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WASHINGTON, February 3, 2014 ( – The recent legalization of abortion in Ireland is a direct result of ignoring the spiritual element of the abortion battle, says the Director of Precious Life in Ireland, Bernadette Smyth.

On January 1st, a new law came into effect in southern Ireland which legalizes abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy if the mother’s life is at risk. This includes the risk of suicide.

This legislation, Ms. Smyth says in a recent video-recorded interview with LifeSiteNews in Washington the day before the March for Life, is a direct consequence of leaving spiritual warfare out of the battle for the unborn.

“The whole battle against abortion is a spiritual battle,” she says.  “And unless we pray, we will never stop abortion, whether that be in Ireland or throughout the world.”

Ms. Smyth recalled a certain pro-life victory twelve years ago.  At that time, pro-lifers held a prayer vigil under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside a pro-abortion conference in Northern Ireland.

“That image (of Our Lady of Guadalupe) was put on the front pages of the Irish Times, the Irish News, and all the papers.  And we knew at that time that showing that image, taking that image and fronting with our faith, we were going to stop what the pro-abortionists had planned for Ireland.”

This instance Ms. Smyth puts forward as an example of what victories can be won when the spiritual side of the pro-life movement tempers the secular aspect.  But by leaving God out of the struggle, the movement set itself up for defeat.

“What has happened recently,” Ms. Smyth says, “(is that) we have denied our faith.  The whole battle to stop abortion being legalized in Ireland became a human rights battle; it is a human rights battle, and we must remember that also, but it’s a spiritual battle, and we must unite the human battle with the spiritual battle to protect our unborn children and to protect our country.”

The pro-abortion legislation was championed by Ireland’s Catholic Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.  Kenny “defied the Church, defied the people, railroaded over democracy” by supporting this bill and still claiming to be Catholic.

“He turns up on a Sunday at Holy Mass to receive the Eucharist, yet he is in defiance of the laws of the Catholic Church…by introducing a piece of legislation that is anti-Church, anti-God, and anti-child and will bring about the death of the future generation of Irish children,” says Ms. Smyth.

Despite recent recommendations to exclude pro-abortion politicians from receiving the Eucharist, such politicians in Ireland are not being denied Holy Communion.  

According to Ms. Smyth, this hypocrisy has riled Catholics in Ireland.  “People are outraged,” she says.  “What is happening at this time that our Church is willing to be silent about something that is so important?”

Ms. Smyth sets St. Patrick as a contrasting example of what great triumphs can be won when God is first and foremost in the battle for goodness.  “If you think of what St. Patrick did to bring the faith, not just to Ireland, but throughout the world, he defied the very lawmakers at the time by lighting the fire on the hill of Tara.  And yet we denied God and we put Him out.”

The growing emphasis on using secular means, as opposed to spiritual means, to fight the abortion battle is perhaps a crucial reason why this laxity prevails. 

“Instead of praying and fasting as a united Church,” Ms. Smyth says, “we took secular signs, ‘Protect them both’, and we held vigils, but we didn’t vigil to God, we vigiled to man… and maybe God is allowing this to happen to bring us to our knees, to bring Ireland to her knees at this time, because we have forgot Him in this battle.” 

Both the legalization of abortion in Ireland, and the hypocrisy displayed by the Catholic politicians who support it, demonstrate the cost of sacrificing the spiritual aspects of the pro-life movement for a more secular approach.

“I believe,” says Ms. Smyth, “if you leave God out of the battle, as Scripture says ‘If you deny Me before man, I will deny you before My Father.’  And sadly, that’s where Ireland went wrong; we didn’t make this a spiritual battle, we made it a human rights battle.  And we can never win without God on the front of everything we do.”


Cardinal Séan Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland
Ara Coeli, Cathedral Rd.
Armagh Northern Ireland
BT61 7QY
Tel: +44 (0)28 3752 2045
Fax: +44 (0)28 3752 6182

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin
Archbishop’s House
Drumcondra, Dublin 6
Tel: +353 (0)1 837 3732
Fax: +353 (0)1 836 9796

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh
Ara Coeli, Cathedral Rd.
Armagh, Northern Ireland
BT61 7QY
Tel: +44 (0)28 3752 2045
Fax: +44 (0)28 3752 6182