PAPAL Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown has delivered his new year message, saying no government can remove the right to life from an innocent person.
Speaking in Dublin at a New Year's Day Mass, he said the Irish public would need to work "vigorously and courageously" to protect the life of the unborn.
It is the first time that the Papal Nuncio has commented publicly on the issue since it was reignited following the death of Savita Halappanavar and puts increasing pressure on the Government as it prepares to introduce legislation.
In his homily to mark World Day of Peace at the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin, Archbishop Brown said the bishops of Ireland had spoken with courage and clarity on the abortion issue. However, in a clear message to politicians he said: "No government has the right to remove that right (to life) from an innocent person.
"The year 2013 is an incredibly important one for the sanctity of human life here in Ireland and throughout the entire world.
"People of conscience, all religions and from no religion need to work vigorously and courageously to protect and nurture human life from conception to natural death," he added.
He said Pope Benedict had emphasised the "fundamental right to life of the baby in the womb of his or her mother".
The Mass was attended by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and members of the diplomatic corps.