AN IRISH army chaplain who in a sermon referred to the absence
of any mention of Christ or Christianity in the President's
Christmas message has apologised for any embarrassment his remarks
may have caused the head of state.
The Head Chaplain to the Defence Forces, Mgr Eoin Thynne, made
the reference during a sermon in Dublin on Christmas Eve, and
sparked a debate on a radio show in which people called in to say
that the President, Michael D. Higgins, should have included
Christianity in his message, which had gone out on 22 December.
After the airing of the programme, the Defence Forces Chief of
Staff, Lt. Gen. Conor O'Boyle, phoned the President's residence to
"convey the regret of the head chaplain for any embarrassment that
may have been caused to the President", while a press officer for
the Defence Forces issued a statement saying that no criticism of
the President was intended, and that anyone who thought otherwise
was putting a "particularly unfair interpretation" on the
Mgr Thynne was referring to the general change in Irish society
on the meaning of Christmas, it said.
A presidential spokesman said that President Higgins did refer
to a spiritual dimension in his message by acknowledging that "the
message of Christmas, shared by many faiths, invites us to care for
one another and to be, in an ethical sense, one another's