He went on to say: “I could spend all my time being concerned about the people who come to church, but they’re — you know I don’t want to be nasty — but they’re a dying breed, The situation is changing, but Irish Catholicism hasn’t changed with it.”
Who’d ever have thought that a bishop in the Catholic Church in Ireland would call those in the Church who were still true believers a dying breed. He did cling to a sliver of hope that the abandoning of the Church may be stopped and that the Church may reconnect with the people during the ongoing discussions over the upcoming vote next year to repeal the Eighth Amendment
He said: “The one way the church could lose” in the debate “is to compromise its position.” The Eighth Amendment prohibits abortion. Ireland is planning to vote on legalizing abortion.
Garry O’Sullivan a book and newspaper publisher stated: “I think this referendum on abortion is the last stand for church versus state in Ireland. The last hurrah for having influence.” Obviously he believes as do many others that the ban on abortions will be lifted. A mere 37 years ago by an over two-thirds vote it was made part of the Constitution.
Ireland, the most Catholic of nations, whose people underwent centuries of suffering and death, comparable to the Jews, to cling to the teachings of St. Patrick is changed. What happened that caused so many to reject those teachings which had sustained them over fifteen hundred years?
As if caught outside in a sudden downpour they we’re drenched in scandalous clergy behavior. One bishop had a child he was supporting from church funds in America, another was going on vacation to the hot bed of sexual perversities, Thailand, and the carapace of holiness surrounding the parish priest crumbled with each new allegation of wrongful sexual behavior by a priest. Then the people learned of the Magdalene Laundries, the abuse suffered by unwed mothers, the neglected orphans of Tuam, children beaten and molested in industries all run by the Catholic Church.
The barbarity and depravity of the Catholic Church in Ireland with its total power brought back to mind the words of Christ found in Matthew 25:27,28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
The Church lost respect and was stripped of its influence over a stunningly short time. It came about not through any doctrinal error but through the supreme arrogance of its clergy where even the local parish priest ruled his flock with a stern hand threatening excommunication to those who strayed. The bishops using these priests exercised total power over all the country. Lord Acton’s statement proved right: “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The facade of holiness having toppled over the people were appalled at what was behind it. They fled from it in droves. Saint Patrick was driven out of Ireland by the betrayal of those who on the outside preached his teachings but on the inside were full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Ireland is no longer Catholic. Bereft of its Catholic character what will be left of it, Much of its literature and culture which I have enjoyed reflects its Catholicism. It is the Catholic belief along with its foibles that made an Irish person to what he or she became.
I wonder if Ireland can be Ireland without its Catholic faith? Would Israel be Israel without its Jewish faith? Are religious beliefs intrinsic to a nation’s identity? We’ll soon find out. But Ireland will never be the same again. Much more the pity.