Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Pope 'entitled' to abortion views - Kenny

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday appeared to join in the Republic’s controversial abortion debate when he expressed his “dismay” at the proposed introduction of abortion legislation “in various countries, even those of Christian tradition”.

The pontiff made his remarks during his annual keynote address to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, in which he touched on many of the world’s most intractable problems.

These included the Syrian conflict, the need for Israelis and Palestinians to “commit themselves to a peaceful co-existence”, violence in sub-Saharan Africa and increasing inequality .

However, Irish antennae will pay particular attention to his remarks on abortion: “I must note with dismay that, in various countries, even those of Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalises abortion.

“Direct abortion, that is to say willed as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. In affirming this, the Catholic Church is not lacking in understanding and mercy, also towards the mother involved.”

Vatican insiders suggested that any apparent reference to the Republic was intentional.

Speaking in Germany today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Pope was entitled to his opinion. 

“As head of the Roman Catholic church he is entitled to make his comments. What
we are about here is not introducing legislation for abortion ... but setting a framework and process that legal certainty would apply to medical personnel in a situation where the life of a mother is threatened.“

In his address, the pope  also expressed his concern about a ruling last month by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favour of the right to access in vitro fertilisation in Costa Rica.

On the political front, Pope Benedict called on authorities globally to work for peace, expressing particular concern for that “privileged region in God’s plan”, namely the Middle East, saying: “I think first and foremost of Syria, torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population. I renew my appeal for a ceasefire and the inauguration as quickly as possible of a constructive dialogue aimed at putting an end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues.”

Reconstruction in Iraq, the tradition of religious tolerance in Lebanon, a difficult democratisation process in north Africa, violence in Mali and the persecution of Christians in Nigeria were also highlighted by the pope, who called on developing states in Africa, Asia and Latin America to invest in education to help them overcome poverty and disease.

He said the economic crisis had come about because “profit was all too often made absolute, to the detriment of labour”, that it should be “a cause for dismay” that the “few grow ever richer, and the many hopelessly poorer”.

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