Dublin archbishops differ on law on abortion
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin met briefly at Government Buildings last night. A spokeswoman for the archbishop described it as a routine Christmas call that takes place annually. She could not say what was discussed.
Earlier it emerged that Dublin’s two archbishops differed in their responses to Government proposals on abortion legislation.
Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson said his welcome for the Government proposals was “not to stand against my four [Catholic] colleague archbishops but to assert that public discourse [on the issue] is important”.
Assessing ‘substantial risk’
The “assessment of what is meant by a ‘substantial risk’ . . . in relation to aspects of the life of the mother,” was what was important, he said.
Speaking at the Black Santa appeal outside St Ann’s Church on Dawson St, where he was accompanied by Dr Martin, he said the Church of Ireland position was that intervention to save a mother’s life was acceptable where there was a “strict and undeniable medical necessity” for this.
“That has been the Anglican position and we stand by that,” he said. He was “very concerned” that “people who are practitioners in the front line . . . would have some sort of clarity”.
Dr Martin said Archbishop Jackson “was talking about the type of discourse we need . . . I’ve already said on a number of occasions it’s a sign of maturity of a society that we can talk, and talk out our differences and that we do it in a respectful way. It doesn’t mean that people water down views they have.”
He said much of what Archbishop Jackson said “I would share, but there’s a difference . . . The Catholic position is a very strong one, about the equal right of mother and baby,” he said.
Asked for his response to Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte’s surprise at the vigour of language used by the Catholic archbishops in their statement, Dr Martin said: “If you look at it carefully he said bishops had a right to speak. It was different to an earlier statement he made.”
Dr Martin did not agree that the archbishops’ statement last Tuesday “was alarmist”.
‘Strongly held views’
Asked whether it was appropriate of Bishop Leo O’Reilly to claim Government proposals were “the first step on the road to a culture of death”, Dr Martin said: “I’m not going to go and judge anybody else . . . People have very strong views and they’re not ideological views. They’re strongly felt views.”
A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said there had been “tons of complaints, by phone and by email” about posters erected in the city by anti-abortion campaign group Youth Defence.
The organisation placed hundreds of posters on lamp-posts throughout Dublin on Wednesday night and yesterday morning showing a picture of a foetus with a “Santa” hat and the words: “Enda all I want for Christmas is my right to life”.
She said no permission had been sought to put them up. They were therefore illegal and litter wardens had been instructed to take them down.