DUBLIN, July 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An organizer of a large pro-life rally in Dublin says she and the other key figures were “jubilant” at the turn-out of seven thousand people on Saturday. Bernadette Smyth, Director of Belfast’s Precious Life, also told LifeSiteNews.com that pro-life leaders in Ireland are especially encouraged by a growing cooperation between North and South in the pro-life movement in Ireland.
However, one disappointment for the pro-life movement, said Smyth, has been the lackluster support for the initiatives of the movement by the Catholic bishops on both sides of the border. While all the bishops were asked to attend the rally last year, Smyth said, none even responded to the invitation. At the same time, while no Catholic bishops attended the annual pro-life event, Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, attended a rally organized by a socialist organization opposing bombings in Palestine.
“Lots of people say to us, why is the Church not coming out to support us in the pro-life efforts?” Smyth said that although her group would “never want to criticize the Church,” the lack of interest by the Catholic bishops of Ireland is a “puzzle.”
Similarly, she said, it is a mystery to many why in the Protestant Northern Ireland, the pro-life position has been so strongly defended by politicians, while at the same time, in “strongly Catholic” southern Ireland, so many of the politicians are pro-abortion. Asked if the Catholic Church in the Republic was supportive of the idea that Catholics cannot vote for pro-abortion politicians, Smyth said bluntly, “No.”
While the pro-life movement in Southern Ireland continues to be a major voice on the No side of the Lisbon Treaty debate, the bishops have supported the Treaty. A statement was issued by the bishops in the last election that did say Catholic voters should support candidates who uphold the teachings of the Church, but the following page carried an endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty.
The split between the politicians and the broadly pro-life public is a serious issue for the pro-life movement said
Smyth. “I don’t think the bishops take into consideration the fact that there are a lot of pro-abortion politicians [in the Republic]. In the next election, that is something we need to get our act together over. Northern Ireland has been able to keep abortion out because of their pro life politicians.”
“At the end of the day the Church has a lot of authority, but they’re just not speaking out as they should be.”
Isn’t the last sentence the understatement of the century? Actually, they are speaking out. Not about abortions, mind you, but about the really, really important things of the day like whether or not to ban water bottles.