Irish bishops say constitutional article on blasphemy is 'largely obsolete'

It comes ahead of the blasphemy referendum later this month

Irish bishops say constitutional article on blasphemy is 'largely obsolete'

Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference has indicated it will not oppose the removal of references to blasphemy in the constitution.

A referendum on the issue will take place on the same day as the Presidential election - October 26th.

If the referendum is passed, the Oireachtas will be able to change the law so that blasphemy is no longer a criminal offence.

In a statement, the bishops said they think the current article in the Constitution is 'largely obsolete'.

They said similar laws have been used to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world.

Following their general meeting in Maynooth, the bishops' conference said: "Bishops reiterated that the promotion of freedom of religion, and the freedom of conscience, for all in society greatly enriches the social fabric of a country, and is one aspect of respect for the dignity of human persons.

"The human right of faith communities to contribute to public life, including public debate on issues that are of importance to everyone, without being subjected to attack or ridicule, needs to be acknowledged and respected.

"Bishops stressed that it is vital to ensure that the rights of individuals and communities to practice and live out their faith openly are protected by our law."

The statement adds that the bishops expressed their solidarity with Christians and "all those throughout the world" who are experiencing persecution or human rights abuses as a result of their faiths.

Groups including Atheist Ireland are campaigning for a 'Yes' vote on October 26th.