Archbishop criticises ‘spin’ in abortion debate

Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin agrees Catholic Church has credibility issue on conscience

Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin: “We [bishops] say that any legislation that is proposing for the first time in this country the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child represents a radical change for all of us in this country.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin: “We [bishops] say that any legislation that is proposing for the first time in this country the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child represents a radical change for all of us in this country.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 07:49

The Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh and next Catholic primate of all Ireland, Eamon Martin, has asked politicians how they can “legislate for something which will interfere with the inviolable right to life of every human person”.

He continued: “We call on each public representative to search into their hearts and find there the good news about life which is at the centre of our gospel.”

He said: “In many ways what we have been served up the last month or two is a mantra that ‘this is restrictive, this is about saving lives and we’re not going to talk about it anymore’.”

He described as “spin” much commentary surrounding the Government’s proposed abortion legislation which he said claims it is “about saving lives, that it is restrictive and that it represents no change”.

He added: “We [bishops] say that any legislation that is proposing for the first time in this country the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child represents a radical change for all of us in this country.”


Make views known
He said the bishops were calling on people to make their views widely known to their public representatives.

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said: “Abortion is never a solution. There are other ways and we feel that this short statement . . . we’d like to promote it, that people would read it.”

Both men were speaking to media at Maynooth yesterday following publication of a Catholic bishops’ statement on abortion which they hope will be read out in parishes this weekend. Archbishop Martin said he “finds it strange that excommunication, which happens so rarely in the church, has become a major issue on the front pages of the newspapers. We feel it’s a distraction.”


‘Not a church issue’
Asked if other churches in Ireland and the non-Christian religions that believe abortion should be allowed in certain instances were wrong, he responded: “It is not even a church issue. It is an issue for every human being. Abortion is wrong if there was no other church, no Catholic Church, no other Christian churches.”

Where a free vote in the Dáil on the proposed abortion legislation was concerned, he said: “We believe conscience is a fundamental foundational right and that everyone should be allowed express their conscience in this matter. What we’re trying to do is inform conscience .”

Asked whether the church had a credibility issue when taking a stance on conscience, considering its silencing of priests who in good conscience had spoken against church teaching on mandatory celibacy, homosexuality and women priests, he agreed.

“The church has a credibility issue on this and we have to let people be entitled to do that. I think it would be incredible for the church not to speak the gospel of life . . . and not to point out to all people . . . that this is a very critical issue.”