Irish bishops urge Catholics to vote in abortion referendum
The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, Cardinal Desmond Connell, has said that a 'yes' vote in Wednesday's abortion referendum would avoid giving the country's law "a fatal bias in favour of abortion".
He told the faithful that the bishops "are encouraging them to vote Yes on Wednesday, while respecting your right in conscience to vote against the proposal".
Connell said he is strongly encouraging Catholics to vote, because "it would be very wrong if this referendum were to be decided by a small percentage of the voting population".
Letters from each Catholic bishop were read at weekend Masses throughout the country. Drafts of the letters were prepared at the Irish Bishops' Conference offices in Maynooth and circulated to each bishop for adaptation as he saw fit.
The Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee, has also said the Irish bishops' statement "has been fully endorsed by the Church authorities in Rome". In a statement he added, "And I, who have been so closely linked for many years to its Supreme Pastor, Pope John Paul II, am most happy to give it my full backing". Dr Magee was an assistant to both Pope John Paul I and the present Pope.
Texts of bishops' pastoral letters
Catholic Communications - Abortion Referendum 2002
4 - Mar - 2002