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Irish bishops’ statement ahead of ‘Day for Life’

By Katie Ascough - 05 October, 2019

“The Word of God neither ages nor ceases to be relevant, no matter what changes occur in our society.”

Day For Life, image by Catholic Communications Office

Tomorrow, 6 October, marks the annual Day for Life in Ireland and will focus on the theme ‘The Scourge of Domestic Abuse’. 

Day for Life is an initiative by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales to raise awareness of the value and dignity of human life at all stages and conditions.

In an interview with Brenda Drumm on Faithcast, Bishop Kevin Doran attributed the origin of the annual Day for Life to St John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae, or ‘The Gospel of Life’. This influential letter addresses a range of human life issues from conception to natural death.

Following the Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference held this week, the bishops of Ireland released a statement ahead of the annual Day for Life. While it veers somewhat from this year’s theme ‘The Scourge of Domestic Abuse’, the statement is particularly relevant considering the removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Irish Constitution and the imminent threat of legalised abortion in Northern Ireland.

The statement starts with a reminder that human laws do not always reflect objective morality: “The Word of God neither ages nor ceases to be relevant, no matter what changes occur in our society and the voice of all who believe the ‘Gospel of Life’ needs to be heard. In season and out of season the Church proclaims that God is the author of life as we read in Psalm 139, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you’ and as Pope Benedict has said, ‘Each one of us is the result of a thought of God.’”

The bishops of Ireland echoed the church leaders in Northern Ireland and invited the faithful to carve out time for private and public prayer for the protection of unborn life over the coming weeks. 

The bishops also noted that October is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary and invited people to pray for life through the intercession of Mary, the mother of the Word of God, who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

According to the statement, the bishops: “[lament] the tragic rationale that renders an unborn child a commodity, devoid of any innate value, [and] expressed grave concern at the imposition of dramatic changes to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland, planned by the Westminster Parliament for 21 October, including a period of unregulated access to abortion in the case of unborn children up to 28 weeks of pregnancy.”

The bishops also commented on the freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals, saying they should not be required to support an action that conflicts with their personal commitment to respect life. “To describe abortion as either healthcare or a human right is to twist language and to misrepresent the true meaning of those terms,” the bishops stated. “An unborn baby is every bit as human as a growing toddler, a teenager or a grandparent.

A truly compassionate society chooses life.”

Day for Life prayer

Holy Mary, Mother of Love,

holding in your arms, the fruit of your womb,

graciously look upon our earth and remove from it

all that hardens our hearts and dims our eyes

to the preciousness of human life,

from the moment of conception to natural death.

Through the example of your tenderness

teach us the ways of compassion and love

that we may build up the civilisation of love among us

and a society that is truly worthy of the human person.

Help us to reject all that contributes to a culture of death,

and to work with others of goodwill

in promoting the culture of life.

Bring us ever closer to your Son,

so that we may know the fullness of life that he offers us

and come to know that life more perfectly,

with you, and all the angels and saints,

in the eternal life of Heaven.

Amen

Information on Day for Life 2019 is available at the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

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