Catholic church pastor in Cape Breton apologizes for saying in vitro fertilization is 'immoral'
It was an online church bulletin that landed St. Joseph's Catholic Parish of North Sydney in hot water for comments that condemned having children with scientific help.
Now, Father Doug MacDonald – the church's pastor – has issued a new bulletin saying he's sorry.
"Well, I was really happy to see that Father Doug took the time to write a response," said Carolynn Dube, executive director of Fertility Matters Canada. Dube has three sons born by in vitro fertilization and grew up going to St. Joseph's. She says the apology is appreciated, but falls a bit short.
"It's almost like talking out of both sides of your mouth", Dube said. "So the way they were created is not moral, and yet they are gifts from and of God."
The pastor's message reads, in part, "All children are always a gift from God regardless of how they are conceived. As a person and especially as a pastor my heart broke for all the people who felt rejected or hurt by the catechism teachings in a recent bulletin. It is meant to share Church teaching in a compact way, but it was never meant to hurt anyone."
Father MacDonald's comments went on to say, "As I reflected on the parents' pain, and prayed with empathy, I only got a glimpse of what the parents must have been going through. I can see why you received these teachings the way you did."
David Deane, associate professor at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax says he sees some damage control, but sincerity too. "I thought it was nice. I thought it was pastoral," Deane said. "He was looking to clarify the post in order to reach out to people who were offended by it, and say 'Look, the church isn't saying that any child is immoral."
Amber Tapley of Sydney is organizing a rally at the church on Sunday. She's more hopeful now it will be in the spirit of healing. Father MacDonald confirmed in an email to CTV News that he intends to be there.
"Well, I do think it's a very lovely apology," Tapley said. "That's certainly a good way for him to show that he's accountable for the things that he said. And hopefully that can be a first step in mending relationships."