Bishop objects to LGBT centre grant on ‘moral grounds’

Martin Drennan queries St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Society giving €45,000 to Amach! group

The Catholic Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has sought clarification on a grant made by the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Society to a resource centre for LGBT people in the city which he objects to on moral grounds. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

The Catholic Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has sought clarification on a grant made by the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Society to a resource centre for LGBT people in the city which he objects to on moral grounds. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

 

The Catholic Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has sought clarification on a grant made by the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Society to a resource centre for LGBT people in the city which he objects to on moral grounds.

The grant of €45,000 was paid over a three year period by the SVP to Amach LGBT Galway as a contribution to a resource centre which Galway City Council has pledged to provide.

Bishop Drennan said that “on moral grounds we can’t support that.” Homosexual activity was “in our eyes morally wrong behaviour and we cannot put funds at the service of what we don’t believe is morally incorrect.” His problem was “the moral judgement involved.” The reputation of the SVP “has been put in question by this grant,” he said.

Speaking today on Galway Bay FM’s The Keith Finnegan Show, he said his main concern in the controversy was that “the losers would be the poor of the city.” He hoped the matter could be resolved in a way “that would restore the image of the Vincent de Paul.” If it “supports an organisation we dont’t agree with, we can’t support it anymore, that’s what I’m hearing,” he said.

When it came to such grants “you have to judge what’s going to be the outcome,” he said, “you have to judge the worthiness of the cause.”

Amach! LGBT Galway is a community based organisation and supported locally by Galway County Council, Galway City Partnership, Gort Resource Centre, Loughrea Family Resource Centre, Galway & Roscommon ETB, West Training & Development and Youth Work Ireland.

A spokesman for the St Vincent de Paul Society told The Irish Times today that the the “SVP Maureen O’Connell Fund (MOCF) in Galway” approved the grant. The fund administers a legacy willed to SVP by the late Maureen O’Connell in 2007 when she left the Society her pub on Eyre Square

The SVP spokesman pointed out that “the MOCF has spent or approved €8.5m to a variety of projects in the Galway area” and that under the terms of the will it was stipulated the fund “can only be used in the Galway area. In the context of SVP support it is a fraction of what the SVP spends in providing direct assistance to families and individuals, €42m in 2012.”

He said the SVP position was to help people “on the basis of need and in a non-judgemental way.” The fund “operates separately from the day-to-day work of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Galway, which involves volunteer members responding to the needs of households who request assistance,” he said

The decision to help Amach “was made purely on the basis of need in the Galway area, in the same way as all requests for support are assessed. It does not signify any other motive,” he said.

He also confirmed that the SVP had no formal association with the Catholic Church or its bishops but that “relationships at a local level were very strong with local clergy very much involved.” This was also the case in Galway, he said.