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A week out from polling day, the Catholic Bishops are weighing in on abortion

Today’s statement from the Bishops’ Conference coincides with a Labour event calling for a referendum.

An anti-abortion rally outside Leinster House in 2014
An anti-abortion rally outside Leinster House in 2014
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

CATHOLIC BISHOPS ARE weighing in on the general election in a big way today.

A statement from the Irish Bishops’ Conference reiterates the Church’s views on a range of issues from education to climate change.

Meanwhile, the front-page of today’s Irish Catholic newspaper features an interview with Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin under the headline ‘Bishops urge voters to put right to life No.1′ and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin appeared on Morning Ireland to expand on the Church’s message.

The Archbishop, as expected, declined to say who he would be voting for and said he wouldn’t be giving guidance to others on which party they should favour.

On the question of whether Catholics could vote for politicians who support the repeal of the Eigth Amendment, Martin responded:

We’re saying that here are the fundamental principles of the teaching of the Catholic Church. We reassert them, we reassert the reasons for it and then it’s up to every individual Catholic – and others in society who want to listen – to make up their minds in conscience.

He said everyone needed to consider the issues seriously, adding that it wasn’t his job or that of other Church leaders “to say the guidance is you must vote for this party or that party”.

Answering follow-up questions he said:

You cannot pretend to be a Catholic and say ‘I leave aside a very vital part of Catholic teaching’. But it’s the individual makes that decision.

In his Irish Catholic interview, Bishop Doran said voters “need to impress upon politicians the importance of supporting and promoting a culture of life that recognises the unique value of every human person and we need to actively support those who do”.

The statement from the bishops comes ahead of a Labour event on the Eighth. The party will launch its plan for a referendum to repeal the contentious amendment in Dublin later today.

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Other parties 

The Taoiseach has said that if Fine Gael is re-elected to government it will, within six months, set up a forum similar to the Constitutional Convention to consider the matter.

Sinn Féin, the AAA-PBP, the Social Democrats, and the Greens all support holding a referendum – but the question still remains of what would replace the Eighth.

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin said last September his party would not initiate any moves to repeal it, while Renua leader Lucinda Creighton previously told this website that despite her own pro-life views, she believes a referendum would be a helpful thing.

The Eighth Amendment, passed by referendum in 1983, enshrines the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution and effectively outlaws abortion.

Read: Abortion bill hasn’t led to more women “claiming suicidality” to get a termination

Read: Enda promises action on abortion within six months of re-election

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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