“Every human life is beautiful, every human life is sacred, every human life is precious. This remains true after the referendum result. The right to life is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law. All human beings have it ‘as of right’, whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick”. The homily delivered yesterday by Mgr. Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, was dedicated to life and to the referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution that was passed by a large majority. A result – he said – that confirms that “we are living in a new time and a changed culture for Ireland. For the Church it is indeed a missionary time, a time for new evangelisation”. The Archbishop – who had strongly advocated a No vote with all the other Irish Bishops – said he is “deeply saddened” by the referendum outcome and also “very concerned about the implications” that this change in the Constitution may have for “the fundamental principle that the value of all human life is equal and that all human beings, born and unborn, have inherent worth and dignity”. And he went on to say: “We have elevated the right to personal choice above the fundamental right to life itself”. In his homily, the Archbishop of Armagh recalled the past months of the referendum campaign for the No side, expressing his gratitude to the many people, lay persons and women alike, who had “supported life”. “We are told that people voted Yes for many reasons”, he added. “Like many others I too found myself challenged by the personal stories of so many women in Ireland”. “I have realised how little I know personally about the pressures these women can be under and how so many of them feel isolated, neglected and alone in their distress. Tragic, and sometimes desperate, situations like these will not go away just because, as is now expected, abortion is made widely available in Ireland. The question remains”: how can we “practically help vulnerable women” who feel that “the only way out of crisis is to end the life of their unborn child?”. “New supports” need to be found, “apart from the option of abortion” for mothers and fathers who are “at the point of crisis”. And, above all, we should encourage people so that “our compassion” may also “extend to the life of the unborn child”. “These questions – the President of the Irish Bishops said – remain for the whole of Irish society, including the Church”. The Archbishop then encouraged Irish Catholics not to give in to disappointment and discouragement. And he concluded by recalling that “in many countries of the world, the Church must proclaim the Gospel of Life” in contexts where abortion is “widely available, and where people are increasingly becoming desensitised to the value of every human life”.