Northern Ireland news

Archbishop Eamon Martin: 'Catholic politicians have a duty to oppose abortion'

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin. Picture by Mark Marlow

CATHOLIC politicians have a particular responsibility to support laws which protect human life "in all its stages, from conception until natural death", Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said last night.

They ought to do this, he said, "even when this is not the popular opinion to hold".

Dr Martin made his remarks on the role of faith in politics as he gave the keynote address at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Co Wexford.

Although he also referred to issues such as "the irreplaceable role in society of the family based upon marriage between a man and a woman" and the right of parents "to educate their children in accordance with their faith and beliefs", it is abortion which is currently of immediate concern to Dr Martin and other Christians.

In July, politicians at Westminster passed legislation that will decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland unless the Stormont Assembly has been revived by October 21, with regulations required to be in place by the end of March 2020.

The Republic last year repealed its constitutional ban on abortion.

Addressing Catholic politicians directly, Dr Martin said such laws and policies "must be opposed, not only on the grounds of faith, but also by virtue of right reason".

"The life of the Christian demands that believers give a coherent witness to the Gospel in every facet of their lives," he said.

The archbishop called for a "healthy secularity" which admitted a distinction between Church and State but which "allows the space for Christians to intervene in public debate and to make their arguments".

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