Bishops ‘waving crozier’ in abortion debate

Mary Lou McDonald with Caitriona Twomey and Adam Kalecinski at Cork Penny Dinners. Picture: Denis Minihan
Mary Lou McDonald with Caitriona Twomey and Adam Kalecinski at Cork Penny Dinners. Picture: Denis Minihan

The Irish Catholic bishops have been accused of “waving the crozier” at TDs in an attempt to bully politicians on the proposed abortion legislation.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the hierarchy of any religion is absolutely entitled to give its view on any matter.

“But I think people also need to understand, and the Catholic hierarchy need to understand, that the Dáil and the elected institutions of this State are there to serve all of the people,” she said.

“It would be wholly inappropriate for public policy to be bound or directed by any particular religious ethos or belief. You can’t have that in a republic.

“So I would respectfully say to the Catholic bishops that their involvement in the debate is absolutely legitimate but it is not appropriate to wave the crozier at lawmakers and legislators.

“That’s not appropriate at all and does not represent a positive contribution to the debate.

“They can have their say and put their view across without resorting to what I interpret as an attempt to bully elected representatives, who, like myself, happen to be Catholic.”

She was speaking in Cork yesterday ahead of the circulation this weekend to every Catholic parish of a ‘Choose Life’ leaflet from the Catholic bishops.

The bishops have accused the Government of misleading the public on the proposed legislation, arguing that the State does not have to legislate for the X case.

Ms McDonald said she does not appreciate the approach being adopted by the bishops.

“We know the job we have to do. We do it in good conscience and in good faith and on the basis of a democratic mandate, and whilst the bishops can have their say, they do need to respect the integrity of the democratic process and institutions of the state,” she said.

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