A Northern Ireland couple claims the Catholic Church is discriminating against them because of their support for abortion.
Kevin McAteer, 32, and his fiancee Shaunagh Griffin, 36, of Newry, Northern Ireland, want to marry in the Catholic Church, but McAteer has been a vocal advocate of abortion – a serious concern for Father Damien Quigley, according to the Irish News. Only on Sunday did the couple reveal their names to the news media, the report states.
Last week, the couple drummed up negative publicity against Quigley because he expressed concerns about marrying them, given McAteer’s vocal, public opposition to church teachings. By advocating for abortion, McAteer directly opposes Catholic Church teachings about the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. The couple said Griffin is pro-life.
Quigley of the Diocese of Armagh told the news media he expressed his concerns privately and had hoped to meet with the couple to discuss them.
While it is a matter of conscience for Quigley, the couple claims it is about discrimination.
Here’s more form the report:
In a statement released last night, the couple said they still had “no priest or church” for their wedding, adding: “We feel the church is discriminating against us because we are not following them. However, we feel that everyone has a right to an opinion and that although 66 per cent voted in favour of the yes campaign…does that mean they will be denied marriage in a Catholic church as well?
“Furthermore how will our children be affected. Will they be unable to get baptised in the church now that one of their parents is pro choice?”
The couple have made a complaint to Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin and have also contacted Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to outline their concerns.
In a private message to the couple, Quigley asked to meet with the couple about this conflict of values before moving forward with plans for their marriage, The Belfast Telegraph reported last week.
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His message then was shared with the news media, possibly anonymously by the couple.
In a statement last week, Quigley did not say he would not marry the couple, only that he had concerns about their support for the legalized killing of unborn babies.
“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. “However, please be advised that I have never refused to prepare any person or couple for the sacrament.”
The Archdiocese of Armagh issued a similar statement a few days later after the matter erupted in the news media.
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 Catholic priests to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs.
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 before birth.
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.