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Irish archbishop insists priests are 'normal'

An archbishop in Ireland has attacked the state broadcaster for treating lesbians as normal but regarding priests as 'freaks'.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly said a recent radio chat show host had spoken to ex-Big Brother winner Anna Nolan about her living with her girlfriend in London, "as if it was the most natural thing in the world".

The interviewer was, Dr Clifford noted, "very much at ease" with her and full of praise for someone who was so brave and talented. But later in the same program, a newly ordained priest was interviewed about his vocation.

"The young priest was cross-examined on what in heaven's name prompted him top go forward for the priesthood and the interviewer said she would never encourage her sons to enter the priesthood and a 'lonely life'," he said.

Dr Clifford said he found it "truly amazing that in the Ireland of 2002, a lesbian is seen as normal and a priest is seen as a freak by the national media". The archbishop was speaking the ordination of Fr John Sweeney, a new member of the Pallottine order in St Patrick's Church, Doon, Co Limerick.

Dr Clifford said Ireland had "two different worlds", one of them containing "people who see themselves as sophisticated and who take too much notice of the national media.

"There is the world you get from RTE (the national broadcasting organisation) and the Irish Times newspaper, where you have a situation where a lesbian is seen as normal and a priest is a freak and you have the real world, where the people of Doon welcome a newly-ordained priest.

Archdiocese of Cashel & Emily | Archbishop Dermot Clifford
Big Brother's Anna Nolan gets her very own BBC series (BBC media release)
It's good to get out of the house (The Observer)

The Universe

3 Sep 2002