Priest resigns from Mater Hospital over abortion stance

Fr Kevin Doran says he can’t in conscience stand over statement



Prominent Dublin priest Fr Kevin Doran has dramatically resigned from the Mater Hospital after the Catholic-run institution agreed to comply with the Government’s controversial abortion law.

Fr Doran told The Irish Catholic that he could not in conscience remain either a member of the Mater Hospital Board of Directors or Board of Governors as a result of the move.

“I can confirm that I have resigned because I can’t reconcile my own conscience personally with the statement, largely because I feel a Catholic hospital has to bear witness.

It’s about bearing witness to Gospel values alongside providing excellent care,” Fr Doran told The Irish Catholic.

The Catholic hospital announced last week in a brief statement that it “will comply with the law as provided for in the Act,” however, the hospital authorities have refused to give further clarity on the issue or how the issue affects the Catholic ethos of the hospital. A spokesperson told The Irish Catholic there will be “no elaboration on the statement”.

Fr Doran’s resignation is set to send shockwaves throughout board members who have remained tight-lipped about the controversial decision to comply with the abortion law.

Meanwhile, a prominent US-based bishop has waded into the row accusing the hospital of abandoning the Gospel.

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, a former Vatican official, has rejected the hospital’s claim that it is acting in a compassionate manner. “There is no compassion in the direct killing of children,” Bishop Conley said.

“By all accounts,” he said, the Mater “will abandon its commitment to the Gospel in favour of a false doctrine of ‘compassion, concern and clinical care’” – a reference to the Mater’s claim that it is complying with the law because “the Hospital’s priority is to be at the frontier of compassion, concern and clinical care for all our patients”.

Referring to the law permitting abortion where the mother is experiencing suicidal thoughts, Bishop Conley said “there is no concern for patients when mental health is treated by violence”.

His intervention is likely to increase pressure on Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who has vowed to seek further clarity from the hospital authorities on the “exact meaning” of the statement.

While the archbishop insisted he has no direct governance role in the hospital, he does have a role in Church law to guarantee that Catholic institutions are living up to the teaching of the Church.

A spokeswoman for the archbishop told The Irish Catholic that “he believes the hospital has always been ‘scrupulous’ in trying to defend both the life of mother and the unborn child and the hospital has a great tradition of caring for very difficult pregnancies and doing it well within the ethos of the hospital over many years.

“He will seek further clarification on the exact meaning of the hospital's statement issued last week,” the spokeswoman added.

The Archdiocese of Dublin acts as a member of hospital’s parent company, along with the Sisters of Mercy, the Catholic Nurses Guild of Ireland, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the medical consultants of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and of the Children’s University Hospital in Temple Street.