TWO women who gave pro-life talks at recent West Cork masses, ahead of next month’s referendum, received applause from the congregations.
However, others who were present and who afterwards contacted The Southern Star, expressed reservations that this was the right environment or occasion for such emotive talks to take place.
But while other counties reported a number of ‘walk-outs’ from mass due to similar speeches, there were no reports of any similar walk-outs at West Cork masses.
A pro-life speaker from outside the region spoke at masses in Leap last weekend, while another addressed the congregation in Bantry the previous weekend.
Both had special clearance from the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, whose pastoral letter on the right to life was read at all diocesan masses last weekend, and where he warned that repealing the Eighth Amendment could pave the way for euthanasia.
Leap parish priest Fr Kevin Blade said the pro-life talk had been flagged in the parish newsletter.
‘The script had been approved by the diocese, and the speaker didn’t deviate from it. I didn’t get any feedback about it from parishioners, but there was applause for the woman after she spoke on Sunday.’
Bantry parish priest Fr Martin O’Driscoll said the pro-life speaker who addressed his parishioners was from Waterford: ‘She would have also got applause after her talk.’
However, one local man who heard the talk at an anniversary mass in Bantry told The Southern Star he ‘was taken aback by it.’
‘I disagree with them using mass as a platform to catch parishioners in a position where they feel like they have to stay put and listen to political views, in what should be an apolitical setting.’
The woman spoke from the altar during mass, at a time, the man said, that ‘most people wouldn’t dream of walking out of the church’.
Defending the decision to give the pro-life team a platform at masses, the Catholic Communications Office said the Diocese of Cork and Ross ‘from time to time invites expert speakers to address congregations on important issues … this includes respect for human life.’
A spokesman added: ‘The purpose of a speaker is always to complement the teaching role of a priest and to give another voice to Church teaching and practice. In such circumstances, speakers are not allowed to deviate from a text already approved.’