John Halligan claims Catholic Church banned him from being his godson's sponsor at confirmation
The church has not denied the claims from Waterford TD John Halligan.
Waterford TD John Halligan claims he was banned from standing as sponsor at his godson's confirmation due to his stance on repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Halligan is advocating a Yes vote this Friday, and claims that he was contacted by the parents of his godson to tell him that a member of the clergy had prohibited Halligan from sponsoring their son.
This came, Halligan claimed, by order of Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan.
“I was contacted by the parents of my godson on Thursday to tell me that they had been approached by a member of clergy and told that I could not stand as Sponsor at the ceremony on Sunday and that this was the view of the Bishop," Halligan revealed in a statement.
"When the parents contacted the Bishop, they were told this is because I am an Atheist and because of my views on abortion.
“I am not being a hypocrite here. I fully accept that, as an Atheist, I do not meet the criteria set down by the Catholic Church that a Confirmation Sponsor must be a practising Catholic. The reason I had said yes to my godson when he asked me to be his Sponsor was because of the close bond I have with him.
"Regardless of my own beliefs, I would very much have liked to attend the Mass with him on the day. And I sincerely doubt that I am the only person asked to sponsor a Confirmation child who is not a practising Catholic. I know for a fact that other sponsors were not approached to query their suitability to the role or their views on the 8th Referendum.
“I find it appalling that my godson’s parents had to sit down with him, days before his Confirmation, and explain to the child that I was not permitted to be his Sponsor. And it makes me wonder how threatened the Catholic Church is feeling about the result of Friday’s referendum, if they are prepared to resort to this carry on.”
For his part, Bishop Cullinan responded to say that he had issued guidelines in March regarding the role of confirmation sponsors.
"Sponsors should give the Confirmation candidate a good example of what it means to be a disciple of Christ
and should take their own spiritual life seriously," the guidelines read.
"This will be shown by their Sponsor’s love of God, their love for the Word of God, for the Mass and the Sacraments, for the teachings of the Church, and by the love they show for others."