Irish ridicule of priests ‘ludicrous’ – Brendan Gleeson

Actor speaks out on swing against ‘religious certainty’

The actor Brendan Gleeson has said priests today are “derided to a ludicrous degree”.

As he promotes his latest film, Calvary, in which he portrays the trials of an Irish priest facing a death threat, Gleeson spoke in a television interview of the changed realities for priests amid scandals and a rapidly changing world.

“Priests were elevated to a ludicrous standard,” he said, “and are now derided to a ludicrous degree.”

Referencing a wider questioning of “religious certainty” across western Europe, Gleeson went on to suggest that when such certainty is removed, “there is a void left. You take one certainty out of your life and you have to be very careful how you approach what’s left.”

Gleeson further revealed how the spark for the making of Calvary was the number of baseless cases of paedophilia levelled against priests in recent years. “I can’t think how horrific that must be,” he said of priests facing unfounded allegations.

In Calvary, Gleeson plays Fr James Lavelle who is targeted by a man who claims to have been abused by a priest in his youth and now seeks vengeance in killing Lavelle, an entirely innocent priest.

Last week, Gleeson won and Irish Film and Television Award (IFTA) for his role, while Calvary scooped IFTAs for best film, and best script for its writer/director John Michael McDonagh.