Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, speaking in Cork on Friday, said the hierarchy of any religion is entitled to its views on the matter of abortion.
“But I think people also need to understand, and the Catholic hierarchy need to understand, that the Dáil and the elected institutions of this State are there to serve all of the people,” she said, according to the Irish Examiner.
“It would be wholly inappropriate for public policy to be bound or directed by any particular religious ethos or belief. You can’t have that in a republic.
“So I would respectfully say to the Catholic bishops that their involvement in the debate is absolutely legitimate but it is not appropriate to wave the crozier at lawmakers and legislators.
“That’s not appropriate at all and does not represent a positive contribution to the debate.
“They can have their say and put their view across without resorting to what I interpret as an attempt to bully elected representatives, who, like myself, happen to be Catholic.”
This weekend Catholic bishops circulated a 'Choose Life' leaflet to every Catholic parish in Ireland.
The bishops have accused the Irish government of misleading the public on the proposed legislation.
However, McDonald said she does not appreciate the bishops' approach.
“We know the job we have to do. We do it in good conscience and in good faith and on the basis of a democratic mandate, and whilst the bishops can have their say, they do need to respect the integrity of the democratic process and institutions of the state,” she said.