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May 25th was the burial, not the death, of “Catholic Ireland”

Today, it is clear that Ireland does not have the political or media outlets to oppose the liberal agenda currently unleashed on the Irish people.

A voter cast his ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland held a referendum on its law on abortion. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

Ireland’s referendum result on May 25th was a reversal of the 1983 referendum that brought about the Eighth Amendment, Ireland’s constitutional safeguard for the unborn. The old two-thirds who voted for the Eighth Amendment have now become the new one-third and vice versa as 1,429,981 (66.4%) voted “Yes” and 723,632 (33.6%) voted “No”.

Some talk of this vote as being symbolic of the ‘death’ of Catholic Ireland. Perhaps it is more realistic to talk of it as just another example of the ongoing burial of Catholicism in Ireland as that country’s dominant social, cultural, and political force.

Last Friday, The Irish Times’ exit poll suggested that the great majority in every age cohort from 18 to 64 were ‘Yes’ voters. Yet, 93% of primary schooling in the Irish Republic is controlled by the Catholic Church. The vast majority of those ‘Yes’ voters would have gone through some form of Catholic education at some time in the past 5o years. Therefore, it raises questions about what is being taught about Catholic morals and what (if any) impact it has upon those pupils attending church-run schools.

Even more depressing was the exit poll carried out by the State broadcaster, RTÉ, which estimated that almost a third of practicing Catholics had voted ‘Yes’ to removing the Eighth Amendment.

One other statistic to consider is this: last autumn only six men began training for the priesthood at Ireland’s national seminary, Maynooth. That is the lowest intake of seminarians since Maynooth’s foundation in 1795.

However one measures it, Catholic Ireland has been in steep decline for generations—a downward spiral caused or not helped by a number of factors, including the many clerical abuse scandals. This latest referendum result is just another public defeat in a long line for the Church in Ireland.

The question of what really ‘died’ in Ireland last Friday is perhaps more worrying still.

For all the feminist talk of ‘pride’ in the outcome of the poll, given the subject matter there should have been at least a scintilla of restraint, especially now as any form of ‘shame’ on this subject seems no longer allowed. The sight of ‘celebrations’ at the outcome of the referendum should cause all to take stock and consider what exactly is being celebrated. Abortion is never a cause for rejoicing; from whatever perspective it is, at the very least, a tragedy.

So, it was not just respect and love for life that died in Ireland last Friday. Judging from the media images of these ‘celebrations’, common human decency was also dealt a mortal blow. These were the first casualties of this referendum result. Unfortunately, they shall likely not be the last.

The other thing that ‘died’ is a sense of robust political discourse in the Irish Republic. There is now an Irish political establishment that is wholly liberal on issues such as abortion. It is backed to the hilt in this ‘progressive’ drive by the Irish media. Today, it is clear that Ireland does not have the political or media outlets to oppose the liberal agenda currently unleashed on the Irish people. No doubt this agenda will continue to be dressed in words such as ‘modern’, ‘inclusive’, and ‘tolerant’. Of course, it is none of these things, but in the public square there are just too few to point this out. In due course, those who do oppose this state-sponsored agenda will be silenced, sidelined, or worse.

In light of the landslide vote for abortion, some brave voices, such as Breda O’Brien, the sole pro-life voice on The Irish Times, talked of Irish pro-lifers learning from other pro-life movements abroad and of resisting the changes that are now to be put in place. It is too early to say where the Irish pro-life movement goes from here, but one thing is clear: it will not be given as much airtime in the Irish media. In addition, its ability to be taken seriously by politicians, all too aware of what the word ‘landslide’ means for their political futures, also remains to be seen.

The pro-life movement in Britain gains some of its support from the fact that for 50 years there has been legalised abortion in that jurisdiction. British pro-lifers have all seen and heard horror stories a plenty, so much so they know that abortion is not the answer for any pregnant woman but the beginning of many woes.

Ireland has yet to realise this fact. It has yet to have grubby ‘abortion clinics’ on its back streets, staffed by medical staff too ashamed to tell people socially what it is they do for a living.

Ireland has yet to have the global industrial complex of abortion providers come to its land, businessmen and women who have a vested interest in ensuring there is a demand for their endless supply.

Ireland has yet to have the trauma, often invisible but there none the less, of the countless women—and, indeed, men—for whom abortion was presented as a simple solution only for those same women to be maimed both physically and emotionally for the rest of their days as a result.

In light of the reality of abortion in other states, the celebrations upon the streets of Dublin and elsewhere by the triumphant ‘Yes’ campaigners seem hollow. In fact, these public display are as much of a lie as the new ‘health provision’ now being offered to Irish women.

In a matter of days, many things have died in Ireland—not least the illusion that it is a Catholic country. And at the center is the real and horrible fatality: that unborn children of a once Catholic nation will not see the light of day because of a plebiscite on who should be allowed to live and who should die.

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About K. V. Turley 61 Articles
K.V. Turley writes from London.


  1. I actually no longer want to visit Ireland, because, like England, I assume that it is now a very dangerous place to be if you have to go to a hospital.

    The same is true in so many places, including “Catholic” hospitals in the US.

    We no longer have any basis – anywhere perhaps – for trusting that doctors and nurses will fight for life.

  2. Another excellent piece following Fr. Dwight Longenecker‘s column.

    In the ‘very long’ run, at least now there is no illusion about a cultural Catholicism anywhere being a substitute for the real practice of the Faith.

    It’s now getting serious and the lines are more clearly drawn.

    A real Deposit of Faith. Or what eternally amounts to “nothing.”

  3. As a man of Irish descent I can say that since I was a boy seven decades ago I’ve noticed the American children and grandchildren of my native Irish grandparents almost without exception to be real suckers for the zeitgeist. I never understood it — I’ve had the impression that it stem from a form of self-loathing. It has always troubled me.
    Now, in the Bergoglian epoch it appears quite evident to be not an Irish-American problem, but actually a Roman Catholic problem.
    Its a form of demonic disorientation to be alienated from your graced identity in the faith, the Church, of Jesus Christ.

    • James I was struck by your comment that the apostasy we’re experiencing is not just Ireland’s but is “actually a Roman Catholic problem. Its a form of demonic disorientation to be alienated from your graced identity in the faith”. All the Italian American kids I grew up with in Brooklyn practiced. Today most nieces and nephews respond with a form of contemptuous self assurance in disregarding doctrine. Their children have virtual total disregard marrying outside the Church. That and their acceptance of same sex relationships Yoga and a Bahá’í all inclusive view of ‘spirituality’ [God is everywhere] has a strange but real similarity to the direction the Church is taking. We have great responsibility to do our part for their salvation.

    • Your point about Irish people being real suckers for the zeitgeist is interesting. That is probably the reason why the neer showed any effort at maintaining the Irish language which should have been considered an important part of their identity. That seems to have been one of the results of the Great Famine of 1845-1849. Catholicism has been part of the Irish identity for 1500 years. They have up the language in order to be accepted by the Anglo-Saxons´and now they have given up the Catholic faith in order to be in the forefront of postmodernism and secularism. They are now going down the tube with the rest of Europe.
      The bishops have their share of the blame for the abortion debacle going back to 1992 when a referendum on abortion was being proposed and the bishops told the people to “follow their consciences”, which obviously means “do as you please”.

  4. Again with the “liberal agenda.” Christ save us. The guarantors of abortion in today’s culture in the US and Europe are those of us in the pro-life community who have talked about being pro-life while our political partners assiduously work to dismantle every secular initiative to protect and invest in the potential of ALL human life AFTER birth. We will never make progress against abortion until we lead governments toward programs that place a REAL value on all human life reaching its fullest potential.

    • How many failures does one need to see before it becomes clear that government cannot provide programs which place a real value on human life: parents, family and churches are to impart the dignity of each person.

  5. I just hope that Bishops take note in both Ireland and America. Imagine if we put as much effort as a Church with the Bishops as they do with Immigration. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for treating everyone with proper God given dignity but the slant of the Bishops in America seems rather off. We have a Republican majority right now in congress, why hasn’t there been a huge push for the Pro-Life Amendment or a strong Pro-Life bill? We have been under attack for the HHS mandate for so long and when we get a reprieve with Trump, our Church leaders choose something that goes against what the politicians in power are for rather than go for the slam dunk on the most important human rights issue of our day: abortion. We don’t always have dig our selves a hole with every congress or administration over issues like this. In terms of politics, doesn’t the catechism put the life of an innocent over everything else?

  6. Aside from the annual pro-life march on the anniversary of Roe v Wade every January in Washington DC, I often wonder why our bishops aren’t leading a “million person pro-life march” anywhere in the US.

    • Our bishops? Our bishops? I know of a handful of them in the USA that champion the unborn and uphold orthodox Catholicism.
      I fled to the local TLM parish (which also offers the OF) because I saw the direction my parish was going. Little belief in the Blessed Sacrament as the Body of Christ. NO vocations. Parents who drop off their children to punch their ticket for Mass and an 8th grade out of our parish school whose last confession was in 2nd grade.
      If the bishops cannot bring themselves to be Catholic, what makes anyone think their priests will?

  7. This Scripture is being fulfilled in our day it seems…
    I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

  8. “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone.”
    It’s gone now, Ireland, and there will be consequences.
    Bet on it.

  9. The activities of wayward, sinning clerics does not negate the teaching authority of the Church they belong too anymore than a corrupt lawyer invalidates the corpus of law he practises.
    The desacralisation of everything in the aftermath of that Council did much to enfeeble the Church. The caricatures of Father Ted and Father Dougal, in Ireland, was the tragi-comic legacy.

  10. Two generations not taught the faith. The educational material is a course called AliveO and it is so un does not focus on the soul, the nature of the Triune God, the necessity of redemption, spiritual for Holy Mother Church.etc Those young people in the Dublin castle yard celebrating were never given the true Catholic message. This is the other side to clerical abuse..the neglect of catechetics and the handing over of Religious Education to the failed liberals of the 1960s.

    • Seriously? AliveO as in “Cockles and Mussels?” Oh, good grief.

      Yeah, my CCD classes in the 1970’s were absolutely useless, completely lacking in any actual information; and I remember the teacher in one of them informing us that she would never try to convert her husband to Catholicism because it might ruin her marriage. And this was I think 3rd grade.

  11. The papal visit to Ireland in August has to do with the World Meeting of Families [….] In another journal earlier this year, it was reported: “promotional materials meant to prepare Catholics for the gathering, suggest that the event is making a special outreach to L.G.B.T. people and their families at a time of rapid social transformation in Ireland.”

    Special outreach, or overreach? On his election in 2013, our Pope Francis humbly and wisely asked for prayers that he “not make mistakes.” If he lends his presence to the Meeting as expected, then it is probably never too early to start praying. Indeed, some such prayers already have been answered! The recent papal exhortation on the family, Amoris Leatitia, is unambiguously clear on this point especially: “as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriages, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (n. 251). Instead of surfing on a sea of social transformation, maybe the Dublin Meeting can rise to the occasion as a teaching moment…

  12. I am so sad over another country being swayed by satan’s influence. We must pray for Ireland and also our own Country. We are headed down the same path I fear. I am a former pro life counselor and believe I will go back to my counseling again. I am 83 and had thought I couldn’t do it any longer. It is now no longer my choice. I must return to try and save even one child. If anyone reads this that will join me. please go and sign up at your nearest Womens’ pro life center and do the same. The rewards are not monetary but when you hear the woman say after counseling her, ” I am going to keep my baby”, that will be your pay.

    • Yeah, that makes sense. “I am so angry that some children have been abused that I will vote to allow other children to be butchered.”

  13. I am Irish. Unitarian. I voted No. Partly influenced by my Catholic wife. I would have voted yes for 10 weeks with strong safeguards. (En-soul-ment?) But the Yes side did not address the question of foetal rights at all!

  14. and in all of this, let us not forget the embryos conceived in the IVF process … how many million of them washed down the plughole. In fact, many of them are grown to a certain stage for experimentation purposes before being disposed of. When did anyone ever hear a priest or a teacher explain why this is forbidden by the Church?

  15. On 25 May a part of me died. As Irish and Catholic as you could’ve gotten, I am now claiming only the Catholic and that’s not a bad thing, at all! I’ve stepped closer to His flag and am wearing only His colours – all the other tribes i’ve lived with have failed me. So I rise again today through a Mighty Strength… with Christ within me, before me, beneath me, above me, and look forward to joining you in the ongoing struggle to bring about His Kingdom, our true Homeland.

  16. Ai yi yi people, How many kids need to be molested or worse and yet you still are denying the evidence before you. The Church of Rome has a tendency to bury its head in the sand and sing Kumbaya to itself loudly enough not to realize it was losing its flock(s). What part of being a good Shepard doesn’t the church officials understand? No, they wanted to eat the sheep and then lied to the sheep they were being eaten and even after the sheep were tallied by both insiders and outsiders the Shepards still insisted that they and only they had the moral authority and correct prerogatives to be the Shepard. hopefully someone somewhere will realize that the path to forgiveness is not is NOT making your rules setting up a commission and then IGNORING the entire report.

  17. I wonder of the case can be made that every single Catholc who voted in favor of this repeal is not excommuned from he Church? In the USA if a person votes in favor of a candidate who is pro-abortion that does not mean they cannot receive communion unless they voted specifically for that reason. But in this case since the was specifically against abortion and protected the unborn child and the mother then the argument could me made that these Irish Catholics have directly cooperated in abortion and are now excommunicated latae sententiae. The bishops in Ireland should parse this out with canon lawyers and then issue a serious minded apostolic letter to all the faithful to be read at all parishes. If Von Galen could do it against Hitler, then they should do it against these monstrous abortion purveyors. They’ll hear the cry, people will revolt, they’ll leave the Church! Let them. And if they end up in hell after death it will be their fault. Stances sometimes need to be made and hard! I’m reminded of St. Ambrose refusing Emperor Theodosius entrance into Milan cathedral until he repented of killing 7000 people. The Church need to get its mojo back.

  18. Not to want to take away from a powerful piece, I think it was a bit less than one quarter of practising Catholics who voted ‘yes’.

    Bear in mind 15% of ‘yes’ voters said they “went to a religious service once a week” and 1% more than once a week, making 16% “practising religionists”. 60% said they were RCs. Similarly in the no vote there was 61% practising religionists, and 88% said they were RCs. (I’ll leave it out of my calculation but presumably the spread of those “practising” religionists was more skenwed to non-RCs in the Yes voter than in the no voters).
    YES: 1,240,000 x 0.6 x 0.16 =136,000 practising RCS
    NO: 720,000 x 0.88 x 0.61 == 381,000 practising RCS
    Total amount of practising RCs voting ==517,000
    Percent voting yes : 517 / 381 = 74% of practising RCs voted No. Given exit poll gave a bigger win to ‘yes’ than actually resulted, and my “spread” point above we can call that at least three quarters of practising Catholics.

  19. The author and commenters make the same old mistake of caring more for the unborn than for the living. They seem not to recognise the true horrors inflicted by the Irish Catholic church. To quote Fintan O’Toole: ‘child abuse by priests in parishes is just one part of a wider story of institutional abuse in which women and children were incarcerated in industrial schools, Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes. This still emerging story casts a sickly retrospective glow on Holy Catholic Ireland – it is ever clearer that it maintained its “purity” through systematic terror.’ It is the conservatives in the Catholic church, not those voting for abortion, who should be on their knees repenting.

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