Michaella McCollum has mended her ways and is on the path to redemption, says Archbishop Walsh
A senior cleric has compared drug mule Michaella McCollum to a man jailed for his part for a scandal linked to former US President Richard Nixon.
Archbishop Sean Walsh said the Dungannon woman had shown the same power for redemption as Charles 'Chuck' Colson, a lawyer known as Nixon's "dirty tricks man", who found God and became a preacher.
"When you look at Michaella and the spiritual journey she is on, you see it in the past as well, in people like Chuck Colson," he said. "He found God and set up a charity for prisoners and became a preacher. He changed his life, as Michaella is now doing."
Archbishop Walsh, who has been a special pastor to many ex-pats in Peruvian prisons, has invited Michaella to live with him and his wife at his apartment in Lima. She was seen in their neighbourhood the day after her RTE interview.
The archbishop, who was allowed to marry after converting to the Eastern Catholic Church from Roman Catholicism, said he was very interested in people like Michaella and Colson who find God and learn to turn their lives around while in prison. "I have thought about writing a book about such people and the journey they have taken," he added.
He also claimed Michaella had matured while in jail and spoke fluent Spanish.
She will now be volunteering in his church and helping Spanish-speaking priests learn how to speak English.
"We should always hold out for redemption," Archbishop Walsh said. "Michaella is a wonderful young woman and she has found her path in life. She will also be working with Aids patients. I think she is going to have a wonderful future."
Colson was imprisoned after organising the break-in to the psychiatrist's office of a man the Nixon government suspected of leaking information about the Vietnam war.
The same team later broke into the Democratic Party's headquarters at the Watergate hotel, prompting the Watergate scandal.