STATE SECRETS REVEALED: DAY 2: VATICAN SLAPS DOWN GARRETT; Government Warned Not to Change Laws on Divorce & Contraception
Byline: ANDREW BUSHE
THE Vatican warned Ireland's Foreign Minister in 1973 not to upset people by changing laws on contraception and divorce.
Minister Garrett Fitzgerald had outlined the proposals which he believed would help unify the people of Ireland - North and South - in a letter to the Vatican
But he was told by Monsignor Agostini Casaroli, then Secretary of the Vatican's Council of Public Affairs, the changes were unlikely to bring about unity.
Mgr Casaroli said that he "wondered therefore whether we should be upsetting people in the Republic by making those changes now".
Fitzgerald had written to him saying they needed to face up to the hostility of Northern Protestants and that it came, in part, from features of the Republic's legal and social systems they regarded as "Roman Catholic" in character.
A lengthy accompanying memo outlined "certain matters" that caused problems in the context of reunification. These were:
THE state's constitutional ban on divorce
THE fact that it was a crime to import contraceptives
THE situation where the great majority of schools were de facto Catholic and the widespread view that separate religious education in the North was perpetuating dangerous community divisions, and
THE ne temere decree and mixed marriage situation that had resulted in a 25 per cent per generation or one per cent per annum drop in the number of Protestants.
He pointed out that the effect of this phenomenon on Northern Protestant opinion "can readily be imagined".
Dr FitzGerald said constructive co-operation between Church and state on these matters "could contribute to a favourable outcome of the Northern Ireland situation at the present time". …