Irish bishop stops atheist, pro-abortion gov’t minister from being a Confirmation sponsor
WATERFORD, Ireland, May 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- An Irish minister of state criticized the local Catholic bishop for banning him from being being his godchild’s Confirmation sponsor last weekend because the politician supports abortion and is pushing for repeal of the country’s 8th Amendment.
“I was due to sponsor my godson making his Confirmation in Waterford yesterday,” Independent Alliance TD John Halligan said on his Facebook page Monday. “But last Wednesday -- the day before I held a #repealthe8th where the crowd heard heartbreaking real life stories of the devastation that the 8th has caused -- my godson’s parents were told by the Bishop of Waterford that I was not permitted to be the sponsor because of my views on atheism and abortion.”
“This is what we are up against, folks,” Halligan said. “This is why we need to vote Yes on Friday.”
Halligan acknowledged that he did not meet the criteria to be a sponsor for a Catholic Confirmation – because he’s an atheist.
But in the run-up to the country’s vote on abortion Friday, Halligan said it was petty for Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan to prohibit him from being his godson’s Confirmation sponsor, and he accused the Church of pitiful tactics related to the 8th Amendment referendum.
Halligan indicated that he was being singled out because of his abortion support, saying he knew for sure that other sponsors were not approached to determine their suitability or their views on the 8th Amendment.
Bishop Cullinan said in a statement Monday that a Confirmation sponsor must be a confirmed and practicing Catholic.
“I am not being a hypocrite here,” Halligan said. “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,” he said. “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,” he continued. “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,” Halligan added.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore before press time.
The parents had been told of the decision by the bishop of Waterford and Lismore the day before Halligan’s Thursday anti-8th Amendment meeting in Waterford, thus prohibiting the politician from acting as a sponsor at the Mass Sunday.
“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,” Halligan said in a report from the Irish Examiner. “When the parents contacted the bishop, they were told this is because I am an atheist and because of my views on abortion.”
Bishop Cullinan’s Monday statement said that all diocesan parishes had received the guidelines on Confirmation sponsors in March, The Journal reported.
The guidelines had said:
Sponsors should give the (Confirmation) candidate a good example of what it means to be a disciple of Christ and should take their own spiritual life seriously. This will be shown by their (sponsor’s) love of God, their love for the word of God, for the Mass and the sacraments, for the teachings of the church, and by the love they show for others. A sponsor must be a confirmed and practising Catholic.
During the debate leading up to Ireland’s passage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act in July 2013, which allowed abortion in Ireland for to save the life of the mother, Halligan said 1,500 women in Ireland each year face pregnancies with a fatal fetal anomaly.
This figure was also used later that same year by the group ‘Terminations for Medical Reasons’ (TFMR) – one of the groups that appeared at Halligan’s anti-8th Amendment meeting last week -- to state that 80 percent of them, or 1,200 women, traveled to England or Wales annually for an abortion due to fatal fetal anomalies.
This statistic was refuted by Dr. Peter Saunders, CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, who provided analysis of the statistics for Irish women having abortions in England and Wales for fatal fetal abnormalities, finding the figures quoted by Halligan and TFMR to be inflated by 300 percent.
Halligan said the decision to ban him from being his godson’s Confirmation sponsor made him “wonder how threatened the Catholic Church is feeling about the result of Friday’s referendum.”
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
The Irish have voted against repealing the 8th Amendment five times since 1983. Ireland’s referendum on the Amendment scheduled for May 25 is being closely watched from both sides of the abortion debate.