Belfast Telegraph

Bishop Casey affair caused deep hurt, funeral told

By Brian Hutton

Former Bishop Eamon Casey, who secretly fathered a son during a love affair with an American woman, profoundly upset the Catholic Church and "people in general", his funeral heard.

Bishop of Achonry Brendan Kelly told mourners in Galway's Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas that Bishop Casey "did much good" during his life.

Highlighting his work for Irish emigrants in the UK and for Trocaire, he said Bishop Casey was "a defender of the rights" of the poor and oppressed.

Bishop Kelly recalled Bishop Casey's courage in attending to dozens of stricken people when soldiers opened fire at the funeral of his friend Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador in 1980, during which 50 mourners died.

"There are those of us who remember, with gratitude, his kindness and encouragement when personally we most needed it," he said.

The bishop added: "Then, 25 years ago, the emergence into the light of other hidden realities in his life, beginning with the fact that he had a son, Peter, were profoundly upsetting for the Church and for people in general.

"This is neither the time nor the place to go over the details, which in any case are very well known, not only in Ireland, but all over the world. Yes, we are all sinners, but irresponsibility, infidelity and sin are particularly shocking in the lives of those who preach the Gospel."

Bishop Casey's son Peter Murphy (42), who earlier this week joined other relatives in a glowing tribute to his late father, was not present at the funeral.

Church officials said his sister Ita Furlong could not attend because of illness, while his priest brother Father Micheal, who lives in Perth, Australia, did not make the trip.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam in Galway were unable to attend because of previous commitments to ministering Confirmation.

Bishop Casey died aged 89 in a nursing home on Monday following a long illness.

He gained worldwide notoriety in 1992 after it was revealed that he had a child with American divorcee Annie Murphy and had paid thousands to her for Peter's upkeep in the US.

Referring to the scandal, Bishop Kelly said his former fellow bishop had "expressed his sorrow many times, apologised and asked for forgiveness".

"But people had been hurt and wounded... wounds that do not always heal easily or quickly," he told the funeral service.

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