosexuals in his congregation yet he’s a member of an organisation which has harboured peados for years.

          A cross between NIMBYism and hypocrisy comes to mind.

          1. Tony

            I dont think he has a problem with a couple homosexuals in his congregation,

            “The ladies in question have a very important leadership role in the Church”

            He has a problem with how their actions openly and knowingly contradict the teachings of the church which they actively support. Not much hypocrisy there… Just the contradictions and challenges of faith of which I spoke.

          2. Cowenwatch

            “I dont think he has a problem with a couple homosexuals in his congregation” – but that’s exactly what he has though.

            Anyway, didn’t JC himself break away from his religion and set up a whole new one of his own? And if that isn’t “a contradiction and challenge of faith” of which you spoke, I don’t know what it.

            Screw it, if they’re hurting no one, what’s the problem? Now, if they’re choir singing isn’t all it could be, I’d be raising a stern eyebrow heaven bound alright!

  6. newsjustin

    It seems that what Anthony Murphy has done is to shine a spotlight on these two woman, unfairly criticise (in my view) their participation in church life, cause scandal to his neighbours, and then provoke an unhelpful “standoff” between church teaching (or an individual’s interpretation of it) and people’s love for their neighbours. Foolish and unchristian in my view.

    I have some sympathy for Fr Kiely. From the sounds of it, the woman’s returned may have been portrayed as a “win” for same-sex-marriage over church teaching. I don’t think that’s what it was – it was a win for tolerance and getting on with ones neighbour. Fr Kiely should be pointing the finger of blame (if he’s the kind to point fingers) squarely at Mr Murphy who began the whole mess. With friends like Mr Murphy, the RCC doesn’t need enemies.

      1. newsjustin

        Thanks Jane.

        No reason for this pastoral matter to be aired in public. This is two people in a choir after all. Not nukes in Iran.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Say something about abortion to redress the balance, newsjustin.
      It just doesn’t feel right otherwise.

  7. rotide

    Gay couple accepted by hundreds.

    A single letter expressing conflicted thought for coherent reasons is highlighted here.

    It’s like broadsheet actively looks for holes to fall into.

    1. The Real Jane

      He’s bringing actual people into his argument though. I mean, it’s one thing to say I don’t agree with this for this reason and that reason, but he has gone a bit further, hasn’t he? He’s kind of implied that they put him in an impossible position where he was forced into saying mass with them there and not give out because the congregation wouldn’t like it so he’s getting his own back by giving them both barrels in a nationally distributed publication.

    2. Caroline™

      It’s not just his conflicted musings, he actively encourages them to dissolve their marriage and relationship.

    3. Caroline™

      Also, how is this a “hole to fall into”? It’s a legitimate continuation of the story, involving the continued public humiliation of the women by a member of the Catholic Church. It also highlights the gulf between the majority of the faithful and one of their supposed leaders. Regardless of whether his humiliation of them is technically justified by his reading of the tenets of his faith, something he appears? confused on? as if he’s looking for backup? to assuage his guilty conscience?

  8. Jopus

    These girls should leave, then form a rival choir, and beat their old choir at the nationals. Then this bitter old priest will have an epiphany and welcome them back into the fold with open arms. Either that or they’ll kick the poo out of him in the car-park, Karate Kid style.

    1. AtNigel

      They’ve got the priest decrying their snfulness (but accepting them) on one hand and stuff like this on the other. Either way, everyone’s got a reason to be unpleasant towards them.

  9. Jopus

    These girls should leave, then form a rival choir, and beat their old choir at the nationals. Then this bitter old priest will have an epiphany and welcome them back into the fold with open arms. Either that or they’ll kick the head off him in the car-park, Karate Kid style.

  10. bisted

    …the one thing that catholic priests can have an opinion on and speak with authority about is being gay…

  11. POC

    Not often I say this about a member of the clergy but he is spot on, the Catholic Church teaches that engaging in homosexuality activity is a sin and those who participate in it are sinners. Why these women, and others like them, (by that I mean those who do not follow the teachings of the church on various issues), continue to support and participate in an organisation that does not share the same values they personally hold, is a constant source of confusion for me.

    1. The Real Jane

      Sometimes it’s hard, when reading some comments of this nature (see also, why don’t they get a better job/why are they addicted to stuff/why get pregnant unless you’re in a perfect situation), to imagine that more than half of broadsheet commentators have ever met a human being in real life.

      1. POC

        I’ve met many human beings, none of them have yet been able to articulate why you would desire to belong to a group when one of their core tenets of belief is that who you are is wrong and you should deny the truth and conform to their teachings.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Because you believe in God just like your friends and neighbours and want to be part of the community, just like, as said elsewhere, people who have pre-marital sex and pre-marital co-habitation and people who use condoms and people who get divorced all want to be in the group.

          1. POC

            Yes but why? If its just because you believe in God then theres plenty of other religions that offer the God lovin’ without the judgement. If your faith in a higher power is that important to you and you do want to use condoms or any of the other fun stuff the Catholic Church demonise then you should really examine your conscience and consider finding a church that aligns with your actual beliefs and values. If you want that warm fuzzy feeling of being in a group then join a club of some kind, go to the pub, engage in any number of social activities in your local community, you dont need the church to have sense of belonging.

          2. newsjustin

            It probably makes then happy POC.

            It’s no good saying that people should find a religion that ticks more boxes for you. If you like and want to be part of the RCC (or other religion) then nothing else may do.

            I’m a terrible catholic, but I like being a catholic more than I like not being a catholic. And, more seriously and importantly, I believe the core of the faith (read the Nicean Creed for starters). These woman probably do too.

          3. some old queen

            I’m a terrible catholic, but I like being a catholic more than I like not being a catholic.

            That’s called The Church of Ireland Justin?

          4. newsjustin

            It’s not Same Old Queen. This is an important point. One does not need to be perfect to be a member of the RCC. There are reasons why one may chose to become a member of the CofI. But being a sinner is not one of them.

        2. newsjustin

          Firstly, that’s not a core tenant of the RCC.

          Secondly, you need to understand that many people get a lot out of religious practice and belief. In economic terms, they derive utility from it.

          If you attend mass and other church events and gatherings you would be amazed at how seldom homosexuality is ever mentioned. It simply doesn’t come up. I can easily see how/why this couple could have been entirely happy doing what they were doing.

          You have to remember – the RCC teaches that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Does that mean all single people having sex should leave the church? Sex has very little to do with religious belief really….

          1. POC

            Yes, yes they should. If they church is saying it is a sin and sin is wrong then anyone willfully engaging in that sinful practice should realise the church is not for them.

            I know in the day to day activities of the church it wouldnt come up and these women, and many others like them, get a lot of out engaging in these activities, I dont question that, I question why anyone would want to belong to a group that sees the things they do as sinful.

          2. Nigel

            If you could answer that question you could probably explain why we have had any of these sorts of religions at all.

          3. newsjustin

            “Yes, yes they should. If they church is saying it is a sin and sin is wrong then anyone willfully engaging in that sinful practice should realise the church is not for them.”

            That’s exactly the opposite of how the church (and I as it happens) sees it.

            The church is for everyone. Especially us sinners.

            It’s like saying that if you don’t get on with your family you should join another one.

    1. Jaden

      The thing that strikes me as odd, is that his letter makes no reference at all to Sexual Activity, but to the fact that they got married in a Civil ceremony.

      Does the church even recognize this civil marriage? Why would a priest take umbrage with a Civil Ceremony?

      1. Caroline™

        He does mention sexual activity. “A gay man or woman does not offend God or the Church, it is acts of sinful and selfish behaviour that offends God…” Acts of sin is priest talk for ridin’. Technically they don’t breach any rules as long as they remain celibate – which they may do, for all he knows. That’s probably why he throws in the selfish behaviour to cover the getting gay married too.

        1. Jaden

          It mentions it alright, but the Priest doesn’t call the couple out on their sexual activity (which may not even be relevant in this case).

          His issue seems to be with the civil marriage itself:

          “… but decided to enter into a civil same-sex marriage which blatantly contradicts and challenges the teachings of their Catholic Church, and the instruction of Pope Francis. To me, this defies belief? Is it not a contradiction to our faith? How does this make sense within the Catholic Church?”

          So the question stands, why would the church care about a non-church based civil ceremony that (from what I can tell) it doesn’t recognize?

          Is civil marriage somehow a threat to God?

  12. Grace

    Jaysis the quotes in his phrase: same sex “marriage” brought back fierce bad memories of looney No arguments from last year. Thank Zena we got that passed!

    I do wonder why any sane gay person would want to be an active member of the catholic church, given all the mind bendingly awful things the vatican has said about us -but I’m sure those two women (not girls Fr Kealy) have their reasons.

  13. Bruce Wee

    Similar situation to Big Gay AL vs the Scouts?

    “Look, I appreciate what you kids did;
    really, I really do. But this isn’t
    what I wanted. I’m proud to be gay.
    And I’m proud to be in a country where
    I’m free to express myself. But freedom
    is a two-way street. If I’m free to
    express myself, then the Scouts have
    to be free to express themselves, too.
    I know these men. They are good men.
    They are kind men. They do what they
    think is best for kids. No matter how
    wrong we think they might be, it isn’t
    right for us to force them to think
    our way. It’s up to us to persuade,
    and help them see the light, not extort
    them to. Please, don’t cut the Scouts’
    funding. The Scouts help and have always
    helped a lot of kids. That’s why I love
    them. I will continue to persuade them
    to change their mind, but this is the
    wrong way to do it. So, I am hereby
    dropping my case, and allowing the Scouts
    their right to not allow gays into their
    private club.”

  14. some old queen

    I have some sympathy for the priest in this situation as someone has obviously been needling him BUT

    It was well known that the women had returned to the choir and unless he had been living under a rock (or was being dried out), he would have known this in advance.

    So I believe He is being somewhat disingenuous. I also believe it was the parish priests position to make public comment, not his.

  15. :-Joe

    Great to see them get what they want and create a Father Ted style narrative for us all…. Even if it’s looking like they are in their own mental prison and suffering from stockholm syndrome….

    Hmmmm…. they could be doing this as a very shrewd silent protest to highlight how important church choirs are despite their problems of being in the CC or maybe this is part of a wider ongoing conspiracy to take over the choir system from within and dominate all gospel music worldwide???….. Just look at the history of gays in Hollywoodland, Broadway and the West End… It’s happened before….

    Irrational, deluded, brainwashed?.. Probably. Political and musical genius strategists?.. Possibly. Only, time will tell…

    …but under the circumstances, they must be havin some fupping great craic winding up the cult to keep them going back for more…


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