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Bishops call on parishes to celebrate Day for Life

By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 October, 2013

The Catholic Bishops’ have once again paid tribute to those politicians who challenged the passage of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act. 
“To legislate for abortion does not make it morally acceptable, and the direct and intentional ending of the life of an unborn child, at any stage of pregnancy, is always gravely wrong,” the Catholic hierarchy said in a statement at the conclusion of their autumn general meeting in Maynooth on Wednesday. 
They also urged parishes across the country to celebrate the annual Day for Life this weekend, which is themed ‘Care for Life: It’s Worth It’ and focuses on the care for unborn children and their mothers; care for the elderly; and care for those who are suicidal and their families. 
The Bishops discussed the need to support women in crisis pregnancies and the vital roles that fathers have to be supportive particularly in such circumstances. 
On the issue of child safeguarding, they were advised that the National Board is currently preparing the fourth tranche of safeguarding reviews involving six dioceses and two religious congregations.  The final group of dioceses will be reviewed by the National Board in the first half of next year.
The hierarchy also highlighted a joint appeal to the Government by seven Catholic social justice groups which calls for an end to the devastating and demoralising austerity policies that have characterised budgets in recent years. 
The seven groups are the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Episcopal Conference; Council for Research and Development of the Irish Episcopal Conference; Crosscare – social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin; Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice; Society of Saint Vincent de Paul; Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Irish Episcopal Conference; and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. 
The seven have called for solidarity to be the defining value of Budget 2014.  They say there is a need to give hope to those who are struggling to maintain an acceptable standard of living.  
Ahead of Budget 2014 on 15 October, the seven Catholic social justice groups have proposed that, as a minimum, Government needs to:
–          Acknowledge and address the impact of inflation and new charges on those dependent on social welfare payments or the minimum wage;
–          Protect and support families through the retention of universal Child Benefit, together with targeted supports for low-income families;
–          Return to the level of 0.5% GDP in Overseas Development Aid, supported by a multi-annual financing commitment which would allow for more effective planning and give greater security to aid recipients.  
The launch of the Irish Churches Peace Project was also welcomed by the Irish Bishops Conference.  This is a three-year Special European Programme Board funded initiative of the four main Christian Churches, and the Irish Council of Churches.
It seeks to avail of Church networks across Northern Ireland and the border counties to encourage dialogue and progress on difficult topics such as dealing with the past, reconciliation and good relations. 
Further afield, the Bishops announced that a special collection will be taken up on Sunday 17 November to support the work of Trócaire. The collection will be used to support humanitarian relief in Syria and to alleviate the plight of Christians in the wider Middle East.
Before that, on 20 October, a special collection for Mission Sunday will be held in churches throughout Ireland to support the Church’s missionaries.
Over €2 million was raised during the national Mission Sunday collection in 2012.  The money was used to fund a range of projects in Mission Dioceses in Africa and Asia, including India, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
The Bishops prayed for the health of Bishop William Lee who has been battling with illness for some time and retired this week as Bishop of Waterford & Lismore. 
They also extended good wishes to Bishop Colm O’Reilly who will retire this Sunday with the ordination of Bishop-elect Francis Duffy as the new Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois. 

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