Eamon Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has challenged Catholic politicians to defend the right to life of every person from conception to natural death.
Archbishop Martin made the call while giving a keynote address at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Co Wexford.
“Catholic politicians, in particular, have an important but very challenging responsibility nowadays to support laws which uphold the dignity of every human person made in God’s image – even when this is not the popular opinion to hold,” he said.
“Laws and policies that fundamentally contradict the moral law, such as those that would violate the life and integrity of any person at any stage, from conception to death are fundamentally unjust and must be opposed,” the Primate explained.
His remarks come just days before a major march in in Belfast opposing plans to allow the British Parliament to impose abortion on Northern Ireland.
Archbishop Martin said that policies such as those which allowed abortion “must be opposed, not only on the grounds of faith, but also by virtue of right reason”. He also asserted that Catholics did not have the right to confuse “their personal opinion with a well-formed Christian conscience”.
“People of faith must always be attentive to the danger of living parallel lives whereby they compartmentalise their existence into spiritual and secular spheres. Neither should they confuse their personal opinion with a well-formed Christian conscience,” he said.
He referred to the speech of then candidate for the US Presidency John F Kennedy in 1960 which proposed that a legislator’s religion should not impact on his political policies. “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic,” Kennedy famously said.
“Against this view, I contend that the truth is one and valid for all. Such fundamental values are not narrow Catholic preoccupations but principles that redound to the good of every man and woman. The truth of the dignity of the human person and the fundamental right to life is discoverable by all people of goodwil,” Archbishop Martin told the meeting.
He added that “Kennedy did raise the prospect of resigning in the event of his official duties conflicting with his conscience. This is a powerful reminder that a Christian’s foremost loyalty is to God.”