Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan died last week. She was a former nun turned theology professor who, along with her wife Dr. Katherine Zappone (currently serving as Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs), became one of the most outspoken voices in favor of marriage equality in the country. It’s a fascinating story, especially when you consider her religious background.
Gilligan and Zappone were married in Canada in 2003 and pushed to have their marriage recognized in Ireland. In 2015, that finally happened.
So Ireland has lost a civil rights pioneer.
Yet that didn’t stop a former colleague at Dublin City University’s St Patrick’s College, Ciarán Ó Coigligh, from using her death as an opportunity to spread his anti-gay beliefs (while also slamming Zappone’s activism in support of abortion rights). This is what he wrote in an email sent to all DCU staffers,
May the Lord have mercy on the soul of my late good friend and former colleague of almost forty years, Anne Louise Gilligan, and may she rest in peace. It was a privilege to work with Anne Louise and our mutual friend Katherine Zappone over the years on many projects supportive of poor urban and rural students.
I valued Ann Louise’s and Katherine’s friendship all the more because it did not prevent me giving expression to the fact that same-sex attraction is a disorder that can be overcome and affected individuals restored to orderly sexual orientation; that people are robbed of their human dignity by being defined solely in terms of sexual attraction and grouped under the hideous acronym LGBT; and that a (sexual) relationship between two women or between two men cannot be conjugal, cannot be consumated, and cannot constitute marriage.
I hope that these views are respected and not disparaged in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences. I would be happy to deliver a lecture which would present a Catholic Christian response to same-sex attraction, informed by the latest research in the area. It was a great sadness to me when Anne Louise told me that she had outgrown her Christian Faith.
Please God, she may have regained her belief and returned to the practice of the Faith. It is an even greater sadness to me that our mutual friend Katherine gives ever-more strident voice to calls for the liberalisation of legislation allowing the murder of an infant in the womb as a response to threatened suicide.The death of a relative or close friend is often a time to assess one’s life’s achievements, beliefs and practices. It is my prayer that Katherine will use this time of sadness to reassess her espousal of a number of causes which besmirch a record of solicitude for others and particularly the poor.
I am, with every good wish,
Ciarán Ó Coigligh, survivor of same sex abuse.
There are so many disturbing things about that letter…
- He sent it to the entire university staff. On purpose. Just to make sure they all knew he was a bigot.
- He felt the death of someone’s wife was the perfect time to tell her to reassess her beliefs.
- He used Gilligan’s death as an opportunity to denounce a cause she dedicated much of her adult life fighting for. I could understand that if she was an ideological enemy (like atheists did with Jerry Falwell), but he claims she was a close friend. That makes his judgment here even more questionable.
- He conflates his personal beliefs about homosexuality with facts, as if same-sex attraction is, by definition, a disorder that can be cured.
- Can anyone tell me what he means by “same sex abuse”?
At least the university had the good sense to denounce the remarks:
In a statement, DCU condemned Ó Coigligh’s remarks: “While Dublin City University supports the concept that universities are fora where views from many different perspectives can be shared and debated respectfully, we do not condone communications that run counter to our policies and ethos of respecta and dignity.”
That’s a very classy way to say this guy’s being a dick and he doesn’t represent us.
Because he’s no longer teaching at the university, it’s not like there was going to be any tangible punishment. But The University Times notes that his account was suspended, so at least he won’t be able to send any more nasty emails when someone else dies.
(Screenshot via YouTube)