Representatives of church and State were told yesterday by papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown that this new year is an incredibly important one “for the sanctity of human life in Ireland and in other nations as well”.
Addressing a congregation which included President Michael D Higgins, the Taoiseach aide-de-camp Cmdt Michael Treacy, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and members of the diplomatic corps, he said people of conscience, of all religions and none, “need to work vigorously and courageously to protect and nurture human life from conception to natural death”.
He quoted Pope Benedict, Ireland’s Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Martin and referred to Ireland’s Catholic bishops in bolstering his argument.
World Day of Peace
He was speaking at the World Day of Peace Mass, celebrated this year in the Church of St Thérèse, Mount Merrion, in Dublin and his comments came a week before the Oireachtas Health Committee begins three days of hearings into the abortion issue. The hearings follow a Government decision last month to introduce “legislation supported by regulations” on the issue of abortion.
Acknowledging scientific and technological advances, the nuncio pointed out that these was “not completely identical with human progress”. As an example he referred to the shootings in Connecticut last month in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
“This atrocity highlights the difference between technological progress and human progress. The technical capacity to do what the killer did has only been possible for a relatively short time in human history . . . It makes us ask deeper questions about progress,” he said.
“Human progress happens when we truly acknowledge the intrinsic value of every human being and also recognise that in the human heart there is the awareness of a natural moral law, which is present in a person as a fundamental sense of what is right and wrong, even before a person has any faith in God or any religious instruction or training,” he said.
He quoted from the Pope’s message for the World Day of Peace, which asked “how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life of those who are weakest, beginning with the unborn”?
Archbishop Brown recalled that the Pope had also said: “Neither is it just to introduce surreptitiously into legislation false rights or freedoms which, on the basis of a reductive and relativistic view of human beings and clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia, pose a threat to the fundamental right to life”. The archbishop noted that “the bishops of Ireland . . . have emphasised how in Ireland both a mother and her unborn child are equally valued and cherished.”
He quoted Archbishop Martin as having “stated so well” that “there are no second class human lives, no human life whose right to life deserves lesser respect of lesser protection”.
He also quoted Cardinal Brady,who had said the present time would “prove to be a defining moment regarding Ireland’s attitude to respect and care for human life.”
He referred to the cardinal’s hope “that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voices heard in a reasonable, but forthright, way to their representatives.”