Donegal priest Father Damien McGroarty, 29, delivered a dramatic homily on Sunday in which he shared his worry about whether others assumed him to be a pedophile.
His concern comes following the release of the Raphoe Report, which found that 14 priests had abused 52 young people in the Raphoe Diocese he serves in.
"These past few years, I have always felt self-conscious about my decision to become a priest. Will people ridicule me for becoming a priest? Will I be branded a paedophile priest? Even now I am so self-conscious walking down the street wondering what are people thinking of me,” said Father McGroarty during his homily.
The Irish Examiner reports that Father McGroarty feels the impact of the abuse on both a personal and a communal level. The young priest worries for both the Church and his perceived image as a priest in light of the scandal.
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“I hope and pray that justice is administered by the state and by the Church," said McGroarty in his closing, to which he received an enthusiastic ovation.
Just an hour after delivering his emotional homily, Dr Philip Boyce, the Bishop of Raphoe, read a pastoral letter during the 11:15 mass offering apologies to both the victims and the community the abuse effected.
"We have all suffered from this painful chapter in our history,” said Dr Boyce, “But we pray that this awful sin and crime will not continue to afflict us, but that our children will remain unhurt and safe.”
Boyce had taken office in the Raphoe Diocese sixteen years ago. He said that of his tenure there, he admired the dedication and work of the the "vast majority of the priests of the diocese".
"Whatever good we do for them [our children] is for the good of all, since the future belongs to them," Boyce said.