The pastoral reflection from the Catholic Bishops of Ireland in advance of the Lisbon Referendum Treaty in June did not go far enough and left an element of doubt in the minds of many Catholic voters.
These were the comments of Beverley Flynn TD at a meeting of the sub-committee on Ireland’s future in the European Union this week, which was attended by the Most Reverend Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Reverend Tim Bartlett, Assistant to the President of the Episcopal Conference.
Deputy Flynn told the Committee and its guests that the statement from the Irish Catholic Bishops on June 1 was “90 per cent” supportive of the Lisbon Referendum Treaty.
However, the remaining ten per cent left an element of doubt in the minds of Catholic voters who take any statement from the Church as very serious and with very high relevance, Dep Flynn said.
Commenting after the committee meeting, Dep Flynn said: “I believe the Catholic Church should come out strongly in favour of Europe and I believe it should have gone further in its statement on June 1. The Church had no problem making definitive statements on other issues of national interest in recent weeks, such as same-sex marriages and the Department of Education budget. It has an obligation, I believe, to making a definitive statement on the Lisbon Treaty.
“There was an element of doubt in the minds of Catholic voters because of the less than 100 per cent definitive statement from the Bishops directly in advance of the Lisbon Referendum Treaty and that is very regrettable,” continued Dep Flynn.
“Reverend Tim Bartlett indicated today that the Church was actually very positively disposed towards the Treaty, and he accepted that some of their concerns may have been more about perception than reality.
“As a committee, it is vital that we take these concerns on board and address them, but I do believe that followers of the Catholic Church will be interested to hear that the Church was that positively disposed towards the Treaty.”
Dep Flynn urged the Most Reverend Sean Brady and Reverend Tim Bartlett to consider the importance of such statements from the Church and the influence they can have on the members of the Church.