Bishop’s views on HPV vaccine


Sir, – I found it incredible that the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Phonsie Cullinan, would use the pages of a national newspaper to attempt to conflate the clinical value of the HPV vaccine with the church’s views on the need to “help young people stay chaste”. I know well and have enormous respect for the excellent work that Bishop Cullinan does in the Waterford community. He is a man of great integrity. But he is fundamentally wrong in his comments on the HPV vaccine, which go against a massive body of medical and scientific evidence. And his attempts to weigh in on a medical argument are ill-advised, to say the least. Religion has no place in medical debate and the Catholic Church’s track record on the medical welfare of Irish women speaks for itself. Our health and health education policies need to be evidence-based, with faith and morals left firmly at the door. I would urge Bishop Phonsie to leave clinical debates to the clinical experts. – Yours, etc,


(Minister of State

for Training, Skills,

Innovation, Research

and Development),

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – When my doctor starts offering advice on matters ecumenical, I may start to listen to Bishop Cullinan’s opinions on matters medical. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – In reference to Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan and the HPC vaccine, David Harte comments that “a person in a position of respect questioning the opinion of qualified medical personnel without any relevant qualifications is not good”, and Dr Niall Breen suggests that the bishop’s comments “were at best ill-advised and at worst extremely ignorant” (September 28th). Both are surely correct. What needs to be said too is that such interventions are a source of excruciating embarrassment to Catholics who, after all that has happened, have to witness Catholic bishops still imagining that their position confers knowledge and expertise on issues clearly beyond their competence. – Yours, etc,



Ballina, Co Mayo.

Sir, – Why is the opinion of a bishop on the effectiveness of vaccines given such weight in the newspaper of reference? The position of the global expert body – the World Health Organisation – was given minor billing in the story.

I look forward to future stories in the series: “Greengrocer rejects latest quantum computing breakthrough” and “Dental surgeon sceptical of badger link to bovine TB”. – Yours, etc,



Co Westmeath.