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Church Unlikely to let Casey say Public Mass Again

Irish Independent, March 18 2011 by Brian McDonald

BISHOP Eamon Casey is unlikely to be allowed to say Mass in public again.

For the last five years, the now frail 83-year-old former Bishop of Galway has been compelled to say Mass alone in his own living room as the Vatican continues with its own investigation into allegations of abuse made against him by a woman.

The allegations, which date back more than 30 years, when Eamon Casey was a priest in Limerick, have already been investigated by gardai. The Director of Public Prosecutions decided in August 2006 that no prosecution was warranted.

It has since emerged the woman at the centre of the case had made similar unproven allegations against a number of other men.

However, the Catholic Church authorities have refused to say when, if ever, the ban on Bishop Casey saying Mass in public will be lifted.

In line with church policy regarding internal investigations, Bishop Casey remains banned from public ministry.

Both the Vatican and the Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, have refused to answer a series of questions on the reason for the lengthy church investigation.

Bishop Casey himself politely declined to be interviewed when approached at his home in Shanaglish, Co Galway.

Looking more frail than when he returned to Co Galway five years ago, he told the Irish Independent that, while he had endured some ill health in recent years, his health was now "great".

He apologised for being unable to speak about his continuing inability to say Mass in public, but many local people are firmly of the view he should be allowed to return to his public ministry.

The vast majority of priests in Galway are also believed to be fully supportive of Bishop Casey resuming his public ministry.

A number of priests have spoken of their desire to see the ban on him saying Mass in public lifted.

A senior priest of the Galway diocese who requested not to be identified, said this was the view of most of his colleagues.

"You would think that he would be allowed to say Mass at least in the convent in Gort. I think that's what he would like himself, but the powers that be in the church have decreed otherwise," the priest told the Irish Independent.

The Parish Priest of Gort, Fr Tommy Marrinan, who is a long-time friend of Dr Casey and meets him for lunch regularly, said that it would not be in Dr Casey's nature to question the church ruling.

"It's a decision for the church authorities and it'd be great if he could (say Mass in public again). It's a pity he cannot," Fr Marrinan said.

"But he is a churchman to his fingertips and he won't question the authorities."


Bishop's Quiet Rural Life far from Glory Days in Galway

Irish Independent, March 18 2011 by Brian McDonald

LIFE in rural Shanaglish could not be more different from the hectic whirl of Eamon Casey's tenure as Bishop of Galway.

Taking up residence in 1976 in the bishop's "palace" on Taylor's Hill, his reputation as a larger than life figure quickly grew. His immense energy and sociability opened doors to all quarters. He enjoyed a drink, a laugh and a song, loved driving nice cars and was living life in the fast lane.

But his life was changed utterly in early May 1992, when news emerged of his relationship with Annie Murphy and the existence of their son, Peter.

He fled to the US before moving on to Ecuador where he devoted himself to missionary work until 1998.

He was invited to work in the diocese of Arundel and Brighton in Sussex and kept a low profile until late 2005 when news broke of allegations made by a woman living in the UK, but allegedly dating back to his time as a priest in Limerick in the 1970s. Dr Casey immediately informed his bishop, Dr Kieran Conry.

"He withdrew from the parish where he had been working ... he was really knocked back," Dr Conry said.

But moves were already under way for the return of Eamon Casey. He met Bishop Martin Drennan over Christmas 2005 and it was agreed he would return to live in the priest's house in Shanaglish in south Galway. Nowadays, Dr Casey's life revolves around his daily Mass in his living room, meeting old friend Fr Tommy Marrinan for lunch in Gort and a stroll locally.