May 25th, 2018 will remain a day that will stain the memory of Ireland’s previous and glorious civilizational achievements. The passage by referendum of a vote that would remove any protections to the life of the child in the womb is likely unprecedented in human history. Not now, but soon, that vote will haunt many who will come to understand clearly what they have done.
It is also the case that the true Ireland remains in the over 700,000 voters who sought to defend the common understanding of justice that built this nation. In them, as in other tragic moments of history, the best of Ireland was still visible. Their perseverance, constancy, and sacrifice on behalf of future generations, as of yet unknown to them, will also be remembered.
In their courageous actions and words they sought to preserve their Constitution and preserve right reason against the madness of politicians, much of the press and the unveiling of the harsh reality that even pro-lifers were loathed to consider before the vote—that indeed, there is a vast number of people walking in our midst fully prepared to kill or give consent to the killing of other innocent human beings.
It was an unveiling that took place. The referendum of May 25th took stock and served as a measure of Ireland’s humanity and indeed by a large number, it was found wanting. What we discovered is that a vast number of Irish citizens are beyond counsel.
The reasons for the loss cannot be attributed to a single cause but it is perhaps worthwhile to reflect on one factor in this great and tragic unveiling: the role and responsibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Wisdom and counsel would ordinarily come to the Irish people in two ways: through right faith or through right reason. We now know that hundreds of thousands, in particular, the university students who have been subjected to a vast academic indoctrination, hold in their youthful minds abundant philosophical and theological errors that have rendered them virtually unable to think straight.
These young people have been vanquished by the death culture and have lost their ability to hear the voice of reason beckoning them back from the abyss. The youth is hope in Ireland only insofar as they are properly formed, but as Goethe once wrote, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
But what else is gravely failing in Ireland? It seems evident that this great unveiling made evident that the call of faith through the Irish Catholic Church is today but a whimper of what is needed to guide the faithful.
Decades of un-catechized citizens now hold the future of Ireland in their hands. The Church has largely abandoned the public square to the radical ideologies of politicians, mad academics, and journalists. These are the new evangelizers that shun the Church and repudiate the faith.
It is not only bad catechesis and even worse catechetical materials for the religious instruction of the young, that exist in the Irish church, but it is also that the bishops, in general, are not teaching and are invisible in the public square, (with the usual rare exceptions).
The analysis of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin after the referendum is symptomatic of the problem. The Archbishop’s conclusion in this matter was that the referendum showed that the influence of the Church was waning. But it is exactly the reverse; the vote for abortion is the symptom of the absence of the Church’s influence for decades in Ireland. The vote did not reveal that people are not interested in truth or the faith; the vote revealed that the church in Ireland has simply not been doing its job. It reveals mostly the failure of a local church to hold the line with their faithful on such an evident choice.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin went on to say after the votes had been cast, “Pro-life means radically rediscovering in all our lives a special love for the poor that is the mark of the followers of Jesus…” That Archbishop Martin is not in touch with the problem could not be more evident than in these words after the referendum. I am sure the Archbishop is aware that plenty of fallen away Catholics are doing social work and yet are staunchly pro-abortion. One need not repeat the obvious, no one can be considered pro-life if they are for abortion, regardless of their attitude towards the poor.
Helping the poor does not make anyone pro-life; the Archbishop’s statement is a clear logical non sequitur. What does follow logically is that if you are for abortion you can in no way be considered pro-life or a faithful Catholic or indeed a reasonable person. Working at a soup kitchen will not solve the moral and intellectual problem of the “yes vote,” in Ireland. The Church in Ireland must teach.
In my many years of coming to Ireland and after traveling to almost twenty cities during the referendum, the anger of the faithful at the dereliction of duty of the Church in Ireland was openly articulated. The faithful are tired of the excuses and the constant efforts to camouflage the lack of leadership of their bishops. The common rationalization that it is best for the Church to stay out of these debates is by now trite and morally unacceptable.
I have never in so many visits to Ireland heard a single person express any congratulatory remark about the place where much of this unveiling took place, Dublin. Any honest assessment of the situation in Ireland has to face the simple fact that Archbishop Dairmuid Martin was not only not helpful during this colossal battle but was outright negligent of his duties and leadership. The deafening silence and ambiguous statements coming from his leadership in Dublin require accountability.
In the midst of a struggle for the Constitution and the rule of law in Ireland, Archbishop Martin was making statements on national television, stating that abortion was marginal to the World Congress of families in Dublin. Furthermore, when he was asked if he was worried that the Pope would be coming to a country that would be allowing abortion, Archbishop Martin simply replied that this was basically okay. The Pope, he thought, was quite used to visiting countries that have abortion. I submit that no leader in the corporate world would survive the kind of results observable today everywhere in the Irish Catholic church. In the world of business, where there are balance sheets, earning calls and serious accountability to shareholders and others, any CEO that was running a company into the ground and was producing anemic results in every metric one could perceive, church attendance, catechesis, vocations, creation of new institutions, in the public square, that CEO would be asked to resign. No CEO would survive the numbers that were dealt to Ireland after the referendum.
It is no secret that in Ireland the monopoly of the training for priests in Maynooth has nearly extinguished vocations in Ireland. What possible enthusiasm could be left to enter the seminary if the place for priestly training is Maynooth? But why won’t another bishop simply start his own diocesan seminary? Do vocations have to get to zero for any of them to see the obvious?
Furthermore, how will generations of Catholics be imparted the true faith with Catechetical materials, which last I checked were riddled with error?
It is, as we know, insanity to expect different results by doing the same thing. Why are there no institutions of higher learning run by the Church that can combat the intellectual destruction of the youth in this country?
One of the great problems for bishops is that they have no real metrics of which they need to be wary and by which they can be held accountable. This makes responsibility for leadership quite optional.
Their secondary problem is purely psychological, many bishops knowing of the problem, refuse to break with Dublin or take their own initiative in fear of seeming to injure solidarity with the rest of the bishops in Ireland. This fear is psychological because there is no theological impediment for any of the bishops in Ireland to forge their own path. As I said publicly, the bishops conference of Ireland will not be standing by on judgment day to explain matters when each bishop will have to render a full account for all that has transpired in this nation.
Why does the Church in Ireland keep following a path of self-destruction? The faithful see it, talk about it and hope that self-correction will come. But the true believers are in no way imagining that the current course of the church in Ireland is leading to a better future. They are seeing and experiencing death by a thousand wounds.
I have heard all across Ireland, that if you did not know that Dairmuid Martin was an Archbishop and you simply read his words, you could easily confuse him for one of the wobbly politicians that today fill the rank and file of the political parties in Ireland.
It is a real question that needs to be evaluated because under such leadership the Church in Ireland will likely continue its now vertiginous decline. No doubt that there are great priests in Ireland but many like Nicodemus come at night, hoping to speak the truth but not feeling free or even motivated by Dublin to do so.
One of the principal duties of the Church is to help guard the moral order of a society, to instruct the young, to admonish and correct error in the public square. The current unfit politicians in Dublin, have absolutely zero opportunity cost, as they mercilessly pilfer the Irish Constitution, divest children of any rights in an ideological collusion with the judges who preside over unlawful dictates and promulgate false laws for an entire nation. Yet, these politicians amazingly continue to remain in good standing with the Church.
Think of it, colossal national, constitutional, legal, philosophical and moral battles left to unequipped tiny NGOs who are willing, but no match for these challenges.
It is problematic also perhaps that the state funds so much of the Church’s activities in Ireland. This, because any loss of economic freedom through financial dependence on a corrupt government, can yield also a loss in moral freedom to preach the Gospel.
The hyper-emphasis on social works and corporal works of mercy cloak and give semblance of a mission fulfilled, but this is obviously not the case. The Church in Ireland is dying and the vacuum in leadership is I submit one of the causes.
Corporal works of mercy are important but the Church’s main task is not social work. A Divine assignment and duty can easily devolve into the former. The task of the Church is rather to preach the truth, to impart instruction and to be dedicated vigorously, without shame, to the now most forgotten spiritual works of mercy: Instructing the ignorant, there is a superabundance of those in Ireland today, especially amongst university graduates; counseling the doubtful; admonishing sinners; it is high time the Church take measures against these politicians at the vanguard of the death culture in Ireland; and finally to comfort the afflicted.
Indeed, the one thing that could bring some comfort to the afflicted and balm to Ireland is that Dublin wake-up and that the shepherds in Ireland take courage and start leading. Those that see the problem, which is by no means a secret in Ireland, must forge their own path. Waiting for Dublin to lead is but a false expectation.
To the anticipated protestation, one can only say, go listen to the voice of the faithful and not to that clamor of the fallen away Catholics proliferating daily, amongst the ranks of the rudderless politicians in Dublin.