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Bishop of Waterford & Lismore: Abstinence, Not Vaccines Are Solution To Cancer Fears

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Bishop Alphonsus Cullinane, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.


It is with sadness that this blog has to note that Bishop Cullinane has since apologised for his comments. Maintaining that the HPV vaccine leads to promiscuity among young girls “was an error of judgement”, he said, adding that “it was a far too simplistic way of looking at it”. 

I was not fully informed about the vaccination programme and I can see now how HPV vaccines can contribute greatly to lowering the rate of cervical cancer. As I have learnt, possession of full information is paramount on this vital health issue.

The Irish Times noted that Bishop Cullinane made his remarks through the Office of the Irish Bishops Conference in Maynooth, indicating that his back-down is a result of the pressure brought to bear on him, not only from without, but also from within the Hierarchy in Ireland (and perhaps farther afield). 

This event goes to prove two things. Firstly, no bishop in Ireland has the courage of his convictions. Secondly, no bishop in Ireland has independence or freedom of speech in his own diocese. Even the most basic expression of opinion has to be approved by the politically correct, mealy-mouthed Conference of Bishops (a poisoned fruit of Vatican II, which undermines the pastoral responsibility which each bishop has, under the Pope, by Divine Right in his own diocese). Bar an absolute miracle, the sheep stand to remain without a shepherd for the foreseeable future.

Saint Patrick, Patron of Ireland, pray for the Bishops of Ireland! Ask God to send us the Bishops and the priests we need, not those we deserve!



Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore hit the headlines this past Thursday when he criticised the controversial Gardasil HPV vaccine which is given to twelve year-old girls in order to protect against cervical cancer which can be sexually transmitted.

A two-pronged criticism: medical and moral.

Bishop Cullinan’s criticism was two-pronged. Firstly, he pointed out that the efficacy and safety of the vaccine is currently disputed on a medical level. Speaking in an interview with WLRFM, the Bishop cited the examples of Japan and Denmark, both of which have withdrawn the Gardasil HPV vaccine. He also mentioned the fact that 600 French doctors and 250 French midwives signed a petition in 2014 to ask the French Parliament to investigate the efficacy of the Gardasil vaccine. These facts cannot be lightly dismissed, he maintained.

The second prong of Bishop Cullinan’s criticism was a moral one. He claimed that administering this vaccine to 12 year-old girls will encourage them to lead a promiscuous lifestyle because they are given the impression that the vaccine allows them to engage in sexual activity without danger to their health. The Bishop added that his own experience dealing with young people and his contact with parents and grandparents concerned about the rise of sexual activity among teenagers confirmed this.

However, Bishop Cullinan did not only criticise, he also offered a  solution. The Bishop’s solution? The Church’s traditional solution: abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage.

Minister Simon Harris: ad hominem insults.

Predictably, the media and the HSE heavily criticised Bishop Cullinan’s stance. Minister for Health, Simon Harris, insultingly labeled his criticism as “ignorant” and “pathetic”, going on to say:

Bishops I’m sure have many excellent qualities. Medical doctors they are not […] If anybody wants medical advice, talk to a medical expert. That’s where I get my medical advice, not from the Church…

Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

With his own ignorant, ad hominem comments Minister Harris did not rationally address Bishop Cullinan’s concerns, which are also held by many Irish parents, since the uptake of the HPV vaccine has plummeted to a low of 50%. Even though the Bishop is not a medical expert, he bases his argument, not on his own personal opinion, but on that of over 800 French medical experts and on the action taken by both Japan and Denmark to withdraw the Gardasil vaccine. Is Minister Harris calling the Japanese and Danish government “ignorant” and “pathetic”? Logically, yes.

Secondly, Simon Harris neglects to recognise Bishop Cullinan’s fundamental criticism, that the HPV vaccine leads to promiscuity among young teenage girls. This means that the question of the vaccine is not merely a medical one, but a moral one. Minister Harris will not recognise this, but in the moral domain, we take our advice from Bishops, not from politicians. And so should he.

Trojan Horse Association of “Catholic Priests” puts in its oar.

Equally predictable was the reaction of the Association of (anything but) Catholic Priests, which carries an interview on its website of Father Brendan Hoban on Midwest Radio. Father Hoban called Bishop Cullinane “irresponsible” and backed up Minister Harris’ statements 100%, saying that “this is a health issue, pure and simple”. 

Mol an easpog agus tiocfaidh sé!

Certainly, Bishop Cullinan is no Traditionalist. His taste for false ecumenism is, unfortunately, as developed as any one of his episcopal confreres, for example. However, in taking this stance, and in courageously promoting abstinence from sex outside of marriage, Bishop Cullinan has to be commended. All the more so, since he has come in for so much criticism from so many quarters. In the world of Irish Bishops in the last fifty years, his stance (though not perfect) is about as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth!

The old Irish proverb, “Mol an óige, agus tiochfaidh sí” (“Praise the young and they will flourish”) could well be adapted to this situation. “Mol an easpog agus tiochfaidh sé” !

To contact Bishop Cullinan to encourage him:

Write: Most Rev. Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan DD, Bishop’s House, John’s Hill Waterford.

Call: 051-874463

Email: waterfordlismore@eircom.net 

To contact Minister Harris to express your disapproval:

Email: simon.harris@oir.ie