'How can you cheer abortion?': Bishop 'horrified' by referendum celebrations

Alphonsus Cullinan said Catholic Yes voters “should go to confession”.

THE BISHOP OF Waterford and Lismore has said he was “horrified” by people celebrating the repeal of the Eighth Amendment last weekend.

“I was horrified to see the jumping and roaring and cheering in Dublin Castle last Saturday. How can you cheer about abortion?,” Alphonsus Cullinan asked during an interview on local radio station WLR FM today.

Ireland last week voted by 66.4% to 33.6% to remove the amendment from the Constitution, which gave equal status to the mother and the unborn, paving the way for the legalisation of abortion in some circumstances.

There were scenes of jubilation at Dublin Castle last weekend, with the landslide Yes victory being hailed as a positive step for women’s rights in the country. More than 170,000 women and girls have travelled from Ireland to another country for an abortion since 1980.

Speaking to Déise Today, Cullinan said Yes voters “need confession if they are to receive communion”, echoing comments made by the Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran earlier this week.

WLR / SoundCloud

“If people have knowingly and willingly voted Yes well then they have to examine their conscience and go before the Lord and say, ‘Lord, we got this wrong’,” Cullinan said.

He added that Yes voters “should examine their conscience and they should talk to the priest, they should go to confession”.

When host Eamon Keane noted that 82% of people surveyed as part of RTÉ’s exit poll on the referendum said they felt “well-informed” about the details of what they were voting on, Cullinan questioned the “critical thinking ability of the Irish”.

“Do we think things through? Do we accept that there is an objective morality or do we make up our own?

I think now so many people just make up their own morality and that, in many ways, is frightening because it means at the end of the day it’s those who are strong and powerful who will dictate to the less powerful and the weak.


Cullinan said the Yes vote means euthanasia is essentially now accepted in Ireland.

“Let’s face it, euthanasia has now been accepted in the sense that we have accepted, the majority of the Irish people have accepted, that some life is not worthy of life,” he said.

pastedimage-25769 Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan Twitter / CatholicBishops Twitter / CatholicBishops / CatholicBishops

Cullinan said local No campaigners have gathered a number of times since the vote.

Yes there was dejection and people were down and very sad, very afraid for the future, but by the same token there was a great buzz, there was a great feeling of some kind of pentecost.

“People are not going to give up because they believe that for the good of Ireland and for the good of people that abortion is not a good thing, that it is the destruction of a little life,” he stated.

John Halligan

Last month, junior minister John Halligan accused Cullinan of not allowing him to be his godson’s sponsor at his confirmation because he was in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.

When asked about this today, Cullinan said: “John excluded himself from the Confirmation. How could someone who does not believe in God and has made it public, crystal clear … How could he stand there and want to be part of church ceremony?

It’d be like asking (Kilkenny hurling manager) Brian Cody to play in goals for Waterford when they’re playing Kilkenny. It just doesn’t make sense.

‘The taxpayers are mostly Catholics’

Cullinan was also asked about his stance on school patronage and divestment.

On Monday, Education Minister Richard Bruton noted that 95% of primary schools are of a Catholic ethos and stated that it is the government’s target to have 400 multi-denominational and non-denominational schools in place by 2030.

Cullinan said he believes that parents should have more options in terms of the schools they can send their children to, but added that the wishes of Catholic parents must also be respected.

“The taxpayers are mostly Catholics,” he said, noting that every church he has celebrated confirmation masses in this year has “been packed to the gills” with people who “want to be there”.

“The Catholic parents, of whatever level of faith they have, are taxpayers and some of their money is going to running of the schools to which they want to send their children and they have a right, the same as anyone else.

I do believe there should be more of a choice certainly, that is true and that’s a work in progress, but that’s not easy either for me as bishop because I know if I were to divest a particular school I would say most of the parents would be up in arms.

Last year Cullinan apologised for saying the HPV vaccine is “70% safe” and could encourage young people to have sex.

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