Award-winning actor Gabriel Byrne says he is staunchly opposed to Catholicism because he was sexually abused while training as a priest.
Byrne (60) not only describes himself as “extremely anti-Catholic”, he also says he’s “very much of an atheist”.
“The Catholic Church is repressive of women and minorities and repressive of its followers. It victimised people through propaganda and kept them in line through primitive fear,” he said.
“The first step that has to be taken is the abolition of celibacy. The Church that is supposed to be about love denies its followers the most sacred expression of love. It says, you can’t do that because you’ll go to hell for it. You can do it if you’re married but even then you can only do it on certain days of the month.”
Speaking about the clerical sex abuse scandal, he goes on to say how it was “an epidemic that was covered up and the victims were made to feel responsible for the crimes perpetrated”.
The Usual Suspects star — who was once married to actress Ellen Barkin — has previously spoken out about how he was also a victim of clerical sex abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers in Ireland when he was 11 years old and a second time in England.
“Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse. It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn’t want to be left in the dressing room with him,” he said.
“It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.
“Again, I didn’t think it severely impacted me at the time. But I suppose when I think about my later life, and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that.”
Now the actor is enjoying a career high in the US, thanks to the success of HBO series In Treatment, which earned him a Golden Globe award.
The acclaimed series sees him take on the part of psychotherapist Paul Weston with the third series set to air soon.