A ROMAN CATHOLIC bishop in Ireland, who delivered a homily that said that the RC Church was under attack from a “godless culture”, faces an investigation by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) under incitement-to-hatred legislation, after a complaint was made by a humanist.
The Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, made the remark during a mass at the shrine at Knock, in Co. Mayo.
The Garda has confirmed that it has prepared and forwarded a file to the DPP after John Colgan, a leader in the Campaign to Separate Church and State in the late 1990s, made allegations that the address by Dr Boyce was in breach of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.
Mr Colgan referred in his formal complaint to two passages in Dr Boyce’s homily. In one of them, Dr Boyce refers to the RC Church in Ireland as being “attacked from outside by the arrows of a secular and godless culture”.
A second passage stated: “For the distinguishing mark of Christian believers is the fact they have a future; it is not that they know all the details that await them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness.”
Mr Colgan said in his complaint: “I believe statements of this kind are an incitement to hatred of dissidents, outsiders, secularists, within the meaning of the [Incitement to Hatred] Act. . . The statements exemplify the chronic antipathy towards secularists, humanists etc., which has manifested itself in the ostracising of otherwise perfectly good Irish citizens.” A spokesman for the Catholic Communications office said: “Bishop Boyce’s homily ‘To Trust in God’
is available for anyone to read at catholicbishops.ie. I advise any person to read it and judge it for themselves.”
After the homily was delivered, late last summer, Mr Colgan received a personal response from Dr Boyce, in which he said that he did not “wish to disparage in any way the sincere efforts of those with no religious beliefs, atheists, humanists etc. . .
I wished to encourage and confirm the hope of believers, even in the present challenging times, since trust in God was the theme I was given.”