SOCIETY has been “very much divided” by the referendum on whether to repeal or retain the eighth amendment, the Bishop of Limerick believes.
In a message read out at Masses across the Limerick diocese this Sunday, Bishop Brendan Leahy described the result of the referendum as “deeply regrettable and chilling” for those who voted no.
In his message, the Bishop also acknowledged that each person’s political position on the matter was “ultimately borne out of care.”
“Those who voted no did so with compassion particularly for the unborn child,” Bishop Leahy said.
“Those who voted yes did so with an eye particularly on the mother carrying that child.”
“We have unquestionably been divided in many respects as a society over recent years by pivotal political decisions but we must begin to heal and to remember that we are one, not two societies,” Bishop Leahy said.
The stories of many women who terminated their pregnancies were heard during the debate, he added.
“They were women in crisis pregnancies or women in dreadful circumstances; victims of sexual violence or those who have been given dreadful news regarding the viability of the baby in the womb, a baby they dearly want, or women whose lives are put at risk by an imminent childbirth.”
“While the Church’s position is that life, in or out, of the womb is to be protected, it is only right that we have heard these stories and got a sense of women’s immense pain and distress.”
“So often, women were left on their own at that time, perhaps with the support only of a friend, perhaps immediate family but not much else.”
“A message we can take, therefore, from the stories we’ve heard is that we have ultimately failed them as a society if we allow them to be isolated.”
“We need to engender more coherently a society of care, a society of support so that the default for women in these circumstances is to turn to that society and know that it wraps them in a blanket of love and support.”
“The Church treasures life above all else and that extends to life in the womb,” Bishop Leahy added.
“Even before the Referendum, it was a core value and it will remain so.”
“The result, in that context, is deeply regrettable and chilling for those of us who voted no.”
“The final result of the Referendum is the will of the majority of the people, though not all the people.”
The vote does not change the Church’s position on that matter, he added.
“Our message is one of love; love for all, love for life, for those with us today, for those in the womb and God’s love is there also for those on both sides of the Referendum campaign.”