Sunday, May 27, 2018

Loss of Life in Ireland

You’ve probably heard that the fight to save Ireland’s eighth amendment went down in defeat on Friday. The margin in the vote to embrace abortion was about the same as when the Irish adopted same-sex marriage in 2015: two-thirds for, one third against.

Only one county—Donegal—voted to preserve the ban on abortion, and just barely (52%). The BBC website reports that "Since the result was declared, Donegal has received a barrage of abuse on social media for becoming the 'red mark' on the map, just as Roscommon did following the same-sex referendum."

According to the stats at one news source, across Ireland the only age group to stand up for life was composed of those over 65.

This horrifying outcome would have shocked me less if I had understood the secularization of Ireland that has occurred in the last 30 years or so. I read this morning that regular church attendance among Catholics in Ireland dove from 90 percent in 1984 to 18 percent on 2013. (The massive sex scandals among the Irish clergy surely did not help.)

When same-sex marriage was set to appear on the ballot, nearly all priests and bishops remained silent. And speaking of leadership, has anyone, found an article on any efforts made by the Vatican to influence this latest vote and preserve Irish babies? On the day of the vote, one Irishman commented on an online article about the whole issue: "Haven't heard one peep from the Pope about the abortion referendum being held here today." Other commenters were less restrained in denouncing Rome's conspicuous silence.

So, despite our prayers, it is little wonder that God let the Irish have what the great majority of them have been asking for, deeply sad as that is.

I will be thinking of the people of Donegal who stood by their faith and now must cope with being part of a country that has abandoned its Christian conscience, leaving them feeling, as one priest put it, "like foreigners in their own country."

One gentleman named Fionan Bradley, as he exited Mass,  talked with a BBC reporter in the wake of the vote. "I'm so proud of Donegal. We stood up when it was a hard thing to do, especially for younger voters . . . If they start opening private [abortion] clinics we will protest--that's all we can do. We'll make sure women know they can get help in other ways."

It is interesting to note that abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland. Maybe those folks should start thinking about building their own wall along the southern border.

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