Irish Independent Tuesday 12th June 2007.
By John Cooney Religion Correspondent
The Catholic bishops plan to launch a policy broadside setting out moral and social priorities for the incoming Government's running of the country over the next five years. Gathered in strict privacy, the bishops are drafting a major statement at their June meeting, which began yesterday at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co Kildare.
Last night the Irish Independent learned that the bishops will take the exceptional step of holding a press conference to display their 'shopping basket' tomorrow afternoon, just 24 hours before the Dáil elects a new Government.
The bishops will reaffirm their opposition to legalising abortion and to lowering the age of consent to 16 years of age in a promised referendum. The bishops will also stress the urgent need for a Fianna Fail-led Government to9 introduce new managerial models of patronage of primary schools to meet the educational needs of immigrants.
Other concerns of the bishops include defending the position of marriage and the family, as enshrined in the Constitution, against growing pressure to recognise the fundamental rights of single sex couples, and winning public acceptance that 'research on human embryos which involves their destruction can never be justified'.
Echoing the crusading spirit of Bono and Bob Geldof at last week's G8 summit in Germeny, the bishops will stress the importance of Ireland meeting its aid commitments to Third World countries, especially in Africa. Following the recognition by Pope Benedict of their efforts to tackle the scandals surrounding youth sexual abuse by clergy, the bishops are determined to regain their voice as shapers of the social conscience of a largely Catholic legislature and electorate.