A Northern Ireland priest became the target of negative publicity last week when he expressed concern about a couple’s abortion advocacy and their desire to be married in the Catholic Church.
As abortion advocates, the couple directly opposes Catholic Church teachings about the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
In a private message to the couple, Father Damien Quigley of the Diocese of Armagh asked to meet with the couple about this conflict of values before moving forward with plans for their marriage, The Belfast Telegraph reports.
Someone, possibly the unnamed couple, shared Quigley’s message with BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show on Tuesday, likely in an attempt to incite negative publicity.
The BBC show shared Quigley’s full message to the couple on air:
“Just a heads up, that as the priest you’ve asked to celebrate your wedding for you, you and I would need to have a conversation about any promotion you may do to advocate for abortion in Ireland.
“Such promotion or advocacy would impact on the appropriateness of me celebrating your wedding or possibly the wedding taking place in a Catholic Church.
“I’m sure we can have a good chat over a coffee sometime.”
Quigley confirmed that he did write the message. In a statement, he said the matter is a private one involving a couple’s marriage, and it would be inappropriate to discuss in public.
“From the outset, I wish to advise you that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss details of my pastoral support to any specific individual or couple in their preparation for the sacrament of marriage,” he said in the statement. “However, please be advised that I have never refused to prepare any person or couple for the sacrament.”
Why a couple would want to be married in a church whose teachings they actively oppose is odd. But what is more deeply concerning is what appears to be an attempt to push the priest to violate his beliefs.
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Conscience rights for religious individuals and entities are under attack throughout the western world. In America, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU openly oppose conscience protections for doctors and nurses who have a “moral objection” to abortion because it kills an unborn baby.
Some have resulted in legal battles. In 2009, while working at a hospital in New York, nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo was forced to assist with a late-term abortion. Though she objected on grounds of violating her religious beliefs, the hospital threatened disciplinary action if she did not participate.
After a years-long legal battle and an investigation led by the Department of Health and Human Services, the hospital eventually changed its policy to ensure medical personnel are not forced to participate in abortions. Now, Cenzon-DeCarlo is an outspoken advocate on behalf of other medical personnel who are faced with the same unjust dilemma.
Catholic hospitals also have come under attack for refusing to abort unborn babies or perform medical procedures that violate their faith.