THE leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland called for TDs to be lobbied over abortion legislation – but won't be heading the campaign himself in Leinster House.
Cardinal Sean Brady won't be presenting the Catholic church's views to the Oireachtas committee considering the abortion legislation.
The four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland said before Christmas the Government's decision to legislate will pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. But neither Cardinal Brady nor Archbishops Diarmuid Martin, Michael Neary or Dermot Clifford are appearing before the committee today.
Instead the Catholic hierarchy is sending in the Bishop of Elphin. Rev Christopher Jones, accompanied by Fr Timothy Bartlett, will make the presentation on behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference.
The Government has been slightly taken aback by the level of rhetoric coming from the Catholic hierarchy on the abortion question.
Cardinal Brady upped the ante in his Christmas message by directly calling for a campaign of protest.
The cardinal chose to deliver a strong reminder of the church's position on abortion, urging those who believe in the "fundamental" right to life to lobby TDs.
He urged people to tell politicians that no government was entitled to remove that right from an innocent person.
Catholic Bishop Leo O'Reilly described the legislation as, in the words of Pope John Paul II, "the first step towards a culture of death".
The third day of the hearings will start with presentations from the representatives of religious groups: the Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church of Ireland, Methodist Church of Ireland, Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, Irish Jewish Community and Atheist Ireland. Afterwards, representatives from pro-life and pro-choice lobby groups will make presentations.