Belfast Telegraph

It is a duty of Christian citizens to make their abortion reform concerns known, says church leader

Rev Richard Clarke has expressed his opposition to reform in the latest edition of the Armagh diocesan magazine, The Ambassador. “The legislation must be seen as irreconcilable with the
Christian understanding of the sacredness of life,” he wrote
Rev Richard Clarke has expressed his opposition to reform in the latest edition of the Armagh diocesan magazine, The Ambassador. “The legislation must be seen as irreconcilable with the Christian understanding of the sacredness of life,” he wrote
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The leader of the Church of Ireland said he believes that abortion would be available on demand and "up to the point of viability and potentially beyond" after the liberalisation of abortion laws in Northern Ireland on October 21.

Strict laws on abortion in Northern Ireland will be drastically liberalised unless the Stormont Assembly is restored by that date.

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland - the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke - expressed his opposition to reform in the latest edition of the Armagh diocesan magazine, The Ambassador.

He is the latest church leader here to oppose the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, placing a duty on the government to provide access to abortion here. Regulations will be put in place by the end of March 2020.

"As things would stand after October 22, 2019, unless our local politicians were to act in the meantime, abortions would evidently be permitted in Northern Ireland for any reason - simply on request - up to the point of viability and potentially beyond, depending on legal interpretation," wrote Dr Clarke.

"Most of us have known babies surviving a premature birth that occurred well within the time-frame that this legislation appears to suggest as being permissible for termination.

"The legislation that would pass into Northern Ireland law, I believe, must therefore be seen as irreconcilable with the Christian understanding of the sacredness of life.

"It is still within the grasp of Northern Irish politicians to prevent this coming into effect, and it is therefore surely a duty of Christian citizens to approach their local representatives to make the concerns they may have fully known."

He added that the Church of Ireland has followed the common Anglican position that termination of pregnancies should only be considered in "strict and undeniable medical necessity".

Dr Clarke also pointed out that the legislation will also deal with same-sex marriage, which he said will "undoubtedly" have implications for society as whole.

"The Church of Ireland has stated emphatically that ungenerosity towards those of same-gender attraction is abhorrent but, equally, that marriage - which is not in fact about 'generosity' or 'ungenerosity' - is understood by the Church as being intended by God to be between a man and a woman, and to be a life-long faithful commitment," he wrote.

"State or civil provision for marriage and church provision do not have to coalesce, nor do they do so at present in the Republic of Ireland."

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