Saturday, May 23, 2015
So a victory for tolerance, equality, social justice; a defeat for intolerance, inequality and Catholicism. Couldn't be simpler!
And yet tolerance, equality and social justice are precisely what the Catholic Church in Ireland for the last few decades. What I am told has been missing has been that rather intolerant idea of a personal Saviour, with a rather rigorous, even judgemental outlook: Jesus Christ.
Presumably what the Irish vote actually reveals is the feeling of the majority of Europe, even the rest of the world. Is it that it it is only a few reactionary Catholics and fellow travellers who hold out for a traditional view of family, sex and homosexuality?
The big question is: is there as place for the 'Antis' in contemporary European society? David Cameron might have had to use the government whip to get a majority for his marriage equalities legislation through the British Parliament, in Ireland that wasn't the case, it was a popular referendum,. Yes we can argue it was funded by foreign money, that the 'No' campaign was hounded off the streets, but even so from one end of the country to the other this was a popular referendum and greeted with popular enthusiasm.
So where now for Catholics and those who hold on to traditional values? Ireland historically doesn't do tolerance, neither does it tolerate for too long an oppressor, even if it can't quite throw off the yoke, it bears it with dis-ease.
For now there is a pause for partying but soon there will be slew of legislation to facilitate the popular will and to force opposition out of society. One might have thought the Asher's bakery judgement north of the border might have been a warning but obviously not.
Would the vote had been different if the provisions at the end of Pope Benedict's letter to the Catholics of Ireland had actually been implemented? Similarly would things have turned out differently had the present Pope spoken and not allowed himself to be portrayed as 'open' to homosexual culture, or even if the Irish bishops had been stronger? Probably not.
What is so remarkable is how Ireland has thrown of Catholicism, or put it another way, what is remarkable is how easy contemporary Catholicism is thrown off. Those roots which were once presumed to run deep into the Irish psyche, that helped her survive poverty and oppression, that produce enormous numbers of priests and religious who shaped the Catholic world, are shown to have been in reality shallow indeed.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake