THE Church of Ireland must, as a spiritual imperative, make a
sensible contribution to end-of-life issues currently being debated
in Irish society, the Archbishop of Armagh, The
Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, told the opening of the General Synod
on Thursday of last week.
His remarks come at a time when the Irish government is
preparing to legislate for limited abortion, and the Supreme Court
has rejected an appeal by a terminally ill woman to allow her
partner to assist her to end her life.
"If, as Christians, we believe that all life is a gift of God,
from its earliest beginnings to its earthly end, how are we to
treat that gift even in times of trauma and pain?" he said. "Let us
not wait until state legislation has already decided on such
matters before we make a response. By then it will be too late.
"It is not merely a matter of making statements on behalf of the
Church, or even on one's own behalf. Every responsible Christian
disciple should be ready to confront those who, whether in
political life or not, would treat human life not as a gift but as
Afterwards, at a press conference, Dr Clarke cautioned
politicians to deal with the issue of maternal suicidal ideation as
grounds for abortion with great care. The Irish Supreme Court had
called for such provision in a ruling 21 years ago, but no
legislation on abortion has until now been forthcoming.
Speaking about the terminally ill, he said that everyone had a
part to play in supporting those working with the dying, and their
The Primate also addressed the issue of children living in
poverty throughout the island, noting that Barnardo's identified
about 100,000 children in this category in Northern Ireland, while
in the Republic, children living in "consistent poverty" had risen
by 0.5 per cent in one year.
Poverty, he said, "damages every aspect of any child's life,
having massive consequences . . . on their health, their
educational outcomes, and the simple chance to 'make a life' for