The Catholic prayer app Hallow is defending its partnership with actor Liam Neeson after receiving blowback for collaborating with the movie star despite his advocacy in favor of an effort to legalize abortion in Ireland.
Hallow announced its collaboration with Neeson and actor Jonathan Roumie of the faith-based series "The Chosen" for the Advent Pray 25 challenge. The initiative will feature "readings from the works of C.S. Lewis, voiced by award-winning actor and the voice of Aslan in the Narnia movies, Liam Neeson."
"Liam Neeson, Jonathan Roumie, and an incredible nun will guide you in daily prayer for four weeks of Advent with reflections based on different works of Lewis, including The Four Loves, Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and more," the blog post unveiling the Pray 25 challenge explained.
"Advent Pray 25 will focus on the three comings of Christ: personally into each of our hearts, His Second Coming at the end of time, and as an infant in Bethlehem."
Hallow touted the Pray 25 challenge as a way to help the faithful "slow down and find quiet this Advent" and enable people to discover "how the desires of your heart point to far more and greater than what the world offers."
Hallow's collaboration with Neeson did not sit well with many Catholics because the actor voiced his support for the 2018 abortion referendum in his home country of Ireland. The referendum, which passed with two-thirds of the vote, overturned the country's ban on abortion, which included exceptions for when a mother's life is at risk.
Catholic YouTube personality Brian Holdsworth took to X on Nov. 21 to share a video of what he described as "an anti-Catholic propaganda campaign to seal the fate of the unborn in Ireland" that featured the actor.
Apparently Hallow is partnering with Liam Neeson to produce some content for their app. Did Neeson ever disavow his work on this anti-Catholic propaganda campaign to seal the fate of the unborn in Ireland? https://t.co/tcqjvWz67k— Brian Holdsworth (@briankeepsworth) November 21, 2023
The ad contained dark, black-and-white imagery of blustery weather accompanied by Neeson lamenting that "a ghost haunts Ireland, a cruel ghost of the last century still bound to the land."
"It blindly brings suffering, even death, to the women whose lives it touches. Feared by politicians, this is a ghost of paper and ink, a spirit that lives in a constitution written for a different time," Neeson said.
"It is the shadow of the country we'd hoped we'd left behind," he added. "Ireland doesn't have to be chained to its past. It's time to lay this ghost to rest."
After showing images of a cross and an old building presumed to be a church, the ad transitioned from black-and-white to color, with Neeson urging residents of Ireland to "repeal the eighth." The video concluded with a declaration that "Abortion is illegal in Ireland, even when there's a risk to health and in cases of rape, incest and severe fetal impairment" and a call to action to "help us change this."
Holdsworth asked if Neeson ever disavowed the ad spearheaded by the nongovernmental organization Amnesty International.
Hallow responded to Holdsworth and suggested that the app considered Neeson's pro-abortion advocacy when deciding whether or not to hire the actor to do voice-over work for the Pray 25 series.
"It's something we've discerned intensely," Hallow wrote in a tweet.
Hallow founder and CEO Alex Jones reacted to the pushback over his company's collaboration with Neeson in a statement published Sunday.
"Hallow stands proudly and unequivocally in support of all Catholic Church teaching, especially the pro-life stance of the Church and the [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops's] affirmation of the end of abortion as the preeminent priority," Jones stressed. "We would never allow any content on the app that goes against the pro-life teaching of the Church."
After highlighting the app's pro-life credentials, Jones stood by the decision to work with Neeson.
"When we originally decided on the theme for this year's Advent challenge, we prayed and reflected on who might be best to help bring C.S. Lewis's words to life and help us all grow closer to Christ, while still remaining, as we always do and will, fully in-line with Church teaching."
"We were thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Liam as a voice actor to read the C.S. Lewis passages because of his powerful portrayal of Aslan (who is C.S. Lewis's representation of Christ) in the C.S. Lewis films. We felt that pairing Liam alongside Jonathan Roumie and an incredible religious sister would allow us to hear Liam bring to life the writings in a new way, while also letting the religious sister and Jonathan lead us deeper into a Catholic reflection on the passages."
Jones clarified that Hallow does not "stand behind or claim to endorse any of the personal views, past actions, or political opinions of any of the narrators on the app."
"We have many actors on the app with differing personal views on many topics, some who are practicing Catholics, but several of whom come from different faith backgrounds," he acknowledged.
"Several have done things in the past or may hold personal views that we would disagree with. The one thing we do stand strongly behind is every word they read within the app itself."
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org