In the wake of a historic referendum that legalised abortion in a country where 78% of the population identifies as Catholic, only one bishop has had the courage to speak out about the repercussions for the thousands of Catholics who have voted in favour of this legislation.
Just hours after the results were publicised, Bishop Kevin Doran stated that any Catholic who voted 'Yes' had committed a sin and should go to confession. 1
He said that if a practising 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'. 2
Bishop Kevin Doran was one of the few bishops who was outspoken in the months leading up to the referendum; he had personally travelled throughout his Diocese of Elphin holding conferences in numerous parishes where he encouraged the attendees to vote in accordance with the natural law and Catholic principles.
He has also expressed his surprise at the outcome at the referendum which indicated overwhelming support for the legalisation of abortion, with only 34% voting to retain the Eighth Amendment. Interestingly enough, in the days following the referendum, the discussions have been centred on how to further remove from the State any ties that remain with the Church. 3
It would appear that the many Catholics who voted 'Yes', did so more out of a defiant attitude towards a Church that they felt had let them down through the mistakes of individual churchmen. Rather than voting decidedly for abortion, perhaps the vote was inherently anti-Church because She had called for a 'No' vote.
Nevertheless, the result remains the same. Hundreds of thousands of Irish Catholics have betrayed their baptismal promises and voted against the fundamental right to life of the Unborn. It is now clearer than ever before that the 'cultural Catholics' who claim a Catholic identity have now distanced themselves from the Church, and only those followers who love Christ and keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15) are worthy to be called His disciples.