Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has issued a message for ‘Day for Life’ 2016 in which he calls on “all those who believe in a better future for humanity to preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life in all its stages and conditions, as an affirmation of our human capacity for tenderness and love.”
Archbishop Eamon goes on to say that the Eight Amendment is
“fundamentally a declaration of tenderness and love for the equal right
to life of both a mother and her unborn child. It is an undertaking to
respect, defend and vindicate that right here in Ireland.
amendment is precious and wonderful – it places as the very foundations
and substructure of our laws a clear conviction that all human life is
Read the full text of Archbishop Eamon’s Day for Life message below:
Pope Francis often speaks about the need for a ‘revolution of
tenderness’ to melt the ‘hardness of heart’ that is so prevalent in
today’s world. Nowadays the way of tenderness is indeed
counter-cultural and revolutionary. It is perhaps the only way to
confront inhumanity and cruelty, to bridge the great divide which greed
has created between the rich and the poor, and to expose the pervasive
‘throwaway culture’ which surrounds us.
The ‘revolution of tenderness’ challenges us to show real sensitivity
and active concern for everyone and everything, and protect the wonder
of life in our common home. As Pope Francis puts it: ‘everything is
connected’. This includes the way we care for the environment; how we
care for one another; how we welcome and accept those with different
needs and abilities, refugees, the elderly, the unborn, the forgotten
and the abandoned; how we acknowledge the worth of a poor person, a
human embryo, a person with disabilities (see Laudato Si’ #117).
These days as I listen to repeated calls for repeal of the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution of Ireland,
I cannot help observing one of the great contradictions of our age:
that, at the same time as society is developing a more urgent sense of
the need to care for our planet and other creatures, many seem
determined to remove the right to life of unborn human beings.
Eighth Amendment reads as follows:
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with
due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its
laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and
vindicate that right”.
It is therefore fundamentally a declaration of tenderness and love
for the equal right to life of both a mother and her unborn child. It
is an undertaking to respect, defend and vindicate that right here in
Ireland. This amendment is precious and wonderful – it places as the
very foundations and substructure of our laws a clear conviction that
all human life is worth cherishing.
Demands to quash and abolish this amendment go against the Good News
that the life of every person is sacred and inviolable, irrespective of
the stage or state of that life – from the first moment of conception
until the moment of natural death. This is the most fundamental of all
moral principles. It is the basis upon which every human right we enjoy
as persons is predicated and upon which our very freedom and dignity as
a person rests. It admits of no exceptions. To deliberately and
intentionally take the life of an innocent person, whatever their state
or stage of life, is always gravely morally wrong.
From a moral point of view, there is therefore no such thing as
‘limited’ abortion. The medical prognosis for the life of a child in
the womb, or the extent of that child’s disabilities, is no more morally
relevant than it is when considering an adult who faces the diagnosis
of a life-limiting condition.
Today I call on all those who believe in a better future for humanity
to preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life in all its stages
and conditions, as an affirmation of our human capacity for tenderness
and love. We must not forget of course that some mothers and fathers
experience profound anguish when faced with a crisis in pregnancy.
Tenderness also compels us to reach out to them. That is why I wish to
repeat today the call for our politicians to provide every possible
service and support to women, parents and families who are faced with
severe difficulties and crises in pregnancy. This must include a
commitment to providing comprehensive peri-natal hospice services for
women and their families responding to a diagnosis of life-limiting
disability for their unborn child.
On this very day thirty-seven years ago in Limerick, Pope Saint John
Paul II said, “May Ireland never weaken in her witness, before Europe
and before the whole world, to the dignity and sacredness of all human
life, from conception until death” (1 October 1979). That remains my
prayer on this Day for Life for 2016.
I invite all to pray so as to deepen our wonder at the gift of life.
Prayer from Laudato Si‘ (Praise Be – Pope Francis’ encyclical of May 2015 on care for our common home):
All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
That we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.