Boycott of An Taoiseach by Boston Cathlolic Hierarchy

We will, in the coming weeks, be celebrating the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland. Also coming up soon is the 53rd anniversary of the speech President Kennedy made to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association when he was running for the presidency of the United States. He made his speech in September 1960, two months before the election and I wish to quote briefly from it. He stated:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President – should he be Catholic – how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote … I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

I say this because I would like the Leader to convey, for what it is worth, my personal gratitude to the Taoiseach for standing up for these values yesterday and in acknowledgement of the pressure that has been brought to bear on so many people of good conscience in dealing with the troubled issue of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. People have been subjected to unbelievable pressure and intimidation.

I believe that two specific actions should be taken. I do not know if there is a formal mechanism through which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or our local consular office in Boston can express the displeasure of the people of this country at the disrespect shown to our democracy by the boycott of the Taoiseach by the Catholic hierarchy of Boston when he gave the commencement address at Boston College. Second, in the spirit of good fellowship in this and the other House, it would be good to agree a policy of 100% voluntary disclosure of all Members of any support, be it financial or otherwise, they have received from any organisations attempting to influence the vote on this critical measure, which could determine the lives of Irish women.

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