Sixty six per cent of the Irish people voted in May’s referendum to ‘Repeal the Eighth’. They have emphatically overturned the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution which declares that the life of the unborn child is equal to that of the mother, so outlawing abortion in almost all circumstances. The Catholic Church in Ireland made a point of keeping out of the acrimonious national debate. But the symbolism of this couldn’t be more obvious. Ireland is no longer a Catholic country. And this is crucial, because religious countries stand up for themselves against the enemies at the gate; secular countries let themselves get invaded.
The research on this is quite clear. People in countries that are religious are prepared to make huge sacrifices for the country they see as divinely-ordained while the same time repelling the Devil-inspired invader. When religiousness collapses, ethnocentrism has no religious underpinning and it collapses as well . . . and the floodgates open. May’s vote was as clear as symbol as there could be that the famous Irish craic will be giving way to ghettos and division.
Abortion, far more so than gay marriage, is a ‘Catholic’ issue. Long before gay marriage was even thought of, opposing abortion was a sign of being a committed Catholic. But Ireland’s break-neck secularization means that these devotees are bullied into silence. Ireland’s expatriate young have been flying home just to vote against the Church’s teaching. For them, in particular, Rome is part of the Ireland of the shameful past, not of the vibrant future.
Since gaining formal independence in 1922, Catholicism has been at the heart of the Irish state. Read more