As the Irish NO vote dries its tears, and finishes sweeping up the fake confetti and used party poppers from the YES vote celebration parties, a new question is beginning to emerge.
What is the future for the Catholic Church in Ireland?
It is clear that the YES voters either do not agree with the Catholic Churches definition of marriage – or they simply do not know or understand it. I would say it was a mixture of both, but the failure of the Church over the last 2 generations in (and not just confined to) Ireland is indisputable now.
The cringe-worthy spinelessness of some of the Bishops and priests makes me feel like throwing myself to the lions: “EAT ME NOW! BEFORE IT GETS ANY MORE EMBARRASSING!”
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told the Irish Times that the referendum amounts to a social revolution and the Catholic Church needs to do a reality check because “most of those people who voted yes are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years.”
Archbishop Martin said on Sunday that the church needed what he called “a new language that will be understood and heard by people.” Many young people, he added, “go in today and find a church that is for the like-minded,” as opposed to being inclusive. But he did not offer a solution for attracting young people back to the church.
“For many, and I’ve said this before, inside the church becomes almost alien territory to them in today’s society,” he said. “If the leadership of the Irish Catholic church don’t recognize that, then they’re in severe denial. Have I got a magic formula? Certainly not.”
The thing is… is it realistic to presume that the average person in the pew is going to to vote NO when the very priests and Bishops leading them are spinning them a pack of lies? May I suggest to Archbishop Martin that it’s not the fact that the ‘young person’ he speaks of – a product of the catholic schools – does not believe in the faith, the real problem the Church in Ireland faces today is the fact that many of the clergy do not believe in the faith. THIS is the reality check the Archbishop need to do.
The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown actually went on national television and told people that they could back Gay Marriage in good conscience!
Earlier this year Father Martin Dolan of Dublin announced he was gay – from the pulpit, during Mass. He received a standing ovation.
Father Pádraig Standún, a parish priest in western Ireland, also stated his support for a yes vote in a column for the Connaught Telegraph. “I am one of those clergy-persons who intends to vote yes, not to cock a snoot at the leadership of my church, or to jump on a popular bandwagon, but because I think it is the right thing to do,” he wrote. “As a follower of Jesus, the a la carte Jew who recognised when certain laws had run their courses, I am convinced that now is the right time to have marriage equality.”
He went on to say “The people of God have moved on. Leaders please follow,” he wrote. “We in the Roman Catholic Church have made so many mistakes in the past half century or so that we need to stand back and question our motives in taking certain stances, in fighting unnecessary battles with outdated catchphrases.”
Wow. Forgive me Fr Standun, but everything you just said just goes to prove how un-educated you are. Who was responsible for your formation? St Patrick would be turning in his grave…
An Irish priest once described his seminary experience to me as “a really great place – but not too good if you want to learn the faith.”
Perhaps the truth is that Ireland does not need a ‘new language’ as Archbishop Martin suggests, but instead it needs to re-discover the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith that has been preached all over the world for the last 2000 years! The Catholic Church by its very nature is counter cultural. It should not be aiming to fit in with modern secular culture but instead should be standing out from it. Stand up for God’s sake, and call a sin a sin. If people want to reject God then let them – but at least educate them as to Whom and what they are rejecting.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was not concerned about popularity. He was not concerned with power and influence within the community. He was not concerned with how much ended up in the collection plate or bums-on-seats each week. He didn’t water down His message so as not to offend people. No, He spoke the truth. He told us to turn away from sin and come back to God. He proclaimed that He was the Son of God and He had the authority to forgive sins. And they killed Him for it. And then He rose from the dead in ultimate and unending victory! Alleluia!
The Church in Ireland needs to give itself a good slap round the face and grow some.
Now is the time for courage my friends, not comfort.