ARMAGH, June 27, 2013 ( – An Irish member of parliament has claimed that the head of the Catholic Church in the country has said there would be no ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication for those TDs who vote in favour of the government’s proposed abortion bill.

Fine Gael TD Tom Barry announced in May that he had sent a letter to Sean Cardinal Brady, the archbishop of Armagh and the Primate of Ireland, asking what the consequences would be for Catholics supporting the government’s bill. The bill proposes to legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

According to the Church’s Code of Canon Law, anyone formally cooperating with the “grave sin” of abortion is automatically excommunicated.

Barry, who claims to be pro-life, said he objected to being called “baby-killer” for his intention to support the bill. He said he wrote to both the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and Cardinal Sean Brady.

“I received responses from both,” Barry told the Irish Examiner. “But in particular, Cardinal Brady’s letter was very decent, telling me not be to be concerned but outlining his and the Church’s views on the matter.”

Deacon Nick Donnelly, who maintains the ‘blog Protect the Pope, wrote that if Barry was telling the truth about the contents of the letter, Cardinal Brady “is not following the guidance given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.”

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“If Enda Kenny’s abortion bill passes with the support of practicing Catholic politicians it is not only those politicians who will answer for this mortal sin before God but also those Catholic prelates and clergy who abysmally failed to defend the unborn babies of Ireland and who utterly failed to convey to these politicians the gravity of the mortal sin they committed,” Deacon Donnelly said.

In May, in an interview with the state broadcaster RTE Radio, Cardinal Brady, the head of the Irish Catholic bishops’ conference, said that the Irish bishops have “not considered” barring politicians from receiving Communion if they support the bill. contacted Martin Long, media spokesman for the Archdiocese of Armagh, for a clarification. Long said, “We’re not going to comment on private correspondence between the cardinal and an individual TD. The position of the Irish bishops has been made available in numerous venues.”

The Irish bishops have issued a statement saying that the bill will “make the direct and intentional killing of unborn children lawful in Ireland” and must be defeated.

“The bill as outlined represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law and is unnecessary to ensure that women receive the life-saving treatment they need during pregnancy,” the statement said.

In 2004, then-Cardinal Ratzinger issued a letter to the U.S. bishops who were meeting during a presidential election campaign to discuss the problem of persistently pro-abortion Catholic politicians. In it, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that when a politician persists, after receiving due instruction, in supporting abortion, he “must” be refused Holy Communion.

Meanwhile, the government is learning that more and more TDs will refuse to back the bill.

The Irish Independent reported on Friday that Wicklow TD Billy Timmins has become the latest deputy to say he is voting against the bill. The government had hoped to keep the number of opposed down to three, but Timmins makes three already, and more are reported to be “considering their options” the Independent reports.

The other two are Galway West TD Brian Walsh and Dublin South’s Peter Mathews and Walsh has said that as many as ten more will vote against. Prime Minister Enda Kenny has refused to allow a conscience vote.

In a debate on the bill, Timmins cited inclusion of the threat of suicide as grounds for an abortion, saying, “I cannot support this bill as it requires me…to legalize the intentional destruction of unborn human life where there is a real and substantive risk of loss of a woman’s life by way of suicide.” He added that he could support the bill if the suicide elements were removed.

To contact the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops:

Palazzo della Congregazioni,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
00193 Roma, Italia
Phone: +
Fax: +

To contact Cardinal Brady:

Ara Coeli, Cathedral Road
Armagh, Northern Ireland
BT61 7QY
Diocesan Secretary:
Rev. Michael Toner – email: [email protected]
Phone: (028) 3752 2045
Fax: (028) 3752 6182


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