Numerous Catholic prelates and priests have issued last-minute appeals to Irish citizens to retain the eighth amendment to the constitution, in the lead-up to a critical referendum on abortion.
On May 25, Ireland will vote on whether to repeal of retain its 1983 amendment that acknowledges and guarantees the right to life of preborn children.
“To be against abortion is not simply ‘a Catholic thing,’” wrote Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Primate of All Ireland, in a May 19 statement. “The innate dignity of every human life is a value for the whole of society – for people of all faiths and none. It is rooted in reason as well as in faith.”
“To take away an innocent human life can never be simply a matter of personal choice,” added Ireland’s highest ranking Catholic prelate.
“When you go inside the voting booth on 25 May, pause and think of two lives—the life of the mother and the life of her baby—two hearts beating; two lives which are both precious and deserving of compassion and protection,” Martin said.
The archbishop titled his message “Love Them Both” and emphasized that the Catholic Church stands by both mothers and their babies.
“Women’s lives are precious, to be loved, valued and protected. Their babies’ lives are precious, to be loved, valued and protected. Both lives deserve protection from the tragedy and irreversible decision of abortion,” he wrote.
Bishop John Buckley made a similar appeal in his May 19 message, urging Irish citizens never to forget that when a woman is pregnant, two precious human lives are involved.
“Some people fail to see the humanity of the unborn and consequently their right to life,” said Buckley, who is bishop of Cork and Ross. “The baby and the inhumanity of abortion are rarely mentioned in the political debates.”
“All of us are alive because our mothers chose to accept the life in their wombs,” he continued. “We cannot now deny, in 2018, that the baby in the womb is alive, vulnerable and an innocent baby whose safety is in our hands.”
The bishop goes on to underscore the seriousness of the upcoming referendum.
“As voters, we are the unborn babies’ last line of defence,” he wrote, insisting that “it is essential to vote NO if we are to build a truly compassionate society that values all life.”
Bishop Kevin Doran of the Diocese of Elphin issued yet another pastoral message on May 19, in which he pleads with Catholics to get out and vote to preserve the eighth amendment.
Voting No to repealing the amendment is “an expression of real compassion both for women and for their unborn children,” the bishop said. “That compassion, in order to be authentic, must then be reflected in our practical and emotional care for women, for children and for families. I would want any woman or couple in difficulty to feel that they can approach the diocese for support.”
If the Eighth Amendment is removed, he said, “unborn babies will be left with absolutely no constitutional protection” and will be “in the hands of whatever group of politicians happens to hold the balance of power at any particular time.”
This referendum, he insisted, “is a matter of life and death.”
Pope Francis plans to visit Ireland August 25-26 for the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Dublin.
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