funeral By BESS Twts-roN DAVM, FAMILIES WHOSE children were abused by an Irish priest have forced his former bishop to cancel a trip to New York.
Dr Francis MacKieman, Bishop of Kilmore, was invited to the 150th anniversary dinner of the Cavan Association in New York next month. But relatives of the victims of Fr Brendan Smyth, a priest from Cavan in Kilmore who was convicted of 43 child-abuse offences in: 1995, planned to demonstrate if Bishop MacKiernan attended at the dinner.
The families have accused the Bishop of covering up Fr Smyth's abuse of parish
ioners in Cavan during the 1970s.
Dr MacKiernan has now withdrawn from the dinner. He said last week: "I will not be going, simply because of the amount of trouble and difficulty that it would have caused."
The families hailed the Bishop's decision to withdraw as "a form of victory for Fr Smyth's victims".
Bishop MacKiernan expressed sympathy for Fr Smyth's victims last week, but rejected claims he had concealed Fr Smyth's abuses.
He said: "To accuse me of a cover-up is certainly not true. I had it investigated as best I knew at the time."
Fr Smyth died in prison last year.
A PARISH PRIEST in Southern Italy has protested against the dwindling attendance figures at his church by ringing the bells in mourning and celebrating a mock funeral, wrires Bruce Johnston in Rome.
The response was overwhelming, and for once, there were not enough seats for all those who turned up in the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Piglio with a population of 5,000 close to Fiuggi, in the hilly hinterland between Rome and Naples.
Locals realised they had been duped only when they arrived in church.
There, Padre Bruno Durante had placed an open coffin, with photographs of his church and that of another, the nearby San Giovanni, inside.
"I took my inspiration from the Old Testament prophets, who talked of symbols," said the priest, "and so I decided to do the same, inventing a symbol myself.
"A mere one-quarter of young people studying the Catechism attend Church, which is a serious and paradoxical matter. To add insult to injury, their parents do not answer my invitations.
"If people keep going on like this, the faith will be snuffed out."