Ireland’s newest bishop has prayed for the two little girls raped after they were lured away from a birthday party in Athlone last week.

Fr Francis Duffy was ordained as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois on Sunday at a ceremony in the Westmeath town.

The new bishop told the congregation that he wanted to ‘remember and share the country’s shock and revulsion concerning the attacks on two children in the town’.

He said: “My prayer today is for the young victims, their families and local communities.”

The Irish Independent reports that Bishop Duffy said the Episcopal motto he has chosen is ‘I have come that they may have life’ because each human life is so important.

He added: “When I think of life I think of the great ability we can have to lift hearts and especially the hearts of those who are in dark places, maybe facing difficult choices or feeling abandoned, alone or of little worth or struggling financially, as many are.

“I think of those whose passion for life and whose sensitivity to others conveys the message that life is worth living, the message of Jesus Christ.”

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, Cardinal Sean Brady, and outgoing Bishop Colm O’ Reilly, who has retired, co-consecrated the service in Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.

A former teacher and school principal in Cavan and Leitrim, the 53-year-old Bishop Duffy, 53 was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Kilmore in June 1982.

He said he is eager to continue and build on the good work that the faithful and talented clergy of this diocese and their parish communities have accomplished.

Bishop Duffy added: “I am conscious that I need to listen, and to engage with, the people, priests and religious so that together and with God’s help we can continue to build up the people of God in Ardagh and Clonmacnois.

“I look forward with great joy and enthusiasm to joining with you and to working and living among you in our mission of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.”