Pope Benedict XVI yesterday appeared to join in the Republic's controversial abortion debate when he expressed his 'dismay' at the proposed introduction of abortion legislation 'in various countries, even those of Christian tradition'.

The pontiff made his remarks during his annual keynote address to the Vatican's diplomatic corps, in which he touched on many of the world's most intractable problems.

These included the Syrian conflict, the need for Israelis and Palestinians to 'commit themselves to a peaceful co-existence', violence in sub-Saharan Africa and increasing inequality .

However, Irish antennae will pay particular attention to his remarks on abortion: 'I must note with dismay that, in various countries, even those of Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalises abortion'.

Read full article by Paddy Agnew here

A LABOUR TD has said that Cardinal Seán Brady’s Christmas message ‘misrepresented’ the legal position within which the Oireachtas is required to legislate for abortion.

Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara expressed his “disappointment that Cardinal Brady took the opportunity of his Christmas message to again misrepresent the legal position within which the Oireachtas is required to legislate, as well as the proposed content of that legislation” this morning.

In his Christmas message yesterday, Cardinal Brady urged Irish people to protest against plans to legislate for abortion.

Read full article by Aoife Barry here
WHERE was Cardinal Sean Brady’s conscience when he helped hush-up the crimes of a child rapist?

It is a timely question, because he is now lecturing us on what our consciences should lead us to do. 

The statement he issued with the three other Catholic archbishops, in response to government plans to legislate for the X-Case ruling, is big on the concept of conscience — it is a shame the cardinal’s own conscience was lacking when he had abuse victims sign secrecy agreements, instead of speaking out and saving other children from being raped. 

Regarding the X-Case legislation, the archbishops’ statement says: "On a decision of such fundamental moral importance, every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society." 

The dictionary definition of the word ‘conscience’ is: "The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct, together with the urge to prefer right over wrong." 

In 1975, Cardinal Brady was part of team of clerics that interviewed a 14-year-old boy who had been abused for two years by the paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth. 

The boy told the panel about other victims of Smyth, yet he was sworn to secrecy. 

One of the other victims was interviewed by Brady. The boy’s parents were never told about the interview, nor about the abuse he suffered. 

Full article by Shaun Connolly here

The Irish Catholic Bishops have seen fit to clarify the church’s view on gynecology given Savita Halappanavar’s death from sepsis at 17 weeks in her pregnancy and the concern that evacuating her uterus was delayed because the fetus still had a heart beat. The full statement is here, but this is the excerpt I find most troubling:

- Whereas abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances, this is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby. Current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction in practice while upholding the equal right to life of both a mother and her unborn baby.

I spent quite sometime trying to understand how one could possibly translate this statement into medical care. I’ve been a doctor for 22 years and an OB/GYN for 17 years and I admit that I am at a bit of a loss. My three interpretations are as follows.

  • Terminating a pregnancy is “gravely immoral in all circumstances.” All circumstances includes 17 weeks and ruptured membranes. Unless I misunderstand the meaning of “all,” then Irish Catholic Bishops also view ending a pregnancy at 17 weeks with ruptured membranes and sepsis, either by induction of labor or the surgical dilation and evaluation (D & E), to be “gravely immoral.” They must also view ending a pregnancy for a woman who previously had postpartum cardiomyopathy and a 50% risk of death in her pregnancy as “gravely immoral.” So if you have a medical condition that is rapidly deteriorating because of your pregnancy, too bad for you if you live in Ireland. Because the mother and unborn baby have equal rights to life, Irish law spares women the anguish of choosing their own life. Neither can be first, so both must die.

Full article by Dr Jen Gunter here
CATHOLIC bishops have insisted that "Catholic teaching" had no role to play in the death of pregnant Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, inset.

It is the first public comment by Catholic bishops on the issue that has sparked a debate on abortion around the country.

Ms Halappanavar's husband said that she had been told by doctors that "this is a Catholic country" when requesting an abortion to try to save her life.

The statement from the bishops came as the members of an independent committee set up to inquire into Ms Halappanavar's death were announced.

The standing committee of the Irish Bishops' Conference – which is made up of seven bishops from around the country – discussed the case at their meeting in Maynooth.

In a statement, they said that they wanted to re-affirm their position on the right to intervene where a mother's life was at risk. "Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby," they said.

And the bishops insisted that the Catholic Church had never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother.

Full article here

By now news of Savita Halappanavar's senseless death has traveled around the world, drawing attention to Ireland's near-total ban on abortion and the horrific consequences of such policies. This is not a stand-alone case. Every 90 seconds a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, totaling more than 350,000 deaths worldwide each year. Nearly all of these deaths occur in developing countries, where access to modern medical care is scarce.

What makes Savita's story so shocking is that she died in a modern hospital in a developed European country. We health advocates spend a lot of time and energy fighting for the kind of access Savita (almost) had. Hers was a planned pregnancy. She herself was a medical professional, a dentist, who recognized the warning signs of pregnancy complications. When she felt severe pains, she and her husband didn't have to travel far to reach a clean, modern hospital where her health problems were quickly diagnosed. And when she learned that she was miscarrying and that her life was in danger, she asked her doctor about her options and requested that her pregnancy be ended before it killed her.

Lack of access to medical care did not kill Savita -- politics did.

Full article here

'Should the constitutional amendment succeed, Ireland I will once again become a beacon in the true sense," claims Dr. Julia Vaughan, one of the leaders of the prooamendment campaign. Another says "it could tum the tide in the Western World" - the tide of permissiveness and morallaxitude. 

These are claims repeatedly made by those involved in the pro-amendment campaign, for they view their efforts not just as securing an all-time constitutional prohibition on abortion but as the start of a moral crusade against those liberalising trends in Irish society which have led to the legallisation of the sale of contraceptives, sex education, a greater public willingness to permit divorce, sexual permissiveness, the breakdown of marriage and an abandonment of formal religion. 

This is a story of how a small group of zealous catholics have mounted a rearguard action against these permissive trends around the emotive issue of abortion - an issue which they, rather than the pro-abortionists, have managed to catapult into the forefront of national debate. '

Full Article Here
"There is massive outrage over the death of 31 year old Savita. Even as she and her husband begged to have her pregnancy terminated due to medical complications, hospital authorities in Ireland refused as the law in Ireland, which is a predominantly Catholic country, does not allow abortion. Savita's death has sparked protests.

Savita, hailing from Karnataka, died from blood poisoning at University Hospital Galway on October 28 after doctors allegedly refused to perform an abortion stating "this is a Catholic country". Abortion is illegal in Ireland except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother."