Saturday 23 May 2015

That Thing in Ireland Today

Well, I wonder if the Catholic priests of the world will think what happened in Ireland today worth
mentioning in their Sunday homilies. The vast majority will probably avoid it to talk about happy-happy (Oh! Look! Romero!) so here's my two cents.

It's not true that the bishops of the Church in Ireland said and did nothing, for I found their website and saw a number of homilies. Pardon me if I don't link to the bishops of the Church in Ireland today. I've run out of adjectives to describe them. It's been a long and noisy day. 

As a pal wrote on my Facebook page today, "Welcome to the New Pentecost. It's a little different from the last one." 

A tale from my Boston College days. After the PhD seminar in which a certain Irish-American theologian came in get us to discuss ways in which we could have convinced the Boston Archbishop to disobey Rome and farm out Catholic kids through Catholic adoption agencies to male-male couples, I had a little discussion with my seminar director. He was (and presumably still is) a decent old boy, the only one of my professors I was sure was actually fond of us students in a fatherly way and not just grooming us as disciples, allies and spies. 

The topic was gay marriage, and finally I stopped pussy-footing around and said something like, "Okay, so using the lowest possible Christology, Jesus was a very well educated, deeply devout, itinerant first century Jewish rabbi, right?"

"Right," said my professor.

"So would a well educated, devout, itinerant first century Jewish rabbi have thought it okay for a man to "marry" another man?"

My professor laughed heartily.

"Are you kidding?"

I'll pray for Ireland's faithful remnant, perhaps 37.9% of the population. It wasn't QUITE the landslide the papers are saying after all. Hopefully the 37.9% won't be beaten into submission. If so, I highly recommend the Collins Easy Learning Polish dictionary.


  1. The Church has survived far, far worse. There isn't anything to be afraid of.

  2. I am not afraid of the destruction of the Church. I am afraid for the welfare and happiness of faithful Catholics in Ireland. Yesterday on the bus to Mass I heard young Edinburghers marvelling over young people who voted "No." They dismissed them as "young bigots." And that's not very comfortable: knowing that those having well-reasoned, ethical and deeply-rooted-in-reality opinions that conflict with those of "marriage"-"equality" backers are simply dismissed as "bigots."

  3. I know a lot of mass-going Catholics who voted yes, seeing it as a civil, not religious, proposition. I'm not comfortable with the notion that they are not part of the "faithful remnant." (Being utterly Orthodox in their own behaviour or on other matters.) In the same way, I know of 'Yes' voting totally secular types who went out of their way to be kind to 'No' campaigners on the streets because they disliked the idea that anyone would be mean to them for holding fast to their opinions. So I think it's a more complex picture, is all. As in yes, some people too easily dismiss others as 'bigots' and no that is certainly not OK. But on the other hand I am sympathetic to people who believe that the church in Ireland completely lost all moral authority on s*xual matters over the child s*x abuse and related scandals. (I had no idea of just HOW bad that was and how deep the - self-inflicted - damage to the church was until I had moved here and met people who had really been affected/scarred by these events.) Anyway, just to say I'm seeing a more complicated picture here.

  4. All those mass-attending Catholics who voted "Yes" are no longer faithful Catholics. Whatever their motives, no matter how generous they may have been, they have burned incense before the idol of so-called "marriage"-"equality"--and possibly collected their free Ben and Jerry's as a reward. If there was no free ice-cream where they were, they could feel a bit self-congratulatory thrill.

    No matter what hideous hypocrites--and much worse--various priests and bishops have been, Our Lord Jesus Christ has not lost moral authority on sexual matters.

    Marriage is the physical and spiritual, familial and social, union of a man and a woman for the creation and education of children, their own good and the good of society over all. Marriage, meaning this bond between man and woman, striving to be faithful to each other in all way, is the building block of society. Castii Connubi and Humanae Vitae clearly spell out what marriage is. Saint John Paul II affirmed marriage and family again and again throughout his priesthood and pontificate.

    The only thing that keeps me from completely despising "mass-going Catholics who voted yes" (the fallen-aways being less culpable, and the Protestants, Jews, Muslims much less culpable still) is the thought that they have probably been poorly catechized. I mean, really poorly catechized. Taught not to think, but to FEEEEEEL. Taught not their faith but "being nice".

    Sorry if I sound rather strident, but I am heartsick, truly heartsick that Catholics could do this en masse. In Canada and Scotland, I had the comfort of knowing gay marriage had been foisted on us by governmental fiat. No matter how badly priests and bishops behaved, there was no reason to betray of a sacrament.

    What kills me is that Ireland is SOOOO obsessed with its image abroad, and yet this week millions of Catholics from all over the world are staring at it in abject horror. However, I am consoling myself that almost 40% voted no, despite all the foreign money and media pressure.

    How nice that some "Yes" voters went out of their way to be nice to "No" voters. I imagine some people chose not to laugh at the spectacle of Our Lord carrying his cross, too. But of course they would learned about the importance of Being Nice, if nothing else, at Mass.

    1. Auntie,

      I know that, and you know that the teaching of Christ does not change even if its purveyors tend to be more like wolves than shepherds.

      But the vast majority of Catholics, certainly in Ireland, have at best a rudimentary education in the faith. For most, the only real education in religion they receive outside of school is at the pulpit, and, most importantly, the example of the priest. And when the priest is guilty of unspeakable crimes, and the bishop lets it slide for whatever reason, these men and women with a rudimentary education think, "If they cannot even follow the basics of the Ten Commandments, why should we listen to anything a man in a cassock says?"

      It's not that the people are not wrong, but that a large share of the guilt for this monstrous phenomenon falls on the shoulders of a corrupt clergy who smell not of the sheep, so to speak, but of newly printed money, or perhaps something unprintable. This is, of course, not unprecedented. For where the clergy is corrupt, apostasy seems to follow.


    2. I think perhaps Cojuanco expresses what I was trying to get across a bit more eloquently than I do. I honestly can't quite put my finger on or describe the atmosphere of betrayal and revulsion that I have sensed among so many here when it comes to the behaviour of leaders of the church they had so much trust in. (And some of the stories -- oh, it would break your heart. It's one thing to read about them in the papers; quite another to hear them from the victims.)

      Another thing I would observe is that very few young people actually attend mass. My parish is, quite frankly, pretty much all grey-haired. So although I was describing the reasoning among practising Catholic yes-voters, to be honest for the most part it is a moot point given the heavy turn out of young voters at the polls. (Contrast this for example to London parishes which have plenty of young people.) Not sure if that will make you feel better or even worse, but there we are.

      And last on the money -- again, might make you feel worse again, but the no campaign was getting a lot of American money. So if I were you I wouldn't take heart at the idea that the plucky 'No' campaign fared well given overwhelming resources on the other side -- also not really an accurate picture. I know 'No' advertising vastly outweighed 'Yes' advertising in my area and the 'No' vote was pretty low. In the end, I don't think it was about money at all, but rather about profound social change and the total collapse of the moral authority of the church.

    3. I loathe the "smell of the sheep" analogy--it makes Catholics sound like "the unwashed masses"--but I agree that the clergy--particularly the bishops--are terribly to blame for the Irish loss of faith, Cojuanco.

      Shiraz, at least I know where you live now! ;-) Boston was similarly horrified by stories of clerical sexual abuse, and when I was in theology school in Toronto, I was told by two or three women--and one man--what priests had done to them. What men will do under cover of the collar is OUTRAGEOUS.

      Personally, however, I never thought of abusive priests as the embodiment of the priesthood per se, but as men who were priests. My mother taught me when I was 14 and dealing with a clerical bully that priests aren't allowed to get away with even using curse words and that if one used them to me on the phone, I should hang up on him. Great training for Catholic media, incidentally.

      An almost insignificant story, perhaps, but too many people either canonize or demonize priests just because they are priests. I suppose what we are seeing in Ireland is a massive backlash, and really has nothing to do with reason or the good of society at all.

      I feel better today, as I am growing used to the idea and not taking it so personally. Meanwhile, I keep thinking that despite media triumphalism, the vote was roughly 60/40, not 90/10. And, of course, what will destroy Irish society is not gay men having big parties and getting pieces of paper, but children growing up in fatherless households, women being treated as grow-bags, and children treated as the ultimate status acquisitions. And naturally these things have already happened.

  5. One could even argue that voting against the unique status of marriage and the natural family is a form of treason to the state. However, I haven't the heart to get into that right now.

  6. *B.A. says I should say "not faithful Catholics IN THAT RESPECT." He also says I should stop using such passionate rhetoric, or I will regret it. And it is perfectly true that I know I am likely to lose friends over my complete and utterly traditional, everybody-on-earth-before-1995, understanding of marriage.

    Like many "No" voters, I imagine, I have friends who would describe themselves as homosexual. I don't want to hurt their feelings, and I spent all my years at theology school trying to be faithful to Christ's Church while being friendly to, and often fond of, homosexuals in my classes, both those preparing for a life of celibacy and those who were sexually active.

    I can understand why hopeful gay men (in particular) might think "marriage" will mean they will have all the blessings and fruits of marriage, including the mutual fidelity, the permanence and (quite beyond the limits of human reason) the parenthood. And I am not at all angry with them. It's Catholics who should be smarter or more reasonable or more courageous that infuriate me.

    1. Expat Housewife28 May 2015 at 06:58

      I was just wondering about this position that some Catholics are not faithful in 'that respect'. It assumes that they are still faithful despite being heterodox in that one little area. So who is a faithful Catholic?

  7. Expat Housewife26 May 2015 at 06:15

    Here is an interesting article about the Yes campaign and how the progressives secured this outcome. Peaceful, intellectually honest, open to discussion, respectful of the opponent. NOT.

  8. Today I have just learned that our Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, will introduce a bill to the parliament to legalise same-sex "marriage" this coming Monday. Please pray for Australia.


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