Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Repeal vote is not a cause to celebrate

Editor's Viewpoint

There was the same kind of euphoria among those who voted for liberalisation of the Republic's abortion laws as was shown by those who voted to leave Europe in the Brexit referendum in the UK. And in both instances it appears that the opinions of those on the losing sides no longer matter. They are viewed as dinosaurs.

The pressure is mounting for changes in Northern Ireland's abortion legislation. A rally held at the City Hall in Belfast was the first manifestation of that mounting pressure, but the Prime Minister Theresa May is also being urged to intervene and change the law here in the continued absence of a devolved administration.

Of course, whatever her view, she will stick by the mantra that abortion is a devolved matter which should be left to Northern Ireland politicians and, as we all know, she depends on the strongly anti-abortion DUP to remain in power.

But there are opponents of abortion whose voices will not be silenced and their views are valid. Those are the clergy within the Catholic Church who warn their flocks that support for abortion puts their participation in all the rites of the Church at risk.

This might appear to be a very draconian attitude more reminiscent of the past times when the Catholic Church set the moral tone in the Republic in particular. Those days may be over, and the Church did much to diminish its moral authority through its dreadful handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandals.

Yet the Church is bound to remain steadfast to the teachings which it has preached for 2,000 years. Its teachings apply to all the faithful and as Fr Patrick McCafferty points out in his article today, Catholics should not regard their faith as some sort of a la carte menu from which they can pick the bits of teaching they like and ignore the others.

He puts it even more bluntly by saying that those who make no effort to live out the Catholic faith might as well get married in a civil setting as a church. His views were an approximate echo of another priest earlier in the day and no doubt both men speak for a wider section of the Church than themselves.

While the pro-choice and pro-life advocates hold their views with equal sincerity, the victory of the Yes campaign in the Republic should not be a case for undiluted celebrations. Whatever one's viewpoint, the proposed change in the law means that lives of unborn babies will be lost.

Belfast Telegraph

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