While visiting Florence in November 2015 Pope Francis remarked that Catholics must realise “we are not living an era of change but a change of era”.
I very much empathise with this remark following last Friday’s Referendum result that sees the equal right to life of the mother and the baby in the womb being deleted from our Constitution. Whether you voted ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ this is my message for you. As you know, I like many advocated and reasoned for a ‘No’ vote. That was not to be, and by a very clear majority the referendum was carried. That vote must be respected, but equally those who voted ‘No’ must be encouraged. Like me, your hearts are probably down, this was not the result you intended or wished for.
Of course, the Referendum result doesn’t change what the Church believes about the sacredness of life nor the call to proclaim that belief in a positive way in word and deed.
I commend and thank all who campaigned door to door in the Diocese, attended meetings and contributed to the public debate. I know that many people prayed deeply about this issue. We need to continue all these efforts. I would like to echo the invitation from Archbishop Eamon Martin in his New Year Message last January for us all to “become missionaries for life”. That call is louder and bolder today than ever.
In every parish there will be people who voted ‘No’ last Friday and people who voted ‘Yes’. In finding the way forward together, it is vital that we witness to our Christian calling as one rooted in love, love for all.
Ultimately, the Church must live in this new space we find ourselves, it may not be comfortable and at times may be very challenging. As I said in my recent statement before the referendum, we must work even harder to strengthen a culture that values all life and advocates for all who are in need of protection in our society. Let us rededicate ourselves to this essential and blessed task.