Belfast Telegraph

You cannot be a Catholic and be in favour of abortion, says Belfast priest

Some repealers must review what they claim to believe in, says Belfast priest

By Fr Patrick McCafferty of Corpus Christi Parish, Belfast

We are in a new situation in Ireland - a potentially lethal one for unborn children. In the referendum, 66.4% of the Republic rejected a fundamental Catholic teaching.

As a Christian community, this presents us with new challenges and opportunities, as we respond to what some are terming a "social revolution" in the south.

Essentially, we are presented with a new landscape, in which to properly be the Church of Jesus Christ, free now from any entanglement in the "emperor's embrace".

The Catholic Church in Ireland no longer enjoys the power and influence it was once afforded. For many of us, we are thankful to God that this is the case. Now, we are freer, less encumbered in preaching the Gospel and calling people to eternal salvation.

We will still, of course, more so than ever, be a presence in Irish society, making Christ's love a concrete reality for the poor, the broken, the marginalised, the wounded and the hurting - including those who will be traumatised by abortion. We have always done this and it will continue.

Nevertheless, many of the 1,429,981 'Repealers' need a reality check of their own.

Undoubtedly, there are those among them who consider themselves as "Catholic" even after voting for something entirely incompatible with the faith.

You cannot be a Catholic and be in favour of abortion. Deliberate abortion is so grave a sin that those who procure an abortion, those who carry out the procedure, those who participate in it, or facilitate it, are excommunicated with immediate effect. People who reject such a vitally important teaching of Christ need to be spiritually and morally honest. The sacraments of Jesus Christ, for example, are not mere rites of passage. Therefore, choose a secular education for children, avail of other rites of passage and/or invent new ones.

We need to help by divesting ourselves of so many schools.

Fewer Catholic schools that are more effective in handing on the faith and give the rest over to control of the state.

Likewise, if people have no intention whatsoever of making any effort at living out the Catholic faith, let them be honest and have marriages solemnised in a civil setting. There are many beautiful places today, other than churches, which will provide a fitting venue for such an important day. "Cultural Catholicism" has little or nothing to do with Jesus Christ. People 'going through the motions' makes a mockery of saving faith in Him. We in the Church need to put a stop to the abuse of sacred rites.

People who have no faith in the sacraments need to cease from the fiasco and dishonesty of presenting for them children who, through no fault of their own, will never see the inside of a church again.

Jesus allowed people who rejected His message to go on their way. The Catholic Church in Ireland needs to respect people's choices.

We will be freer to evangelise, to persuade people for Christ and convert them.

We have a new mission now to truly be the salt and the leaven in our society. God's grace will not be found wanting.

Belfast Telegraph

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