Ireland is no longer a Catholic country. It’s an anti-Catholic country.
How do we know? The Irish people have told us.
Their overwhelming votes in favor of same-sex marriage (62 percent in 2015) and legalized abortion (66 percent last week) are as much a repudiation of the Catholic Church as they are enthusiastic endorsements of these secular European norms.
The Irish Catholic Church is in shambles. Frayed by the influence of nihilist western Europeans and rocked by a decades-long sexual abuse scandal, the Catholic Church in Ireland seems to have squandered itself away. The numbers prove it: the proportion of Irish citizens identifying as Catholic in the country’s census dropped from 85 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2016, a precipitous decline in just five years. Perhaps more telling is that 91 percent of Irish attended Mass weekly in 1973, but just 30 percent did so in 2009. That number may be even lower now.
The results of these two referendums — legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion — seem to be a full-scale repudiation by the Irish people of the Catholic Church’s influence on Ireland. For its part, the feeble church leadership, desperately seeking relevance in modern Irish society, did nothing to oppose either referendum and in some cases supported them. They will find that these misguided attempts to gain credibility with modern Ireland will do nothing of the sort. Instead, thanks to its leaders’ mismanagement and sins against their faith, the Church will continue to wither away in Ireland.
Irish writer John Waters explains what’s happening there much better than I can. It’s a brave new world.
For now, however, what should Americans take away from this?
First, don’t believe the media’s attempts to connect Catholicism with abortion and same-sex marriage via Ireland’s example. The Church in Ireland is on its deathbed, and it’s merely the last western European country to fall to secularism, not the first. The Catholic Church is thriving and growing in eastern European countries freed from the grip of communism, such as Poland, and also in East Asia and Africa. The Church there is orthodox and represents a vision of hope for these countries, which have endured communism and paganism for centuries.
Second, while this certainly slows the momentum of the pro-life movement in the western world, it is merely a setback. The pro-life movement continues to grow in strength and numbers in the United States. The U.S. will lead the way in slowly eradicating the scourge of abortion on the western world.
Third, Ireland is a country that is sick and ensnared by the forces of secularism. They are going down a dark road.
Pray for Ireland, whether you’re Catholic or not.
Photo credit: Alex Zanutto via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0