Restore Stormont to prevent imposition of abortion laws, church leaders urge MLAs
The leaders of Northern Ireland's main churches have told politicians to "make the compromises necessary" to restore Stormont.
Unless the Executive is operating by October 21, Northern Ireland's abortion laws will be liberalised, something the churches strongly oppose.
Church leaders met Secretary of State Julian Smith in Armagh on Wednesday to express their concern. Afterwards Mr Smith said the message from church leaders was "very clear".
"They want Stormont back, and now," he said.
In a joint statement, the churches said that they conveyed to Mr Smith "our strongly held and shared conviction that the devolved institutions need to be restored before October 21 to avoid unacceptably wide-ranging abortion legislation being imposed on Northern Ireland. We believe that our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this".
"They all need to take risks, especially for the most vulnerable, and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the institutions," they added.
Those who attended were Catholic Primate Eamon Martin, Presbyterian Moderator Dr William Henry, Methodist President Rev Sam McGuffin and Rev Brian Anderson, President of the Irish Council of Churches.
The Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Rev John McDowell, represented the Church of Ireland Primate.