ONE of the most senior churchmen in the country criticised the Government's inclusion of a 'suicide clause' in the new abortion bill as potentially normalising suicide.
Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam made his public remarks at the launch of the new Mayo Suicide Liaison Project in Castlebar – an event also attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Yet, there was no direct meeting of minds on this occasion, as the senior Catholic cleric had already made his remarks prior to Mr Kenny's arrival at the venue.
This came as Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross moved to state there was no clinical research in psychiatry to support the idea that abortion was an appropriate treatment for suicide.
At the Co Mayo event, Archbishop Neary sent out the stark warning that the inclusion of a 'suicide clause' in the legislation could have the effect of normalising suicide.
The senior cleric said that in potentially normalising suicide in the bill, the State could be seen as legitimising it.
He said this sent mixed signals to young people who were most at risk.
Archbishop Neary went on to criticise the bill for "justifying the death of another person in response to suicidal feelings".
The Catholic Church is in the midst of a 10-week campaign to send 'targeted messages' to parishioners over the Government's abortion legislation. A weekly newsletter detailing the church's teaching on life is being sent to parishes for the priest to address the topic on the pulpit.