Clergy striking the wrong tone over National Maternity Hospital

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Last Wednesday on RTE 1's Morning Ireland Doctor Rhona Mahony, Master of Holles Street Hospital, explained why she believes the decision to build the new National Maternity Hospital on the grounds of St Vincent's Campus is the correct one. She was critical of the opposing views Doctor Peter Boylan has taken and referred to his now famous/infamous text message as being 'quite intimidating and quite unacceptable'.

It's not too often we hear distinguished doctors opposing one another in such strong terms. But we're living in strange times. Every decision is being questioned and opposed. There's a palpable anger out there that transcends all groupings. Catholic Church is in the middle of the fray. I've been listening to some of the 'action' on two current 'hot potatoes', indeed, it's almost impossible to avoid it: the siting of the new National Maternity Hospital and the findings of Citizens' Assembly on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Over the weekend of April 22/23 furious volleys were fired. Peter Boylan was adamant that it was a nonsense that the State should build the hospital on church lands and then hand the ownership over to a religious congregation. Quick on his heels Bishop Kevin Doran hit the headlines arguing about the role the Sisters of Charity would have to play in any property which was in their portfolio. In the meantime Father Vincent Twomey was a guest on the Marian Finucane RTE Radio 1 Show. Clearly a man who is certain and convinced of his views and opinions.

I can't comment on Peter Boylan because I know nothing about the world of medicine and its practitioners. Being a priest for over 40 years I have some small insight into the world of the hierarchical Catholic Church in Ireland. Honestly, I simply don't like the tone of Vincent Twomey or Kevin Doran. Listening to Vincent Twomey on radio last weekend I could not get over how different he sounded to the other participants. One had the impression the others on the show were discussing and talking to one another, whereas Vincent Twomey gave the impression that he was there advising the nation. And all those learned books and their authors that he quoted. Honestly, I found it hard to take.

While it's understandable that Kevin Doran, who is chair of the bishops' bioethics committee, would comment on the new hospital, it is interesting that the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, in whose diocese the hospital is to be built, appears to have kept his counsel. Indeed, on Thursday it was reported in a national newspaper that Diarmuid Martin has sought to be removed from the chair of Holles Street Hospital.

Forgetting about the rights and wrongs of the issues involved I am not impressed with the tone of how Kevin Doran and Vincent Twomey speak. Does the media call on them, knowing they are assured of 'good copy'?

I hope the Catholic Church is more nuanced, kinder and yes, even cleverer than what's to be heard on megaphone politics. The world seems to be in an angry mood. Great if we all could be more kind and understanding to one another.

Wexford People