A Cork priest has sparked outrage after he allowed a woman to give a graphic account of her abortion during a children’s Mass.
The Irish Examiner reports the speech was made in front of up to 100 children at Church of Our Lady Conceived Without Sin in Mitchelstown, Co Cork last weekend.
The Cork woman, a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard pro-life organization, told the congregation that she believed her special needs child was a punishment from God.
It is understood she addressed several Masses last Sunday where children with special needs were present.
The local parish priest Fr Michael Fitzgerald did not seek permission from the apostolic administrator of the diocese, Archbishop Dermot Clifford.
Archbishop Clifford contacted Fr Fitzgerald after he received several complaints from the public, who were disgusted that a special needs child was described as "punishment from God".
On Wednesday he said he was "unhappy this speech took place."
Fr Fitzgerald said he believed "the woman’s comments around her special needs child were misinterpreted."
"I did not know what hurt it would cause," said Fr Fitzgerald. "I was contacted by an organisation who said they had a woman who could speak of her experience.
"At the time, I thought this is a story that not a lot of people get to hear. I knew the woman’s story but I did not know what hurt it would cause. She explained to the congregation that it was the guilt inside of her that made her feel like that. She was hurt at the time. She had not yet healed after the abortion.
"A central theme of her address was that all human life is sacred, that all children are precious and should be equally cherished and supported. It is a matter of regret that a small number of people were upset at some aspects of the lady’s address, especially as they related to children with special needs. I can assure you that was never intended."
An Irish representative of Rachel’s Vineyard said it "too believed the comments were misinterpreted."
The organization offers counseling and “weekends for healing” after abortion throughout the US and Canada.
Last Sunday, a pastoral letter on abortion was delivered to all parishes in Ireland which argued that the Government "is under no obligation" to legislate for abortion due to a 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling.