CATHOLICS who voted 'Yes' in the abortion referendum should consider going to confession, a leading Irish bishop has said.
Speaking this morning, the Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said anyone who confesses to voting against the Eighth Amendment will be "received with the same compassion as any other penitent".
He told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show: “If they knew and intended abortion as an outcome when they voted 'Yes' then they should consider going to confession.
"Voting Yes was a sin. Ultimately all sin is about deciding the impact on your relationship with God".
He added: “It’s about people taking responsibility for their own relationship with God and the Church".
When asked if someone who voted Yes should receive communion, the Bishop replied: “I think that’s a matter for their own personal conscience.
"I can’t see into a person’s heart or soul as they approach the altar.
"I have to say quite honestly in over 40 years as a priest I have never turned anybody away from Holy Communion because the presumption is that the people who approach the altar come in good faith.”
In all, 66.4 percent of Irish voters supported a repeal of the Eighth Amendment in what was a landslide victory for Yes campaigners on Friday.
Bishop Doran added that he was "surprised by the extent" of support for legal abortion.
“I was conscious that there seemed to be a silent vote, we didn’t know what way it was going to go," he said.
"I do find it surprising that the majority of people voted for this."
Several of the show's listeners reacted strongly to Bishop Doran's comments.
One said: "I was a 'silent Yes', I’m a Catholic mother, grandmother, regular Mass-goer, minister of the Eucharist and above all, a compassionate person. I do hope that it will only be in extreme cases that abortion will be allowed".
Another explained: "I’m a practicing Catholic and I feel so sad and unwelcome now. I voted Yes, I will always stand for a woman’s right to choose, and I feel I can’t go to Mass now on Sunday if that is the way the Church will regard me".
While a third added: "I’m delighted at the Bishop’s comments, the celebrations in Dublin Castle were very sad."