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Saturday 21 July 2018

Catholic organisation calls on parishes to stop allowing Eighth Amendment campaigners to speak at mass

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Rachel Farrell

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has called on parishes to stop allowing Eighth Amendment campaigners to speak at mass.

A spokesperson for the ACP told Independent.ie that they “don’t think the Eucharist is the place for campaigning.”

“We’ve all got calls from people offering to speak about the amendment, but we’ve declined.”

The ACP said in a statement today that it “fully endorses” the Catholic teaching that all lives are sacred and that every human has a fundamental right to life from beginning to end.

They said that as an association made up of unmarried men without children, they are “not best placed to be in any way dogmatic” about the referendum. They explained that human life is complex, and black and white issues are something they frequently encounter in their ministry.

Following offers from campaigners on both sides of the debate, the ACP are encouraging parishioners to inform themselves about the referendum outside the church.

“There is undoubtedly a moral content to this referendum, but as with many other issues, there are also social, political and pastoral dimensions. For that reason we are concerned that some Catholic parishes are allowing their pulpits to be used by campaigners during Mass,” the statement said.

“As there are, among faithful, Church-going Catholics, a great variety of opinions on this vote, we believe this is inappropriate and insensitive and will be regarded by some as an abuse of the Eucharist.

“We believe it would be better if this practice ceased for the rest of the campaign. We wish the Irish people well in this immensely important decision awaiting all of us.”

The ACP explained that they do not wish to tell anyone how to vote, but that people examine what exactly is being asked and the possible outcomes of the vote. They said that a vote cast in accordance with one’s conscience “deserves the respect of all.”

Last weekend, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland called on ministers and the congregation to retain the Eighth Amendment.

“As Christians, we see the scriptures speaking consistently of the importance and value of human life, including that of the unborn. On that basis, we are responsible before God to honour the sanctity of human life.

“We therefore encourage Church members to consider these matters prayerfully and with great care over the coming weeks and to vote in accordance with their conscience.”

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