In a move that will be interpreted as yet another distancing of Enda Kenny's Government from co-operation with the Holy See, the Taoiseach has failed for the first time to issue a statement this year in response to the Pope’s message for World Day of Peace on January 1.
The practice of a statement from the Taoiseach in response to the
Pope’s message has been customary for decades.
However, 2013 now marks
the first year a Taoiseach has failed to do so, The Irish Catholic can reveal.
Traditionally the Taoiseach welcomes the Pontiff’s message in
accordance with previous years while highlighting important human rights
issues. This has been the norm for former Taoisigh up until this year
when the practise mysteriously ceased.
The Department of the Taoiseach
refused to say why Mr Kenny stopped the long-running practice.
In response to a question from The Irish Catholic, a spokesman
for the Taoiseach said: “It is not common practice for leaders to issue
their own responses” to the Pope's message, “nor is there an expectation
to do so”.
However, this is contradicted by the fact that this is the first year
that no statement was made.
In fact, Mr Kenny made such a statement
last year which endorsed Pope Benedict’s New Year message.
In that statement the Taoiseach called for Ireland to become a member
of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the same council that in
2007 criticised Ireland’s failure to clarify its abortion laws,
reiterating “its concern regarding the highly restrictive circumstances
under which women can lawfully have an abortion in the State”,
regretting “that the progress in this regard is slow”.
In this year’s peace message, Pope Benedict insisted that “the
killing of a defenceless and innocent being will never be able to
produce happiness or peace”.
His message comes at a timely moment in Ireland as the Catholic
hierarchy is set to bring its concerns about proposed legislation for
limited abortion directly to the Government politicians.