Bishop urged priests to use anti-abortion campaign text at Masses
Call comes after Pro Life Campaign letter to Bishop of Waterford and Lismore said ‘a lot of Massgoers intend to vote Yes’
Pro Life Campaign: ‘A lot of Mass goers intend to vote Yes’
The Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsis (Phonsie) Cullinan urged his priests to use material scripted by the Pro Life Campaign at Masses last weekend encouraging people to vote No next Friday.
In a letter to the priests last Wednesday he said Eilish Mulroy, campaign officer with the Pro Life Campaign, had written to him saying that, from their feedback, “a lot of Mass goers intend to vote Yes”.
The bishop quoted her as saying: “Some are being influenced by the talk about hard cases.” He said the Pro Life Campaign were “urging us to speak one last time on this issue in a sensitive and personal manner. She herself gives an example of the kind of words we could use as follows”.
The bishop then quoted two lengthy paragraphs written by Ms Mulroy for use by priests in Waterford and Lismore at Masses over the weekend.
She suggested the priest, in addressing Mass goers, begin by saying “we all know that it can be nearly counter-productive for priests to speak about social or political issues. All the same I want to speak to you in a personal way about the referendum and to share my deep concern about this”.
The priest then, as scripted by Ms Mulroy, tells his congregation the referendum “is not about the hard cases that trouble many good people. This referendum is about taking all constitutional rights from all unborn children”.
It would mean “abortion on demand, just like in Britain” and “abortion without a time limit if the baby has severe life limiting disability”. The priest was then to say: “as your priest and friend, I am begging you to vote ‘No’, I am voting ‘No’ myself”.
Ms Mulroy’s script concluded: “Please encourage your family and friends that the kind and decent thing to do is to vote ‘No’. We can do much better than this for women and their unborn babies.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged the pro-choice views of Waterford Minister of State John Halligan had nothing to do with his not being accepted as a sponsor at his godson’s Confirmation on Sunday, according to an informed Catholic Church source.
It was further pointed out that guidelines for such sponsors were circulated in the diocese last March by Bishop Cullinan. These had pointed out a sponsor must be “a confirmed and practicing Catholic, at least 16 years old” and “in good standing with the Church, leading with a good life built on faith”.
By his own public declaration Mr Halligan is an atheist.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Halligan accused the Catholic Church “of resorting to ‘petty, pitiful tactics’ in the campaign on the Eighth Amendment referendum,” after he was stopped from sponsoring his godson at a Confirmation Mass in Waterford.
In a statement Mr Halligan insisted, “I am not being a hypocrite here. I fully accept that, as an atheist, I do not meet the criteria set down by the Catholic Church that a confirmation sponsor must be a practising Catholic.”
However, he added: “I know for a fact that other sponsors were not approached to query their suitability to the role or their views on the 8th Referendum.” The Minister said it made him wonder “how threatened the Catholic Church is feeling about the result of Friday’s referendum, if they are prepared to resort to this carry on”.
In a statement Bishop Cullinan said that last March he had circulated guidelines on the role of a Confirmation sponsor. These had made clear, among other matters, that “a sponsor must be a confirmed and practising Catholic”.
Elsewhere, in a “final statement” on the referendum on Monday night , Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne said, quoting Pope Francis, that “no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate the life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb”. He described as “extreme” the Government’s proposed legislation if the referendum is passed.
If passed the bishop said he believed the referendum would “introduce a system similar to Britain where many claim that 90 per cent of babies aborted are healthy babies.
“I am voting ‘No’ next Friday. I encourage, you to do the same. Please pray that the people of our country will choose to vote ‘No’, thus honouring and defending the life of every unborn child,” he said.