'We have to be careful we don't end up talking to ourselves' - Archbishop says Catholic Church must 'ruthlessly' examine its role
Exit poll finds just 12pc of voters cited religion as factor in their decision
Senior Catholic bishops acknowledged that the Church must "ruthlessly" examine its place in a society that has changed hugely in recent years.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin referred to an exit poll finding just 12pc of voters cited religion as a factor in their referendum choice.
In notes for a homily delivered at Maynooth, Dr Martin said the Church is seen by many as somehow lacking in compassion.
Dr Martin admitted many people would see the referendum result as an indication the Catholic Church in Ireland is regarded with indifference today by many and has a marginal role in the formation of Irish culture.
Ordaining four new deacons yesterday, he said: "These deacons will go out into a world where a lot of people think that the message of the Gospel is irrelevant or where people interpret the Gospel for themselves," he told the Irish Independent.
However, he rejected headlines describing the result as a hammering for the Church.
"One has to ask 'what is the place of religion in Irish society and what is the place of the Church in Irish society?' We have to be ruthless in looking at the reality. The question is 'how do we reach out into society?' We have to be very careful that we don't end up talking to ourselves."
He also expressed disappointment over the scenes of jubilation at Dublin Castle when the result was announced. "This isn't something that you rejoice over - abortion is always a tragic thing for everybody."
Meanwhile, Archbishop Eamon Martin said in his homily in Knock that the result confirmed the Church was living in "a new time and a changed culture for Ireland".
"Like many others who advocated a No vote in the referendum, I am deeply saddened that we appear to have obliterated the right to life of all unborn children from our Constitution and that this country is now on the brink of legislating for a liberal abortion regime. We have elevated the right to personal choice above the fundamental right to life itself."
Dr Diarmuid Martin urged the Irish Church to renew its commitment to support life. "The Church is called to be pro-life in deeds."
Both archbishops underlined that as women will continue to face crisis pregnancies, new ways must be found of supporting them and their unborn children. "What new supports, apart from the option of abortion, will be in place for mothers and fathers at the point of crisis?" Archbishop Eamon Martin asked in Knock.
In Co Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy acknowledged there were mixed emotions among those at Mass, with congregations including people who voted both Yes and No.
"Those who voted No did so with compassion particularly for the unborn child. Those who voted Yes did so with an eye particularly on the mother carrying that child."
Reiterating the Church's teaching on life, he said the referendum result was "deeply regrettable and chilling for those of us who voted No".