The full implications of the Irish abortion referendum are still unfolding.

First there is pressure to bring the North into line. And since a referendum there would probably not give the ‘right’ result, campaigners on this side of the Irish Sea, are pressing to impose a ‘solution’ on the Province. (It is, of course, deemed self-evident that all women in the United Kingdom should have an equal right to terminate a human life – and more than one life if necessary*.)

But more significant will be the response of the Catholic Church, and of the Pope when he flies in – and, perhaps more importantly, on the plane when he flies out.

No one will have been surprised at the deafening silence of Francis heretofore. Nor at the lack-lustre performance of Eamon Martin and the Catholic bishops during the referendum. But now comes the World Meeting of Families, with its Amoris Laetitiae related theme. And that will be the real test.

The Irish government has already put down its marker.

‘There should be a welcome for all. And never again should public statements or remarks which seek to isolate certain families be tolerated,’ said a government spokesperson. The implications are clear: ‘family’ is required to be an ‘inclusive’ term. So to underline the Church’s willingness to conform (despite Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage and so of the family) Fr James Martin is to be a keynote speaker.

‘At the invitation of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and the Archdiocese of Dublin, I’ll be speaking at the World Meeting of Families in August, as part of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, on how the church can welcome families with LGBT members,’ he wrote. ‘The invitation sends a clear and powerful message from the Vatican to LGBT Catholics, their parents and their families: you belong and you are welcome.’

Francis will need to step gingerly if he is to avoid further outraging traditionalists on the one hand, or offending the partisans of the New Paradigm on the other.

* In 2012, 37% of women undergoing abortions had one or more previous abortions. The
proportion has risen from 31% since 2002. 27% of abortions to women aged under 25 were to women who had one or more abortions. [Summary information from the abortion notification forms returned to the Chief Medical Officers of England and Wales]

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