Belfast Telegraph

Anger at Irish bishop’s cancer jab comments

By Staff Reporter

An Irish bishop has been urged to withdraw comments over the safety of a vaccine that protects women from cervical cancer.

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Phonsie Cullinan said recently that giving the injection to 12-year-old girls to guard against the human papillomavirus (HPV) could cause promiscuity.

Yesterday, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said that while his comments could be considered idiosyncratic, "they were ill-informed and dangerous".

"Parents who may be convinced that he enjoys some competence in this area could follow his advice and unwittingly put their children at risk," the ACP said. "Sadly, his comments also bring the Irish Catholic Church into further disrepute, suggesting a nonchalance about women's health and an obsession with sexuality.

"The ACP further asks the Irish bishops to disassociate themselves from Bishop Cullinan's comments and to support the medical and scientific evidence that makes the vaccine a vital protection against cervical cancer."

The comments were also criticised by controversial Enniskillen cleric Fr Brian D'Arcy.

"Obviously as a pastor I want to see people, especially young women, not having to go through the danger of cancer because I have buried far too many young women to cancer," he told the Mail on Sunday.

The bishop said last week that he believed the HPV vaccine "could certainly lead to a false sense of security" and "gets people to think they are fully protected". He added: "Prevention, the number one and most effective protection is abstinence. A good old traditional value."

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