Abortion dominates Church meeting

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 00:00

The Coalition said the process it has sanctioned to legislate for limited abortion remains unchanged, notwithstanding detailed objections to the landmark decision outlined by Catholic bishops during a three-hour meeting in Government buildings today.

The decision to introduce legislation and guidelines for abortion in restricted circumstances dominated the meeting, the first formal meeting between the Government and the Catholic Church since the Coalition entered office in March 2011.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny led the Government delegation of four ministers while the four bishops who attended were led by the Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady.

Speaking after the meeting Cardinal Brady said the Government had clearly stated its position that it had to remedy a situation that obtained for 20 years (since the X case judgement in 1992).

"We kept insisting on our point of view and I hope we gave them food for thought," he said.

In separate briefings afterwards, the church representatives described the meeting as "respectful and restrained" while the Taoiseach's spokesman said it had been "cordial, comprehensive and valuable".

The meeting was scheduled before the controversy over the legislation arose and is part of a structured series of dialogues with all faith groups.

Bishop Colm O'Reilly of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise took the lead in outlining the Church's position on abortion.

"We spelled out our position which is unchanged and unchangeable really because of the fundamental problem we have with taking an innocent human life in any circumstances. The Government is under no illusions about that," he said.

Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley said the delegation had enunciated very clearly the teaching of the Church on abortion.

Asked if the bishops had any sense the Government was willing to change direction, Dr Buckley responded: "They listened to our presentations. I am sure they will reflect on what we have said."

That was confirmed by the Taoiseach's spokesman who confirmed that the process to introduce legislation and guidelines would be proceeding as planned and would not be changing course.