THE former RC Bishop of Galway, Dr Eamonn Casey, whose admission in 1992 that he had fathered a son scandalised the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, has died from Alzheimer’s disease in a nursing home in Co. Clare.
Dr Casey, who died on Tuesday, aged 89, was noted for his work as a priest among Irish emigrants in London before he became Bishop of Kerry, and was then translated to Galway.
It was there that he befriended the daughter of a friend from the United States who was entrusted to his care after an acrimonious divorce, and with whom he had an affair that resulted in the birth of a son, Peter, in the 1970s. The Bishop was also found to have used diocesan funds towards his son’s upkeep.
He was immediately dispatched as a missionary priest, first to the US and then to Ecuador, and, finally, to a parish in Arundel & Brighton diocese.
When he finally retired and returned to Ireland in 2006, he lived in seclusion, and was banned from exercising any public ministry. He lived for a time in a rural Galway parish.
President Michael D. Higgins, noting his work among immigrants in Britain and for the charity Trócaire, said that, although some of the Bishop’s actions had brought pain to others, he acknowledged this, “apologised, and expressed his deep regret, and he himself had the experience of pain visited on him in later life”.
The present Administrator of Galway diocese, Canon Michael McLoughlin, said that Dr Casey had brought blessings to many people, but to be human was to be both blessed and flawed. “Some of his actions caused great hurt, and the circumstances giving rise to his resignation in 1992 have been the subject of ongoing analysis.”