Pope Francis has sent a message to Irish Catholics encouraging them to promote the value of all human life in Ireland.
'Calling to mind the teaching of Saint Irenaeus that the glory of God is seen in a living human being, the Holy Father encourages all of you to let the light of that glory shine so brightly that everyone may come to recognize the inestimable value of all human life,' he said in his July 17 message according to the Catholic News Agency.
The message comes ahead of Day for Life Sunday to be held on October 6, and is seen as a comment on the passing of the recent bill to allow limited access to abortions in Ireland.
'Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect,' the pope continued.
On July 12 the Irish parliament approved a bill allowing abortions which would save a woman's life, including when the mother threatens to commit suicide. The bill still needs the approval of the upper legislative body, the Seanad, where it is expected to pass.
To underscore his containing objection to abortion under any circumstance, Pope Francis underscored the need to care for life from conception to natural end.
'His Holiness prays that the Day for Life will help to ensure that human life always receives the protection that is its due, so that 'everything that breathes may praise the Lord.'
Ireland's decision to permit limited access to abortions follows the death of an Indian woman who was refused an abortion and died of related blood poisoning.
Not all government ministers agree with the change however. Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton, former junior minister of state for European affairs, was expelled from her own party for voting against the bill and for saying parts of it were based on 'flawed logic and absolutely zero medical evidence.'
The bill does not allow for the abortion of fetuses who are able to survive outside their mother's womb, but pro-life supporters insist that the suicide threat exemption will effectively allow abortion on demand.