In a homily to the Eucharistic Procession in Cork City for the feast of Corpus Christi, Archbishop Charles J Brown said such events teach Catholics that their lives of faith cannot be confined to the inside of churches and that their faith needs to affect how they interact in public as citizens.
“We must never be afraid to allow our faith to influence and shape our political choices, especially on choices and questions which involve the most basic human values, such as the right to life itself,” he said, to applause from the thousands gathered in the city centre.
Archbishop Brown’s comments come days after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin conceded that the party’s TDs and senators would be allowed a free vote on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013, that seeks to legislate for the X case and allow abortion where there is a risk to the life of an expectant mother.
However, Mr Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny also rejected claims last week by a Vatican monsignor that Catholic politicians who vote for the bill should leave the Church.
Mr Kenny has said the bill is about saving mothers’ lives, not ending life, and his obligation as Taoiseach is to the Constitution and not the Bible.
The papal nuncio told those gathered in Cork’s Daunt Square, in a ceremony televised live on the city council web channel and community television, that they each brought their own petitions to God in prayer.
“But let me ask you to pray to the Lord for a special intention today, that he will keep Ireland a pro-life country, where mothers and their unborn children are safe and protected.”
He said the Church in Ireland needed women like 13th-century St Julianna of Liege who inspired the establishment of the Corpus Christi feast to celebrate the Eucharist.
However, he said he had met many courageous Catholic women in his year and a half here. “I have seen them working hard to safeguard the lives of mothers and unborn children at this time. I have encountered them among religious sisters serving the poorest of the poor. I have met them teaching in schools,” he said.
Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley asked for prayers for people suffering in the economic recession, and for emigrants.
He was particularly mindful, in a time of fewer jobs, of this year’s college graduates and students beginning the Leaving Certificate on Wednesday.
The procession from the city’s North Cathedral included participants from diocesan parishes, charities and spiritual groups, with the city’s Asian, African, and Eastern European communities well represented. Lord Mayor John Buttimer, whose TD brother Jerry chaired the committee hearings on the abortion bill, also joined the procession.