Choose Life/8th Amendment

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The Defence of Human Life


            “The Church must always be pro-life.  That means that the Christian community must be a beacon of support for life especially at its most vulnerable moments and a beacon of support at vulnerable moments of any woman or man along their path of life.

            Christians must be pro-life when it comes to the unborn and those who are vulnerable at the end of their lives.

            The Church must be pro-life at many other moments in the lives of people. Being pro-life means recalling all of us to reflect on the deeper meaning of life and to reject many of the paths of superficiality that lead away from true human fulfilment.   

            The Church is called to be pro-life not just in words and statements and manifestoes but to be pro-life in deeds, by being a Church which reflects the loving care of Jesus for human life at any stage. That loving care includes support to help those women who face enormous challenges and who grapple with very difficult decisions to choose life.

            Being Pro-life means protecting and loving every human being.  There are no second-class humans worthy of less protection and care than others are. 

            For too long, a mentality was common in Ireland in which single mothers were ostracised and humiliated.  This narrow moralistic culture was often sadly enhanced by the attitude of the Church.

            It was women who stood up and challenged that culture and affirmed their desire and right to be able to keep and give love to their children.  We owe a debt to those women who, then and now, witness to life.   It is still not easy to be a lone parent and we have to create an environment to ease the obstacles and burdens of lone parents and their children.

            Ireland has a great record in the care of mothers and of children.  The overall ethos of medicine in Ireland has been marked by a passionate commitment to do all to protect the life of both mother and child.

            The 8th Amendment to the Constitution sets out to ensure equal protection of both the mother and the unborn child.  The Amendment ought to have been accompanied by an appropriate legislative framework to assist doctors in dealing with complex situations.  This is still possible.

            Repealing the Eighth Amendment is not about permitting limited abortion.  It would bring about a radical change to our broad pro-life culture.  It would end any Constitutional protection whatsoever for the unborn.  Proposed future legislation would permit abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks, but also permit abortion on physical and mental health grounds up to six months. 

            How abortion legislation evolves into the future would be left entirely to the Oireachtas without any Constitutional framework within which legislation can be set.  In future it is possible, that small minority parties of a coalition government could demand that abortion legislation be extended as part of a programme for government.

            Future legislation regarding abortion could become the sole prerogative of an Oireachtas in a future culture that could be desensitised if abortion became more frequent.  This has been the experience in many other countries.

            Repealing the 8th Amendment in such circumstances means that the rights of the unborn would be definitively left without Constitutional protection.  It would be a point of no return. I ask you to reflect on that.

            It seems incongruous that just as medical science allows us to understand much more about the evolution of the baby in the womb and his or her originality and unique identity that we should simply throw out all Constitutional protection of the unborn child.  For that reason I will be voting No.

            I ask the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Dublin to join in moments of prayer in the coming days in each parish.   I ask you to invoke the Spirit of Jesus to touch hearts and commit our society to be pro-life in defending the lives of unborn children and in supporting women and men in the challenges they meet in accepting the joy of parenthood.”

16th May 2018



Archbishop’s House, Dublin D09 H4C2
11th May 2018

Special moment of Prayer for Life


I write to thank the priests of the diocese in their pastoral efforts to address the question of the protection of human life from conception to natural death.

I would suggest that every parish should hold a special moment of Prayer for Life at a time you consider appropriate on Saturday/Sunday 19/20 May, Feast of Pentecost, dedicated to the protection of life.

This could simply be a period of adoration and reflective prayer.  I will send out some background material that might be of use in animating such a ceremony.  You could announce this event over this weekend.

The following extract from my recent homily at Knock might also be of help in reflection.  I will, however, be issuing a further statement soon.

In our time, the Church and believers must always be pro-life.  The new family of Jesus, the Church, must always be a beacon of support for life at its most vulnerable moments and a beacon of support at any vulnerable moment of any woman or man along the path of life.

The Church must be pro-life when it comes to the unborn and those who are vulnerable at the end of their lives.  However, the Church must be pro-life at so many other moments in the lives of people.  Being pro-life means recalling all of us to reflect on the deeper meaning of life and to reject many of the paths of superficiality that just lead away from fulfilment.  The Church is called to be pro-life not just in words and statements and manifestoes but to be pro-life in deeds, through being a Church which reflects the loving care of Jesus especially for those who face challenges and who grapple to understand the challenges of their lives.

With prayerful good wishes,

Yours very sincerely,

+Diarmuid Martin

Resources for Hour of Prayer for Life – May 2018



Message from Archbishop Martin to all priests and parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin
Friday 9th March 2018

Catholic Teaching on the Dignity of Human Life and Regarding Abortion


I ask all Priests over the coming weeks to draw attention, in an appropriate way, to some basic principles of Catholic teaching concerning the dignity of human life and regarding abortion.

You will continue to receive resources, in particular, the Choose Life Newsletters, prepared by the Irish Episcopal conference and circulated by the Communications Office.  See also the statement from the Irish Bishops “Our Common Humanity”.  Both are available on this page for download and circulation, as well as Prayers for Life – Intercessions & Scripture reflections from the Diocesan Liturgy Office, which can be used over the coming weeks.

The Christian message is a message of life.  It is about how every human life is a reflection of the very life of God.  Each of us is created in the image of God.

Catholic teaching clearly affirms that every human life has unique and irreplaceable dignity.  Every human life has the right, from its very beginnings, to flourish and develop as God wants it to.

The 8th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees equal protection for both mothers and unborn children.  All should be equal in the face of the law.  Any society, which attempts to define certain lives as being of lesser worth and of lesser protection, betrays the common good.

With every good wish,

+Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin



Two Lives, One Love – pastoral message for 2018 on the right to life


During their Spring General Meeting this week in Maynooth, the Bishops of Ireland reviewed their pastoral message Two Lives, One Love and today (Friday 9th March 2018) publish a revised edition as part of their contribution to the national conversation on the right to life.

Read the pastoral message at



‘Our Common Humanity’

Statement on the second day of the Spring 2018 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Tuesday 6th March 2018


As pastors we are aware that the conversation about unborn life is sensitive, delicate and, indeed, painful for many.  We offer our reflections with the greatest of respect for everyone while wishing to make some points clearly and unambiguously.

Fundamental right
Every one of us has a right to our life.  It is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law.  We have it ‘as of right’, whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick.  All human beings have it.  For us as a society to now declare that any category of human being should have that right taken from them would be a shocking step.  It effectively says that unborn children do not exist or, if they do, they do not count.  That is a manifest injustice.

Life begins at conception
At every point, from conception on, the baby has the potential to realise the fullness of life that God intended.  All that is needed is time and nurturing.  Today we see more clearly that human life begins at conception.  There is no later stage in a baby’s development where we can say; ‘up until now the foetus was not a person and now it has become a baby’.

Are we allowing ourselves to be desensitised?
Making abortion freely available desensitises people to the value of every human life.  The scientific evidence about the beginning of human life has never been clearer.  It is, therefore, a great irony that we in Ireland are for the first time in our history losing our clarity about the right to life of the unborn.  Knowledge about the mysterious workings of DNA and the stunningly vivid evidence of ultrasound images of little persons in the earliest weeks in the womb should be making us more committed than ever to the protection of unborn life.

Choose life
The child in the womb has life and potential.  However, like all babies, before birth or in the early years, she or he has no choice.  Powerless to defend themselves they rely on the rest of us to protect their lives and vindicate their rights.  By using the word ‘choice’ we need to remember that, for the baby waiting to be born, the choice we make can be a matter of life or death.

Two lives, one love
An expectant mother needs and deserves the care and support of everyone around her, particularly if her pregnancy poses a serious crisis for her and her family.  A mother may be informed that her baby faces serious challenges or is perhaps terminally ill.  She might be pregnant as a result of rape.  Especially in those tragic cases both the mother and her unborn child can – and must – be loved and cherished.

A compassionate society will do all in its power to support and love the mother and baby, and encourage responsible support from fathers.  This vision of life makes sense to people of all faiths and none.  While it is enriched by our Catholic faith, it is our common humanity that convinces us of the right to life of every human being.

A declaration of equality
Article 40.3.3 is a declaration of equality and respect for human life.  It represents, at the very foundations and substructure of our laws, a conviction that all human life is worth cherishing equally.  To repeal this Article would leave unborn children at the mercy of whatever permissive abortion laws might be introduced in Ireland in the future.

We invite people of faith to pray earnestly that Ireland will “choose life” and that the lives of all women and their unborn children will always be loved, valued, welcomed and respected in this country.




Choose Life 2018, Issue Sixteen

Please see attached the 16th and final issue of the weekly newsletter Choose Life 2018, circulated by the Catholic Communications Office.

Choose Life 2018 promotes the Church’s position on unborn human life and encourages family discussion on this important subject.

All previous issues of the newsletter are available on as well as related liturgical resources and media content celebrating the culture of life.

If you have any queries please contact the Catholic Communications Office on 01 505 3013.

Choose Life 2018, Issue Sixteen
Download Issue Sixteen.pdf
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Download Issue Sixteen.jpg (page 2)

Previous issues are available at