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Vatican reacts to Kenny comments

28 June 2013

THE Vatican has responded to the Irish government's proposed abortion legislation, after the comments by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, that he is "a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, not a Catholic Taoiseach".

The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority in the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Raymond Burke, told the Irish Catholic newspaper that it was not possible for a Roman Catholic politician to separate himself from the abortion issue by maintaining that his religious beliefs could be set apart from politics.

"Abortion is a matter of natural moral law which is written on every human heart. One cannot, as a [Roman] Catholic politician, excuse oneself from the question of abortion by claiming that one should not bring one's Catholicism into the political realm.

"Of course, the [RC] Church does teach that abortion is evil, but the evil of abortion can also be known by human reason. The natural law is to do good, and avoid evil, and the first precept is to safeguard and promote human life. The distinction made in the statement you mention therefore does not make any sense."

Mr Kenny, who leads the coalition government, has come under increasing pressure to allow a free vote within the ranks of his own party, Fine Gael, for the new legislation, which the Irish Supreme Court 20 years ago said was necessary to bring clarity to the circumstances under which the abortion of a foetus might be required to save the life of an expectant mother. He has refused.

The government hopes to have the new laws on the statute books before the end of the current Dáil term.

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