The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore has apologised for comments made on WLR last week, connecting the uptake of the HPV vaccine to sexualised behaviour in teenagers.
Speaking on Deise Today last week Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan said the ‘Gardasil’ vaccine designed to protect against cervical cancer was only ’70 percent safe’ – despite it being backed by the World Health Organisation.
He also suggested that abstinence was the best protector against the disease.
His comments drew criticism from a number of bodies including the HSE, The Minister for Health and The Association of Catholic Priests.
In a statement, the Bishop said he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme.
It reads, ‘I wish to apologise for contributing to any misinformation, or indeed for causing upset to anyone, concerning use of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines.
My intervention was in response to concerns which I had received about HPV vaccines from parents wishing to make the best health decision on behalf of their children, and from young people alike. My intention was solely motivated to protect people from the HPV.
I was not fully informed about the vaccination programme and I can see now how HPV vaccines can contribute greatly to lowering the rate of cervical cancer. As I have learnt, possession of full information is paramount on this vital health issue.’
Speaking to Eamonn Keane on Deise Today Bishop Cullinan said that he was wrong to connect the vaccine with a moral issue.
“I made some poor judgements and I’m sorry about that,” he said, “but I’m also getting a lot of people who are telling me that they’ve got other views on it, and they should be respected.”
“My point all along was that people should be well informed.”
Bishop Cullinane said his main motivation was out of “love for young people”, but acknowledged that his contribution had been “hamfisted.”