Irish bishop advises Catholics who voted for abortion repeal to undergo confession

Nuns prepare to cast their ballots in Dublin. | Reuters/Alex Fraser

A Catholic bishop in Ireland has suggested that those who voted in favor of repealing the ban on abortion should go to confession if they want to continue receiving Holy Communion.

In an interview with RTE on Monday, Bp. Kevin Doran stressed that those who voted "Yes" on the referendum should consider going to confession if they knew that "abortion would be the outcome" of their decision.

When asked if he considered it a sin to vote in favor of the repeal, he replied, "If they knew and intended abortion as the outcome, yes I believe so."

The results of the abortion referendum last week showed that 66 percent were in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment, which guaranteed the right to life for the unborn baby. A total of 1,429,981 people voted for the repeal, while 723,672 voted to keep the amendment in the Constitution, Church Militant reported.

A survey had found that 12 percent of the voters said religious views were a factor in their decision.

Irish lawmakers are now considering a legislation that would allow abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to Life News.

"Personally I'm very sad about it, I still believe in the right to life of every person, I don't believe there's any such thing as a life without value," Doran told RTE. "As far as the church is concerned, what was true on Thursday last is still true today," he added.

One Catholic priest disagreed with the remarks that it was a sin to vote in favor of the repeal. Fr. Brian D'Arcy maintained that he would not consider it a sin, adding that people should follow their conscience.

"I wouldn't like to attribute sin in this matter, at all. It's the wrong language for this because this isn't an issue about Church law at all," the priest told RTE.

"This is an issue about how the State is attempting to treat all its people in an emerging way, in an emerging republic in an emerging world," he added.

The priest argued that the Catholic Church's stance was not part of the discussion on the issue and that the Church is not being asked to change its teaching on abortion.

D'Arcy further noted that he also opposed the inclusion of Eighth Amendment to the Constitution during the referendum in 1983. According to Church Militant, the amendment was approved that year with 67 percent approval.

Abp. Eamon Martin, the primate of All Ireland, expressed hope that those who voted in favor of the repeal would work to ensure that the measure that will be passed to legalize abortion will allow for the procedure that would be "rare ... safe and ... legal."