Pope Benedict’s official representative in Ireland has described 2013 as “an incredibly important” year “for the sanctity of human life” and urged people of conscience from all religions and none “to work vigorously and courageously to protect human life from conception to natural death”.
The papal nuncio made the call at a Mass to mark World Day of Peace, which was attended by President Michael D Higgins, representatives of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament, diplomats, members of the papal orders, and the Defence Forces
The papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, gave a ringing endorsement to Irish bishops’ stance on abortion and described the Catholic hierarchy as having “spoken with courage and clarity”.
In his homily at the Dublin parish of St Thérèse in Mount Merrion, the US-born prelate said World Day of Peace was not simply about preventing wars between nations, but it also about calling for a “compassionate and truly peaceful society in which everyone’s right to life is respected”.
Widespread belief in progress, he suggested, was based largely on the undeniable fact of technological and scientific progress.
However, he said that did not necessarily result in human progress or a more humane society, which is measured in how human beings treat each other and societies treat the weakest and most vulnerable. “Human pro-gress happens when we truly acknowledge the intrinsic value of every human being.”
He said there was no pr-ogress when fundamental rights were denied to human beings or when the natural moral law was contradicted by man-made laws — a veiled criticism of the proposed legislation due this year to give effect to the 1992 X case ruling.
Praying for “peacemakers in our very critical time”, he reiterated Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s comment that “there are no second-class human lives” in support of the Church’s stance on the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.
The nuncio also referred to the call by Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All-Ireland, for the faithful to lobby public representatives on the issue “in a reasonable and forthright way” and his comment that no government had the authority to remove the right to life.
Separately, the nuncio, who was in the US when the Newtown massacre in Connecticut occurred, called for tighter gun control laws in America.
He told the Irish Examiner: “It was one of the most horrific things that has happened in the US for a long time. Obviously anything that can be done to prevent such things from happening, needs to be done. And if legislation on better control of firearms can do that, then it certainly needs to be done.”
He acknowledged there were “many things that need to be re-evaluated in light of this terrible and horrific tragedy” including violence in society and isolation in modern suburban American life.
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