When Irish voters approved a referendum repealing a constitutional amendment banning abortion in 2018, Catholic bishops throughout the country deemed it a devastating blow to a faith that has long been a hallmark of the country’s identity.
What the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference did not do is suggest that the Catholic politicians who were in favor of overturning the country’s longtime pro-life protections be denied Communion.
“There may have been a handful of bishops who thought that quietly, but no one said it out loud,” said Irish theologian Suzanne Mulligan. In fact, one bishop did suggest after the vote that Irish Catholics, which made up the majority of the electorate, who voted in favor of it may consider going to confession.
“It would have gone down like a lead balloon,” had there been a collective push for denying Communion, said Mulligan.
In the lead up to the vote, the country’s Catholic bishops made their statements, both collectively and individually, in what she described as “part of their duty as upholders of the magisterium.”