By Cian Molloy - 08 January, 2018
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh marked the Feast of the Epiphany, known in Irish as ‘Nollaig na mBan’ or ‘Women’s Christmas’, with a New Year’s pastoral message that pleads for equality of esteem for both mothers and their unborn children.
The Archbishop’s remarks come at a time when it is increasingly likely that Ireland will hold a constitutional referendum on whether to allow abortion in this country, or whether the country will continue to protect and defend the right to life. What is being proposed in the name of ‘modernising healthcare’, said the Archbishop, is ‘a very liberal abortion regime, including unrestricted access to abortion for up to 12 weeks and thereafter during pregnancy very broad grounds for abortion and access to abortion’.
“All human life is sacred. All human life is precious,” says the Primate of all-Ireland in his pastoral letter. “This is why the direct and intentional taking of innocent human life is always gravely wrong. In his New Year Homily, Pope Francis teaches us that ‘to serve human life is to serve God. All life, from life in the mother’s womb to that of the elderly, the suffering and the sick, and to that of the troublesome and even repellent, is to be welcomed, loved and helped’.”
On the feast of the Epiphany, Saturday 6th January, the Archbishop said, “Today we celebrate Nollaig na mBan, an Irish tradition which marks the contribution that women make to our families and to society. Women’s lives are precious, to be loved, valued and protected. Their babies’ lives are precious, to be loved, valued and protected. Two lives, one love! Both lives deserve protection from the tragedy and irreversible decision of abortion.
It is falsely claimed that wide access to abortion will mark Ireland out as a “modern” country, placing the needs of women “at the centre”. Abortion ends the human life of an unborn girl or boy. It deceives women – and men, by creating a culture where the decision to end the life of an unborn child is portrayed as simply a matter of individual ‘choice’.
Looking at the reality of abortion elsewhere, the Archbishop noted that since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act in Britain, there have been almost nine million abortions in Great Britain. He said, “One in five pregnancies in Britain end in abortion, and one in four in Sweden. International experience shows a similar trend elsewhere. Are these the so-called ‘modern abortion regimes’ that Ireland is seeking to emulate?”
Calling on Ireland’s Catholic faithful to be missionaries for the cause of life, the Archbishop said, “Despite the strong pressures to remain silent, do not be afraid to witness to the equality of all life in private conversations and public discussions in the coming months. As citizens committed to the Common Good, you have a democratic right to make your views known, respectfully, to our public representatives.”
In conclusion he said, “Please pray earnestly with me that Ireland will ‘choose life’ and that the lives of all women and their unborn children will always be loved, valued, welcomed and respected in this country.”
Pope Francis’s Prayer for Life in the encyclical, Laudato Si
All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, That we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.