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Eamonn Casey: He's in Cuernavaca; no, Ecuador.

OXFORD, England--Eamonn Casey, the former bishop of Galway, Ireland, who resigned last year after revelations about his affair with a glamorous American, Annie Murphy, has been discovered at last. He is -- or was -- in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Come to think about it, it was the obvious place to look, since most English-speaking missionaries learn Spanish and get their first taste of Hispanic culture there.

The man claiming and cashing in on the discovery is Gordon Thomas, a British writer who lives in Ireland for tax reasons. How did he do it?

"This discovery of the whereabouts of Eamonn Casey came through a combination of my long-standing contacts with the Vatican and the assistance of friends of the bishop who had been in contact with him irregularly over the past 11 months," Thomas said.

Thomas' contacts with the Vatican, developed at the time he was working on Pontiff, a heavy tome, are pretty sketchy and played no part in this story. Nor did the friends of the bishop give him away.

What happened was that Thomas got in on the act of Dympna Kilbane, a woman with a grievance. Kilbane, mother of four (married name Debrunner), lives at Knocknacarra, Galway. She knew Annie Murphy in 1984 when they both worked as telephonists at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin and shared an apartment.

Kilbane said she thinks she is libeled in Murphy's book, Forbidden Fruit, written with the help of resigned priest Peter De Rosa. Despite, or because of, clerical disapproval, it has shot to the top of the Irish best-seller lists.

Kilbane has also raised questions about the paternity of Peter Murphy, the son Annie Murphy claims was fathered by Casey.

Thinking that this information would help Casey, and wanting legal advice in her quarrel with Murphy, Kilbane got his full phone number, including country and area code, from a friend. It was thus easy for Thomas, whose unavowed accomplice she was, to trace Casey to the convent of the Sisters of Charity in Cuernavaca.

Thomas lays on the melodrama. Casey, he declared, had been tracked down as he and Kilbane "followed a tortuous trail involving flying to Mexico City, the hire of a small plane and a trek through desolate mountains to the secret hideout."

Where did the quest lead? Only to an interview with the "gently smiling" Mother Delfina, superior of the convent where "Padre Sean" was holed up. However, Delfina flatly denies ever having given such an interview.

That is a pity because she has him touchingly retiring to his room at night to sing plaintive Irish ballads. "We do not understand the words," as she allegedly said (but didn't), "but the songs sound very lovely; lovely and sad."

Thomas had no better luck with the second interview he published, ostensibly with Casey himself. Casey broke his silence on RTE, Irish radio, to deny that the interview with himself reported by Thomas ever took place.

To have one interview denied might be a misfortune; to have two denied in successive weeks looks like sheer carelessness.

Yet, hearing the familiar rasping voice made the Irish wish Casey would say more. They want to hear, as a Sunday Press editorial put it, "his side of the story, to hear his explanations for his actions, his feelings, then and now."

It concluded sagely, "His many admirers and those who think he should be left in peace also know that he should paint the broader picture and that he will never find the peace he craves unless he does."

Meantime, he has left Cuernavaca and is said to be in a remote mountain village of Ecuador. Thomas will need his tropical kit again.
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Title Annotation:ex-Bishop of Dublin, Ireland
Author:Hebblethwaite, Peter
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Biography
Date:Apr 30, 1993
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