Repeal of Eighth would mean ‘some lives are lesser than others’

Diarmuid Martin says church has ‘a right to present position respectfully but strongly’

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said he would be upset if the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution was repealed.

“The Eighth Amendment treats every human life the same, regardless,” he said. “When it goes society is saying some lives are lesser than others. That upsets me, when I hear that. It’s always then the weakest life that is affected.”

He said that if the amendment was to be repealed “we don’t know exactly what will come in legislation” afterwards.

Dr Martin also said he found it “interesting to note the political leaders are very cautious in expressing themselves (on the issue) just at this moment.”


The Oireachtas Committee proposal to allow terminations up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy was "arbitrary," he told RTÉ's Today with Seán O'Rourke.

Asked whether the Catholic church faced defeat in the abortion referendum, he said: “The church would be defeated if it caves in on its principles. I think the people will respect the church if they speak very strongly about their principles and stick by them.”

He said the Catholic church had always taken the same stance where liberal abortion law was concerned across the world. This was that “in no way is it acceptable as a moral good,” he added.

“The position of the Catholic church is a very clear one and will be presented respectfully.”

Dr Martin hoped it would be “listened to with some respect, not that the bishops are going to ask to dominate the legislative framework” but “they and the Catholic church have a right to present their position respectfully but strongly.”

He hoped each side in the debate would have the possibility to express strongly-felt convictions in a way that is respectful of others.

‘Huge undertaking’

Meanwhile, the archbishop said planning for the visit of Pope Francis to Dublin next year was "a huge undertaking".

He did not know whether it would include a visit to Northern Ireland or anywhere outside Dublin but events during such visits tended "to be linked explicitly to the World Meeting of Families", he said.

The event would involve a three-day conference at the RDS with a Saturday evening event possibly in Croke Park and a final Mass in the Phoenix Park.

Dr Martin said that wherever the pope goes he visits a prison, “which he feels very strongly about” and he would be very interested in the work of Br Kevin at the Capuchin Day Centre.

“I would like him to meet homeless people and Travellers,” he said, and visit “the north inner city.” There was “a great presence in that part of the city. I would love him to go there,” the Archbishop said.

The estimated cost of the visit was €20 million, he said, of which about €5million had been raised. He was “very anxious that families coming to the Phoenix Park will not incur costs.”

He did not anticipate mass protests at the visit while acknowledging that people were entitled to do so.

He believed the State would look at the visit of the pope the same as it would any other distinguished visitor such as Queen Elizabeth and the then US president Barack Obama.

However, he said that security at the last World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015 was "ludicrous, and nobody could see the poor man."

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times