A senior prelate has used the annual pilgrimage up Ireland's holy mountain to underscore the church's continued fight against a bill that would make abortion in Ireland legal in limited circumstances, reports NCR.
In his homily at Mass atop the 800-metre-high Croagh Patrick, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam told an estimated 20,000 pilgrims that the Church would continue to proclaim the equal right to life of a mother and child, even if abortion becomes enshrined in Irish law.
Even if abortion becomes legal in Ireland, it would continue to be immoral as far as the Church was concerned, he said.
Ireland's two Houses of Parliament approved the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 earlier this month. The bill provides for a woman's right to an abortion if her life is at risk, including from suicide. The bill has sparked great debate, but the House of Representatives, the lower house, approved the bill 127 votes to 31. The upper house, the Senate, voted 39 to 14 in favor.
Before it is enacted, Irish President Michael Higgins must review the bill. Higgins convened his adviser body, the Council of State, on Monday to discuss the bill. Higgins must decide this week on whether the bill will go to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality or if it will pass. If it goes to the High Court first and the court finds it constitutional, the bill cannot be challenged in court later.
The Catholic Church has staunchly opposed the bill. Abortion is illegal in Ireland for any reason despite a 1992 Supreme Court judgment, known as the X case, that ruled that abortion should be allowed if a woman's life is at risk.
The 2013 law was drawn up following the October death of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
FULL STORY Irish prelate says abortion immoral regardless of govt decision (NCR)