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Abortion Referendum

'Catholics who voted 'Yes' in abortion referendum should consider coming to confession' - Bishop

  • 'Catholics who voted 'Yes' in the referendum should consider coming to confession' - Bishop Doran
  • 'Ireland is now conforming to a western liberal democracy... people are taking an a la carte approach to Catholicism' - Archbishop Eamon Martin
  • It is a new time and a change of culture, but it is not something that is out of the blue' - archbishop
  • 'Certain people of all faiths will be interested to hear what Pope Francis has to say in August'



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Bishop Kevin Doran

A leading bishop has called on Catholics who voted 'Yes' in the abortion referendum to "consider coming to confession".

Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said today that those who want to come to confession "will be received with the same compassion as any other penitent".

When questioned by Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One, Bishop Doran replied; "Voting 'Yes' was a sin."

His comments sparked a number of text messages from listeners to the programme, many of whom declared themselves as regular mass-goers who had voted a silent 'Yes' vote.

VIDEO: Calls for Government to progress abortion legislation 'without delay'

One woman said she would be "afraid" to tell her neighbour she was a silent 'Yes' vote.

Bishop Doran's comments come after Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the church's influence in Ireland is under threat after the landslide victory for the 'Yes' campaign in the abortion referendum.

Dr Diarmuid Martin told mass-goers yesterday morning that many will see yesterday's vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment as an indication that the Church is now widely regarded with indifference and as having a marginal role in the formation of culture in Ireland.

He also said he Church may be seen as "lacking in compassion".

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Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Dr Martin said the Church must now renew its commitment to support life and not just in statements, but in deeds to reflect Jesus' compassion and care.

He said this includes helping women in difficult situations to "choose life".

"Pro-life means radically rediscovering in all our lives a special love for the poor that is the mark of the followers of Jesus," Dr Martin said at the mass where he ordained four deacons at the national seminary in Maynooth.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin tweeted yesterday saying he will give thanks to those who "made such a huge effort to remind us that in pregnancy we are dealing with two lives - both in need of love, respect and protection."

He added; " “Every human life remains beautiful, every human life remains precious. Every human life remains sacred. #ChooseLife."

Speaking on RTE Radio One yesterday afternoon, the archbishop said the referendum's results confirm that Ireland is "now conforming to a western liberal democracy".

"We do appear to have obliterated the rights of all unborn children's right to life.

"Our country now appears to be on the brink of legislating a liberal abortion regime.

"It is a new time and a change of culture, but it is not something that is out of the blue.

"Over many years, we have seen a drift away from practices of our faith in our congregations and parishes and a lower degree of involvement from people. 

"This abortion referendum now confirms we are in a new space.

"This didn't come out of the blue and it is not something new for us," he added.

Responding to the church's level of involvement in the abortion referendum campaign, the archbishop said they were "very actively involved" by explaining to their congregations the church's teachings on the right to life.

"In January, we called on Catholics to be missionaries for life in their own communities," he said.

"We were overwhelmed by people who made a huge effort to remind people that in pregnancy we are dealing with two lives.

"We were humbled by the lay women and laymen, many parents themselves, who became the voice for the voiceless children.

"I think their profile is more important than ever in Ireland."

The results from the exit polls "didn't surprise" the archbishop, who said he is aware there are now three distinct groups in Ireland's society.

"We are well aware week to week by looking at our congregation [what is happening in Ireland].

"There are three groups; the committed minority, the remnants of people who are deeply committed to the teachings; a large group of people we see from the Census who are nominally and culturally Catholic and self identify as Catholic and retain an affiliation with the Church is some ways but have drifted away from regularly practicing their faith.

"And then we have a third group who have quite consciously rejected the church and are hostile to the teachings of the church.

"The church is now a new space and we've been there for some time," he continued.

"Pope Francis said way back in 1979 that Ireland is at a crossroads. I think what this referendum affirms is that Ireland is now conforming to a western liberal democracy, especially on issues like abortion, same sex, civil partnership, marriage and divorce.

"People are self-identifying as Catholic. And I hear people saying they're Catholic but they don't accept the church's teachings. The reality is people are taking an a la carte approach."

The archbishop said he doesn't think the referendum results will be new to the Pope, and said he is still certain people of all faiths will be interested to see what he has to say in August.

"I would hope that our congregations will remain a creative minority and not an irrelevant minority," he added.

Online Editors

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