The Pope has slammed proposals to change Ireland’s anti-abortion laws and expressed his ‘dismay’ at the moves.

Pope Benedict appeared to refer to Ireland in an address at the Vatican when he expressed his horror at the proposed introduction of abortion legislation ‘in various countries, even those of Christian tradition.’

The Irish Times reports that the leader of the Catholic Church made the remarks during his annual keynote address to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps.

Speaking about abortion, he said: “I must note with dismay that, in various countries, even those of Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalises abortion.

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“Direct abortion, that is to say willed as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.

“In affirming this, the Catholic Church is not lacking in understanding and mercy, also towards the mother involved.”

Vatican sources have told the Irish Times that any apparent reference to the current debate in Ireland was ‘intentional.’

During the speech the Pope also referred to various world issues including the Syrian conflict and the ongoing dispute between Israel and Palestine.

He urged both parties to commit themselves to a peaceful co-existence.

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The pontiff also expressed concern about a ruling last month by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favour of the right to access in vitro fertilisation in Costa Rica.

Pope Benedict called on authorities globally to work for peace.

He added: “I am particularly concerned for that privileged region in God’s plan namely the Middle East.
“I think first and foremost of Syria, torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population.

“I renew my appeal for a ceasefire and the inauguration as quickly as possible of a constructive dialogue aimed at putting an end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues.”

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