Cardinal Sean Brady has vowed to vigorously oppose any Government proposals to legislate for abortion in Ireland.
The Primate of All Ireland said it was important the Church prepares, with others, to defend the equal right to life of a mother and child against any effort to introduce abortion.
He maintained Ireland is one of the safest places in the world for mothers who are expecting a child.
“The recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on A, B & C vs Ireland did not oblige the Irish Government to legislate for any form of abortion in Ireland,” he told the Edmund Rice Summer School in Waterford.
“I believe any attempt to do so, even by way of a ministerial directive, will be vigorously and comprehensively opposed by many.”
The 14-member expert group on abortion was established by Health Minister James Reilly last year on the implications of a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on Irish abortion laws in A, B C vs Ireland in December 2010.
It ruled the state had failed to implement existing rights to lawful abortion where a mother’s life is at risk and found the state violated the rights of a woman with cancer who said she was forced to travel abroad to obtain an abortion.
The Government has also been called on to legislate for abortion in special circumstances as dictated by the 20-year-old ’X case’ Supreme Court ruling and allow abortion if the life of the mother or unborn child is under threat.
However, successive governments have failed to act.
The Technical Group of TDs made a failed attempt to force the Government to legislate on the ’X case’ earlier this year after four women told of their experiences of travelling for abortion due to fatal foetal abnormalities.
Cardinal Brady said it was important people have the courage to make their voices heard on why human life should be protected and respected from the first moment of conception through to natural death.
“It is important that we do justice to the logic and human reason behind the values we hold,” he said.
“They cannot be relegated to the realm of private religious beliefs with no place in our laws or public policy in the name of secularism or tolerance.
“These values are rooted in human reason and available to all. They have the same right to be heard, promoted and respected in our laws and to be put to the people in democratic decisions as other perhaps less representative views.”