Nun Shall Pass


From top: Michael Kelly (left), editor of The Irish Catholic, and Minister for Health Simon Harris; The proposed new National Maternity Hospital; a tweet apparently from the account of Minister Harris this morning which has since been deleted; Response from Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall

This morning.

Further to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall’s call on the Government to ‘come clean’ on the position between the Vatican and the State on the new National Maternity hospital, and to halt further spending until ownership is resolved…

An exclusive report in The Irish Catholic states that the Vatican is being lobbied to block the Religious Sisters of Charity from transferring land to the State to facilitate the building of the new National Maternity Hospital.

Michael Kelly reports that Rome-based theologian Fr Kevin O’Reilly has said that the Holy See has an obligation to block the plans.

Mr Kelly reports:

[Fr Kelly said:] “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.

Mr Kelly spoke to Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about his article and how the transfer not only needs Vatican approval, it also needs the permission of the Archbishop of Dublin – which has been given by Diarmuid Martin.

However, he said “this isn’t over by a long shot” and later noted that because Diarmuid Martin is due to retire next April, his successor could take a different view to Archbishop Martin.

During the interview, the Health Minister Simon Harris allegedly tweeted Morning Ireland saying “Eh……no nun will be on the board”.

This tweet has since been deleted.


From the interview:

Michael Kelly: “They call it, in Canon Law, the alienation of the property. And that stands whether the land is sold or as in this case it’s being given as a free transfer. The nuns, because it’s over the value of €3.5million, they need permission of ecclesiastical authorities so in the first instance, you’re absolutely correct, that the Archbishop of Dublin.

“And he’s already given his permission and he’s actually recommended to the Vatican that they give approval as well. Now it’s in Rome at the moment and Rome is coming under increased pressure I suppose, lobbying in fact going on, to try to get them to block this proposal.

“Precisely because the new National Maternity Hospital, as [Health Minister] Simon Harris has pointed out will facilitate every procedure that is legal in the State.

“Now since the amendment to the Constitution that obviously now means abortions, terminations of pregnancies, which the Catholic church has pretty clear and consistent opposition to so that’s really where the lobbying is coming from, to try to get the Vatican, the Roman Curia to block this proposal.

“The sisters say it’s imminent, I understand from Rome that they’re not in any hurry to do anything about it. But part of the confusion I suppose is that a lot of the discussions around this has been saying that Vatican permission is not necessary. The law is very clear on it – Canon Law does require Vatican permission. This is church-owned property, it’s not something that the sisters can grant to anyone without the approval of their superiors.”

Dobson: “So where’s this lobbying coming from, who’s involved? Who’s saying that this transfer should be blocked?”

Kelly: “So some of the lobbying that’s going on is coming from moral theologians in Rome for example. One of the people we’re quoting in the newspaper this week is a Professor Kevin O’Reilly, he’s an Irish man but he’s a professor at the Angelicum University in Rome and he’s arguing that this shouldn’t take place, precisely because it would mean that this land would be transferred. He’s saying that that would be directly facilitating abortions to take place.

“He’s basically saying if the State wants to abortions to take place at a new National Maternity Hospital, they should find their own site. I understand that also quite a number of people here, particularly people who’ve been involved on the pro-life side of these debates have been writing to the Vatican ambassador in Dublin, the Papal Nuncio, asking him to make representations to Rome on the issue as well.

“So it’s not over by a long shot.”

Dobson: “Opponents of the move, or at least the new structure that would be in place, for example, Peter Boylan, former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, say that significant problems arise in relation to this new entity would be managed, would be governed, would be put together.

“The Religious Sisters of Charity will still have a presence, he argues, a controlling role in the new board. How will that square with how the Vatican would see this arrangement.”

Kelly: “You see, Simon Harris is trying to give the impression here that this is all going to be very straight, that you known you can have the Religious Sisters of Charity on the board and that will mean that everything that takes place there will comply with current legislation. The difficulty that arises there is, you know, the issue of abortion, is a very, very grave one for the Catholic Church. The Vatican is certainly not going to stand over a situation whereby the sisters are involved in a hospital where abortions are taking place.

“This doesn’t happen in any Catholic hospital in any part of the world.

“So I think there’s a vagueness there, around the structures that probably needs to be clarified but certainly the Vatican will not permit a situation whereby a Catholic institution, even if it’s only Catholic in name, is involved in the provision of the termination of pregnancy.”

Dobson: “We had a statement from Minister Simon Harris. He said that in advance of building works commencing, all outstanding issues would need to be resolved and he’d like to see progress on these as quickly as possible but he could be waiting.”

Kelly: “I think he very well will be waiting because I think the Vatican are not going to do anything in a hurry. Remember the Archbishop of Dublin is due to retire in April with his retirement that creates a whole new page and a successor could think something very, very differently from Diarmaid Martin.”

Listen back in full here.

Vatican urged to block nuns’ hospital transfer (Michael Kelly, The Irish Catholic)

Yesterday: Waiting For The Vatican

Tweet pic: Ronan Kennedy

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56 thoughts on “Nun Shall Pass

  1. Jasper

    So where are we? Gov spending tax payer money on infrastructure that a private company may well retain ownership of?

    I see a pattern emerging here…

  2. paul

    The Vatican deals with Vatican matters, if Kelly here thinks they are going to get any support he need only look in his own churches pocket and see the lack of backing from Rome.

  3. Brother Barnabas

    mr bodger ~ should “[Fr Kelly said] “Thanks to the 26th…” not be “[Fr O’Reilly said] etc”

    1. newsjustin

      Perhaps, but, judging by the reports above, that could send the situation nuclear and trigger a very prolonged (civil) legal battle to prevent the CPO.

  4. newsjustin

    This clarifies some matters. I had been wondering why Rome (or even the Archdiocese of Dublin) would have any say in the disposal of land by a particular order. I wasn’t aware that there was a €3.5 million level – above which an order needed Rome’s permission (And the nod of the local bishop) to proceed.

    Kelly is right to flag the wishful thinking of Harris and others. Some have a feeling that since the 8th was voted out, that it means abortion is morally acceptable. It’s not. Its a grave human rights abuse and grave sin. And, as he says, no catholic hospital in the world will carry out abortions other than to save women’s lives.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      who appoints the editor of the Irish Catholic, do you know? michael kelly seems somewhat critical of the church

      1. newsjustin

        Well I’m pretty sure the Irish Catholic is an entirely private enterprise. It definitely has nothing to do with the Irish Bishops.

        He’s right to be critical.

    2. Janet, I ate my avatar

      no Catholic hospital should be paid for by the public,
      why should I have to have the RCC sticking their unwelcome nose in my business,
      it’s a disgrace,
      all Church land should be seized, this isn’t Rome it’s Ireland.
      And stop spouting your option like it’s a fact,
      here’s a fact in my world if you want to throw them around, there’s no god, no sin and abortion is none of anyone’s business but the woman who needs it

      1. newsjustin

        “all Church land should be seized, this isn’t Rome it’s Ireland.”

        Lol. Classic dictatorship move.

        1. Janet, I ate my avatar

          I’d call it redress and justice from leaching off the Irish people for hundreds of years, while torturing many of it’s flock

        2. postmanpat

          Not really. The RCC allied itself with Hitler and Franco in the last century. The Vatican was found with all the Jewish properly stolen during the war. Not surprising, seeing that Catholics have always hated Jews . The whole religion is spun off anti-Semitism in the first place (more so, good old child raping later on)

          1. newsjustin

            The RCC was one of the few institutions that was able to oppose Hitler. The voting history of catholic areas of Germany shows this. The record of countless catholic (often clergy) martyrs murdered in camps attests to how the RCC allied itself.

            Franco allied himself to the RCC. Civil wars are awful. The 7,000 butchered priests and raped nuns (not to mention the desecrated corpses of priests removed from tombs) go some way to explaining why the RCC took a dim view of Franco’s opponents.

            “The Vatican was found with all the Jewish properly stolen during the war. ”
            I don’t even know where to begin. Other than to say this is obviously untrue.

            Catholics don’t hate Jews. that’s not to say Catholics haven’t been guilty of foul antisemitism over the years. The UK Labour party seems to be at the forefront of antisemitism at the moment.

          2. martco

            “The Vatican was found with all the Jewish properly stolen during the war.”

            yes the money was just resting in the account


            jasus is there anything atall in Fr. Ted that was untrue?

    3. bisted

      …Justin points out that no catholic hospital will ever carry out abortions and despite what Harris says, that is what this facility will remain…Justin neglects to say that the reality will remain that there will be no abortions even to save a woman’s life.
      The gravest human rights abuse in this country has been the denial of a woman’s right to choose and that is in the process of being remedied…the concept of sin that has enabled religious to instil fear is being eroded and loosen the grip of the church on education and health but there is a long way to go…

      1. newsjustin

        “Justin neglects to say that the reality will remain that there will be no abortions even to save a woman’s life.”

        The reality before the referendum, as you know, is that it was entirely legal (and appropriate) to carry out an abortion to save the life of a mother. And this was done on a regular basis in Irish hospitals.

        1. Janet, I ate my avatar

          news are you a priest ?
          do you think you could comment on literally ANY other topic, it would be nice to get a feel for the man behind the blind faith

          1. martco

            Janet, you don’t want a feel for @Justin, trust me

            y’all have short memories. stop trying to argue with him/her you are wasting your time. Justin fight’s every battle again & again until last breath time because it’s a never-ending war, isn’t it Justin? that’s the job of a zealot.

            the RCC’s deep involvement in the remaining pillars of State civil business (Schools, Hospitals specifically) still stand strong despite all the hullabaloo.

            sure, important battles have been won but until the RCC are de-coupled from those two aspects of Irish life they remain very much in a position of undue influence. all this tippytoeing around the likes of Canon Law (lol) demonstrates to me anyway that this country has a looooong way to go yet.

          2. newsjustin

            Much as you’d like to paint me as one Martco, I’m not a zealot.

            I’m against abortion and I happen to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes I don’t feel like letting fantastical claims about my church go untested. Other times I’m not pushed.

            That is all. The fact that this scandalises some people so, tells me that they need to open their minds and meet people who don’t agree with them a little more.

          3. martco

            well, I have a good memory of you & prior inputs here, you can be as cuddly & reasonable as you like, as far as I’m concerned you fit the definition very well.

            btw – I don’t have a problem with you necessarily, it’s just I can see you…strong faith wouldn’t be much use to you if you simply rolled over & accepted a blow (like the 8th for example) as long as you’re alive & able you have to keep on truckin.

            the rules, structures, mechanisms of power & influence you would prefer existed I would prefer did not, simple as.

          4. newsjustin

            “…you can be as cuddly & reasonable as you like”

            Yes. Because, God forbid, people would be reasonable and pleasant.

  5. Hector Ramirez

    Every interview/tweet/cable/carrier pigeon message from Harris, on whatever scandal of the day reads

    ‘I agree it’s a disgrace, and we are working towards…’

    Yet nothing ever done. Platitudes.

  6. some old queen

    I am with the RC on this one- it is their land and abortion is against their beliefs therefore they cannot allow it- I am perfectly fine with that. But, it begs the question as to why it was sited there in the first place- surely someone would have flagged this conflict of interest on a risk register? That is what risk managers are meant to do ffs.

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      if it’s their land and they want a Catholic hospital why aren’t they paying for it ? what a poo show

      1. Cian

        My understanding is that international best-practice suggests that a maternity hospital should be co-located with an acute hospital… if the mother has any serious problems that there is a full hospital (literally) next door.

        At the moment if this happens the baby is kept in Holles St and the mother has to be moved (by Ambulance) to Vincents/Mater.

        So we either follow best practice and share with one of the Catholic hospitals, or choose not to follow best practice and continue to risk women’s lives.

      2. some old queen

        Nope that is the point- it is a state hospital on Catholic land but they can still call the shots. Complete bullpoo from start to finish.

        1. martco

          yeah & I wouldn’t dispute that myself @SOQ

          so lets put a value on it & CPO the lot….for €1

          call it CPO spend minus reparations owed

          1. newsjustin

            And a judge will spend years considering such a foolish request and then tell the Govt that there’s no shortage of land in the area so they should go knock on the door of Elm Park Golf Club with a giant cheque in hand.

          2. some old queen

            Not necessarily Bisted- the Prods are as bad and dear God(pun)- wait til the Muslims get into the driving seat.

          3. martco

            hm. I was wondering where all the limping latin-lovin’ albinos went.

            maybe they’re all out hanging out somewhere Dalkey direction, wha?

          4. some old queen

            The only albino I know is a neighbour who is an accountant lecturing in finance in the Middle east- he is the ultimate letter box out there- by necessity.

          5. bisted

            …they can all manage the latin but the gout mightn’t kick in until they’ve been in the job for a few years…albarino you said…well, if there’s no Chateauneuf…

  7. V

    They make it so easy to despise them

    Get CAB in to seize the lot

    and get them to prove they acquired these lands and wealth by honest endeavour

    1. Cian

      “honest endeavour”? is that a legal expression – that you need to prove your own innocence?

      Is there any evidence that the Catholic Church acquired these lands and wealth illegally? Most of their wealth would have been donated to them. There may have been fraud in the various laundries over the years where they weren’t supplying the service they were supposed to, or those US adoptions where the families paid for the child. But I would have thought the vast majority their income over the years is voluntary donations.

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