Catholics and people of goodwill should be “missionaries for the cause of life”, Armagh’s Archbishop Eamon Martin has said in a new year pastoral message that has been seen as the Church’s first major intervention ahead of next year’s expected referendum on abortion.
“To serve human life is to serve God,” he said, quoting Pope Francis. “Speak to your families, your children and grandchildren, friends and colleagues about cherishing the precious gift of life at all times from conception to natural death.”
He urged people not to be afraid to witness to the equality of all life in private conversations and public discussions in the coming months.
You have a democratic right to do so, he said, “as citizens committed to the Common Good”.
Welcoming his intervention, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said the ‘middle ground’ in the abortion debate were people around the country “who have family members alive because of the Eighth Amendment”.
“Everybody knows somebody who is affected by an unplanned pregnancy and who chose to go ahead and give birth to their baby and now there is a family member who has affected their lives in a positive way,” she told The Irish Catholic.
These children are not fantasies, said Ms Sherlock. “They are children going to school today – real people who need to be acknowledged.”
She said people were willing to speak out but were nervous about telling personal stories “in a climate that would not welcome them”. In this regard, she said, both the Citizens’ Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee had been “wasted” opportunities.
On RTÉ’s This Week programme on Sunday, Archbishop Eamon Martin insisted abortion was wrong in itself, and that this is not solely a ‘Catholic’ issue.
“We, like many other people of good will, believe that the right to life is a fundamental right,” he said. “All other rights including the right to choice or to controls on our lives, are predicated on the fundamental right which is the right to life. If we take that away everything else falls.”
He appealed to people to talk to their public representatives so they are “grounded, [to know] what people are thinking”.