Cardinal Sean Brady has appealed for calm and reasoned discussions on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage.
Primate of All Ireland said the Catholic Church believed a referendum
on abortion was possibly the only solution on dealing with the
He said he wants people to listen to each other and
accept the arguments being made in debates. But he warned the church
will oppose any attempt to legislate abortion through a media campaign
and by lobbying public representatives and providing resources to
priests to preach on the topic.
"We would want to inform people of the ills of abortion," said Cardinal Brady.
14-member expert group on abortion is due to report back to Health
Minister James Reilly on the implications of a 2010 European Court of
Human Rights ruling on Irish abortion laws. It found the state had
failed to implement existing rights to lawful abortion where a mother's
life is at risk, and that the state violated the rights of a woman with
cancer who said she was forced to travel abroad to obtain an abortion.
Government has also been called on to legislate for abortion in special
circumstances as dictated by the 20-year-old 'X case' Supreme Court
ruling and allow abortion if the life of the mother or unborn child is
under threat. But successive governments have failed to act.
for Communications Pat Rabbitte said he had no objection to the
Cardinal stating the church's views on the sensitive and complex issues
and making its position clear. But he said he was surprised at the
Primate's reference on lobbying and canvassing politicians. "I think it
would be a retrogressive step to go back to the days of the Catholic
church dictating to elected public representatives how it should address
an issue," he added.
On gay marriage, the Cardinal said marriage,
between man and woman, is the most favoured situation in which children
are reared. "We want to enhance that and have that accepted," he told
RTE. "We feel that to call it gay marriage weakens the traditional
notion of marriage, which is so important in society."
the pro-marriage, pro-religion think-tank The Iona Institute claimed
Minister Rabbitte's remarks were an attempt to rob the Church of the
democratic right to lobby. Spokesman Dr John Murray said the minister's
comment was actually retrograde. "First of all, lobbying is not the same
as dictating," he said.
"Secondly, why should business
organisations, or farming organisations, or trades unions be allowed to
lobby politicians but the Churches cannot do this? Seeking to deny the
Churches, and their members, the same right as belongs to every other
group in society is deeply undemocratic."