Priest slams Varadkar abortion speech at college
A Belfast priest has hit out at "atrocious" pro-abortion remarks made by the Taoiseach during a recent visit to a Catholic teaching college.
Leo Varadkar visited St Mary's in west Belfast to launch Feile an Phobail last Friday.
Speaking in the college's main hall, he voiced his support for extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland.
Earlier that morning the Republic's premier received a warm welcome at the Orange Order's headquarters in the east of the city.
Protests awaited him, however, outside St Mary's from those who opposed his support for relaxing abortion laws in the Republic before the recent referendum.
Fr Patrick McCafferty, parish priest for Corpus Christi, said Mr Varadkar had profoundly disrespected St Mary's College with his remarks.
"An avowed abortionist Taoiseach speaking in a Catholic institution which has a mission to train Catholic teachers to hand on the faith to young people, the optics of that is atrocious," he said.
"I understand it wasn't the college that invited him, but the Feile organisers.
"They need to answer some questions about why they chose St Mary's, knowing that it had a Catholic ethos.
"The college does hire out to people, but they showed complete disregard by inviting a man with very strong pro-abortion opinions.
"For him to stand on the stage of a Catholic institution at the podium of the university college to speak about so called abortion rights in the north of Ireland, it shouldn't have happened and it's unacceptable.
"Those who are using the college should also respect its Catholic ethos."
Fr McCafferty said students and staff at St Mary's were entitled to their own views, but said for the college to be used for an official visit was "crass and showed no respect whatsoever for the Catholic community and that institution".
The Irish Government said: "The Taoiseach was invited to officially open Feile 2018 and was honoured to do so.
"The Taoiseach received a very warm welcome at every stage of his visit to Northern Ireland. Any issues concerning the ethos of the college are a matter for the college."