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The New National Maternity Hospital Site Is Allegedly Dependent On Vatican Sign-Off

Under canon law, Irish religious bodies cannot sell or give away property worth over €3.5 million without permission from the Vatican.

The Holy See has expressed an obligation to block the building of the New National Maternity Hospital as medical abortions are set to take place on-site. 

Róisín Shortall TD has called on the Government to halt further spending on the new site until full State ownership is resolved from the Vatican. 

The co-leader of the Social Democrats asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to ‘come clean’ on the position the Vatican presently holds with the State on the building and whether he had made any diplomatic approaches to the organisation on this.

Coveney replied by saying that he has had no involvement and will raise it with the Minister for Health.

According to the Irish Catholic, The Vatican has been urged to step in to block the transfer of land from a religious order to the State because abortions will be carried out in the new hospital.

Rome-based theologian Fr Kevin O’Reilly OP told The Irish Catholic this week that that Holy See has an obligation to impede the building of the new hospital due to the fact that abortions will legally take place there. 

Minister Harris has confirmed that he would expect that every medical procedure that is legal in the State – including abortion – would happen in the new hospital.

“Despite commitments given by Minister Harris in the Dáil a year ago, we’re still waiting to see if the State will own the new hospital, despite being continuously promised that it was to be sorted out and legally secure months ago”, Shortall said.

“It is reckless of the Government to spend €43m on the first phase of the National Maternity Hospital before any resolution of the ownership of the new hospital.

“The new National Maternity Hospital must be fully in public ownership and must operate with a non-denominational ethos. However, this is now dependent on approval from the Vatican.

“It is a shameful position for a Republic to be in that our badly-needed new National Maternity Hospital is waiting for Vatican permission before we can proceed.

“It is not clear when or if the Vatican will give their approval for the disposal of the site.

"This Government must stop putting further public monies at risk until ownership and ethos is legally secure. As it stands, the delivery date of 2024 is very unlikely to be met, but without clarity on legal ownership, it is a huge risk to continue to pour money into something that is still in private hands.”

Under canon law, Irish religious orders cannot sell or give away property worth over €3.5 million without permission from the Pope. 

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life must first vet the process, which is typically not approved without at least receiving confirmation from the local bishop – in this case, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

It has been some seven years since plans for the National Maternity Hospital to move from Holles Street to St Vincent's Hospital were first announced. The estimated completion date was originally set for 2024 – something that, according to Shortall, cannot be met. 

The Holles Street building has been repeatedly criticised for antiquated buildings and subpar conditions. 

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