Irish Prelate Speaks on Fundamental Right to Life

Bishop Buckley’s Pastoral Letter for Feast of Immaculate Conception Calls for Respect of the Unborn

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CORK, Ireland, DEC. 11, 2012 ( «The child in the womb must enjoy the same rights as all other people, among which is the unassailable right of an innocent person to life.»

These are the words of Bishop John Buckley of the Dioceses of Cork and Ross in his pastoral letter marking the Dec. 8 feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The bishop’s pastoral letter comes in the wake of controversy in Ireland regarding the legalization of abortion. The death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in an Irish hospital in October after suffering complications from a miscarriage, has sparked international debate over the legal status of abortion in the country. The circumstances surrounding her death are still under investigation. Abortion is illegal in Ireland except when it occurs as the result of a medical procedure performed to save the life of the mother.

In his pastoral letter, Bishop Buckley emphasized the importance of defending the fundamental rights of all human beings, be they born or unborn. «Human life is sacred and precious,» he said, and «every human being must be treated with the greatest respect. This is true at every moment of life, from its first beginnings to its natural death. In the womb we grow and develop as full human beings, not as potential human beings. We read in the Old Testament: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I sanctified you” (Jeremiah 1:5).»

«The child in the womb must enjoy the same rights as all other people, among which is the unassailable right of an innocent person to life. This includes our responsibility as a society to defend and promote the equal right to life of a pregnant mother and the innocent and defenseless child in her womb when the life of either of these persons is at risk. They have an equal right to life.»

Every effort

Addressing situations where a pregnant woman’s life is in danger, Bishop Buckley said: «The Catholic Church has never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of the mother. In situations where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are morally permissible, provided that every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby.»

«Abortion,» he continued, «is the deliberate medical intervention to end the life of an unborn child and is gravely wrong in all circumstances. This is different from medical treatments, such as those to save the mother, which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby.»

«The pro-life commitment of the Church is also reflected in its compassion for those who often regret having an abortion. Many women who had abortions would have been willing to carry their children to term if they had received support from the important people in their lives.»

Concluding his letter, Bishop Buckley reminds his readers that «respect for life is deeply embedded in Irish society. Respect for the unborn is widely acknowledged also and, hopefully, we will continue with this commendable tradition. I am appealing for prayers at this particular time. Take time to pray, it is the greatest power on earth.»

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