Abortion in Ireland

Last weekend Ireland voted to end protections for the unborn, abrogating the eighth amendment to its constitution, which had been placed there in 1983.

Reuters reported, “Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation backed the change by two-to-one, a far higher margin than any opinion poll in the run-up to the vote had predicted.”

Why is that no longer a “deeply Catholic nation?” Because of the terrible example that we Catholics have given to the population of the country, especially us clerics (but also, sometimes religious and laity, too), that’s why. We brought this on ourselves (and on the innocent unborn, who will have to pay with their lives for our arrogance and sins).

The New York Times article on the repeal stated in the first paragraph that it was “sweeping aside generations of conservative patriarchy and dealing the latest in a series of stinging rebukes to the Roman Catholic Church.”

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, said Saturday, “Today is an historic day for Ireland. A quiet revolution has taken place. Everyone deserves a second chance. This is Ireland’s second chance to treat everyone equally and with compassion and respect. We have voted to look reality in the eye and we did not blink.”

Actually, they are not looking reality in the eye; they are denying the humanity of the unborn and depriving them of the only chance they have to live.

The Pro-Life group, Save The 8th, issued a statement, “What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions. However, a wrong does not become a right simply because a majority support it.”

The Reuters article ended with a quote in which they did not see the stupid irony in what they were reporting and what the speaker quoted was saying. It ended: “‘For him, it’s a different Ireland that we’re moving onto,’ said Colm O’Riain, a 44-year-old teacher referring to his son Ruarai, born 14 weeks premature in November who was in his arms. ‘It’s an Ireland that is more tolerant, more inclusive and where he can be whatever he wants without fear of recrimination.’”

Actually, had the Irish constitution been changed before November 2017, little Ruarai could have been killed in the womb, too, and could have been just torn apart and thrown away, instead of having any future in this world.

The New York Times noted that “the Church lost much of its credibility in the wake of scandals involving pedophile priests and thousands of unwed mothers who were placed into servitude in so-called Magdalene laundries or mental asylums as recently as the mid-1990s.” Evil leads to evil. Our choice to allow these things to go on back then has led to this choice of the majority of Irish voters to throw out protections for the unborn.

The Pro-Life movement in Ireland wisely did not want the Church to be involved in the campaign against the referendum. As The Times reported, “Anti-abortion campaigners actively discouraged [the Church’s] participation, preferring to emphasize moral values and human rights rather than religion, possibly to avoid being tarnished by the Church-related scandals.”

The Times also quoted Professor Gail McElroy of Trinity College Dublin, who said of the referendum, “It is the final nail in the coffin for [the Church hierarchy]. They’re no longer the pillar of society, and their hopes of reestablishing themselves are gone.”

What a tremendous shame that we threw away our influence in that country, not because we were great witnesses to the Gospel, but because we wanted to “protect” the institution of the Church, while forgetting that the victims (of the sexual abuse and of the “laundries”) were also part of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, and deserved respect and protection, instead of grave psychological (and sometimes physical) injury.

Anne Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, sent out an email on Saturday, mourning the vote. After listing all of the implications for legal changes in the Republic of Ireland (“the South”), she warned, “As if all that weren’t enough, Amnesty International is already going after Northern Ireland, which still protects babies.” Amnesty International became a “pro-choice” campaigner in 2007.

Fox looked back and looked forward, searching for hope in this sad situation. “My Irish grandparents were so proud of the fact that the Irish monks re-evangelized Europe after the ‘dark ages’ and that Ireland continued to be a beacon — help us continue the work here at home so at some point we may return to and ‘re-evangelize’ Europe!” In other words, just as Ireland had initially received the Catholic faith from evangelizers who came from Continental Europe, but then centuries later had to send missionaries to re-evangelize the continent, so Fox notes that the faith came to Massachusetts mainly from Ireland and now we need to work so as to bring the faith back to the “old sod.”

Our actions and prayers (or lack of them) have grave impacts, beyond what is right in front of us. May the lesson of Ireland be learned by us as we imitate Christ’s humility, not Satan’s arrogance, and seek to truly build a Pro-Life world.


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