|Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell|
A measure of just how much contempt there is in the Irish Republic for the Catholic Church can be seen in an astonishingly frank attack on Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of Ireland, for his comments on the subject of the proposed liberalisation of Ireland's draconian abortion law, which is enshrined the Constitution.
A Fine Gael TD, Kate O’Connell, told the Irish Examiner, “I don’t see why the archbishop’s views are in anyway relevant. I don’t see why Archbishop Martin should be getting involved in women’s health issues. It is the same as asking my four-year-old. If people genuinely believed that abortion was murder, then no one would have voted to export murderers to England. The fact [is] that people voted on the right to travel.”
Kate O'Connell was referring to an earlier amendment to the Constitution that removed the legal ban on citizens of the Republic travelling abroad to obtain an abortion.
The Catholic Church's stock in Ireland had plummeted in recent years because of multiple standards illustrating the huge gulf between how the priests and nuns behaved and how they told others they should behave. Not only have their been multiple instances of child abuse and cover-ups going to the highest levels in the church's heirarchy but there have also been revelations of the private morality of senior clerics.
This was followed by a deluge of scandals such as the Magdalen Laundries abuses where nuns and priests subjected young women who had been sent to these institutions for the crime of an unwanted pregnancy or being caught having premarital sex, to sexual and physical abuses, and subjecting them to virtual slave labour conditions of work.
And of course, Ireland, just like most other countries, has seen the usual flood of child abuse and coverups and senior bishops trying to cling to their positions.
The special position of the Catholic Church was even recognised in the Constitution of the Irish Republic when Éamon de Valera reluctantly bowed to church pressure and included a clause recognising the Catholic Church's special position, but falling short of granting it the status of the 'Official' church of Ireland that it had been demanding. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church was able to kill off a tentative move towards socialised medicine with Seán MacBride's Mother and Child Scheme by the simple device of denouncing it from the pulpit. The Catholic Church had opted for a high perinatal mortality rate for women and babies in preference to the merest hint of socialism, presumably in case it was seen to be successful. Such is the sanctity of life when the political power of the clergy and the maintenance of the poverty on which it rests is at stake.
As MacBride himself acknowledged:
Even if, as Catholics, we were prepared to take the responsibility of disregarding [the Hierarchy's] views, which I do not think we can do, it would be politically impossible to do so... We are dealing with the considered views of the leaders of the Catholic Church to which the vast majority of our people belong; these views cannot be ignored.
Such was the vehemence of the Catholic Church's near hysterical opposition to this small move towards socialism in the Republic that in the following election in 1951, Seán MacBride's Socialist Clann na Poblachta (People's Party) was almost annihilated, returning just two members to the Dail. In effect, the Church was not only dictating government policy but selecting the government itself.
Now all that has gone, swept away in a tide of revulsion at the blatant abuse of power by the Catholic clergy and the realisation that the whole edifice is founded on a self-interested, self-sustaining, immoral hypocrisy which was attracting members not for the good they could do for people but for the access it would give then to vulnerable and defenceless people and the opportunities it gave for inadequate characters to exercise power over people.
In 2011, followign the Cloyne Report into child sexual abuse by Catholic clerics, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched a blistering attack on the Catholic Church which resulted in the Pope recalling the Papal Legate to Ireland (the diplomatic equivalent of recalling the Ambassoador).
There followed what can only be described as, from the Church's point of view, a catastrophic decline in church attendance and one of the highest growths in Atheism and non-affiliation seen in post-war Europe as Catholic priests became mere figures of fun and not the sort or person you would leave your child alone with. The culmination of this was the massive rejection of the Church's instruction to vote against legalisation of same-sax marriage when a referrendum on th issue returned a 2:1 vote in favour.
The Irish Catholic Church is now having severe difficulties recruiting replacements for the natural wastage in retiring and resigning priests. Telling Archbishop Eamon Martin to butt out and mind his own business, equating him to a four-year-old child in significance, is merely the latest expression of the increasing rejection of the Catholic Church in Ireland. At current rates of decline, like the Anglican Church in the UK, the Catholic Church in Ireland will have the status of a wacky fringe cult within a couple of generations.
'via Blog this'