Catholic bishops said the wording of the proposed Children Referendum is not intended to undermine the current Constitutional balance between the rights of parents and children, or between parents and the State.

The hierarchy said if unforeseen or unintended consequences do emerge in time, the remedy of further Constitutional amendment or amending legislation is available to mitigate the consequences of any such developments.

In a statement, the bishops strongly encouraged all those with the right to vote in Saturday's referendum to do so after carefully weighing up all the important values and issues involved.

However, they did not say how they should vote.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the recognition from the Catholic Church that the wording of the Children’s Referendum does not threaten parents’ rights.

She said the statement from the bishops “ reflects the fact that this is a carefully crafted amendment and that we are providing children with the protection that they have been lacking for so long”.