By Ann Marie Foley - 02 January, 2020
Tullamore parish has apologised for its comment on the Catholic teachings about
in vitro fertilization (IVF) published on its Facebook page on Christmas Eve.
The post and Facebook page have since been removed and a new post on the parish website includes an apology for any hurt caused and states that all children are cherished and God-given.
The Tullamore parish post on IVF came to national media attention over the Christmas holiday period. It stated that the parish wanted to pray for those struggling to conceive naturally and avoiding IVF.
It continued: “The process of IVF damages embryonic stem cells and thus life and is therefore completely, clearly and totally incompatible with our Catholic faith. For all believers in God, all life is sacred at all times.”
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, who had recently announced €2 million for fertility/IVF treatment, responded, stating that he could not understand how any Christian would find IVF objectionable.
“I thought the comments were, I’m sure unintentionally, but were extremely hurtful to many families who are struggling with fertility issues. I want those families to know that their government stands square behind them, and that we are moving ahead with plans to regulate IVF for the first time in our country,” he stated.
He added that approximately 50 per cent to 70 per cent of people with fertility issues do not need IVF and they see a specialist in a regional fertility facility.
“I provided €2 million to the HSE to get on with doing that so I think the comments were unfortunate, insensitive and hurtful,” said Minister Harris.
However, the Iona Institute expressed concern about the Minister’s comments, stating on its Facebook page: “It’s one thing to attack the Church for trying to shape the law, but here we have a Government Minister attacking a Catholic parish for explaining Catholic teaching on IVF to other Catholics. Whatever happened to Church/State separation?”
The original Facebook page with the IVF comment has since been removed and Tullamore parish has published a new statement on its website as follows:
“A post published on the Tullamore Parish Facebook page on Christmas Eve concerning IVF has caused great distress to many members of our parish community and beyond. For hurt caused we apologise. Matters concerning fertility are sacred and sensitive, and all children are cherished and God-given, this is the essence of the Christmas message.
“The parish understands the great suffering experienced by mothers and fathers who long for a child. At this time, we offer our pastoral and prayerful support to all parents and expectant parents.”
Tullamore is a town parish with a very diverse and active congregation including a strong contingent of active families who are served by a special weekly family Mass and young people who attend the many youth events. The parish is in Co. Offaly and is part of the Diocese of Meath.