Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick, has issued a pastoral letter for the protection of unborn life. In his letter, which was read out at Masses over the weekend, Bishop Leahy encouraged the people of the diocese to be ‘missionaries for the cause of life’ and invited people to read the new ChooseLife2018 newsletter.
In his message, Bishop Leahy said, ‘I appreciate that engaging in any conversation around the upcoming referendum is not easy for people. While I too find it difficult to talk about it, nevertheless the Gospel and my conscience convince me that I am obliged to speak.
‘In short, the possible repeal of the Eighth Amendment and introduction of a liberal regime of abortion in Ireland that allows abortion in some cases, not just up to 12 weeks, but also right up to the point of birth, is a pivotal moment for our society and how we cherish life in this country. In Britain, where abortion was introduced with the conviction that it would only be in exceptional cases, today one in five pregnancies end in abortion.
‘I invite you to be missionaries for the cause of life. It is a noble cause to uphold the sacredness of human life.’
He continued, I know there may be some hearing my words who have had an abortion or know someone who has. They may find the current public discussions upsetting. To you I say I do not wish to upset. Remember Jesus’ words: “do not let your heart be troubled; trust in God”, the God who loves you immensely and whose mercy embraces you like a mother.’
Bishop Leahy went on to say, ‘It is right to attend with empathy and care to the difficult situations of women faced with challenging circumstances around pregnancy. There are many very articulate voices doing so. We do indeed need to love both mother and baby in pregnancy, but I believe that in our public commentary at the moment we are often forgetting the unborn baby.
‘And we are talking about a baby. Make no mistake about it. It is a baby. There is probably none of you who at some stage have not heard excited declarations of “we’re having a baby”. We’ve celebrated in that joy. We’ve prayed for the healthy pregnancy, that everything would be ok. Even in our celebrity culture, when news breaks of high-profile pregnancies, the media speaks of “she/the couple are having a baby”.
‘I know from conversations with pregnant women, with couples, of the sense of wonder, joy, excitement, nervousness of what lies ahead. All about the child in their womb. Indeed, many decide not to tell others until they have had their first scan, often because of the nervousness around getting that first glimpse of their baby in the early scan, of finding out is he or she healthy. I’ve had it relayed to me about almost holding their breath with nervous anticipation to hear that everything is ok.
‘It all speaks of “your baby” because that is exactly what is developing: a baby.’
Bishop Leahy concluded his letter by saying, ‘I invite you, then, to be missionaries for the cause of life.
‘It really is important for us to affirm that what’s in the womb are babies that are just not born yet. They are not potential persons but persons with potential; they are developing humans.
‘Let’s continue to pray for one another.’
Bishop Leahy also invited the faithful to read the Choose Life 2018 newsletter which can be found on www.ChooseLife2018.ie. Bishop Leahy’s full pastoral letter can be found on www.limerickdiocese.org.