IRISH BISHOPS has e stressed their commitment to a separation of Church and State in an attempt to calm the storm which has blown up over their opposition to the Government Bill to make contraception available to unmarried 18 year olds and over.
"We have made it clear time and time again that we do not want a Catholic state for a Catholic people . . that we do not advocate, if you like, a Catholic tyranny", said Bishop Joseph Cassidy of Clonfert.
Bishop Cassidy was responding to accusations that the Church has been trying to Force politicians to vote according to its views.
The newly-installed Archbishop Kevin McNamara has been particularly outspoken in his opinions. He has called the proposed legislation a decisive moral crossroads for Ireland and warned politicians not to desert their Christian duty when legislating. .jr Cassidy stressed that he ails opposed to the use of contraception, and insisted that Catholic legislaters had to take, heed of the teachings of the Church, but he said that this did not prevent lawmakers from taking into account other factors when deciding how to vote, such as the common good and therights of the individual.
Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich, Archbishop of Armagh, took a similar line. While he acknowledged the rights of Irish MPs to legislate, he said "we claim for ourselves the right to ' give guidance to our people on matters of Catholic moral teaching".
This week, the controversial' amendment to the 1979 Family Planning Act was expected toexperience a rough ride through theDail,as a number of Fine Gael MPs had decided to ignore their party's three-line whip to vote the Bill through. If passed it • is expected to suffer still further problems at the committee stage.