Republic of Ireland news

Archbishop Eamon Martin urges Catholics not to 'become despondent' over abortion referendum

Archbishop Eamon Martin talks to the Irish News Picture by Hugh Russell.

ARCHBISHOP Eamon Martin has urged Catholics not to "become despondent" after the referendum result.

The head of the Church in Ireland was speaking during the Armagh diocesan pilgrimage to Knock.

Catholic bishops played a relatively low-key role during the referendum campaign, but made clear they believed abortion was immoral.

The referendum result comes just months ahead of a visit by Pope Francis to Dublin for the World Meetings of Families.

“At a time like this it is easy for faithful Catholics to become despondent,” Dr Martin said.

“However there is no point in standing transfixed, like the early apostles gazing into the sky, hoping this will all go away.

“This is our time for living. This is our time for believing. This is our time for mission and teaching the truth of the Gospel. “

Dr Martin claimed people were becoming desensitised to the value of human life.

“In the midst of so much disappointment for those who voted No to repealing the Eighth, it remains as important as ever to affirm the sanctity of all human life, and that the direct and intentional taking of the life of any innocent human being is always gravely wrong,” he said.

“Sadly in many countries of the world the Church must proclaim this Gospel of Life in the context of abortion being widely available, and where people are increasingly becoming desensitised to the value of every human life.”

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The most senior Catholic cleric in Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, said many will see Friday’s result as an indication that the Church is “regarded today by many with indifference and as having a marginal role in the formation of Irish culture”.

He said the Irish Church must now "renew its commitment to support life", including helping those whose lives are threatened by violence or cannot live full lives because of economic deprivation, homelessness and marginalisation.

Senior figures in the Presbyterian Church also expressed their disappointment at the referendum result.

Moderator Dr Noble McNeely, along with former Moderator Dr Trevor Morrow and the clerk of the General Assembly, Rev Trevor Gribben, issued a joint statement saying they "acknowledge the outcome of yesterday’s referendum with a profound sense of sadness”.

“The Republic of Ireland is evidently living through a defining moment in which the inherent value placed on human life is at stake.

“Today is not a day for celebration, but for quiet reflection.”

“We would strongly urge the government and the Oireachtas, as they legislate, to keep the promise they have made to the electorate to make abortions ‘rare’ in Ireland, and to ensure that the unborn with disabilities, like Down’s syndrome, will not have their lives terminated."

The Church of Ireland's Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said he envisaged an outworking of democracy which can initiate a real and lasting acknowledgement of the unborn in Irish society, "an acknowledgement that needs to extend over many decades when stigmatisation has too often been the default setting of response".

The Methodist Church in Ireland also said the democratic referendum result now makes the Oireachtas responsible for providing careful and sensitive legislation for safe, legal and rare terminations of pregnancy.

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