Bishop says 'absent fathers can be blamed for terminations'
The Catholic Bishop of Ossory has admonished men who abandon their child's mother during pregnancy - saying their actions encourage a woman to seek an abortion.
With less than three weeks to the referendum, Bishop Dermot Farrell was one of seven of the country's bishops to call for a No vote over the bank holiday weekend.
The leadership of the Catholic Church has stepped up its campaign against repeal, as polls indicate a large cohort of undecided voters.
Tens of thousands of the faithful heard strongly worded arguments from their bishops in favour of a retention of the Eighth Amendment.
In his pastoral letter, Dr Farrell stressed to Ossory's nearly 85,000 faithful that the Church was contributing to the debate "conscious of its own wrongs and shortcomings".
Highlighting that a man is equally responsible for a pregnancy, he asked: "How often is the woman abandoned with her pregnancy, when the man, the child's father, is unwilling to accept responsibility for it?"
Quoting Pope John Paul II, he said that by leaving a woman alone to face the problems of pregnancy, a man indirectly encourages a woman's decision to abort.
Dr Farrell also claimed that abortion laws would likely become more permissive over time.
"Laws do not remain static. Moreover, abortion becomes normalised. For example, in England about 40pc are repeat abortions. What was once proposed as a resolution to a tragedy has, over time, become a matter of lifestyle and choice," he said.
His views were echoed by Bishop William Crean of Cloyne, who said in his pastoral letter: "Are women and men well served by the suggestion that the Eighth Amendment is solely a women's issue? Surely it is also a men's issue, a family issue, and a societal issue?
"Let there be no doubt that this is a watershed moment in Irish society. The right to life, from its beginning to its natural end, is the cornerstone of a civilised society. It is a great struggle between light and dark, between life and death."