Flaws in Enda Kenny’s case on abortion exposed as the hierarchy brings out the ex factor

The next Catholic primate of Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has told the Sunday Times( £ )

“You cannot regard yourself as a person of faith and support abortion,” Martin said in an interview with The Sunday Times. “You cannot believe you are with your church and directly help someone to procure an abortion. This includes medical professionals and the legislators.

If a legislator comes to me and says, ‘Can I be a faithful Catholic and support abortion?’ I would say no. Your communion is ruptured if you support abortion. You are excommunicating yourself. Any legislator who clearly and publicly states this should not approach looking for communion.

This at least has the merit of clarity. Or does it? Would the onus to refuse communion be placed on the sinner or the  individual priest?  You cannot excommunicate yourself.   Would it affect all TDs who vote for  the government Bill?  If it passes  why should not excommunication extend to the proposed  panel of doctors who allow an abortion to go ahead? The unfortunate women and her supporting family and friends? Would they not all  be complicit ? What happened to the line during the Troubles when  the Church refused excommunication to known killers on the grounds that it was their duty to administer to sinners?

The  government line appears to be holding, reports Stephen Collins and some in the hierarchy are over reacting.. but…

Concerns expressed by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin are a different matter. The archbishop is one of the few members of the hierarchy who still commands wide respect. Some Fine Gael TDs and Senators were seriously concerned when he expressed worries about the prospect of the legislation allowing late-term abortions due to the absence of any time limit..

Enda Kenny is  a conscientious Catholic with little time for the hierarchy, one of a multitude in the Republic.  But he knows opposing the hierarchy’s absolutist line on abortion may evoke a different public response  to attacking them for covering up child abuse.  Simple anti-clericalism is now outmoded; a belt from the crozier excites few terrors these days.   This is far bigger than a re-run of the Mother and Child controversy, a modest reform seen off by an implacable Church. I believe it’s another stage in a long and tortuous process which will end one day in allowing elective abortion under certain conditions.

Kenny seems to have put his shirt on this reform because he believes in it, not because he sees votes in it. That’s far from guaranteed. Yet when  it comes down to it,  he’s surely deceiving himself if he believes that  in late pregnancy where the woman is deemed to be suicidal both lives can always be protected. The basic flaw in the whole reform is that it gives too much power and too much responsibility to doctors and none at all it seems to be individual women.  Some leading obstetricians are clearly unhappy and with good reason.  The pro- choice movement is surely right on this but so too is the Church.  There is a slippery slope and Ireland one day Ireland will go down it when someone goes to jail for performing  a controversial abortion.


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  • sherdy

    Has no one told either of the Martins that you cannot be a person of faith if you support or take part in child abuse or molestation?

  • carl marks

    you got to love it when the catholic church gives us a lecture in morality!
    thankfully these dinosaurs are on the way out, Ireland will only be able to call itself free when these people have lost all influnence.

  • Granni Trixie

    I noticed that a divorced friend living across the water went to communion at a funeral mass. When I said to him
    “I didn’t think divorced people were allowed to take communion” he answered, “Look,in England if that was the rule nobody would go to mass at all”.

    I suppose this illustrates that you can take a horse to the water but you can’t make them drink. Also that some clergy are more pragmatic than others.

  • oakleaf

    The RCCs abject failure on child abuse abortion justifies abortion how?

    The Irish and British state indulged in the same carry on of cover ups but somehow that doesn’t warrant multiple threads on Slugger.

  • Taoiseach

    I keep hearing and reading that Kenny is a “devout Catholic” or here, “conscientious”. Where is the evidence? He supported homosexual civil partnership and will support same sex marriage, he is supporting and driving abortion legislation despite a clear written promise not to do so, he lied in Dail about the actions of the Holy See, refused to provide any evidence afterwards, he closed the embassy to the Holy See. Does he even go to Mass when he’s in Dublin? Catholic when convenient would be a better description.

    As for excommunication, even a cursory glance by the author of this post at the canon law would reveal that those who procure abortions are automatically excommunicated – including the mother and medical staff, and any supporters who pay for it or push her in that direction.

    I don’t think the law provides for automatica excommunication for politicians voting for abortion. Commentators and bishops alike seem to mix up excommunication with refusal of communion (canon 915).

    As for child abuse, of course anyone guilty of child abuse should have refrained from holy communion. But refusal of communion can only apply to people who are guilty of and unrepentant of serious and public sin. A pro-abortion politician should be refused communion until they repent and publicaly change there position. If someone were to publicly support child abuse then they should be refused likewise.

  • Granni Trixie

    Acting to clarify or alter the law so that there are not repeats like the recent case where the woman in Galway in need of an abortion died is not at all the same as being pro abortion in my book. I also think that north and south politicians are obliged to do something about the scandal of women having to go to England for abortions. So I admire the courage of Martin.

    My middle ground position for NI is to allow abortion as early as possible in clearly defined circumatances but not as limited as at present. This is on pragmatic grounds and in compassion for women who go to England. This is even though according to my personal morality abortion is wrong as I am unconvinced by ‘a woman’s right to chose argument’ .

  • Taoiseach

    The inquest would suggest that Savita died because of poor medical attention, particularly the communication between different staff and failure to follow up on certain tests, not because of abortion law. Kenny promised before the election not to legislate. The key issue is abortion as a cure for suicide which no decent psychiatrist supports.

    No one has to go to England for an abortion; they chose to go. Should we change our laws on drugs, prostitution, gambling, underage drinking because people chose to go to other countries with different laws?

    You can’t claim the middle ground on basis of supporting abortion early in pregnancy. Does a human being’s rights rely on so little?

  • Granni Trixie

    I obviously didn’t make it clear – according to my personal morality,abortion is wrong not least as I fear it’s impact on value for life
    I have also voted with my feet having had a chi,d with a time limited condition. However who am I to sit in judgement if another mother cannot handle this. And let me reiterate that though I do not believe in abortion on demand I equally think that sweeping the problem under the carpet (or to England) as a solution is absolutely wrong too. Our MLAs are in the wrong in not finding a way forward.

  • Granni Trixie

    Ought to have added : was it not also the case that the ambiguity of the law/rules and misunderstandings of them were key factors in what happened to to Savita also?