A Catholic community in the Midlands that has been the focus of controversy this weekend after spreading a message to IVF-critical community members has apologized.

A message on the Facebook page of Tullamore’s Catholic parish on Christmas Eve was accompanied by a picture of a fetal Jesus with a halo over his head and the words “He is on the way” and “Christmas begins with Christ”. His message called for prayers “for couples who have difficulty understanding life naturally and who avoid IVF treatment”.

It added: “The process of IVF damages embryonic stem cells and therefore life and is therefore completely, clearly and completely incompatible with our Catholic faith. For all who believe in God, all life is holy at all times. “

It was removed after a virulent social media response.

Minister of Health Simon Harris described the message on Monday as extremely hurtful and unfortunate.

He could never understand how it could be reprehensible for a Christian that people have a baby and wanted to care for and love it, he said.

The community’s Facebook post came just a few days after Mr. Harris announced plans to provide publicly funded IVF services to state hospitals for the first time. It is expected to operate by 2021.

A message was released on the Tullamore community website on Monday, confirming that the December 24 Facebook message had caused great grief.

It said: “A post on IVF on the Facebook page of the community Tullamore on Christmas Eve caused great concern to many members of our community and beyond. We apologize for the injuries caused.

“Fertility issues are sacred and sensitive, and all children are valued and given by God. This is the essence of the Christmas message.

“The community understands the great suffering of mothers and fathers who yearn for a child. We currently offer our pastoral and prayerful support to all parents and parents-to-be. “

fertility problems

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Harris said he “certainly thought and hoped we would have come to a point about a country (beyond) this type of inappropriate interference in decisions that individuals and couples make about their own lives.”

“We know that one in seven people in Ireland suffer from fertility problems at any time. We know that we need to support them better and we know that we have to regulate IVF. I will never understand and I will never understand the idea that a person who has a baby and wants to love and care for this baby, the idea that every Christian thinks this is unpleasant, is something, “he said ,

On Monday, Health Secretary Simon Harris said he “certainly thought and hoped we had reached a point about a country (beyond) this type of inappropriate interference in decisions that individuals and couples make about their own lives.” Photo: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

Although he was certain that the Tullamore community’s statements were unintentional, “they were extremely harmful to many families struggling with fertility problems,” he added.

“I want these families to know that their government is fully behind them and that we are driving forward plans to first regulate IVF in our country through the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and the creation of our new regional infertility hubs.

“We know that 50 to 70 percent of people with fertility problems can address these issues without IVF if they can contact a specialist at a regional fertility center, and I have given the HSE € 2 million to do so.” said he said.

Tullamore’s Facebook post has left a lot of negative comments on social media. The vast majority of women criticized him violently and asked for the identification of the author.

Attempts by the Irish Times to speak to priests in the Tullamore parish have been unsuccessful. A contacted priest simply said “goodbye” and hung up when contacted. A second attempt to speak to the priest triggered a “no comment” before hanging up again.