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Dundalk priest under fire for saying he may not marry couple due to their support of abortion

Dundalk priest under fire for saying he may not marry couple due to their support of abortion

A Dundalk-born priest has come under fire in the North after telling a couple who asked him to marry them that their support for abortion could lead to them not being able to get married by a Catholic priest or married in a Catholic Church.

Fr Damien Quigley, originally from Cedarwood Park in Cox’s Demesne, was ordained to the priesthood two years ago this month in the Church of the Holy Redeemer.

Now based in Killeavy in Co Armagh, it was revealed on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show last week that Fr Quigley contacted the couple via private message to warn them that they may not be able to marry in the Catholic Church due to their support of abortion.

A Nolan Show listener then contacted the show and revealed the content of the message.

Fr Damien wrote to the couple saying: “Just a heads up, that as the priest you’ve asked to celebrate your wedding for you, you and I would need to have a conversation about any promotion you may do to advocate for abortion in Ireland.

“Such promotion or advocacy would impact on the appropriateness of me celebrating your wedding or possibly the wedding taking place in a Catholic Church.

“I’m sure we can have a good chat over a coffee sometime.”

Host Stephen Nolan said that his show contacted Fr Quigley who confirmed that he wrote the message and said it was private and he would not be commenting any further.

Mr Nolan said that he told the priest that although it was private it wasn’t private anymore and asked what was his policy.

He claimed that Fr Quigley refused to comment any further but he did issue a statement.

Fr Quigley said: “From the outset, I wish to advise you that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss details of my pastoral support to any specific individual or couple in their preparation for the sacrament of marriage.

“However, please be advised that I have never refused to prepare any person or couple for the sacrament.”

The Catholic Church released a similar statement saying: “It would not be appropriate to discuss details of a priest’s pastoral support to any specific individual or couple in their preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage.

“However, please be advised that Father Quigley has never refused to prepare any person or couple for the Sacrament.”

Fr Damien Quigley at his ordination in Dundalk two years ago

The Diocese of Armagh where Fr Quigley works issued a statement to the Nolan Show saying: “The Diocese has nothing further to add to Fr Damien’s statement.”

The couple involved, Kevin McAteer and Shaunagh Griffin, went public yesterday saying they still had “no priest or church” for their wedding after expressing their support for the recent Yes vote in the Republic of Ireland.

A statement from them read: “We feel the church is discriminating against us because we are not following them. However, we feel that everyone has a right to an opinion and that although 66 per cent voted in favour of the yes campaign…does that mean they will be denied marriage in a Catholic church as well?

“Furthermore how will our children be affected. Will they be unable to get baptised in the church now that one of their parents is pro choice?”

The couple have made a complaint to Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin and have also contacted Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to outline their concerns.

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