Former chaplain says students are labelled ‘bigots’, ‘homophobes’ and ‘backward’ for being Catholic
By Claire Mc Cormack
CATHOLIC students are being silenced in our universities and labelled “bigots” and “homophobes” if they openly express their religion, a former chaplain at UCC has claimed.
In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Fr David Barrins said many third-level institutions are becoming increasingly “intolerant” towards Catholics, particularly if they have pro-life views.
“It’s discrimination and it keeps people silent by using very evocative terms like homophobic and bigot . . . it’s very hard to fight that because once you’re labelled, it seems to stick,” said Fr Barrins.
“There is a quiet fear and nobody wants to report it, simply because you can bash Catholics and it seems to be acceptable and that seems to be reinforced by a lot of the reports I get on these things over cups of tea.”
The 36-year-old Dominican friar said the trend is particularly highlighted by the lack of university societies that represent Catholic views.
“You’re a bigot if you’re a Catholic student or if you dissent from the prevailing orthodox. You have to keep your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself,” said Fr Barrins.
Earlier this year, a student pro-life society was refused recognition at the University of Limerick.
And last year, a Legion of Mary Society was suspended at the National University of Ireland in Galway.
However, at the time it was reported that NUI Galway suspended the society simply because controversial posters were in breach of their code of conduct.
The pro-life society in UL was rejected as it just didn’t get enough votes from the universities Council of Societies for approval.
Fr Barrins believes these societies, and others, are refused because they “clash” with “modern and liberal ideologies” on issues such as abortion and the family.
In the main, Irish universities do not have dedicated Catholic societies, instead they have a Christian Union or Laurentian Society representing all students who share a belief in Jesus.