The New York-born papal nuncio in Ireland has urged Irish political and church leaders to oppose new measures that could legalize abortion in Ireland under limited circumstances.

Archbishop Charles Brown, speaking at a World Day of Peace Mass in Dublin on New Year’s Day attended by President Michael D. Higgins, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and a host of political leaders, stressed that people of all religions “need to work vigorously and courageously to protect and nurture human life from conception to natural death.”

The Irish government Health Committee is due to hold three days of hearings next week on abortion, prompted by the government’s decision to introduce “legislation supported by regulations.”

The new moves on the contentious issue came after public outrage over the October death of Indian woman Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital from septic shock after she was denied permission to abort her terminally ill fetus.

Brown cited the mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut last month when he spoke of scientific and technological advances that were “not completely identical with human progress.”

“This atrocity highlights the difference between technological progress and human progress. The technical capacity to do what the killer did has only been possible for a relatively short time in human history . . . It makes us ask deeper questions about progress,” he said.

“Human progress happens when we truly acknowledge the intrinsic value of every human being and also recognize that in the human heart there is the awareness of a natural moral law, which is present in a person as a fundamental sense of what is right and wrong, even before a person has any faith in God or any religious instruction or training,” he said.

Brown also cited the words of Irish church leaders Martin and Cardinal Brady in his call for Ireland’s abortion laws to remain unchanged.

Martin, he said, “stated so well” that “there are no second class human lives, no human life whose right to life deserves lesser respect of lesser protection.”

Brown agreed with Brady’s sentiment that this year “would prove to be a defining moment regarding Ireland’s attitude to respect and care for human life.”

Archbishop Charles BrownGoogle Images