In Ireland, St. Patrick weeps

Ireland's stunning vote to amend its constitution to end equal protections for the born and unborn, opening the gate to abortion on demand, pretty well ends its exceptionalism among nations and makes it just another European Union state with that organization's rootless values. It's sad, because up until now, the country has been unique, its founding values derived from its ties to the Catholic Church. The Church in fact, seems to have failed by failing to stand up for its values, leaving the internationalist state to take over.

How George Soros, the stateless statesman who bankrolled much of the early abortion effort, has to be smiling.

So how did it happen? Apparently, the pro-abortion side won by bringing up hard-case anecdotes, in the Lady Diana-style of the region, appealing to emotion - and having won on those narratives, now opens the floodgates to abortion on demand. The pro-life groups tried to counter that with an appeal to soft emotions, saying their cause was about 'loving both' mother and child, which didn't work apparently because it was so vague and monotonous. There wasn't really much about abortion being the taking of a life with all its hard-to-look-at implications, perhaps out of fear of hurting feelings and being seen as cold and hard.

Another problem seems to have been the existing laws - the hard cases used by the left of those who needed some kind of exceptional abortion and often had to go through a lot of government approvals and paperwork, which is hard to deal with in emotion-charged situations, and the fact that the law prescribed punishment for those who did have abortions, something that from a pragmatic perspective, would have been better to target to providers.

The ground seemed primed for such a change, too. The public had already voted in favor of gay marriage in 2011, and abortion in its own way was already legal for the Irish, given that anyone who wanted one could just fly to the U.K. to get one. If marriage was no longer sacred to the Irish, well, who's surprised that life itself wasn't, either? Something very deep was afoot.

Which calls for leadership, and Ireland didn't have any, at least not from the Church, and that's a tragedy. Once upon a time, Ireland, whose monks once saved civilization, really was an exceptional place. Its founder, the courageous St. Patrick, a young Roman Briton who had been kidnapped by Irish pirates around 300 A.D. and was held for years, was led by an angel in a dream to escape. Then amazingly, he returned to the island of his nightmares, as Archbishop St. Patrick, facing down the oppressive Druids, the college-type politically correct intellectuals who ran a hellhole, and converted the country to the Druid-free beautiful place full of lovely people that Ireland eventually became.

With Patrick, Ireland had the Catholic Church. The nation was absolutely founded upon its ethos and Irish influence the world over, including in the U.S., has almost always had a considerable nexus in it. But in the last couple decades, the Church seems to have become a ghost of itself, both rejected by the people, and seemingly rejecting of itself, which a truly astonishing development. 

A couple of Church scandals in the country seem to have had a truly corrosive effect - the bishops excused the perverts in the ranks, creating scandal and multiplying victims, and a program to help unwed mothers, called the Magdalene Laundries amounted to some sort of slavery. It is understandable that many in the Irish flock turned away from the Church after events such as that, and it's very unfortunate - it shows the trauma such scandals gave, given the long heritage that in effect was rejected.

But the weakness of the Church itself, in its failure to stand up for its values - St. Patrick's values - is disturbing, too.

Look at these statements from the archbishop of Armagh, who leads Ireland, who did speak out, according to Vatican News, apparently very late in the game. His sentiment is generally correct, and he urges the Irish to reject the referendum, but he's not all that fiery about it:

The archbishop described the vote as a “watershed and historic moment” as people are asked for the first time in Ireland, by referendum, “to discuss the equality of all human life”. He notes that the 8th amendment under review is a declaration of equality of life between the life of a woman and her unborn child, “both lives being precious, in need of protection, love, and the support of society and its laws”.

He said the Supreme Court has warned that “removal of this protection will leave the unborn child with no constitutional rights, which is a huge step”.

Huge step? How about huge wrong? The moral appeal seems to be not all that obvious. Perhaps that's his personality, but it obviously shows a Church on its backfoot. The left ran circles around such a sterile argument, and got away with calling abortion absurdities such as 'women's health.'

America magazine, a leftwing Jesuit publication and prominent in the Catholic press, says the Church was downright quiet:

A notably muted voice during the debate leading up to the referendum has been that of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Perhaps still smarting over the success of a referendum to approve same-sex marriage in 2015 by an almost 2 to 1 margin and with its moral authority weakened by years of revelations about the sexual abuse of children by its clergy, the Irish church, many say, has taken a low-profile role on the vote.

“I think the church has decided to take something of a back seat because they feel it’s better left to the laity,” said Mary Kenny, an Irish journalist and a founding member of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement, as well as author of Goodbye to Catholic Ireland.

Not exactly shepherds to the flock, it seems. The Vatican didn't do much either. Here is one statement from a leading Vatican intellectual, correct in thinking but detached and full of theology-speak, which doesn't exactly reach people where they are:

Father Jukovic was addressing one of the agenda items of the May 21-26 meeting, specifically a global strategy for the health of women, children and adolescents.

The Vatican delegation “shares many of the concerns and observations” in the W.H.O. director-general’s report, he said, including: the importance of universal health coverage; improving specific data on health; ending violence against women and children; and revising child health policies and programs so they cover individuals from infancy to 18 years of age.

However, he said, the Vatican delegation had serious concerns about the inclusion of an item “on so-called ‘safe abortion’ in this report and in the global strategy in general.”

“The Holy See does not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of reproductive health or reproductive health care,” Archbishop Jurkovic said.

A dimension of reproductive health? How about the Vatican considers abortion killing? Apparently that kind of language is too strong for the Vatican these days.

The Pope did hold a mass in February to urge an end to abortion. Fine and dandy, but it predated the vote by several months, meaning, it was easily forgotten. Worse still, given who Pope Francis is, the man who takes it to the people, the Pope might have been effective had he been on the ground in Ireland, urging people to think about what they were voting for. He could have done that pretty well. But there was no sign of him, possibly due to his health, but quite possibly also because he didn't want to annoy the left. Instead, what we heard at the time of the vote was basically just silence. It signals that apparently, the Church and even the Pope is so defensive about what it believes it's afraid to say anything, perhaps out of fear it will lose what little support it has left now.

What a sad, sad specter this is in a place like Ireland. They're missing their St. Patrick.


Image credit: Albert Bridge, via Geograph // Creative Commons SA 2.0

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