Catholics can vote Yes 'in good conscience'


CHURCH:A CATHOLIC can “in good conscience” vote Yes for the Lisbon Treaty and there were “no grounds” to justify a No vote for religious or ethical reasons, the Bishop of Down and Connor told the Joint Committee on European Affairs yesterday.

The Most Rev Noel Treanor, also the Irish Catholic Bishops’ representative at the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, told the joint committee that he appeared before it with the support of Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady.

He said that last November, Cardinal Brady had made it clear “a committed Catholic, even before the current legal guarantees had been secured, could vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty”.

“I begin by echoing that conviction. I state unequivocally that a Catholic can, without reserve and in good conscience, vote Yes for the Lisbon Treaty. There are no grounds to justify a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty on the basis of specifically religious or ethical concerns.”

He said Lisbon “does not alter the legal position of abortion in Ireland. This is further assured by the legal guarantees secured by the Government in the period since the first referendum. These legal guarantees represent a welcome and significant clarification of already existing safeguards in the relationship between the competence of the EU institutions and national sovereignty on important ethical issues.”

He said that “unfortunately, there is evidence that there are a number of publications and organisations who are intent once again on influencing the outcome of the forthcoming referendum by introducing misleading or inaccurate information. This includes suggesting, for example, that the Lisbon Treaty would undermine existing legal protections in Ireland for unborn children, or indeed that on the basis of the Treaty euthenasia might be introduced. It is important to point out that no organisation actively lobbying in the current campaign, using either print or other media, speaks for or on behalf of the Catholic Church.”

Responding to queries from joint committee members on the implications of decisions by the European Court of Justice for national jurisdictions, he said such decisions did “not compel national legislatures” or “force any member state” to follow suit.

Responding to Bishop Treanor’s comments, spokeswoman for the Cóir group Niamh Uí Bhriain said he had “clearly been misinformed in regard to the stance taken by pro-life organisations on the treaty, since what Cóir and others argue is that the Lisbon Treaty will give the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the right to decide on Ireland’s abortion laws in the future”.

“If the ECJ decided that a right to abortion exists under any clause in the Charter , then EU law will simply be held superior to Irish law”.

Bishop Treanor’s address is available at