Nuns say they cannot host Catholic Church event after protest threat

Josepha Madigan was due to address meeting at Mercy International Centre in Dublin

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said: ‘It is truly disappointing that Mercy International Centre has been targeted in this way. ’Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said: ‘It is truly disappointing that Mercy International Centre has been targeted in this way. ’Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Mercy International Centre in Dublin is no longer hosting an event which the Minister for Culture was due to speak at in relation to women and the Catholic Church because of threats of protest.

Josepha Madigan, who had strongly supported the repeal of the Eighth Amendment on abortion, was due to address a meeting of the We Are Church movement on “Why the Catholic Church should open all ministries to women” at the Mercy International Centre on Baggot Street in February.*

A letter from Sr Mary Reynolds, chief executive of Mercy International Association to We Are Church, said the centre “will not be able to provide a meeting room” for the event.

“Having assessed the many and vigorous representations made to us about our venue being made available, we believe that to ignore the opposition being expressed would put Mercy International at grave reputational risk,” Sr Reynolds said.

“Threats have been made of busloads of protestors being brought to the site and two parishes have indicated that they speak on behalf of parishioners.”

Sr Reynolds said while most correspondence has been courteous, “there has been some vitriolic comment and at least one of our staff has been intimidated by a caller”.

“While we acknowledge that this opposition is probably a well-orchestrated social media campaign, we are unwilling to become the target for anger directed at either the speaker for the occasion or the topic or both,” she said.

Sr Reynolds said many of the representations referred to Ms Madigan’s “connection with the abortion referendum and Bill” and apologised for “reluctantly” making the venue unavailable.

“We also believe that the role of women in the church is a topic that has long been neglected. It is because of our regard and concern for our church that we are saddened that this role has been so minimally recognised,” Sr Reynolds added.

The We Are Church meeting will now take place at a Dublin hotel on February 11th.

Ms Madigan said: “It is truly disappointing that Mercy International Centre has been targeted in this way when the subject matter of the evening is in relation to the role of women in ministries in the Catholic Church, an issue entirely separate to my role as campaign co-ordinator in repealing the Eighth Amendment.”

“The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 is now law having been signed by the President following a decisive decision by the Irish people.”

*Correction: An earlier version of story stated Ms Madigan supported the Eighth Amendment of the constitution. Ms Madigan supported the repeal of the amendment.