Catholic bishops in call for action against abortion law
The Catholic Church has voiced "grave concern" at imminent changes to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.
In a statement issued on behalf of bishops from each of the 26 dioceses, they said a "time for prayer and action" was needed for the protection of unborn life.
Speaking ahead of the annual 'Day for Life' tomorrow, the Bishops of Ireland said they were echoing a recent call made by church leaders in Northern Ireland.
On Monday, leaders of the four main churches in Ireland - Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian - and the Irish Council of Churches called on Secretary of State Julian Smith to recall the Assembly and prevent the decriminalisation of abortion.
They also called for a weekend of prayer on October 12 and 13.
The Bishops of Ireland said they were concerned at the "imposition of dramatic changes" to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland, planned for October 21, including a period of unregulated access to abortion up to 28 weeks of pregnancy.
They called on Parliament to "recognise and respect" the right of the Assembly here to have the primary role in legislating in this area.
They also urged Northern Ireland politicians "to do all in their power, including restoring the Assembly, to prevent the imposition of this legislation".
Describing every human life as "a gift and a blessing", they said that in Ireland, north and south, there are "very specific threats to the respect and dignity that is due to every human life".
The statement added: "Every voter and every political representative should be very clear that abortion is a brutal violation of the precious gift of life.
"The freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals needs to be respected and they should not be required to lend their support to an action which conflicts with their commitment to uphold life.
"To describe abortion as either healthcare or a human right is to twist language and to misrepresent the true meaning of those terms. An unborn baby is every bit as human as a growing toddler, a teenager or a grandparent."