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Friday 24 January 2020

'It shouldn't be foisted on children who know nothing about it' - father hits out at pro-life speaker at Cathedral mass

The speaker addressed the upcoming referendum during mass in the Cathedral

Carlow Cathedral (Image via Google Maps)
Carlow Cathedral (Image via Google Maps)

Sean Nolan

A man says he stepped out of a Cathedral mass to prevent his 10-year-old son hearing a pro-life speaker discuss the upcoming abortion referendum, arguing the speaker should not have been "put upon" attendees.

Eoghan Murphy told Joe Duffy on Liveline on RTÉ that he, his wife and his son attended the mass for the anniversary mass of a member of his wife's family in Carlow Cathedral on Sunday.

At the start of the mass the priest said that during the ceremony a pro-life speaker, a doctor, would be speaking during the mass.

After the gospel the priest introduced the doctor so the man, his wife and his 10-year-old left the church and stood outside.

"My wife and I had had a conversation about having an age appropriate chat with our son. We wanted to be proactive but we didn't want the topic forced on our son in what we felt was a family event."

After 10 minutes the family returned to their seats in the church but a short time later, during the 'sign of peace' portion of the mass, the two women he was sitting beside "knelt down and ignored him" when he offered them the sign of peace.

"I was a bit taken aback," he said.

Mr Murphy was not surprised that the Church had pro-life views, however he felt that it could be handled more sensitively.

"Perhaps they [the women] assumed we had removed ourselves because of the church's stance. But we had removed ourselves because of the church's handling of it.

"They could have said that we will be having a pro-life speaker after mass is finished if anybody wishes to stay to hear it," he added.

Mr Murphy said that "a few people" left with them when the pro-life speaker was introduced and that a woman outside said "well done" to him.

Mr Murphy said repeatedly that it was not a political decision to leave and that it was purely to protect his son.

"It was put upon us. It shouldn't be foisted on children who know nothing about it."

Mr Murphy attended 12.30pm mass and another caller, who said she attended 11am mass at the Cathedral, said that it was a Communion preparation mass with four primary schools in attendance she attended and again, the pro-life speaker spoke after the gospel.

Despite the speaker saying they were aware of the presence of children and that they would be careful with their language the woman said she "stood up and left with my two children. It was inappropriate".

A spokesman for the diocese of  Kildare and Leighlin said there "was no negative comments expressed by parishioners over the weekend concerning the issue of Church teaching on human life, or on any matter" following five masses at the Cathedral.

Speakers are often asked to address mass in the diocese on a number of issues including "respect for human life" and on "social justice issues" he said, adding "content is discussed in advance with a priority given to sensitivity around language and tone".

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