The new Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin gave a very powerful pro-life sermon on Sunday January 11th, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus.
The sermon was delivered in the context of the issuance of a consultation document in Northern Ireland by the Minister for Justice, which proposes that ‘totally innocent and terminally ill babies in the womb will no longer have an absolute right to life, nor the right to all the care and medical support that we would expect and wish for any child or adult who is terminally ill.’
Archbishop Martin highlighted what he described as a ‘throwaway’ culture and told the congregation that ‘the Catholic Church will be making a robust and unapologetic defence of the right to life of both mothers and their terminally ill children during pregnancy’.
Some extracts from Archbishop Martin’s statement are set out below.One value which we should never grow tired of witnessing to, as Catholics, is the value and sacredness of human life itself. Life is precious from the first moment of conception through to natural death. Our Catholic faith brings with it a responsibility to build a culture of life, where every person is worthy of the very best care and utmost tenderness; this is especially true of the most vulnerable and most defenceless persons.Knowing how much you have already sacrificed yourselves for the little children here in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral this morning, I take this opportunity to appeal to all Catholics to witness courageously to a culture of life. This is becoming increasingly important when we are surrounded by what Pope Francis describes as a “throwaway” culture which weighs one life up as more important and worthy of protection than another, and which would even discard the right to life of the most vulnerable.I want to bring to your attention a consultation document  from the Minister for Justice in Northern Ireland which proposes that totally innocent and terminally ill babies in the womb will no longer have an absolute right to life, nor the right to all the care and medical support that we would expect and wish for any child or adult who is terminally ill.Notwithstanding the extraordinary and unprecedented attempt of the consultation document to exclude “pro-life” arguments from the debate, when we meet the Minister and his officials this week, a delegation from the Catholic Church will be making a robust and unapologetic defence of the right to life of both mothers and their terminally ill children during pregnancy and calling for all the love and support that we as a society can give them. This must include, I believe, the ready availability of quality peri-natal and post-natal hospice care and of counselling for those faced with the trauma and anxiety of having a terminally ill unborn child.
The full text of Archbishop Martin’s sermon can be accessed on this link.