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
Vatican insiders suggested that any apparent reference to the Republic was intentional.
in Germany today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Pope was entitled to
“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
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
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