Bishops' views fail to divert plan on abortion
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING: The Government said the process to legislate for limited abortion remained unchanged, notwithstanding detailed objections to the decision outlined by Catholic bishops during a three-hour meeting in Government Buildings yesterday.
The decision to introduce legislation and guidelines for abortion in restricted circumstances dominated the meeting. Taoiseach Enda Kenny led the Government delegation which also included three senior Ministers, while the four bishops who attended were led by the primate, Cardinal Seán Brady.
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 in 1992).
Food for thought
“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.” He said the restrained nature of the meeting was helpful in creating an environment in which the members of the hierarchy could speak freely.
Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley said the delegation had enunciated very clearly the teaching of the church on abortion. “I asked whether there was any other situation where it was suggested that the ending of the life of an innocent person was a solution to a problem,” he said. The response he had got from the Ministers was “non-committal”.
Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry was the fourth member of the church delegation, while on the Government side the three senior Ministers who attended were Minister for Health James Reilly; Minster for Children Frances Fitzgerald; and Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.