Bishop renews attack on HPV vaccine despite HSE warning women’s lives in danger

Bishop: ‘We have to do better than to give our boys condoms and our girls injections’

The Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Phonsie Cullinan. File photograph: John Mc Elroy

The Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Phonsie Cullinan. File photograph: John Mc Elroy

 

The Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Phonsie Cullinan, has renewed his attack on the HPV vaccine, despite a warning by the HSE that he is endangering women’s lives.

Getting the HPV vaccine “could” make young girls more promiscuous because “it changes the mentality,” Bishop Cullinan claimed in a local radio interview on Thursday. “The vaccine gets people to think they are fully protected against cervical cancer when they are not," he told WLR FM.

The HSE has described Bishop Cullinan’s earlier remarks about the vaccine as unacceptable and ill-informed.

“Many of the comments made by Bishop Cullinan simply fly in the face of best available medical and scientific evidence - including the World Health Organisation, the European Centre for Disease Control leading clinicians from a wide variety of disciplines in this country,” said HSE communications director Paul Connors.

“He has chosen certain statistics and repackaged them in a way to suit his particular narrative. His miscommunication of information in this way puts the health and lives of women in Ireland at risk. This is unacceptable for a person in his position.”

Mr Connors said the Bishop’s comments “may have had resonance fifty years ago in Ireland. But in the context of a young, intelligent, vibrant and mobile population of Ireland of 2017 his comments are outdated, unhelpful and quite frankly ill-informed.”

“I have no doubt that Bishop Cullinan is an expert in theology and ecclesiastical matters. Those who are involved in planning for and administering the HPV vaccine are clinical experts in public health medicine and cancer. The women of Ireland might be better served if Bishop Cullinan left pronouncements on important clinical matters such as vaccination programmes to the experts in that field.”

In his radio interview, Bishop Cullinan claimed the Gardasil vaccine was a “lifestyle issue” as well as a medical one “because it affects the lifestyle of our young people”.

He said young people were being “peer-pressured” into having sex in their teenage years with resulting emotional and spiritual damage.

“We have to do better than to give our boys condoms and our girls injections at the age of 12 years,” he said.

He suggested the fall in uptake for the vaccine was due to “parental instinct” opposing its administration to 12-year-olds and said the best protection against the sexually transmitted disease caused by the HPV virus was “good old-fashioned abstinence”.

Asked why he chooses to reject overwhelming medical evidence supporting the vaccine from the World Health Organisation and other authorities, Bishop Cullinan said “we all make mistakes”.

And asked whether the WHO was not a “legit organisation” he replied: “When you are dealing with a billion dollar industry you’re getting into deep stuff there”.