Ireland's Yes vote raises serious questions for the Church.
June 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In the weeks since the passing of the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, there has been much analysis in the media. We have seen disturbing scenes of people at Dublin Castle, celebrating the fact that, by popular vote, we will soon be permitted to legally kill our unborn children. Many have commented on the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland, many thousands of the Yes voters attend Mass, some of them even serving as Readers or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and as is the way with cultural Catholicism most of them will continue to receive Holy Communion without giving their evil act a second thought. In doing so they will give Satan ever more pleasure while delivering another wound to Our Lord by receiving His Body unworthily.
This raises a serious question which needs to be addressed urgently: namely, if 66.4% of Irish people drew a very clear line in the sand by voting for abortion on demand, is it time for the Catholic hierarchy of Ireland to similarly draw a line in the sand with regard to what it actually means to be a Catholic?
Whatever the shortcomings of Catholic education and catechesis in Ireland – and many other countries – in recent decades, it is a well-known fact that the Catholic Church is opposed to abortion. Drawing on the Fifth Commandment which forbids the direct and intentional killing of another human being, the Catholic Church teaches that “…abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271). It affirms that human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception (CCC 2270).
However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is also very clear that formal co-operation in an abortion constitutes “a grave offence” (CCC 2272). To make clear the gravity of the offence which is committed when one procures an abortion, the Church tells us that it incurs excommunication latae sententiae, i.e. automatic excommunication. The penalty of excommunication reflects “…the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society” (CCC 2272). The Church clearly teaches that, despite the claims made by many Yes campaigners in the run-up to the referendum, abortion is not a private matter, but is an issue which damages the whole of society. No matter how swayed one is by arguments about care and compassion, abortion can never be regarded as a morally good act.
Public scandal in Dublin met with complacency
Despite this, there were Catholics actively campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum. One prominent politician, Josepha Madigan – a leading Fine Gael voice in favour of repeal – serves as a reader at Mass in her local parish. There are reports of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion likewise campaigning for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. This is, to say the least, unfathomable, unacceptable and scandalous. A Catholic simply cannot be pro-abortion. Those who voted Yes to abortion – whether Catholic or not – have committed a grave sin because through their vote they will enable abortions to take place in this country which would not have happened without their co-operation in voting the way they did. However, it is particularly scandalous for public figures or those who engage in various parish ministries to support the evil of abortion. Surely it is not unreasonable for those who profess to be Catholic to reflect that in their day-to-day lives?
Ms Madigan lives in the Archdiocese of Dublin where she most likely feels protected by her archbishop and thinks he will take no action against her. She, like the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion who was reportedly wearing a Yes badge while performing her duties, probably feel they can do what they like in his diocese where in far too many places fidelity to the Truth has long been a distant memory.
In response to the vote the Archbishop of Dublin has ignored the public scandal caused by Madigan and other Yes voters and chosen instead to compromise and dilute the pro-life message. He thinks the Church needs to broaden its concept of pro-life and that this would make the message more appealing. He wants to bring in issues of poverty, greenhouse gas, immigration, youth crime etc., as all co-equal with the defence of unborn human life. He thinks that if we did this there would be less resistance to the message and greater conversion – in other words he wants to go back to the hippy days of 1970s. Anyone remembering the catastrophic decline in the 70s will realise his arguments are absolutely absurd. Of course the approach of the archbishop will not be a surprise to the long suffering Catholics in his diocese where for far too long he has simply sought to develop a cosy relationship with the media and ignore the serious problems which exist in his diocese; the morale of his clergy is at an all time low, there are no vocations and in Dublin the highest percentage of Yes voters were recorded etc. etc.
Doing anything to avoid confrontation
It seems as if bishops like Diarmuid Martin will do anything to avoid confrontation. In taking this path they are ignoring the simple reality that avoiding conflict ultimately leads to greater conflict somewhere down the line. This reality is now being played out because as we have seen the secular forces have not stopped at abortion and they never will, they will simply push at ever more bizarre issues. The progressive agenda will not stop because it does not believe in the supernatural and so there is no curb on what “rights” they will claim or what innovation they will demand in the name of progress – in other words, if there is no God everything is possible. In a world without God it all depends on what new feelings people have and everything becomes possible – even the killing of innocent life. This is why it needs to be confronted not with mealy-mouthed words about compromise but with fearless proclamation of the Gospel and a radical call to conversion.
Thankfully there is a growing resistance to this complacency and it is coming from the clergy and laity alike. It is to be encouraged. It is coming from people who are serious about their faith and who have rejected the cultural Catholicism which has plagued the Church for so long. Although the Church in Ireland is terribly weakened it has a large and growing number of faithful who are devout and insisting on proper pastoral care. Above all they know that Catholicism by its very nature is counter cultural and they understand that when we become comfortable with a culture we end up losing every time.
Remember the words of Our Lord: if the world has hated me know it will hate you. The only intention of the secularist agenda is to eliminate the Church from the public forum. The campaign of inclusiveness and tolerance we hear so much about is in reality simply about the elimination of the Church from society.
Time to demand leadership
But in sharp contrast to the white flag approach of Diarmuid Martin and others, we should be grateful for the leadership of the Bishop of Elphin, Most Rev. Kevin Doran, who has called Yes voters to repentance, by saying that they should go to confession. We must always remember that the mercy of God is wider than the worst of our offences. This is real leadership and a rejection of the cultural Catholicism which has plagued Ireland for so long.
But we need to go further. For those who claim to be Catholic but who agree with abortion, it is time for the hierarchy to act with similar boldness by announcing that these people are no longer Catholic and they should no longer present themselves for Holy Communion, as Godparents, as Confirmation sponsors, or for any other public ministry in the Church.
As evidenced by the overwhelming majority of Yes votes, those who are faithful to the constant and unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church are now in the minority. While we must always call sinners to repentance – indeed, we must all repent and convert every day – it is now, more than ever, that we, the faithful Catholics of Ireland, need our bishops to speak up in defence of the eternal truths of the Catholic faith, and to nourish us with that faith. The time for trying to please everyone is over; the time for conniving with the media in the hope that they will be “softer” with the Church is over. We need clarity, and we need our shepherds to be the shepherds that Christ has appointed them to be. We need our bishops to stand up and boldly proclaim the Catholic faith in its entirety, with conviction, and for one simple reason: because it is true. Now, bishops, it is your turn to draw a line in the sand. The vote of May 25 was tragic: 66.4% of our population made a statement of faith, faith in the evil and perverted culture of death. We, the faithful Catholics of Ireland, now call on you, our shepherds, to make a bold and public statement of faith: the beautiful, true and unchanging Catholic faith, which proclaims the Gospel of Life, and which always points us to Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
To God’s faithful servants in this hour, let us hear His Word and take it to heart:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Do not be afraid …. do not fear, for I myself will help you, declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One …