Belfast Telegraph

Mass goers in Donegal walk out after priest criticises GAA star for backing 'Yes' on same sex marriage

Father John Britto spoke in favour of a ‘No’ vote during the weekend sermon
Father John Britto spoke in favour of a ‘No’ vote during the weekend sermon

By Greg Harkin

Members of a Catholic congregation in Donegal walked out of a Mass in protest at a priest’s views on gay marriage and his comments on an All-Ireland winning gaelic footballer.

Indian-born Carmelite priest Father John Britto spoke in favour of a ‘No’ vote during the weekend sermon in Annagry, west Donegal, criticising Donegal footballer Eamon McGee who has backed the ‘Yes’ camp in the marriage equality referendum.

Fr Britto said he didn’t see anyone leave during the sermon.

“I won’t talk to the media because the media will only twist what I have to say; I speak to the people in church and I only the speak the truth and the Word of God,” he said.

“I didn’t see anybody leaving. I didn’t see that,” he insisted.

However eye-witnesses confirmed more than a dozen people walked out of the Mass.

Among those who left were relatives of a woman who was being remembered during the anniversary Mass.

“Fr Britto said Eamon McGee was wrong to back the Yes campaign,” said the member of the congregation.

“He (the priest) is entitled to his view but it didn’t go down well. After the Mass some members of the congregation approached the family of the woman being remembered to say they only stayed because of them, otherwise they would have walked out too.”

Noel Sharkey, who is from the parish and served there as an altar boy, is part of the Yes campaign in Donegal.

He said: ”As a Catholic and a gay man from the area, I think it’s essential that we engage on this issue in a respectful and tolerant way, and I ask people to avoid using hurtful or upsetting language.

“Yes Equality Donegal asks people to focus their attention on the key principles of love and equality as they make their mind up on this important issue.”

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