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Priest “sorry” for sermon gaffe on evil paedo Smyth

Fr Brendan Smyth
Fr Brendan Smyth

A PRIEST who caused upset in his parish when he mentioned Fr Brendan Smyth during a sermon says he regrets bringing him up at all.

Fr Tom McNulty, from Grange in Carlingford, says he was not trying to defend Fr Smyth when he spoke about his experience of hearing of his death from a newspaper headline exclaiming ‘The Beast is Dead’.

A number of parishioners had claimed that he said prayers for the paedophile priest and said he was not a “beast”. But the priest has denied the allegations and said he was merely taken up wrong.

“I should never have mentioned him at all,” he said. “I was not approving of anything and nor was the sermon about forgiveness. We come to church as people of faith and not with revenge.”

Fr Brendan Smyth is Ireland’s most notorious paedophile priest and was convicted of more than 100 indecent assaults against children over a 40-year period.

He died in prison in 1997 after a heart attack.

Fr McNulty was giving his sermon two weeks ago when he opened by telling parishioners of his experience of the paedophile priest’s death.

He told the congregation that he was on a boat at the time travelling from Scotland around Ireland when he saw newspapers with the infamous image of the leering priest.

This week he said he didn’t mean to cause any upset by mentioning the priest and never thought it would cause such a “hullabaloo”.

“I was walking around the boat and I saw the paper with the headline

‘The Beast is Dead’ and Brendan Smyth’s face. I knew him and that was a shock. It was an experience I had, which was finding out he was dead and that people saw him as a beast. It is not for any of us to say who is a beast.

“I understand that different people had a different experience of his death. In hindsight I wish I hadn’t mentioned it at all. I should have picked another example. I wasn’t defending Brendan Smyth.

“I don’t think we are entitled to call anyone a beast. We are all beastly people and can do beastly things, but I wasn’t defending him or anything he did.

“My experience of Brendan was as a priest and as a Christian and I was really just describing the experience of knowing that someone and that he was dead and that was all.

I didn’t have the other experience of him. I am not a judge and not a judge of him.”

Fr McNulty is a popular priest, but after his sermon a number of parishioners were angered that he had mentioned Fr Smyth in the church.

One said: “I was shocked. I should have walked out and am sorry I didn’t.”

Others who didn’t want to be named said: “He said prayers at Mass for Brendan Smyth and said he was his friend and was a good man. “People were visibly shocked.”