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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

Column: On a 'bold' priest and his seditious message of love

This week, the (Not) Primate of All Ireland tries to avoid being influenced by the arrival of a ‘maverick’ priest who wants him to be nice to gay people and for clerics to be able to marry.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

THIS WEEK WE learned a timely lesson thanks, ironically,  to a rebellious “maverick” priest.


Bishop Brophy arrives at the house unannounced. He has a mild-mannered looking priest in tow. He takes me to one side, and informs me that the priest is none other than the infamous Fr Wally O’ Reilly.

“The bold priest,” gasps Fr Lawlor, who has been eavesdropping on our conversation.

Very soon the news is all over the house. The priests are understandably disturbed. After all, the media is full of stories about Fr O’Reilly’s heretical book “A New Vision”, in which he outlines his vision for a new church in which we are nice to gay people and priests are allowed to marry.

Some of the priests gather in the hallway to have a look.

“Stay at least two metres away from him at all times,” shouts Bishop Brophy. “Don’t be fooled by his innocuous manner, he is a heretic. You must not listen to him.”

There are nervous murmurs, and the priests move aside as Bishop Brophy prods Fr O’ Reilly up the stairs with a long stick. Fr O’Reilly stops his ascent for a moment and asks where the bathroom is.

“Cover your ears! Cover your ears!” shrieks Fr Mullen as he hits the ground.


Bishop Brophy has brought a group of us to a well known bookshop. Our aim? To buy up as many copies of Fr O’Reilly’s profane tome as possible. Fortunately the shop in question is doing a three for two deal.

Back at the house, Fr O’Reilly is confined to an upstairs bedroom where he has been asked to reflect on his behaviour, while Bishop Brophy consults with myself and the hierarchy on how best to deal with him.

Meanwhile, a large pile of Fr O’Reilly’s unforgivable book is growing in the common room.


News from the USA that a group of nuns has been reprimanded by the Vatican. Apparently they haven’t paid enough attention to the issues of abortion and gay marriage. Instead they have been focusing on what Bishop Brophy calls “trendy topics like social justice.” In an even more worrying development they have been expressing opinions.

“It’s shocking,” says Fr O’Neill.

“They should focus more on the Biblical view of family and sexuality,” says Fr Doyle, who, whenever he says the word “sexuality” does a little choking sound at the back of his throat to demonstrate his subconscious abhorrence of the very subject.

Meanwhile, Fr Lawlor picks up one of Fr O’Reilly’s books and shakes it. “That’s just the kind of carry on that leads to the writing of this kind of dangerous nonsense,” he says.

He opens the book. “Just checking the acknowledgements pages for the names of any subversive priests,” he says.

Bishop Brophy looks proud.

Later that day he shows us the film Black Narcissus, in which a group of nuns go mad up the side of a mountain because a man arrives and starts nonchalantly hanging around their convent. To further hammer the message home he hands out copies of his best selling coffee table book “When Nuns go Mad.”


Fr Ryan comes downstairs after giving Fr O’ Reilly his breakfast. “I’VE JUST GIVEN HIM HIS BREAKFAST!” he roars.

“Take out your earplugs,” says Fr O’ Neill.

“RICE KRISPIES!” roars Fr Ryan in response.

Meanwhile, Fr Lawlor, Fr O’ Neill and Fr Deegan are scouring the pages of Fr O’ Reilly’s book  for more seditious material.


Bishop Brophy has now managed to buy every available copy of “A New Vision” in Ireland, but he has maxed out his credit card in the process.

Meanwhile, more of the priests have taken to reading the book in the common room to discuss its dangerous contents.

“Sexuality,” says Fr Doyle in a contemptuous manner while making his little chokey sound. “You’d swear it was the be all and all the way some people go on about it all the time.”

“And sure why would a priest want to marry anyway?” says Fr Ryan.

“For companionship, for love, for the fulfilment of God’s purpose for oneself with another human being who cares for you and loves you,” says Fr Lawlor.

All eyes turn to Fr Lawlor.

“Is what it says in the book,” he squeaks.

“Sexuality this. Sexuality that. Sex, sex, sex, sex and more sex,” says Fr Doyle, his cheeks reddening in fury.

“There’s even a chapter about being nice to the gays,” says Fr O’ Leary.

It is at this point that Fr Deegan bursts into tears and bolts from the room.


We have taken Fr O’Reilly to a monastery to think about what he has done. For three months.

The monks are an enclosed order who have taken a vow of silence. The abbot communicates through miming, but then has to resort to writing in a note book because Fr Lawlor insists on repeating “Is it a book?”

The mood on the minibus is subdued as we drive home.

“I’m glad to see the back of him,” says Fr Ryan.

There is a short pause.

“Yeah, me too,” says Fr O’Neill hesitantly.

Bishop Brophy smiles. “Change, transformation, so called progress. These are just fancy and insidious words to catch you out. Never forget that.”

And I can tell by their silence that everybody agrees with him.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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