The Catholic Bishop of Galway is objecting “on moral grounds” to a $58,000 grant given to a Galway LGBT resource center by the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVP).
Galway City Council had previously pledged to provide the contribution, which was approved by the SVP’s Maureen O’Connell Fund and paid for over a span of three years to ‘Amach! LGBT Galway.’
Bishop Martin Drennan is now calling the SVP’s reputation “and morals” into question and is demanding answers from the society, requesting that they reexamine “the worthiness of the cause.”
“On moral grounds we can’t support [the grant],” he told Galway Bay FM’s "The Keith Finnegan Show." “Homosexual activity is in our eyes morally wrong behavior and we cannot put funds at the service of what we don’t believe is morally correct.”
He told the radio show that he hoped the matter could be resolved in a way that would restore the image of the society: “We want to keep in mind the good work that the St. Vincent de Paul does throughout the country,” he said. “We don’t know the full facts of the story yet.”
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a Christian voluntary organization that aims to lend any charitable, unbiased help to those in need. “No work of charity is foreign to the Society,” their mission statement reads, “we are involved in a diverse range of activities characterized by support and friendship, promoting self-sufficiency, and working for social justice.”
A SVP spokesman told the Irish Times that their position was to help in a non-judgmental way; the decision to help Amach was “made purely on the basis of need in the Galway area, in the same way as all requests for support are assessed.
“It does not signify any other motive,” he said. The Society does not have a formal affiliation with the Catholic Church, but their relationship with local clergy is strong.
Amach! LGBT Galway is supported locally by many resource centers, community organizations and mainstream agencies, such as Galway City Council and the Galway City Partnership.
Their goal is to “ensure the establishment of an accessible and dedicated LGBT space to address isolation by providing an alcohol-free venue for social networking and other vital supports” - and the SVP mission statement highlights the society’s commitment to identifying the root of social exclusion in Ireland.
According to the Bishop, however, “it supports an organization we don’t agree with, and we can’t support it anymore.” He has made contact with the SVP to seek further clarity on the issue.
In 2009, there were several calls for Bishop Drennan to resign from his post for his inclusion in the Murphy Report, surrounding a sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin.