The Roman Catholic Church and the EU
Sunday’s This Week program featured an item on Cóir, who are claiming to represent the views of Catholic voters. They also interviewed prominent Catholic commentator, David Quinn, who had changed his mind from last year. He voted No last year because of his concerns on issues of religious sensitivity, but is now satisfied with the guarantees on abortion, religious education and the family, and will be voting Yes this time. The Tribune’s Conor McMorrow also featured an insightful article on Cóir, which is well worth reading.
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In fact, while the Roman Catholic hierarchy has not taken an official position on the Treaty, they have assured voters that there is no reason whatever that a conscientious Catholic could not vote for the Treaty.
In a recent Irish Times op-ed, the Jesuit priest Edmund Grace, SJ, wrote in response to the claims that the Lisbon Treaty could threaten our stance on abortion.
If we vote for Lisbon, we will be insisting on one area of fundamental disagreement, but in a context of trust and mutual respect. As the underlying weakness of the secular world view becomes clear we will be in a better position to make the case for the equal rights of the unborn based on a world view that protects liberty by placing it in its rightful context of human solidarity and mutual respect.
Before last year’s referendum, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said, “I do not believe the Lisbon Treaty changes the current position with regard to Ireland’s position on abortion within the European Union”. At a speech at the Institute for International and European Affairs entitled, “Christian values and Irish membership of the EU“, Archbishop Martin spoke quite positively of the European Union, “In many ways Brussels is not the problem, but it is recognised more and more as an essential part of the solution.”
Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in 2004, as Cardinal Ratzinger, spoke favourably about the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In a speech entitled “Europe: Its Spiritual Foundation: Yesterday, Today and in the Future“, while acknowledging the challenges for Roman Catholics in areas such as marriage, he saw these as something to work constructively with. Ultimately, as can be seen at the end of this lengthy speech, he concluded by stating that “The Charter of Fundamental Rights may be a first step, a sign Europe is once again consciously seeking its soul.”
Perhaps Catholics looking for moral guidance could turn to these members of the church hierarchy rather than those who would set themselves up as defenders of the faith.