The Vatican has been urged to step in to block the transfer of land from a religious order to the State because abortions will be carried out in the new hospital.
Rome-based moral theologian Fr Kevin O’Reilly OP told The Irish Catholic this week that that Holy See has an obligation to block plans by the Religious Sisters of Charity to facilitate the building of a new National Maternity Hospital where the Government has said that abortions will take place.
Irishman Fr O’Reilly, who lectures in the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, better known as the Angelicum, said the move should be vetoed by Rome.
“Thanks to the 36th Amendment of the Constitution, Ireland – to its great shame – now boasts an extremely liberal abortion regime.
“It is in this context that the Religious Sisters of Charity issued their recent statement concerning the ‘imminent’ legal transfer of their shares in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group”.
However, Fr O’Reilly said that “in the wake of any future abortions, no one involved in executing the transfer to date can reasonably turn around and say that this eventuality was unforeseen.
“It is bewildering that those who have facilitated the process to date clearly do not possess any degree of moral foresight.
“One can only hope that the competent officials in the Vatican will act in accord with the Church’s constant teaching and the dictates of right reason by forbidding this unconscionable act,” he said.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed that he would expect that every medical procedure that is legal in the State – including abortion – would happen in the new hospital.
Fr Vincent Twomey SVD has also urged the Vatican to stand firm. “The Holy See cannot give in to the bullying of this Government who have conned the public with their intentions and are trying to blame the Church for their own mess of the health service,” he said.
However, Dublin-based priest Fr Gerry Kane thinks that the Church has no option but to allow the transfer to go ahead.
“If this were any other Western country, I would say that the land should not be alienated. However, in the context of Ireland, it is time.
“I think that the Church in Ireland has been doing the work of the State for far too long…it is time for us to have stand-alone Catholic institutions, like Catholic hospitals, Catholic schools and Catholic third level institutions, alongside secular ones. Then people can choose”.
Fr Kane – parish priest of Booterstown – added that he thinks that “a scenario like that will hurry us towards a place where we’re dealing with Catholics who want to be Catholic rather than being default providers for everyone”.
Under canon law, Irish religious bodies cannot sell or give away property worth over €3.5 million without permission from the Vatican. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life must vet all such disposals of assets, typically not approving of them without at least receiving confirmation from the local bishop – in this case, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
In a statement, the Religious Sisters of Charity said that “the archbishop has approved and recommended our decision to the Vatican for formal sign off”.
The sisters said “we are confident of a positive outcome shortly”.
As The Irish Catholic went to press this week, a Vatican spokesman was unable to give further details on progress in Rome.