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02nd Nov 2022

Kerry priest stands by bigoted sermon, says Leo Varadkar is “absolutely” going to Hell if he doesn’t repent

Dave Hanratty

Kerry priest

“If people want to be Catholic, then they need to understand that they cannot accept those things – they need to reject them and fight against them.”

Father Seán Sheehy, the Kerry priest who has come under fire after delivering an anti-homosexual, anti-transgender and anti-abortion sermon last weekend, is standing by his controversial remarks.

Video of the sermon, which took place in St Mary’s Church in Listowel and was broadcast online via Church Media TV, was quickly shared online, resulting in heavy criticism and calls for Sheehy to step down from his post. Some of those in attendance heckled Sheehy, while others left the church during his address.

“Those of you happen to be leaving today – God help you, that’s all I have to say to you,” said Sheehy in their direction. “And God bless you, who are here, and who are worshipping God. God bless all of you.”

The Bishop of Kerry, Ray Browne, issued a formal apology on Tuesday (1 November), stating that Sheehy’s homily did “not represent the Christian position”.

‘People need to face it and repent’

Speaking on Kerry Today on Radio Kerry on Wednesday, Father Sheehy doubled down on his beliefs, while also expressing the view that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is “absolutely” going to Hell if he, and other gay people like him, do not repent.

In conversation on Wednesday, Sheehy began by saying that sin is “engrained in modern culture” and “enshrined in legislation”, pointing to same-sex marriage, legalised abortion, transgenderism and the widespread availability of contraception in Irish society.

“Whatever reason they might do so is beyond me,” Sheehy said of those who left the church during his sermon. “They need to realise that this is really tragic, that this is really sinful. People need to face it and repent and seek forgiveness because it is totally contrary to the scriptures and to the teaching of the church.

“If people want to be Catholic, then they need to understand that they cannot accept those things – they need to reject them and fight against them.”

Asked by host Jerry O’Sullivan if he accepted the “democratic will of the people” in voting for same-sex marriage, Sheehy said he does accept this, “but the democratic will of the people is not the criterion for truth”, noting that comes from God, the scriptures and the teachings of the church. “Right and wrong are determined by God,” he added.

Later, he was asked: “Do you think that our politicians, the ones who legislate for things like same-sex marriage – some of them are openly gay, the soon-to-be Taoiseach again Leo Varadkar… do you think that they are going to Hell?”

Father Sheehy responded: “Absolutely, if they don’t repent on their sin and seek forgiveness, absolutely, absolutely.

“Because what they are doing is contrary, first of all to the law of nature, and secondly, and more importantly, it’s contrary to the law of God. When you go against God, who is the author of life, you are actually going against life itself.”

Sheehy previously made headlines in 2009 when he provided a character reference for convicted sex offender Danny Foley. “I just wanted to support him, just let him know he was not alone,” said Sheehy at the time.

“I apologise to all who were offended,” said Bishop Browne on Tuesday when addressing Sheehy’s weekend sermon.

“The views expressed do not represent the Christian position. The homily at a regular weekend parish Mass is not appropriate for such issues to be spoken of in such terms. I regret that this has occurred while a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land is taking place.”

It is understood that Father Sheehy, who said he received a “standing ovation” upon the conclusion of his latest sermon, will be stood down from his mass-performing duties following his remarks in St Mary’s Church.

Featured Image of Leo Varadkar via Leah Farrell /

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