04 December 2009

Fr Michael Sinnott welcomed home in Ireland

Fr Michael Sinnott with his sisters, Mrs Aine Kenny, left, and Mrs Kathleen O'Neill, right, at Dublin Airport, 3 December 2009

Today's Irish Times has a report by its Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Mary Fitzgerald, on the homecoming yesterday of Fr Michael Sinnott, who had been kidnapped on 11 October in the Philippines: Released priest hopes he can 'fade back into obscurity now'.

'Fr Michael Sinnott (79) was greeted by his family, fellow priests from the Columban Missionaries and Department of Foreign Affairs officials. “Apart from the weather, it’s always good to be back in Ireland,” he joked.'

The Columban priest arrived home exactly a week after the publication of the Dublin Report on child abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin, which has caused much anger and dismay at the way archbishops and bishops in the archdiocese dealt with or failed to deal with grave crimes by priests. The Irish Times says that Father Sinnott was aware of the report. It quotes him:

'I’m working myself with a very vulnerable section of the community, including people who have suffered from abuse. It is a heinous crime for anyone in authority to abuse children, especially priests,' he said. 'It’s difficult also because the morale of the good priests, the men who are doing their work day by day, is affected by all this.'

It further quotes him about his plans and hope for the future:

'I hope to go back to Pagadian to continue the work I have been doing for the last few years,' he said. 'Why wouldn’t I want to go back? I’ve been working all my life in the Philippines, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I can.'

The full report is here.

The Irish Examiner also carries a story on Father Sinnott's return to his native country: Priest home after kidnap ordeal.

Elderly priest Fr Michael Sinnott made an emotional return to Ireland today for the first time since his month in captivity at the hands of Philippine rebels.

And the 79-year-old, who has a serious heart problem, vowed to go back to his work as a Columban missionary in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao in the new year.

Fr Sinnott was embraced by family members as he arrived at Dublin airport.
“It was more or less tearful and hugging, rather than talking,” he said afterwards.

Full story here.

RTÉ, Ireland's national radio and TV service, carries the story Fr Sinnott arrives back in Ireland. The page carries links to the report on the Six One News and on the Nine News. The body of the report has a link to an interview with Father Sinnott by Joe O'Brien at Dublin Airport.

The Irish priest who was held captive in the Philippines for 31 days has arrived home to spend Christmas in his native Wexford.

Father Michael Sinnott, who was freed three weeks ago, intends to go back to the missions in the New year.

There were emotional scenes when he was met on arrival at Dublin airport this afternoon by his family. He was also greeted by fellow priests from the Columban Order and staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Looking remarkably better that he did on his release on 11 November, Fr Sinnott said he was amazed by the publicity his kidnap generated both in the Philippines and here in Ireland. He thanked everyone for their prayers and good wishes.

Fr Sinnott said he never felt in any danger from his captives and they had told him they'd never kill a priest. His only fear was that he might be hurt if the military had tried to release him by force.

He said he has a return ticket to the Philippines for mid January, when he hopes to resume the work he has been undertaking for 50 years.

Fr Sinnott said he hopes there are not too many parties planned for him during his holiday.

Asked about the controversy over the handling of clerical child abuse here, Fr Sinnott said it is a very difficult time for good priests who are doing their work day by day.

Watch full interview

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