Sunday 21 October 2018

Catholics who voted Yes must repent to be worthy of communion: bishop

‘If people have knowingly and willingly voted Yes, then they have to examine their conscience and go before the Lord and say, ‘Lord, we got this wrong’. I do believe that’ – Waterford and Lismore Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan
‘If people have knowingly and willingly voted Yes, then they have to examine their conscience and go before the Lord and say, ‘Lord, we got this wrong’. I do believe that’ – Waterford and Lismore Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

Ryan Nugent

Catholics who voted Yes must go to confession before they can receive communion, according to a controversial bishop.

Waterford and Lismore Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan said Yes voters would "have to answer" for their decision.

The comments are the latest in a series by Church figures to come out against 'a-la-carte Catholicism'. The bishop said Ireland had accepted "euthanasia" by allowing abortion in the country.

Some 66.4pc of voters were in favour of repealing the amendment - but the figure was almost 70pc in Bishop Cullinan's diocese of Co Waterford.

Speaking to WLRFM yesterday, Bishop Cullinan said people could not claim ignorance over the issue and must tell priests they got it wrong.

He said "no priest can know" if a person looking to receive communion has gone for confession. The bishop would not go into whether he would give communion to someone who had voted Yes and not repented.

But he said: "They should examine their conscience, they should talk to the priest, they should go to confession.

"If somebody has something that they are unsure about…St Paul says very clearly in scripture that to receive holy communion unworthily is a very serious matter for which you will have to answer."

Bishop Cullinan said if he knew a person had voted Yes and had not gone to confession, it would be "something that I would like to talk to that person [about]".

Asked if he would refuse communion to a Yes-voting Catholic who he knew had not repented, he said: "On the spot that is a totally different matter, because then you are politicising the actual Mass itself, very awkward situation that you don't want to get into."

The bishop said he agreed with Bishop Kevin Doran that Yes voters should go to confession following the referendum.

Speaking about the large percentage of people who felt they were well-informed on the issue after voting, the bishop said: "People cannot claim ignorance. If they do, it's culpable ignorance.

"If they do it's very a serious issue. If people have knowingly and willingly voted Yes, well then they have to examine their conscience and go before the Lord and say 'Lord, we got this wrong'. I do believe that," he said.

"Let's face it, euthanasia has now been accepted, in the sense that we have accepted, the majority of the Irish people have accepted, that some life is not worthy of life," he added.

Bishop Cullinan added that he was "horrified" to see "jumping, roaring and cheering" at Dublin Castle following the result.

Earlier this week, Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran had also said Catholic Yes voters should go to confession.

He insisted Catholics who confessed to voting Yes in the referendum would be treated with the same compassion as "any other penitent".

"What happens in the confessional of course is absolutely between the priest and the penitent," he said.

Bishop Cullinan caused controversy last year when he claimed that the HPV vaccine offers "no absolute guarantee" of "full protection" against cervical cancer and said that it could lead to promiscuity.

However, he later apologised for the comments, saying that he was not "fully informed" on the vaccination programme and he could see how HPV vaccines can contribute greatly to lowering the rate of cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, a leading Catholic theologian has said that the moral authority of the Church is in tatters.

Fr Gerry O'Hanlon, former Provincial of the Jesuit Order, said there was now a huge gulf between priests and the people.

"There is an opportunity to do something about it, but not if we put our heads in the sand like an ostrich."

The theologian criticised Bishop Doran for immediately coming out and urging Yes voters to go to confession.

The Jesuit priest said: "It doesn't respect the conscience of people, and it adds to the notion of the Church as anti-woman."

"It fires up anger in reaction," he added.

 

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section