Tuesday 19 September 2017

Legalising abortion won't make it moral, says bishop

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins

Sarah Mac Donald and Fionnan Sheahan

AN ARCHBISHOP has warned legalising abortion in Ireland won't make it moral.

Ahead of President Michael D Higgins' meeting with the Council of State this afternoon to discuss the abortion legislation, the archbishop said even if abortion becomes legal, it continues to be immoral as far as the church is concerned.

"No matter what is enshrined in law – it doesn't affect the morality of it," Archbishop Michael Neary, of Tuam, told the Irish Independent in Westport, Co Mayo. "Very often in the popular mind, there is a misconception that what is legal is moral," and this misconception suggested the church needed do "a lot of catechesis" to inform the faithful.

Mr Higgins will meet with his advisory body, the Council of State, today to debate the constitutionality of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, 2013. He has until midweek to decide whether to sign the legislation or refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.

In his homily for Reek Sunday morning, delivered on the summit of Croagh Patrick, Dr Neary said the church did not want to domineer or have its moral teaching enshrined in law out of a sense of entitlement.

Instead, the church was concerned that the value at stake ought to enjoy the protection of civil law. The status in civil law of such an issue does not affect its moral value, he said.

LIBERAL

Calling for the religious voice to be heard in public debate, he said a truly liberal society not only permitted that but encouraged the church to voice its views.

"I think what the church really needs is the freedom to be able to speak the truth and address the situation as the church sees it," he said.

"A mature secularism would welcome and provide space for religious believers in the public sphere. A mature Catholicism would make its contributions with courtesy and respect for those with whom we disagree."

The Council of State, which includes former presidents, Taoisigh, judges and individuals personally appointed by the President, will meet at the Aras this afternoon.

The advisers will discuss the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 under Article 26 of the Constitution.

The Council of State is made up about 25 current and former senior office holders and appointees by the President himself, and includes Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his predecessors, Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern.

It is the first time Mr Higgins has called the Council of State to meet since taking office.

Irish Independent

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