Archbishop has a right to give guidance on issue of abortion
I read with some interest Clare Bailey MLA’s letter (January 11), about Archbishop Martin urging Catholics to lobby public representatives not to proceed with the proposed legislation of the Republic’s abortion law.
Firstly, I think that there is more than one single voice in this ‘debate’ and, as a publicly elected representative, she should recognise this as a basic democratic right that should be recognised. As leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland the archbishop has a right and, indeed, an onerous duty to give support and guidance to his flock on issues like this. To remain silent would be wrong.
Secondly, irrespective of any Church teaching or law on abortion, the fundamental law in all of this is the Natural Law, the law inscribed in the DNA of each and every human being. So, the issue of abortion is not primarily an issue of any religion. It is rooted in the law which permeates the very fabric of each individual. Without the Natural Law in the heart of everyone life would disintegrate to a situation of ‘every woman/man for herself/himself’. It is this law which forms the basis for all law. And the basic manifestation of this law is respect for life in all its manifestations. And I know that Clare’s party (Green Party) would have serious concerns about lack of respect to the environment in all its forms and this is to be lauded. However, I think that their concern for the welfare of seal pups etc, which I share, could be extended to the care for the most innocent, the most vulnerable and the most wonderful creation of all – a child in the womb.
Irrespective of what any Catholic Church teaching says, or has said, I believe that no law can ever justify abortion on the basis of the Natural Law – it may make it legal, but it won’t ever make it right. Clare will know that, when man interferes negatively in a profound way with Mother Nature, Mother Nature will have the last say. Mother Nature has her plan and wants to see it through to the end. If man usurps her plan, there will be consequences.
It’s quite ironic to talk about Mother Nature in this situation when we want legislation to spurn Mother Nature and deny her of her basic right to see life through to birth. There will be a heavy price to pay for this.
Thirdly, Clare talks about ‘4,000 women and girls are being exported to the UK and beyond’. This is the annual count. No-one is exporting anyone. This is decision made by women. On what basis of ‘need’ were all of these abortions carried out? If people were wantonly killing animals pre-birth to that extent each year I would suggest that Clare and her party would have a lot to say about it.
So, the exhortation by Archbishop Martin is not high moral ground. He is just laying out the Church’s teaching based on the Natural Law enlightened by the love of Christ on the cross.
Randalstown, Co Antrim
Cursory examination of facts will disprove absurd assertion
Even a cursory examination of the facts will disprove Clare Bailey’s absurd assertion that “the Catholic Church’s position on abortion is only 149 years old”.
A first century statement of Christian teaching, The Didache, instructs: “do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant”. There are many other sources that can be cited to show the falsehood of Clare Bailey’s claim.
Ms Bailey’s allusion to ensoulment is disingenuous. In earlier times there was a lack of exactitude about when the soul entered the body of the foetus. The Church, nevertheless, always clearly taught that intentional abortion is always morally evil.
Nowadays, science knows that human life is present from the moment of conception. The foetus is a human person. He or she is in the initial stages of growth but human nonetheless. For this very reason, many people, of all religions and none – including atheists – oppose abortion because it is a denial of the most basic human right of all – the right to life.
Clare Bailey refers to the scandals that have rocked the Church. That some in the Church have so deeply betrayed their calling in no way negates the truths, towards which, we must all continue to aspire. The fact of these scandals does not, for one moment, justify the unleashing of a tidal wave of death in Ireland which will brutally snuff out the lives of countless unborn children.
The abortion industry and its aggressive lobbyists invent deceptive phrases such as “reproductive health” to mask the reality of what they do to unborn human beings. It is diabolical to attempt to dress up as a “human right” what is actually an unspeakable evil.
The Church will never cease to proclaim the truth about abortion, to oppose it and its proponents and to seek to persuade society that abortion is never a solution.
Fr PATRICK McCAFFERTY
Given that Clare Bailey communicates for a living you’d think she could better explain her “exasperation” with the Catholic Church (January 11). Her enthusiasm for abortion has led to some woolly thinking. Perhaps I can help. Using the opinion of a16th century Pope derived from bizarre medieval biology to further her position is strange in itself, but to have it counter the teaching of a 19th century Pope is frankly daft.
Could it be that Clare looks fondly on the days before women were given the vote. She then suggests that due to abuse scandals that the Church should not give direction on moral matters. She should be reminded what she does (or at least is paid to do) for a living. Since politics has one of the worst records for a range of matters should she not also be barred from patronising statements on morality.
Clare goes on to speak for (apparently all) Catholic women when she says that abortion is a matter of their conscience. If a woman or a man believes abortion is right then they cannot be free to benefit from any sacrament and have placed themselves outside of the Church. They can claim to be Catholic, but they are living a lie.
Condoning the deliberate killing of fellow human beings on an industrial scale is heinous in itself, but to believe that you can love God at the same time is self serving arrogance.
I hope Clare has found this reply useful for any future letters she might write.
If she feels the need for further lessons I will do my best to oblige.
Partial version of historical facts
It is unfortunate that Clare Bailey, a politician who does not, I believe, possess any expertise in the study of the history of Christian thought, has chosen to base her latest pronouncement in favour of abortion (January 11) on historical grounds – unfortunate, that is, because much of what she writes is woefully ill-informed.
Contrary to her letter, it is not the case that the Catholic Church’s position on abortion is 149 years old. Ms Bailey should consult one relevant source on this subject – David Albert Jones’s Soul of the Embryo. Professor Jones writes that “the Christian ethical and legal tradition gives very strong support and precedence” for the position taken by Pope Pius IX in 1869.” He adds that while varying penances for abortion were imposed at different times in history, the “constant Christian tradition from the Early Church to the 19th century repudiated abortion at any stage of pregnancy”. While there are differing views on the point at which ensoulment occurred, there was a consensus that abortion was wrong at any stage. For example St Thomas Aquinas, the prominent medieval theologian, regarded abortion as a sin second only to murder. Clare Bailey is free to reject Catholic teachings on abortion – which are shared by many Christians of other denominations – but she is not entitled to present an inaccurate and partial version of the historical facts.