Irish bishop calls 'yes' voters on abortion referendum to come to confession

Street scene of Georgian terrace in Dublin with posters from the May 2018 referendum campaign Credit Blue Haired Lawyer CC 30 CNA A terrace in Dublin with posters from the May 2018 referendum campaign. | Blue-Haired Lawyer (CC BY 3.0).

As the Republic of Ireland moved to legalize abortion over the weekend, one bishop has said that practicing Catholics who voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment should consider going to confession.

If a Catholic "voted Yes, knowing and intending that abortion would be the outcome, then you should consider coming to confession, where you would be received with the same compassion that is shown to any other penitent," Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin during a May 28 interview on RTÉ's Today.

Bishop Doran went on to say that voting "yes" in the Eighth Amendment referendum with full knowledge of legalizing abortion was "a sin," and that Catholics could not take a casual approach to an issue with such moral gravity.

"Ultimately all sin, and sin is not just related to this area, but all sin is about decisions that impact on our relationship with God," he noted.

"Every person's vote has both a moral significance and a political significance," Doran continued, saying "personally, I'm obviously very sad about this. I still believe in the right to life of every person."

Around 2.15 million Irish citizens voted May 25, 66 percent to 33 percent, to repeal the abortion ban in the nation. The Eighth Amendment, which recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child, upheld the practice of abortion as illegal until it was repealed over the weekend and removed from the Irish constitution.

With the new vote, abortion will now be accessible to pregnant women through the first three months of pregnancy in Ireland – a nation with a 78 percent Catholic population.

"Personally, I'm surprised by the extent of it," Doran said, adding that he "was conscious that there seemed to be a silent vote," but "didn't know what way it was going to go."

"I do find it surprising that the majority of people voted for this," he continued.

When asked if a Catholic should receive communion if they had voted in favor of legalizing abortion, Doran said "that's a matter for their own personal conscience."

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