The Rt Rev'd Dr Kenneth Kearon, Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, and Chair of the Church and Society Commission, has issued the following statement in relation to proposed amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, to be discussed at Westminster tomorrow:
On numerous occasions in recent times, representatives of the Church of Ireland have expressed concern about the absence of the Northern Ireland Assembly and called upon political parties represented in that Assembly to take steps urgently to re-instate its meetings and the Executive.
While the absence of an Assembly is very regrettable, it is equally regrettable that MPs at Westminster are seeking to use the opportunity to introduce Northern Ireland-specific legislation on two of the most controversial issues facing the Province today.
With respect to the issues themselves, the Church of Ireland has made its position abundantly clear in recent times.
With respect to abortion, ‘the tradition of the Church of Ireland would reject an unrestricted access to abortion, while being concerned to ensure provision for hopefully rare circumstances and in a secure medical setting. Where individuals draw such a line will inevitably differ. Instances where the life of the woman is at serious risk have long been regarded within Church of Ireland teaching as situations where termination of a pregnancy would be justifiable.’
With respect to same-sex relationships, we have stated that ‘the Church of Ireland defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set.’