The Council for Life was established by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in 2019. Its purpose is to advise the Episcopal Conference and its Commissions, Agencies and Councils on matters relating to a consistent ethic of life and care for the unborn and those most at risk at any stage of life. The Council for Life also supports the work of individual Bishops and Dioceses on pro-life matters.
The Council is a ‘think-tank’ to research questions related to the dignity and protection of human life. This involves the consideration of public policy and legislative proposals with a view to anticipating future challenges both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. It examines queries and misinformation in relation to the right to life and the protection of life while keeping Bishops informed of pro-life activities nationally and internationally, as well as other pro-life outreaches in the Catholic Church. It continually looks at the best way to communicate the Gospel of Life in Ireland today e.g. the Day for Life project, initiatives that could, in due course, be developed or supported for the care of expectant mothers and for the protection of life. The Council for Life puts a particular emphasis on promoting awareness and understanding of life questions among young people and engaging them in the challenge of defending life. The Council for Life keeps abreast of developing ethical issues concerning the beginning and end of life, as well as other developments in treatment and research, and advances in medical technology and in the pharmaceutical industry, which present ongoing challenges to Catholics in the promotion of the right to life of the unborn.
The Council for Life is located within the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care and its members are appointed by the Irish Episcopal Conference. The membership consists of a minimum of two Bishops (Currently Bishop Kevin Doran and Bishop Martin Hayes), one of whom is the chair and between six and twelve members who have an established interest in the promotion of respect for life at all its stages. The age and experience of the members is quite diverse and they include people with expertise in the areas of healthcare, law, education and communications. Appointments to the Council for Life are usually for a period of three years, with the possibility of appointments being renewed. Formal meetings of the Council for Life are held normally four times a year.