Amendment 8 to Article 40 of the Irish Constitution reads as follows:
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
Approved by more than two-thirds of Irish voters in a September 1983 referendum, it precludes abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. It was, and remains, a unique repudiation of “progressive” social policy as defined by leaders of the European Union.
From the start, Amendment 8 has been targeted by abortion-rights activists both in Ireland and abroad because it explicitly recognizes the humanity of the unborn child. In other words, to legitimize abortion, the law must first dehumanize the child developing in the womb. The only way to sell this kind of legalized homicide to the Irish public has been to control and deform the language of the debate.
Thus pro-life organizations have faced an uphill battle for years in defending Amendment 8 in a misleading and heavily biased media environment.
On May 25, a national referendum will be held determining whether to repeal Amendment 8. Irish pro-life groups have been going door to door in Ireland for months urging citizens to choose life by voting “no” on the repeal effort. An interview with Irish pro-life spokesperson Cora Sherlock by Fordham theologian Charles Camosy last November gives a basic outline of the Amendment 8 political struggle. Additional information can be found at the Prolife Campaign Ireland and Love Both Project sites.
But why should any of this matter to an American audience? The answer to that question comes in an email I received from a married couple with children earlier this week. I’ve removed their names to respect their privacy, but the message is unchanged:
Dear Archbishop Chaput,
Please accept this note as an appeal for prayer against the impending vote to legalize abortion in Ireland.
Forty million Americans claim Irish ancestry. Ireland spread the faith widely in America with Catholic immigrants. For generations, Irish missionary priests and nuns cultivated the Catholic faith in the United States. How are we repaying Ireland? Today, America is backing the repeal of Ireland’s Amendment 8 through the support of U.S. abortion groups and wealthy donors. See https://repeal.blog/.
The date is looming: Ireland will vote on May 25. For 1500 years, since St. Patrick brought the faith to Ireland, her people have defended the sanctity of human life. Ireland is the only major European country that still prohibits abortion.
Bishop Kevin Doran of [the Diocese of Elphin] Ireland stated that, “I am convinced that if we concede any ground on abortion, the very same arguments which are now being used to justify abortion will be used to justify ending the lives of elderly people and people with disabilities. This is the final frontier. If we cross it, there will be no easy way back.” Lifehouse Ireland reported, “This could be Ireland’s Roe vs. Wade. Where is the outrage in the Irish and American media? Nowhere to be found.”
St. Patrick, St. Brigid, and all Irish saints, protect Ireland from the culture of death.
In his great 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio (“The Development of Peoples”), Blessed Paul VI reminded us that no genuine progress can take place without respecting the spiritual dimension and God-given dignity of the human person. In killing an unborn child, abortion violates human dignity in a uniquely obscene and intimate way.
Ireland has always had the wisdom to reject the kind of social “progress” that depends on the shedding of innocent blood and the destruction of new life. Now that nation’s conscience hangs in the balance. Today, pro-life efforts in Ireland urgently need our support.
This week and throughout the coming days, I ask our clergy and laypeople across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — many of them descendants of our city’s Irish immigrants — to pray for Ireland and especially for the defense of Amendment 8.
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Thank you and God Bless You Archbishop Chaput!! Our Lady of Knock, pray for Ireland! Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for an end to abortion! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have Mercy on Ireland and on the whole world! Amen.
Praying that amendment 8 will not be repealed.
Thank you Archbishop Chaput. Here in Ireland, many follow you and deeply appreciate your prayers, the prayers of your priests and those of the catholic people of Philly. We ask you to pray that when the referendum is put to the people (25th May), they will follow their Catholic FaithTeaching and reject the govt’s attempt to remove the 8th Amendment, which is the only protection the child in the womb has against abortion. Blessings from Ireland. Noel
Very important. Thank you!
But we have a primary election in 5 days and nothing being said about getting Catholics out to vote. Primaries include governor, us senate, Congress, state Senate, State Rep, and many local offices. It is urgent for pro-life Catholics to get out and vote – and be educated about the candidates. Nearly nothing is being reported.
Don’t miss our 2018 Primary Election package here: http://catholicphilly.com/2018/05/news/local-news/primary-election-2018/
I was raised by my Irish grandparents. They were both immigrants from Ireland. They raised 7 children in South Phila. All seven went to Saint Monica school. I will tell Our Blessed Mother about this tomorrow.
You’ve got my prayers!