British pro-life leader explains how Catholic bishops destroyed the Irish conscience

British pro-life leader explains how Catholic bishops destroyed the Irish conscience

John Smeaton

May 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Editor’s note: Ireland voted to remove its pro-life Eighth Amendment on Friday. In this lecture delivered at the 2018 Rome Life Forum, held at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), John Smeaton, president of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), outlined what was at stake in the Irish abortion referendum. Smeaton explained the history of efforts to legalize abortion in Ireland and the scandalous ways in which the Irish Catholic bishops have undermined pro-life campaigns.

One of the ways in which the Irish bishops misled the faithful was by telling them in 1992 that they could vote according to their “consciences” on a referendum to liberalize abortion laws. The government was threatening to pass even worse abortion laws if that referendum didn’t pass. Irish Catholics “were being invited by their bishops to vote in favour of an intrinsically unjust law that would permit abortion” in various circumstances, Smeaton said.

This damaged conscience formation in Ireland, as did the bishops’ failure to adequately oppose the “morning-after” pill, which can act not only as a contraceptive but also as an abortifacient, preventing a tiny, already-conceived human from being able to settle into his mother’s womb.

Smeaton explored the tension between pragmatism and principled purity in the pro-life movement. He explained the devastating consequences that repealing Ireland’s Eighth Amendment would have, and implored the faithful to pray for Ireland.

Complete text of A true understanding of conscience – the necessity for heroic witness on the part of the pro-life and pro-family movement at


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