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Sunday 22 April 2018

Bishop apologises for 'ignorant' vaccine comments

Health Minister Simon Harris receives the vaccine at the launch of the HSE annual flu
vaccine campaign for healthcare workers yesterday
Health Minister Simon Harris receives the vaccine at the launch of the HSE annual flu vaccine campaign for healthcare workers yesterday

Sarah MacDonald

The Catholic bishop who caused outrage when he claimed the HPV vaccine could lead to promiscuity in young girls has apologised for his comments.

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan issued a statement yesterday expressing regret for causing upset and said his comments followed concerns he had about the HPV vaccine.

The cleric faced a backlash last week as Health Minister Simon Harris described the comments as "ignorant".

Bishop Cullinan apologised for contributing to misinformation about the vaccine against cervical cancer.

"My intervention was in response to concerns which I had received about HPV vaccines from parents wishing to make the best health decision on behalf of their children, and from young people alike," Dr Cullinan added.

He admitted he could now see "how HPV vaccines can contribute greatly to lowering the rate of cervical cancer".

"As I have learnt, possession of full information is paramount on this vital health issue," he said.

Advice

The Health Minister welcomed the apology, but said too much time had been taken up talking about bishops and vaccinations.

Mr Harris said if people wanted medical advice they should speak to their doctor.

Fr Brendan Hoban, of the Association of Catholic Priests, told the Irish Independent that while the apology may have been difficult for the prelate, it was both "welcome and necessary".

"It's clear that a more informed and sensitive approach is needed if the life-saving work of medical personnel is not to be undermined or the reputation of the Catholic Church not to be further damaged," he said.

In a statement issued ahead of the bishop's apology, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) criticised the bishop's comments, warning that they were not just "idiosyncratic" but also "ill-informed and dangerous".

Irish Independent

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