ARCHBISHOP Eamon Martin, leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has said the referendum result was not a complete surprise.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week programme this afternoon, he acknowledged dwindling attendances at churches in Ireland.
However he admitted the onus was on the Church to reach out and engage with those who may not agree with all the Church’s teachings.
“We’re certainly in a new space for the Church in Ireland and the Abortion Referendum result confirms that,” he told host Vincent Murphy.
“But it’s not something that has just come out of the blue, it’s something that’s not entirely new for us.”
Although saddened by the referendum results, the archbishop said he was humbled by the effort of No campaigners, who became “the voice for voiceless unborn children”.
This weekend at Mass I will give thanks in prayer for the many courageous “missionaries for life” who made such a huge effort to remind us that in pregnancy we are dealing with two lives - both in need of love, respect and protection. pic.twitter.com/gcWw6KIN7G
— Eamon Martin (@ArchbishopEamon) May 26, 2018
“I think the pro-life cause in Ireland is now more important than ever,” he said.
“I really salute and thank those courageous people who were involved, in many ways, against the culture, against the odds, in proclaiming the gospel of life.”
However he appeared to admit the Church needed to be more proactive in engaging with the population of a changing country.
“We can no longer in the Church just wait for people to come to us," he said.
“We need to be going out, we need to be bring the joy and the challenge of the gospel teaching to everyone, regardless of where they are in their own particular lives.”
He added: “We’re in a new place but that does not mean that the Church does not have an important voice.
“I’d like to see us being a creative minority within Ireland, not an irrelevant minority in this country.”