Row breaks out among Irish priests over abortion vote
Dublin-based Father Terence Crotty, above, has hit out at a group of Catholic priests who want church leaders to refrain from telling people how to vote in an upcoming referendum on abortion in Ireland.
On May 25, Ireland will vote on whether to repeal its Eighth Amendment, and the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has insisted that it will not take a “dogmatic” stance on the issue.
The association, according to Life Site News, said:
As leadership of an association made up of men who are unmarried and without children of our own, we are not best placed to be in any way dogmatic on this issue.
Reporting on the clash for Life Site News, Claire Chretian wrote:
Jesus Christ was also an unmarried man with no children of his own, but he had spiritual children. As a father in a spiritual sense, he had the duty to be dogmatic about protecting the little children from harm’s’ way, be it supernatural harm (heresy) or natural harm.
Priests are ordained to be representatives of Jesus Christ on Earth, and they have a duty to uphold and preach the commandment ‘thou shalt not kill’.
Crotty insisted that the ACP:
Has no representative status for Irish priests as a whole. Much has been made of the ACP request for no pro-life talkers at Mass, because, of course, it chimes with the government and media campaign to introduce abortion, so these forces are glad to hear it and publicise it.
But it is worth remembering that the active membership of the ACP is absolutely tiny. I’d imagine you’re talking about, at the very most, a few dozen priests out of a population of around about 4,700 Irish priests (going by a 2012 figure in given the Journal.ie – a bit lower now).
We are doing our bit for the referendum with a 40 hours devotion for the protection of unborn children. I think we are much more typical of the reaction of the Irish clergy than the ACP. Several other churches are doing the same or similar around Dublin. In my experience, Catholics of whatever leanings are right behind the no vote in this referendum.
Said Lisa Hare of Human Life International Ireland:
Faithful Catholics continue to be horrified by statements that come from the so-called ‘Association of Catholic Priests’. Their recent statement on the 8th Amendment is no exception. This group are usually first in line to attack the Catholic Church and her teachings.
For the ACP to do anything other than UNAMBIGUOUSLY support the right to life of EVERY unborn child in Ireland in EVERY circumstance, demonstrates just how far they have walked away from Christ and his church.
On May 5 the ACP issued a statement saying “we do not wish to tell anyone how they should vote” and that:
A vote cast in accordance with each person’s conscience, whatever the result, deserves the respect of all.
The priests prefaced this by claiming:
As an association representing Catholic priests we fully endorse the Catholic teaching that all human life, from beginning to end, is sacred, and that every human person shares in the fundamental right to life.
But they went on to assert:
We are also aware, and are constantly reminded in our ministry, that human life is complex, throwing up situations that are more often grey than black and white and that demand from us a sensitive, non-judgemental, pastoral approach …
We do not wish to tell anyone how they should vote. But we encourage both ourselves and any citizens who may be interested in our viewpoint, to do the best we can to acquaint ourselves with exactly what we are being asked to vote for, and what the possible consequences of our vote may be.
Having done that to the best of our ability, and following it with the, often painful and difficult, task of consulting our conscience, let us cast our vote.