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Tuesday 17 October 2017

'It’s amazing how when sex is raised bishops can become so exercised' - Priests condemn bishop's HPV vaccine comments

Bishop Cullinan
Bishop Cullinan

Kathy Armstrong

A bishop's controversial comments on the HPV cervical cancer vaccine are "completely irresponsible" and could put girls' health at risk, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has said.

Bishop Phonsie Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, told Independent.ie this week that he has "serious concerns" about the HPV vaccine.

Bishop Cullinan claims the vaccine offers “no absolute guarantee” of “full protection” against cervical cancer and said that it could lead to promiscuity.

The ACP strongly condemned Bishop Cullinan's comments today and claimed that he has given critics of the Catholic Church "a stick to beat us with."

Speaking on the Faith Alive programme on Mid West Radio today, Fr Brendan Hoban said: "I think he was completely irresponsible in saying what he said.

"If hundreds of girls don’t get this vaccine the repercussions in later years could be horrific, so it’s a very dangerous road to take.

"Some people may think that because a bishop said the vaccine was dangerous that they should take his advice and not get it.

"But the people to be listened to here are medical people and scientific people and the evidence from them is over-whelming, that it’s irresponsible not to get the vaccine.

"Simon Harris said that 300 women will get cervical cancer in Ireland this year and 100 of them will die."

Read More: Matt Cooper challenges Bishop Cullinan on his ‘highly dangerous’ views on the HPV Vaccine

Fr Hoban also said that women's healthcare shouldn't be used to make a point about sex.

He said: "It’s amazing how when the subject of sex is raised Catholic bishops can become so exercised about it.

Minister Harris has said the HPV vaccine 'protects our future'
Minister Harris has said the HPV vaccine 'protects our future'

"This is a health issue, pure and simple, and I think many people including bishops and priests and especially parents will be very unhappy that a health issue, pure and simple, is being used to make a point about sexual activity in young people."

Read More: 'Can we not do better than throwing condoms at young boys and the HPV vaccine at young girls?' - Bishop claims cervical cancer vaccine 'only 70pc safe'

Fr Hoban claimed that the bishop's comments will benefit the church's critics.

He said: "Those who are hyper-critical of the Catholic Church couldn’t have written a better script of a story to comment on: a bishop complaining about sex and commenting on a subject he knows virtually nothing about and putting girls health at risk.

"I’m afraid no matter how you look at it Bishop Cullinane has given every critic of the Catholic Church a stick to beat us with again.

"That’s bad enough but putting people’s health at risk is a more serious business. Simon Harris said, 'Keep your view to what your area of expertise is. Bishops I’m sure have many good qualities. Medical doctors they are not'.

"I think most people would agree with that."

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