Greg Daly and Chai Brady
Parishioners should take advantage of politicians canvassing support and fundraising outside churches after Mass by holding them to account and quizzing them on their stances, Elphin’s Bishop Kevin Doran has said.
Bishop Doran, who has in the past questioned the propriety of politicians in favour of redefining marriage or legalising abortion seeking funds from Massgoers, told The Irish Catholic that as long as politicians engage in such a practice it gives parishioners excellent opportunities to take them to task.
“What Christians should be doing is challenging candidates about policies which have an impact on the common good,” he said.
“A lot of people might be inclined to think the European elections are very far away and local elections are very local, but at the end of the day European politicians have an influence on things like the care of refugees, the whole question of peace in the world, the justice of international trade and development.”
Adding that at local level politicians have particular responsibilities for housing and for the management of schools run by Education and Training Boards, many of which have little or no provision for religious education, Dr Doran said: “I think Christians need to be asking those questions and they can make their decisions based on the answers they get.”
Politeness can sometimes inhibit Irish people from asking important questions of politicians, the bishop continued.
“One of the challenges that we have in Ireland is that sometimes we can be too polite,” he said. “We give out about people to other people, but we don’t like taking people on face to face. I actually think it’s important that people ask serious questions of candidates for election, and then make their judgment based on that.”
He also said that voters should consider whether politicians have acted in office in line with what they had previously said they would do when elected.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath, meanwhile, has called for the church gate collections to be discontinued, at least by politicians from parties who have supported “savage, regressive legislation” to enable abortion, saying that if politicians were reflective or honest they would know they were expecting money from the wrong people.
“To be fair they have permits, they’re entitled to be standing there with the permit once they’re a certain distance away,” the Tipperary TD said.
“It just beggars belief that this is continuing when they’re so anti-Church.”