Abortion and the Irish Referendum: Does The Catholic Church Support Conscience Over Biblical Doctrine?


In response to the Abortion Referendum in Ireland, the Irish Times published a report that astonishingly claims how abortion, the murder of an unborn child, is somehow a moral act. Furthermore, the paper, utilized the Catholic Catechism to defend their stance, claiming that according to Catholic doctrine; Conscience takes priority over Biblical teachings.

Statistics published by the Irish Times, acquired by the RTE exit poll, detail that sixty-eight percent of ‘Yes’ voters in the abortion referendum were in fact Catholic. Furthermore, fifteen percent attend Mass weekly, another fifteen percent monthly, and another thirty-two percent less regularly attend Catholic Church Services.

In addition, seventy-five percent of voters who voted for abortion detailed during the RTE exit poll, which includes Catholics, “always knew” which way they were going to vote.

Citing teachings from the Catholic Catechism, the Irish Times suggests that those who voted for abortion are morally justified and supported by Catholic doctrine.

At the moment of conception, human life begins.

It is important to note that in the United States, in Iowa, a law was passed that made abortion illegal after a heartbeat could be detected. In the majority of cases that means after six weeks of pregnancy, it becomes illegal to murder a child as a “human life has been legally detected.” The State of Iowa argued that if a heartbeat can legally determine when someone passes, then it should also determine when human life begins.

The Irish Times utilizes Dignitatis Humanae, a Vatican II document, to justify the ‘Yes’ voters who are Catholic. The document details that; “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.”

Further; “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

Now, according to the Irish Times; “In forming their consciences, ‘the faithful must pay careful attention to the sacred and certain teaching of the church,’” though few Catholics in Ireland could be unaware of that following six abortion referendums since 1983.

The Paper then utilizes another Catechism document; “In extolling conscience, the Catechism quotes from another Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes. It states: “Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. For a man has in his heart a law inscribed by God . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary,” the document goes on, “There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”

The Irish Times then concludes that it is possible for a ‘good Catholic’ in good faith to act contrary to the teachings of the Church.

However, called into question then is the determination of the cited Catholic teachings. According to statistics, the majority of the voters in the abortion referendum were indeed Catholic, as the RTE exit poll numbers show, that would detail that the voters were not acting contrary to Catholic teachings, rather it would determine that those who voted for abortion and were Catholic would represent a vast majority of voters.

Furthermore, there are more than four million people in Ireland, and more than one million of them voted, of that, roughly sixty-seven percent of them voted ‘yes,’ and of those approximately sixty-eight percent ascribed to Catholicism.

Utilizing the aforementioned statistics, it can be determined that half of those who voted for abortion attend Catholic Mass on somewhat a regular basis whether it be weekly or monthly.

Again, the majority of people who voted for abortion have attended Mass, they have ascribed to Catholic teachings, yet they don’t ascribe to the fundamental teachings of the Bible. Specifically, one of the commandments is ‘Thou Shall Not Murder.’

Utilizing the statistics given, for people to affirm in their conscience that the aforementioned Commandment does not apply to them, it is a fundamental failure of either the local Catholic Churches and or the Catholic teachings at large.

To grant credence to the failure of Catholic teachings, the documents utilized by the Irish Times to defend those who voted Yes, it is not the teachings of the Church that determine Salvation and Moral Convictions, it is God and His Word.

The Bible details the failure of man and the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Removal of such need defies the understanding of Scripture and removes the reality of Salvation. While the Irish Times has taken the Catechism’s texts out of context, it is not without warrant that the documents provided be called into question.

The documents utilized place the final authority on man for the conviction of consciousness. Instead, Scripture details that it is Jesus Christ who relays the conviction of the Spirit and consciousness.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, who can know it?”

Furthermore, if the aforementioned documents utilized by the Irish Times are granted merit by the Church, then such allows for the whims of culture to persuade the authority of Scripture; as a result, it devalues the authority of God’s Word.

Works Cited

POPE PAUL VI . “DIGNITATIS HUMANAE.” The Vatican. . (1965): . .

Patsy McGarry. “Conscience takes priority over church teaching, says Catholic Catechism.” Irish Times. . (2018): . .

POPE PAUL VI. “GAUDIUM ET SPES.” The Vatican. . (1965): . .