A ‘PRAYERFUL protest’ outside the family planning clinic in Limerick by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal has been severely criticised by women across the country who rang RTE’s Liveline yesterday, to voice their anger.
The Franciscan Friars, who are known in Limerick as the Moyross Monks, staged a protest outside the Family Planning Clinic on Mallow Street on Saturday in a campaign against promiscuity.
Siobhan, a young Limerick woman, who attended the clinic at the weekend rang Joe Duffy on Tuesday and said she had felt intimidated by their presence.
She said one of the friars stared at her directly as she entered the building, and doctors were forced to close the blinds during her appointment.
Fr Charles, who lives at St Patrick’s Friary in Delmege Park, said they had staged protests outside the clinic on a number of occasions but Saturday’s protest was the first in a number of months. He said the friars were there to offer prayerful support. “If somebody wants to talk to us we are there to help, we are there to talk to the people.”
RTE presenter, Joe Duffy, asked Fr Charles what promiscuity had to do with family planning.
“We don’t realise it but all contraception is basically a licence for casual sex,” said Fr Charles. He was then asked why they had focused their campaign against promiscuity on a family planning clinic and not Boots who sell condoms, and provide the morning-after pill.
“We’re not happy about that either,” the priest said, adding that it was “a good idea” which he would submit to the Brothers.
Fr Charles justified the friars’ presence outside the clinic by saying, “We are on the sidewalk, it is public ground and we are not aggressive to anybody, we are just there praying so there is no offence made to anybody.”
The presenter commented that he has “yet to hear people from working class areas of Limerick, or indeed middle class areas of Limerick, complain that family planning is the cause of their problems.”
The priest reiterated that they were there to give prayerful support and apologised if Siobhan “got spooked”.
“I didn’t find them very approachable when I was walking past them. I found it very intimidating really,” the young woman said. “It’s like they were watching me and they knew where I was going. They watched when I walked in and they watched when I walked out again, and they were judging me as if they have to pray for me.”
I’m sorry you felt you were judged. What makes you feel we were judging you?” Fr Charles asked. “I just felt I was being judged,” she said.
“I have a strong faith and really don’t see how they think they’re helping anyone by standing there. I was stressed enough going there, it wasn’t a great day going there and it made the whole thing way more stressful.”
An audibly angry Mr Duffy interjected saying that the Franciscan Friars had linked family planning with promiscuity.