ATHY, County Kildare, Ireland, September 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A “married” lesbian couple stood on the altar in front of the Blessed Sacrament, bowing and holding hands as they received a standing ovation, wild cheers and whistles of approval after leading the choir at Mass on Saturday night at St. Michael’s Catholic Church while Father Frank McEvoy looked on and reportedly said, “Well deserved!”
Meanwhile, Anthony Murphy, the parishioner who privately asked McEvoy, the parish priest, and the couple, that the lesbians resign from their ministry roles after their “marriage” in July, traveled 50 miles to attend another parish with his frail wife, who had recently suffered three strokes and has been blind for the past year as a result of treatment for lupus.
On September 1, lesbian couple Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan said on Kildare FM radio that Murphy’s missives prompted them to resign as Eucharistic ministers and directors of the gospel and children’s choir.
But on Friday, O’Donnell announced on the same station that she and her lesbian “spouse” would return to those roles that weekend because of what she described as an outpouring of public support — but which Murphy describes as a “vitriolic campaign of hate” against him by a group of parishioners, LGBT activists, and local members of the Sein Féin Party, including councillor Thomas Redmond, while, Murphy says, Fr. McEvoy did nothing.
Watch a video of O'Donnell and Flanagan receiving a standing ovation at the parish:
“We didn’t go at the weekend because we were told by one of the priests that it wouldn’t be safe for us to go to Mass in the parish church,” Murphy told LifeSiteNews in a telephone interview, adding that the sympathetic curate has since told Murphy “he now regrets being part of the Mass and he feels ashamed of standing by and allowing it to happen.”
“He said the anger is just so open and raw that it wouldn’t be safe for you to come to Mass … even if they didn’t attack you personally, they’d find some way of disrupting the Mass because we’re dealing with a big sort of infiltration of LGBT people who are trying to hijack and take over the local parish.”
The Garda, or Irish police, also advised him to avoid St. Michael’s, Murphy said. “I think they were concerned that in the event of a mob being present outside the Church, older people could have been upset or injured.”
Murphy, who is editor and publisher of Catholic Voice, said he contacted Auxiliary Bishop Eamonn Walsh after he heard the lesbian couple intended to return to their ministry roles, and Walsh made it clear he did not want to get involved. Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is currently out of the country.
O’Donnell declined to be interviewed when called by LifeSiteNews. McEvoy had not responded to requests for comment from LifeSiteNews by deadline, nor had Bishop Walsh.
Lesbian couple unsuitable for leadership roles in parish
A couple of days after the two women got “married” in a local hotel, an event attended by a majority of St. Michael’s 500 or so parishioners, Murphy said, he texted O’Donnell, asking them to step down as choir directors and Eucharistic ministers. He also wrote McEvoy with the same request.
The two women had resigned years earlier from top positions with the Lay Dominicans Ireland, when Flanagan was president and O’Donnell president of the Athy Chapter, after it was discovered they had formalized their lesbian relationship abroad, Murphy said, so he assumed his request would come as no surprise.
Indeed, he asked that they do “the decent thing, in the same way you did the decent thing a few years ago when you resigned from the lay Dominicans.”
“You know, this isn’t anything to do with homophobia, it’s not even to do with their sexual orientation,” Murphy told LifeSiteNews, pointing out that “ironically,” he and O’Donnell had previously been on good terms. He considers her musically talented, had referred students to her guitar school and supported her business ventures.
“We’ve always tried to embrace them in the best way as Christians that we can,” he said. “It’s simply a matter of, if you’re going to take leadership positions within the Church, don’t give these very public signs of contradictions.”
The women had been unapologetically open about their impending nuptials, he noted, issuing invitations to the event after a parish choir practice.
“They even invited some of the young people to their wedding, and one of the young girls went home to her mother and said, ‘Mammy, Jacinta and Geraldine are getting married, this means when I grow up, if I want to, I can marry a girl in my class as well,’ and the poor mother was horrified,” Murphy said, and she thereupon contacted him.
Murphy’s communications to McEvoy and the couple were private, he told LifeSiteNews. “It’s not been published in the Catholic Voice, it’s not on the website,” he said. “To suggest I was whipping up a campaign and organizing petitions to drive them out of the church is absolutely ridiculous.”
But when O’Donnell and Flanagan went public last Thursday about why they resigned, Murphy told LifeSiteNews, “this mad campaign started.”
Among the “tens and tens” of vicious messages on social media against him were veiled death threats, a suggestion that “we know where he lives why don’t we get a dozen of us together and we’ll go down and break every window in his house,” and that he and his wife should return to England, Murphy said. “It was horrific.”
Since the women announced they were returning to their ministry roles, “the actual vitriol has diminished, but the messages that we’re not welcome in the town have continued,” Murphy said, leaving the couple, who are in their 50s and have four adopted adult children, feeling ostracized in Athy, a rural community of about 11,000.
Murphy has reported the matter to the Garda and will press charges against those “who incited hatred against us,” he says.
“We can’t walk away from this situation because someone has to speak up, because this is a very sinister attempt to silence all debate,” and a campaign that is “about crushing the message of the Church. We can’t let the thuggery and the bullying win.”
Irish bishops have let the wolves ravage the Church
The situation has come to this, Murphy contends, because Irish Catholics are so poorly catechized that “the feeling on the ground at the moment from the majority of Catholics who go to the church is that Anthony Murphy is out of step with Church teaching.”
Social media commentators claimed he “should realize that Pope Francis has changed things and that all this is acceptable,” and that St. Michael’s is “an inclusive, welcoming parish and so he’s no longer welcome in church because he’s defying the pope, so that’s the perception,” Murphy observed.
“What we’re really looking at here is the complete and abject failure of the shepherds to lead the flock and the wolves have ravaged the flock, and now we have a state of complete anarchy within the Irish church,” he said.
“The Irish bishops are constantly saying the level of faith formation is poor, the level of catechesis is poor. What we can say is that, dear bishops, the level of catechesis is poor because you remain silent. You’re not teaching. You know this is the tragedy, and the Church in Ireland is disintegrating.”
However, Murphy has also been “emboldened” by the “hundreds of messages of support from good, honest, local Catholics, including clergy,” even though many are afraid to speak openly.
“What I plan to do in the months ahead is, we’re going to launch a new movement,” he said. “The only aim of it is to gather the scattered flock, the faithful remnant, so that we have a place where we can network, and we can sustain each other with our prayers and support.”
That’s “so that we can go out, and we can say, this is the time of the laity to speak up and defend the Church, because if the bishops are too afraid or too timid, or are in some other way compromised, we will not let this happen in our name.”
Murphy is in a good position to found such a movement, as he is “reasonably well known in the Catholic world” as publisher of Catholic Voice as well as books and other materials as part of a “family apostolate.” He is also organizing the annual Catholic Voice conference in November, at which Cardinal Raymond Burke will be speaking.
And he and his wife will return eventually to St. Michael’s, Murphy says, but meanwhile, “We need to take a short break to just recharge.”
“At the end of the day, really, what we need is for one of the bishops to step up to the plate, even if he doesn’t comment directly,” he added. “We just need some leadership, because that’s what the Church here is lacking, leadership.”