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Nuns withdraw offer of venue for Minister's speech after threats of protest

Many of those protesting referring to her support for the Repeal campaign.

Image: Sam Boal

THE VENUE FOR a speech to be given by Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan on the role of women in the Catholic Church has been changed due to complaints, mostly focused on Madigan’s role in the ‘Repeal of the Eighth Amendment’ campaign.

We Are Church Ireland, a group that aims to “end injustices in the Roman Catholic Church” had organised an event for Madigan to give a speech entitled “Why the Catholic Church should open all ministries to women” at the Mercy International Centre on 11 February.

But in a statement this evening, the organisation said that it would have to change the venue due to a number of complaints, and a small number of threats to the venue.

“The protestors appear to focus on the role the Minister played as coordinator of the Repeal the Eighth Amendment which was carried in May 2018,” the statement said.

It is sad, indeed, that protestors are personalising their disappointment at the role played by Minister Josepha Madigan in the referendum.

In a letter by the CEO of Mercy International Association that was published by We Are Church Ireland, it was stated that “many vigorous representations” were made about the venue being made available for the Minister.

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

Many of the representations made referred to Madigan’s involvement in the abortion referendum and bill, the letter notes.

It continues to say that although they believe the role of women in the Church is a topic that “has long been neglected” and that “needed to be urgently addressed”, they were “unwilling to become the target of anger directed at the speaker for the occasion, the topic, or both”.

In a statement issued this evening, Minister Madigan said she regrets that We Are Church Ireland were forced to change venue for this meeting.

It is truly disappointing that the 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 coordinator 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. 

“I look forward to speaking at the event on February 11th in a new location,” she said.

The event will instead be held at the Dublin Southside Hotel.

The Culture Minister made headlines last summer after stepping up “to say Mass” at her local parish when a priest failed to show up.

Madigan works on the team of the Ministry of the Word at the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin, and gives a reading at Mass once a month.

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