Wedding couple to complain to archbishop after priest's abortion message

The abortion debate has ignited strong feelings on both sides
The abortion debate has ignited strong feelings on both sides

A CO Down man says he and his fiancee have been left in limbo after a parish priest cast doubt on whether he would marry them due to the groom's stance on abortion.

The man, named only as Kevin, told the Nolan Show yesterday that he intended to make a complaint to Catholic archbishop Eamon Martin and is considering a civil ceremony if the matter is not resolved.

The Newry man spoke out after it emerged that Fr Damien Quigley, who serves in Middle Killeavy in the Armagh diocese, told the man in a private Facebook message that if he supported abortion it could prevent him from being married by him or in the Catholic church.

It emerged yesterday that Fr Quigley had sent the message after taking a screenshot of the man's Facebook page where he had expressed his support to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the Republic's referendum.

The man said the priest appeared to backtrack on his original comments by apologising for saying the couple may not be able to marry in a church, and adding that they just needed "to have a chat, ideally in person".

When Kevin said he pointed out that his fiancee is pro-life, he said Fr Quigley commented: "She is okay, we just need to work on you".

Fr Damien Quigley
Fr Damien Quigley

The man said he was "shocked" by events.

"It's like being back in the 1960s. It is very, very disappointing and very, very worrying. Does that mean people who are pro-choice, their children are going to be affected as well?

"Are they saying that the 66 per cent of people in the south who voted yes aren't being allowed back to the church? It's 2018 - we have to move with the times and the church has to move with the times."

The man said he had contacted the church office to ask if they could be married by another priest in the parish and was told "it would be a matter for Fr Quigley".

"I just want to marry my best friend. My fiancee is very angry that someone is trying to sway my opinion by holding our marriage to ranson," he said.

"You're talking about a church, as they say, that has an all-forgiving God and a God that doesn't judge but I am being judged for being pro-choice."

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Armagh echoed one released by Fr Quigley, 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 Fr Quigley has never refused to prepare any person or couple for the sacrament."