Updated: 02/10/17 : 06:04:15
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Bishop asks Sligo to pray for pro-choice politicians

Catholic Bishop Kevin Doran has asked members of the church to pray for politicians and healthcare workers who “promote abortion”.

The bishop of Elphin also said that 90 per cent of unborn babies with Down syndrome were aborted each year in Britain, and that one in five pregnancies in Britain end in abortion.

Bishop Doran was speaking during a homily at Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Sligo on Sunday, where he delivered the Catholic Bishops’ pastoral message Fostering a culture which protects life and respects women.

The pastoral message marked the church’s “Day for Life Sunday 2017”.

The Irish Times reports that Bishop Doran said politicians were “more immediately removed from the personal ‘crisis’ that provokes the choice of abortion and their particular remit is to serve the common good, which includes the good of all”.

“Doctors and nurses have a more detailed scientific knowledge of unborn human life and cannot be in any doubt that the unborn child is a unique human being who has already embarked on the path of life.”

He attributed many abortions in Britain to people wanting “to cling to their own agenda”. He said an attitude of people saying “my plans, my reputation, my social life, my absolute right to control my body” were examples of people clinging to their own agendas.

He said “many more have died because their mothers felt lonely and afraid, rather than supported by their partners, their families, their friends and their society . . . This is not what we want for our children or for our society”.

Bishop Doran said healthcare professionals and politicians “come under significant pressure at times like this. Sometimes, like the rest of us, they make choices on the basis of a misguided compassion”.

However, he said “we must always speak out courageously against unjust laws and practices which conflict with the right to life”.

HPV vaccine

This intervention came two days after Minister for Health Simon Harris sharply criticised Bishop Phonsie Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore over comments he made about the HPV vaccine that is given to teenage girls to combat cervical cancer.

Bishop Cullinan said getting the HPV vaccine “could” make young girls more promiscuous because “it changes the mentality”. Mr Harris said attempts by the bishop “to purport to be a medical expert have been extraordinarily disappointing, extraordinarily dangerous and damaging to a very important public health campaign”.

The Association of Catholic Priests, a voluntary association of clergy in Ireland, asked that Bishop Cullinan withdraw his comments on the HPV vaccine.

“While his comments could be considered idiosyncratic, they are ill-informed and dangerous. Parents who may be convinced that he enjoys some competence in this area could follow his advice and unwittingly put their children at risk,” the group said in a statement.