Church urged to reach out to unmarried families

Church urged to reach out to unmarried families Bishop Larry Duffy ©Rory Geary
New bishop 
in appeal


The Church in Ireland must do more to reach out to Catholics who feel themselves on the margins and recognise that God is still present in families where the parents are not married, Ireland’s newest bishop has said.

Speaking after his ordination in Monaghan’s St Macartan’s Cathedral on Sunday, Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher said that in over four decades of priesthood he has learned that God has an openness to people that is often much greater than our limited vision.

“I enjoy people, and even if their story is not the regular one, Church-wise, I still enjoy meeting them,” he said. “I think God has a place for a lot of us – he’ll reach out much wider than we might reach.”

Echoing Pope Francis, Bishop Duffy praised the deep and profoundly Christian love that he experiences present among all sorts of families, describing this as inspirational.

“In parishes I meet people who are extraordinary in terms of their generosity, in terms of how they care for family,” he said. “I’m thinking of one family I’ve met where there are 10 children, and there’s just a lovely atmosphere in the house. They’re not married, but there’s a lot of Christianity there, I think.

“I think of others who look after people with special needs, who look after aged parents,” he said, continuing, “I couldn’t do what they do, and I’m inspired by what they do and just how they cope with life.”

Having concluded his initial address as bishop with a reminder that Christ is someone who is “not so much interested in past sin as in the grace of the present moment”, and who never gives up on people, Dr Duffy said that while he sees his ministry as one of healing, he believes there is a general call towards healing in the Church in Ireland.

“People are a gift – many of us are hurt, many of us can be damaged, I suppose, so to reach out to one another, they’ll also heal me,” he said. “That’s not a one-way street. I have need of being accompanied too.”