Row erupts over hospital chapel
A proposal that a Catholic chapel at North Manchester General Hospital should be turned into a Muslim prayer room has been met with outrage.
People signing a petition launched by Catholic priest Father Ged Murphy, of St Patrick’s and St Malachy’s parish in Collyhurst, above, has attracted over 6,000 signatures from people who are furious, especially as there are existing facilities for Muslims at the hospital.
It is reported here that there are already two Muslim prayer rooms operated there according to Islamic gender apartheid rules, but the one for males does not have washing facilities.
Murphy’s petition was prompted by a letter issued to RC parishes by the Catholic chaplaincy team at the hospital. In it the Rev Ray Matus, of St Chad’s RC Church in Cheetham Hill, said:
We write to inform you of a proposal by the Spiritual Care Chaplaincy Team at North Manchester General Hospital to close the Roman Catholic Chapel of St Raphael in order to convert it into a Muslim prayer room.
Worship spaces are going to be provided for Muslims, Jews, and Protestant Christians, and even a ‘Quiet Room’ for people of no faith at all. Yet it is proposed that Catholics should have no space of their own.
If the plan goes ahead, Catholics would share the existing Protestant chapel.
Matus said a Spiritual Care Team meeting is due to discuss the issue on Tuesday next week and he urges the Catholic community to sign the petition.
The chapel has been there for about 15 years. It is welcoming and people get great comfort there. Different faiths use it.
It is used during the week for Mass. We are not against the Muslim community having a prayer room, but don’t see the sense in taking away a chapel that is serving one community to serve another.
But Rev John Hall, Chaplaincy Co-ordinator at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, insists that the matter is still under discussion.
We recognise and fully support the important role of faith leaders in supporting patients, carers, relatives and staff during often difficult times in hospital. We also make great efforts to ensure that we have dedicated rooms and facilities which meet the needs of various faiths and also for people of no faith.
We have a number of different chapels and rooms at North Manchester General Hospital and we are currently looking at how these are used so that we have the best possible arrangements that meet everyone’s needs.
We have no plans to close any facilities including the Catholic chapel. We are about to start consultation with the local community, faith groups and relevant staff members to discuss all our current issues and to listen to all views and opinions. This meeting is currently being organised and a meeting time agreed.
A hospital spokesman confirmed that one proposal was to close St Raphael’s and use it as a Muslim prayer room.
Manchester councillor Pat Karney, said:
I am very disturbed to hear of these plans. Thousands of catholic families in north Manchester including my own have used this mini chapel. I will be meeting with the hospital bosses to clarify their intentions.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn