Church warned against campaigning on abortion


Any direct involvement by the Catholic Church in political campaigning on abortion would be a backward step for Ireland, a senior Labour Party minister in the Government said today.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte was responding to comments made on the issue in an RTÉ interview by Cardinal Seán Brady.

When asked how the Church would react if the Government decided to legalise the carrying-out of abortions in this State, the Cardinal said it would launch a “media campaign” and would also be “lobbying public representatives”.

“We would have a media campaign, we would be lobbying public representatives and also hope to write a pastoral letter on this situation, setting forth the argument which we have always held and providing resources to priests to preach on this topic in the pulpit,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte who was due to discuss a separate issue on the “This Week” programme said: “I would be somewhat surprised at the Cardinal’s reference to lobbying and engaging with, canvassing, public representatives and so on, on the matter.

“I don’t have any objection to any of the churches stating its position and making it clear, but I think it would be a retrogressive step if we were to go back to the days of the Catholic Church dictating to elected public representatives how [they] should address an issue that a very large section of our society believes that governments in the past ought to already have done.”

Speaking in Waterford at the weekend, the Cardinal had said he believed any attempt by the Government to legislate for abortion, even by way of a ministerial directive, would be “vigorously and comprehensively opposed by many”.