Friday, February 4, 2011

Monk's protest angers women Leader) A 'PRAYERFUL protest' outside the family planning clinic in Limerick by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal has been severely criticised by women across the country who rang RTE's Liveline yesterday, to voice their anger.
The Franciscan Friars, who are known in Limerick as the Moyross Monks, staged a protest outside the Family Planning Clinic on Mallow Street on Saturday in a campaign against promiscuity.

Siobhan, a young Limerick woman, who attended the clinic at the weekend rang Joe Duffy on Tuesday and said she had felt intimidated by their presence.

She said one of the friars stared at her directly as she entered the building, and doctors were forced to close the blinds during her appointment.

Fr Charles, who lives at St Patrick's Friary in Delmege Park, said they had staged protests outside the clinic on a number of occasions but Saturday's protest was the first in a number of months. He said the friars were there to offer prayerful support. "If somebody wants to talk to us we are there to help, we are there to talk to the people."

RTE presenter, Joe Duffy, asked Fr Charles what promiscuity had to do with family planning.

"We don't realise it but all contraception is basically a licence for casual sex," said Fr Charles. He was then asked why they had focused their campaign against promiscuity on a family planning clinic and not Boots who sell condoms, and provide the morning-after pill.

"We're not happy about that either," the priest said, adding that it was "a good idea" which he would submit to the Brothers.

Fr Charles justified the friars' presence outside the clinic by saying, "We are on the sidewalk, it is public ground and we are not aggressive to anybody, we are just there praying so there is no offence made to anybody."

The presenter commented that he has "yet to hear people from working class areas of Limerick, or indeed middle class areas of Limerick, complain that family planning is the cause of their problems."

The priest reiterated that they were there to give prayerful support and apologised if Siobhan "got spooked".

"I didn't find them very approachable when I was walking past them. I found it very intimidating really," the young woman said. "It's like they were watching me and they knew where I was going. They watched when I walked in and they watched when I walked out again, and they were judging me as if they have to pray for me."

I'm sorry you felt you were judged. What makes you feel we were judging you?" Fr Charles asked. "I just felt I was being judged," she said.

"I have a strong faith and really don't see how they think they're helping anyone by standing there. I was stressed enough going there, it wasn't a great day going there and it made the whole thing way more stressful."

An audibly angry Mr Duffy interjected saying that the Franciscan Friars had linked family planning with promiscuity.
"There's judgement."

"Do you think young women in turmoil would turn to five bearded men wearing funny clothes on the side of a street when they have no indicatioin who they are?" Mr Duffy said.

Fr Charles faced a barage of criticism as a number of incensed callers contacted the radio programme.

One caller, Sheila, said the intention of the protesters was to intimidate women going to the family planning clinic. "You can couch something anyway you like but if you want to be there for people, you let them know where you are and allow them to come to you. You don't stand there in a line pushing your views or your religion on them when they are going about private business in their own lives.

"I'm a married woman," she said. "I go to family planning clinics regularly. I would find it an absolute insult for you to assume that I was promiscuous, or for you to use the word promiscuous about any of the women in there with me. You have a nerve, you really do, and you are completely misguided."

Fr Charles tried to respond by saying that "we live in a beautiful society and...", but he was interupted by the angry called.

"Are you just going to give me your rhetoric and dogma? You have done something wrong, you have intimidated another human being for no good reason except to satisfy your own belief system. It is totally unacceptable. It may work in the country that you come from but it will not be tolerated in this country by Irish women."

Brother Shawn, Fr Charles and Fr Paulus at Delmege Park, Moyross, where the friary is based


Unknown said...

I'm glad my Irish ancestors are dead. Reading this would have killed them.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"Are you just going to give me your rhetoric and dogma?..."

That sounds like something a demon would respond to a Priest during exorcism.


Mike said...

"...what promiscuity had to do with family planning."

Oh, I had a good laugh over that. Yes, how judgemental. Good thing the callers were not judgemental.

belinda said...

Pablo, demons like to fake piety too and gosh darn it some of those women are practically virgins. Here's my proof.....

Quote;" I would find it an absolute insult for you to assume that I was promiscuous"

(She's fine with murder but with being promiscuous- no way! She's got integrety!)

Cló Mhuire said...

The Franciscans of the Renewal are doing incredible work in Ireland. Their presence was a peaceful protest, very different from the angry reactions of a few women. But this is what happens when some find the light that bit too bright. The friars are known in Ireland for their peaceful manner, their beautiful way with people and their love of God evident in their work. It is unacceptable for a woman to say a friar was judging when he didn't speak to her. How can a peaceful presence be turned into false words of staring and judging, as the woman said? That is the voice of a troubled conscience. Such manipulation in the form of anger and self pity, was a poor attempt to tarnish God's work. The power of God's presence is needed a lot more than the effort of words only. Ireland needs this authentic witness, rather than lukewarm niceties.