The Bishop of Ossory, Dermot Farrell, has issued an apology for comments made by Brother Tom Forde.
In a statement expressing his regret at the hurt caused by the Kilkenny-based cleric, the Bishop apologises for the “inappropriate language and sentiments” used by Brother Forde.
Forde shocked a congregation during a homily at the Capuchin Friary in Co Kilkenny last weekend when he called gay people, those who engage in pre-marital sex, and pro-choice supporters “spiritual zombies.”
Expressing his love for the horror genre, and noting the popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’ in particular, the Brother said that while the concept of zombies is ridiculous, there are people who are “physically alive but spiritually dead, morally rotten or at least infected”.
According to Forde, spiritual rottenness stems from “the abuse of drugs and alcohol, adultery, fornication and homosexuality, as well as in the acceptance of abortion and contraception and in the move to legalise euthanasia.”
“In the zombie genre,” he continued, “once you’re bitten you’re infected and there’s no hope. The only way to deal with the monsters is to stab or shoot them in the brain for otherwise they are merciless, relentless and unstoppable.”
He later claimed that the cure for “spiritual zombie-hood” is to experience “God’s loving presence in our lives” and “obedience to Christ”.
These claims have been condemned by leading LGBT+ activists and pro-choice supporters. Speaking to the Irish Mirror, communications manager of Dublin Pride, Eddie McGuinness, said: “Those words are harmful, not just within the LGBT community but within society.”
Following the backlash, the Brother removed the notes of his sermon from his blog.
In response to apology made by the Bishop of Ossory, executive director of Amnesty Ireland, Colm O’Gorman said that, while the statement went “some way to address the vile and inappropriate comments made” by Brother Forde, “it would have been better if the bishop had called out the homily’s shameful homophobia.”
Although O’Gorman does not expect the Church to end its homophobic teaching in the near future, he said that language used in sermons should be better moderated by Church leaders.
Bishop Farrell’s apology follows a statement made by Brother Seán Kelly, Superior of the Kilkenny friary.
In it, he said: “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.”
The statement did not mention Brother Forde’s attack on people who use contraception, pro-choice supporters and those who support euthanasia.
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