Irish Archbishops: response to government abortion decision

2012-12-19 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland: Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin; Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly; and Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, have issued a response to the decision on Tuesday by the Government to legislate for abortion.

In their statement, the Archbishops said the decision “should be of utmost concern for all.” They said that, if adopted, the government’s proposal will fundamentally change “the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child.”

Bishop John McAreavy spoke to Vatican Radio about the Archbishops' response. “The Bishops see this as a hugely significant change in Irish law, and see it as something which would weaken respect for life, and indeed endanger life and create a new culture in medical practice and medical care in relation to the unborn child in Ireland.”

Bishop McAreavy said “Ireland obviously is a country, with a very deep and proud Catholic tradition. The strength of that tradition today, particularly when it comes to the protection of the life of the unborn remains to be tested.”

In the present controversy, he said, “The Irish bishops and pro-life people in Ireland are committed to arguing their case forcefully and strongly and logically and respectfully. And I hope that as a result of this that it will have some effect.”

Listen to the full interview of Bishop John McAreavy with Christopher Wells:


Below please find the full text of the Archbishops’ statement:

Today’s decision by the Irish Government to legislate for abortion should be of the utmost concern to all.

If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed. It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances.

The decision of the Supreme Court in the ‘X’ case unilaterally overturned the clear pro-life intention of the people of Ireland as expressed in Article 40.3.3 of our Constitution. To legislate on the basis of such a flawed judgement would be both tragic and unnecessary.

The dignity of the human person and the common good of humanity depend on our respect for the right to life of every person from the moment of conception to natural death. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. It is the very basis for every other right we enjoy as persons.

The lives of untold numbers of unborn children in this State now depend on the choices that will be made by our public representatives. The unavoidable choice that now faces all our public representatives is: will I chose to defend and vindicate the equal right to life of a mother and the child in her womb in all circumstances, or will I chose to licence the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb?

Moreover, on a decision of such fundamental moral importance every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society.

All involved, especially public representatives, must consider the profound moral questions that arise in responding to today’s announcement by the Government. We encourage all to pray that our public representatives will be given the wisdom and courage to do what is right.