Nuns are unfairly vilified in hospital debate, says Cork priest

FR LIAM KELLEHER, a Roman Catholic curate based in Cobh, says the outcry over the St Vincent’s Hospital site is yet another example of society attacking the Christian ethos
Nuns are unfairly vilified in hospital debate, says Cork priest
HOLY ROLE: Bishop of Cork Cornelius Lucey blesses the new Bons Secours maternity wing in 1958.

WHO can protect our Christian ethos?

I write this at the end of April, exactly a year to the day since my brother, Denis, passed to his eternal reward at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

I had visited him there on a number of occasions for the previous six weeks.

In the light of the controversy surrounding the hospital on the recent announcement that it would be the site of the new National Maternity Hospital, I would like to make a few observations.

First of all, regarding my visits to the hospital a year ago, I must say I was not impressed by it, and my sister, who is a nurse, was of the same opinion.

On one occasion during my visit, my brother’s wife, a member of the medical profession herself, picked up his chart to have a look at it and received what I consider was an unwarranted tirade of abuse by a member of the staff.

To her credit, she stood her ground and demanded that she had a right to know what was going on, simply saying “he is my husband”.

My sister, Maureen, who succumbed to the dreaded disease of cancer 12 years ago, was a member of the order of the Daughters of Charity and a member of the National nursing board. She did her general nursing there before going on to do a tutor’s degree in Scotland and becoming head tutor at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.

She had a tremendous regard for the standards of St Vincent’s Hospital, which was very efficiently run by the Sisters of Charity. It was spotlessly clean, giving a care and a service that was second to none.

The same order of nuns are the one that have been vilified and ridiculed by every section of the media and by political commentators all over the country.

I rarely watch TV, but when I am driving, or when I get a chance, I listen to chat shows to try get a flavour of the thinking of the populace.

Fr Liam Kelleher. Picture: David Keane.
Fr Liam Kelleher. Picture: David Keane.

In most cases, the presenters are anti-church and anti-establishment and promote an agenda that certainly causes much grief to committed Christians, whatever denomination they may be, with little or no balance.

There are a few exceptions. George Hook on Newstalk gives fair play and sometimes Matt Cooper does too, on The Last Word on Today FM, especially when he has Cal Thomas from the USA on on a Tuesday evening.

Cal is the most syndicated columnist and contributor to all media in the USA and, would you believe, he is a family man and promotes Christian values and ideals, particularly in relation to family life.

With the decline in religious orders and the scarcity of nuns, it is beyond me why there has been such a fuss over St Vincent’s, when it is patently obvious to anyone with a brain that the good nuns that are left will have no role to play.

So, why bring up such unnecessary comments and accusations? It is quite obvious it is a cheap and blatant opportunity to discredit committed Christians and promote their own agenda.

I am not denying the rights or opinions of those who live in a multi-cultural society, but we must still have respect for the views and culture and faith of those who belong to the Catholic tradition.

In this era, we hear every day about the wrongs of religious, and rightly so, to promote transparency and accountability, but where is the balance?

What about all those who have done tremendous work down through the years at home and abroad, often with undue recognition?

The next major conflict, and it’s well on its way already, is the attempt to liberalize our abortion laws.

The cynical agenda is at work overtime to try and change the attitude and thinking of those who believe that every child, born and unborn, has a right to life.

We are living in an era where the right and respect for life is diminishing.

It sometimes appears that some people have more respect and time for pets and animals than they do for humans.

I have come across people showing more concern for a horse when he falls in a race than for the unfortunate jockey.

Of course, we must cherish the birds of the air the fish in the sea, the animals on the planet, the flora and fauna and our environment — but we cherish human life in all its forms.

The abortion issue leads to the next major conflict, euthanasia — eventually very few will be safe.

I know I am putting my head on the chopping block by expressing these views. Society cannot continue the way that it’s going with the abandonment of practice of Faith.

So, hence the question, who can protect our Christian ethos?

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