An Irish bishop claimed that people who voted Yes in the Eighth Amendment Referendum have sinned and should go to confession.
Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran says people who voted Yes “knowing and intending that abortion would be the outcome” should consider attending confession.
Ireland voted to repeal the Eight Amendment by an overwhelming 2-1 majority with Donegal being the only county to reject the referendum.
However, Bishop Doran, whose diocese is in Co Roscommon who voted in favour of the latest change to the Constitution by 57.2 to 42.8 per cent, suggested that voting Yes was a decision that “impacted on a relationship with God.”
He told Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1: “As they often say, every person’s vote counts therefore every person’s vote has both a moral and political significance.
“The first thing I would say is that the Catholic Church is a family and nobody ever gets struck off.
“What I would say to a Catholic who voted Yes is this: ‘If you voted Yes, knowing and intending that abortion would be the outcome, then you should consider coming to confession where you would be received with the same compassion that is shown to any other penitent (person).’
“And confession is of course absolutely between the priest and the penitent. All sins are decisions that impact on our relationship with God.”
When asked if he believed voting Yes was a sin, he replied: “If they knew and intended abortion, yes I think so.”
Asked whether a person who voted Yes should be allowed receive communion at the altar, he added: “I think that’s a matter for their personal conscience because I obviously can’t see into someone’s heart or soul if they go up to the altar.
“In my 40 years serving as a priest I have never turned anyone away from the altar because the presumption that when people come up to the altar is that they come up in good faith.
“I also believe this is about people to take personal responsibility for their own relationship with God and their own relationship with the Church.”
The final tally showed the referendum was backed by two thirds of voters – with 66.4 per cent going for Yes and 33.6 per cent for No.
In total, 1,429,981 were in favour as opposed to 723,672 who were against.
Commenting on the huge vote in favour of repealing the Eight Amendment, Bishop Doran said: “The result was obviously quite clear cut and personally I’m surprised by the extent of it.
“I was conscious that there seemed to be a kind of a silent vote, we didn’t know which way it was going to go.
“Considering that the proposals of the Government were clearly on the table, I do find it surprising that the majority of people voted for this.