The Catholic Communications Office has defended a decision by a Cork church to have a speaker address the congregation about the forthcoming referendum on abortion after a woman contacted a local radio station to say that she walked out of an anniversary Mass because she did not want to be at a “rally.”
The woman told the Neil Prendeville show, on Cork’s Red FM, that she was at an anniversary Mass in a church in the Diocese of Cork and Ross last Saturday night when the priest decided to read the bishop’s letter about the forthcoming referendum in its entirety.
She said she has great respect for Bishop John Buckley and was quite willing to sit through the letter. However, her personal difficulties with the Mass arose when the priest mentioned that a speaker would be coming up to the altar after communion to talk about the abortion referendum.
She told the show “the priest said ‘a member of the Pro Life campaign will be speaking after communion’. I thought ‘hang on, I have come to Mass. I haven’t come to a pro-life rally.”
The woman said she was among about eight people who left the Mass at communion.
In a statement the Catholic Communications Office said that the Diocese of Cork and Ross from time to time invites and allows experts and experienced speakers to address congregations at Sunday Masses and other parish celebrations on important issues.
These topics include “respect for human life,” “social justice issues” and the “promotion of the Gospel by missionaries”.
“The bishop, in collaboration with the Council of Priests, have agreed that appropriate speakers can be considered by local priests to address a congregation in relation to the forthcoming pro-life referendum.
“The purpose of the speakers is always to complement the teaching role of priests and to give another voice to Church teaching and practice. In such circumstances, speakers are not allowed to deviate from a text already approved by the diocese. In that context, content is discussed in advance, with a priority given to sensitivity around language and tone.”
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