In his bishop’s letter for April 2018, posted on the diocesan website, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Michael Burrows announced his support for the repeal of the 8th amendment, making him the first bishop in Ireland to publicly declare he will be voting for repeal in the May 25th vote.
He expanded on his position in conversation with Eamonn Keane on ‘Deise Today’, saying that “at the end of the day, it may be the downside of referenda, you have to make a binary choice. I came to the conclusion, that when faced with the issue that will be on the voting paper, my instinct personally… will be to vote in favour of repeal.”
Bishop Burrows said he voted against the inclusion of the 8th amendment in the constitution when it was put to referendum in 1983, saying that on balance the insertion of the “8th was overall a wise thing.”
He went on to say that “complex moral issues, such as reproductive rights, are not best dealt with by blunt phrases in the constitution. I felt that the wording of the 8th was like to give rise to difficulties, words like “equal” for example. I felt there was a hypocrisy in the whole thing.”
He said that it was incumbent upon “mature societies” to make laws grounded in reality.
“A mature society has to make laws that deal with the truth about itself. What laws would we feel obliged to make if we didn’t have the convenient British back door (for abortion.) The making of laws… doesn’t change the teachings of the church or the conscientious views of individuals, but legislators are in a place where they have to deal with the truth about society.”