Canon Pat Browne: Corpus Christi Reflection on Irish Referendum


Parish Priest Canon Pat Browne gave the following homily on Sunday at Holy Apostles, Pimlico.

Last week the Irish people's vote to repeal the 8th amendment of the Constitution will allow for access to abortion for the pregnant woman up to 12 weeks. Even before the final result was announced, many people took to the streets, dancing and singing and drinking in celebration that this would be the result. Was this really an appropriate reaction? What is there to celebrate?

Over the years I have spoken with many women who have had an abortion. I cannot think of one who did not feel sad that she felt, rightly or wrongly, that she had to have one. If she went through with it, it was with reluctance and sadness.

That is why I felt upset at the sight of these people carousing in the streets. They were trivialising one of the most difficult decisions a women can be faced with. I wonder how many of them "celebrating" in this way, had actually had an abortion? I would like to think they were men who haven't a clue most of the time as to what is involved. Or women who were thinking of abortion and the right to it, - in theory. But how many of them had been in the situation of having to take a decision?

I cannot think of any of the women I have spoken to over the years who has had an abortion who would react in this way.

The reaction of these people "celebrating" is an indication of how superficial people can be when it comes to life and death decisions.

This superficiality was captured recently in a teenager who told her mother she had "done it" with a boy. There was so much talk about it, she had tried sex, she said, to get it out of the way. Her verdict not surprisingly, given these circumstances, It wasn't up to much!

"But what if you are now pregnant?", her mother asked her. "Well, I'd just go and have an abortion."

Just as easy as buying a top in John Lewis, deciding you don't like it so you'd return it and get your money back!

The anthem that we hear today from so many people talking about abortion or euthanasia or having sex, or whatever, that "It is my body - I have the right to choose" is based on a lie.

None of us have unlimited rights over our own body or anyone else's for that matter. If I am a disturbed person and decide I am going to harm myself, let alone another person, the state will step in, and have me sectioned to prevent me doing so. I don't have unlimited rights. I am answerable to others. I am also answerable to God.

The scriptures tell us. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.

In other words, my body like life itself is God's gift to me, not to do anything I want with it. Living within that body, with the life God has given me, I am to put both at the service of others.

God did not give us life for ourselves only. We are to Love with the life he gave us. Not to do so is to reject God, to misuse the gift and to sin. Within our bodies we serve; not take, or plunder. To take and plunder is to desecrate ourselves or another or both.

Today we are celebrating Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body of Christ. Yes, his body in the Eucharist, but before that, his body as human as ours, in which he lived for over 30 years. In this body he showed us how to live, how to make a better world, how to have fulfilment for ourselves and enable others to have fulfilment in their lives too.

Our bodies are for the same purpose as his was...to serve, love; not to destroy.

The fact that the law has changed in Ireland means that abortion will be more available there now. However, it does not mean a woman has to have one.

She is less likely to have one if she is given more support from the man who conceived the child with her, from the church and from society at large.

But whatever she decides in these difficult circumstances, in these difficult circumstances she is in, it will never a cause for dancing in the streets.

Read more about Holy Apostles here: www.holyapostlespimlico.org

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