Waterford Minister John Halligan says he was prohibited from acting as a sponsor for his godson’s confirmation at the weekend, due to his views on abortion.
Minister Halligan has advocated for the repeal of the 8th amendment, and was organiser of an event which brought campaigners to Waterford last week.
He says his godson’s parents contacted him, saying they had been told by a member of the clergy that he could not stand as sponsor at yesterday’s ceremony, by order of
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan.
John Halligan told WLR News that he knows the Bishop well, and feels that it was spiteful tactics from the church.
He says this dogmatic approach from the Church has not surprised him. He says the Church has a habit of alienating people and decent people will see this as pitiful.
JOHN HALLIGANS STATEMENT IN FULL
Minister of State John Halligan T.D. has accused the Catholic Church of resorting to ‘petty, pitiful tactics’ in the campaign on the Eighth Amendment referendum, after he was prohibited by the Bishop of Waterford from sponsoring his godson at a Confirmation Mass in Waterford city yesterday.
The parents of Minister Halligan’s godson were told of the decision by Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Diocese, Most Rev Alphonsus (Fonsie) Cullinan, last Wednesday – the day before Minister Halligan held a Pro Choice meeting in Waterford which was attended by around 300 people and addressed by speakers including Dr. Peter Boylan, Tara Flynn and Colm O’Gorman. In the past, Minister Halligan has also publicly disagreed with Bishop Cullinan’s views on the HPV vaccine.
Accepting that he does not meet the criteria laid down by the Catholic Church for Confirmation Sponsors, Minister Halligan said it was nonetheless a petty move on the part of Bishop Cullinan to single him out because of the strong Pro Choice stance he has taken in the campaign:
“I was contacted by the parents of my godson on Thursday to tell me that they had been approached by a member of clergy and told that I could not stand as Sponsor at the ceremony on Sunday and that this was the view of the Bishop. When the parents contacted the Bishop, they were told this is because I am an Atheist and because of my views on abortion.
“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. The reason I had said yes to my godson when he asked me to be his Sponsor was because of the close bond I have with him. Regardless of my own beliefs, I would very much have liked to attend the Mass with him on the day. And I sincerely doubt that I am the only person asked to sponsor a Confirmation child who is not a practising Catholic. 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.
“I find it appalling that my godson’s parents had to sit down with him, days before his Confirmation, and explain to the child that I was not permitted to be his Sponsor. And it makes me 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.”