Leo Varadkar hits back at Kerry priest’s claim that he is ‘absolutely’ going to hell if he doesn’t repent for sin of being gay

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has responded to controversial comments made by a suspended priest who stated that Irish politicians who support same sex marriage and are openly gay are “absolutely” going to hell if they “don’t repent on sin and seek forgiveness”.

spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said the Fine Gael leader ‘profoundly disagrees’ with the views of Fr Seán Sheehy.

Fr Sheehy defended a sermon he made, at St Mary’s Church in Listowel over the weekend, saying he was preaching “the word of God” and all priests are “obligated” to do so.

This afternoon, a Cabinet minister has called on the priest to apologise and retract the remarks.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys condemned the comments by Fr Sheehy.

“Those are absolutely unacceptable comments, and I’m disappointed to hear that a priest would make comments like that,” Ms Humphreys said.

She said the priest should “come out and apologise” for the remarks but declined to say whether they could be classified as hate speech.

“It’s a complicated area. So I wouldn’t like to say whether it is or it isn’t. But all I can say is that it’s terrible thing to say. It shouldn’t have been said and I hope that he does retract it,” the minister said in Dublin

She said it was “matter for the church” as to whether the priest should be sanctioned by Catholic Church authorities.

Speaking in Belfast, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described the comments as “disgraceful” and “a reflection on the person” who made them rather than anything else. “They should be withdrawn and there should be an apology,” he said.

More than 30 parishioners walked out of the mass after Fr Sheehy condemned transgenderism, same-sex couples, and supplying condoms to teenagers in his sermon.

Speaking on Radio Kerry, the priest claimed that some parishioners have since thanked him for his sermon.

When asked by Kerry Today host Jerry O’Sullivan: “Do you think that our politicians, the ones who legislate for things like same sex marriage – some of them are openly gay, the soon to be Taoiseach again Leo Varadkar – do you think they are going to hell?,” he responded: “Absolutely, if they don’t repent on sin and seek forgiveness”.

“Because what they’re doing is contrary to the law of nature and secondly, and more importantly, it’s contrary to the law of God. When you go against God, who is the author of life, you actually go against life itself.”

A spokesman for Leo Varadkar said after speaking to him in Singapore, where he is leading a trade mission: “The Tánaiste profoundly disagrees with Fr Sheehy’s views, however he respects his right to express his religious beliefs freely.

“The Tánaiste does not believe that gay people will go to hell for being who they are, nor does he believe that any man or woman can make such a judgment. As Pope Francis said, “who are we to judge”.

“And As the Bible says, judge not lest you be judged. We are all God’s children.”

In a statement released yesterday, the Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne said he is aware of hurt caused by the contents of Fr Sheehy’s homily.

“I apologise to all who were offended. The views expressed do not represent the Christian position.

“The homily at a regular weekend parish Mass is not appropriate for such issues to be spoken of in such terms. I regret that this has occurred while a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land is taking place,” Bishop Browne said.

However, Fr Sheehy said Bishop Browne was “totally wrong” to issue the apology.

The priest also confirmed that Bishop Browne has suspended him from saying mass.

“I couldn’t care less really because I know myself that what I said cannot be disproven by any honest to God Catholic, Christian or Catholic teaching and that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“I think what’s he is doing basically is, he’s actually sacrificing the truth or he’s muzzling the truth in order to appease people because they don’t want to face reality that they need to face before they die, and that’s a given.

“He [Bishop Browne] should have said to the people, ‘Fr Sheehy was only preaching the truth, that’s it. He’s only preaching the gospel, he’s only preaching the catechism, that’s it.’”

Fr Sheehy also took aim at the HSE for handing out free contraception, accusing the organisation of “promoting promiscuity”.

“The sexual health message is basically, ‘go ahead have sex so long as there’s not going to be a pregnancy and if there is a pregnancy go have an abortion’. That’s the sexual health message. That’s a very unhealthy and inhuman message to send to people,” he added.

When asked if things were better in the days when the Magdalene Laundries were in operation the priest said: “No, it was not better in those days but the fact is though, that was the best they knew how in those days and also a lot of the stuff about the laundries and the rest of that stuff has been exaggerated by the media,” he said.

“Like the Tuam babies thing and also the Indian woman [Savita Halappanavar] that was used to legitimise abortion. That was total lie.”

Radio Kerry’s Jerry O’Sullivan challenged Fr Sheehy over his comments saying the reporting of Ms Halappanavar’s death is “factually correct”.

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