In the wake of the Irish referendum of May 25th, the Irish Conference of Bishops has decided at its summer meeting in Maynooth to set up a new ‘Council for Life’.
The remit of the council will be ‘to advise and advocate for the Catholic Church in Ireland on a consistent ethic of life and care for those most at risk’.
(To access the complete statement explaining this decision, click here.)
The statement does not make clear what strategy this new Council will follow. On the one hand the statement expresses a special concern on the part of the bishops for the issue of abortion, but on the other the mention of a ‘consistent ethic of life’ leaves room for the possibility that the council will consider equally the social pressures that lead women in crisis pregnancies to seek abortion.
There must be hope, therefore, that the ‘Council for Life’ will broaden the scope of the Irish church’s activism re abortion to raise the profile of Catholic Social Teaching more generally. This envisions a society that is compassionate and in solidarity with people at risk at all stages of life – including women facing unexpected pregnancy.
In preparation for the ‘Council for Life’ bishops will be consulting with ‘those already committed to, and engaged with, upholding the sanctity of life in Ireland‘. It is to be hoped that this process will include consultation with a wide range of organisations and movements that seek to serve those most at risk – including, for example, those who are deeply concerned by the inadequacies of mental health services for young people in Ireland.