Pro-lifers have commended a Catholic priest after he banned Sinn Fein from using his parish hall for a meeting due to the party’s radical pro-abortion stance.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill had been expected to attend last Thursday’s meeting in order to provide an update on recent political developments.
However, Fr Eugene O’Neill, parish priest of St Patrick’s Church in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, cancelled the left-wing Irish republican party’s booking after he was alerted by pro-lifers.
Coalisland parish was inundated with emails and calls regarding the meeting after Bernadette Smyth, founder and director of Precious Life, Northern Ireland’s largest pro-life group, sent out an urgent action alert asking local pro-lifers to stand up against Sinn Fein’s abortion agenda and ask that the meeting be stopped from taking place on Church property.
Upon receiving the alerts, Fr O’Neill cancelled the meeting immediately.
“Fr Eugene O’Neill has stood up for the faithful and strongly reaffirmed Church teaching,” Ms Smyth told The Catholic Universe.
“He has informed us he was not aware of this meeting, but that he contacted Sinn Fein, which has a radical pro-abortion position, to cancel this meeting as soon as people responded to our action alert.
“Because of the role Sinn Fein played in bringing abortion up to 28 weeks (seven months) into Northern Ireland and their position on abortion, Fr O’Neill has assured us that he would not entertain the use of Church property for such a meeting.”
Ms Smyth pointed out that the statement released by the Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland on 22nd October 2019 makes the Church’s position on abortion unequivocal.
In the document, the bishops state: ‘Abortion is a brutal violation of the precious gift of life. The right to life is not given to us by any law or government. Any human law that removes the right to life is unjust and must be resisted by every person, every voter, every political representative.
‘For Catholic politicians this is not only a matter of protecting the human right to life but also a fundamental matter of Catholic faith.’
Ms Smyth concluded: “We would like to thank Fr Eugene O’Neill and Coalisland parish for their firm pro-life stance and to thank everyone who raised initial concerns.
“Fr Eugene must be commended for taking a strong stand for life, and standing up against Sinn Fein’s radical and cruel abortion agenda.”
Picture: Pro-life campaigners stand outside the Sinn Fein ard fheis (annual conference) at the Millennium Forum in Derry on 16th November 2019. (Brian Lawless/PA).