Monday, May 25, 2015

A LOSS OF CATHOLIC FAITH IN IRELAND: TWO PERSPECTIVES

What Ireland did on Friday in showing the world that a popular vote landslide could lead to the approval of same sex marriage tells us in some ways what is wrong with the post-Vatican II Church today. There has been an over correction in tactics of leadership from authoritarianism (not to be confused with authoritativeness) to a wishy-washy Catholicism that lacks it edginess, authority or even convinceability.

However, there are two good commentaries on the Irish Church's decline and near fall. The first is built on the authoritarianism of the Irish Church enshrined in government that usually leads to anti-clericalism when politics and religion are too intertwined and viewed as limiting the freedom of the populace that doesn't believe everything the Catholic Church teaches. Civil law supports Church law and this causes resentment. It would be like Sharia Law imposed upon Americans who aren't Muslim and even the Muslims might not appreciate it being a part of secular law.

I know that my Italian mother thought it was a good thing when Italy finally allowed civil divorce which the Church had successfully defeated until a popular voters' uprising. My mom said that many good-for-nothing Italian men had left their wives and families and were living with their significant other and got away with it legally. In other words abandonment was allowed in the law and the offending party didn't have to offer support to his family.

This also caused a serious anti-clericalism in Italy when the Church involved herself too much in Italian politics like the Muslims do in their own Muslim countries.

The other commentary points to a loss of Catholic Faith and the vacuum filled not by evangelical Protestantantism as in South America, but by godless secularism.

Here are the two commentaries:

'We're next' says Italy after Irish gay marriage vote

Positive reaction to overturning of Catholic church's hold on Ireland may have knock-on effect elsewhere




























People march during the annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Parade in Turin, on June 28, 2014
LGBT Pride Parade in Turin in 2014. Italy now is the only Western European country that does not recognize either same sex marriage or civil unions. Photo: AFP/Getty
Ireland's historic vote in favour of same sex marriage reverberated across Italy on Sunday, as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's lieutenants came out in force to call for fast-track passage of a stymied civil partnership law.
Socially conservative Italy now is the only Western European country that does not recognize either same sex marriage or civil unions. But that the Irish referendum garnered an unexpectedly strong 62 per cent "Yes" vote in such a deeply Catholic country rallied backers of the Italian law, which has been languishing in parliament for months.
Several editorials on Sunday suggested that such a referendum in Italy would have a similar outcome, recalling the divorce referendum in 1974, when 60 percent of Italian voters went against the wishes of the Catholic church on a major social issue.
La Repubblica reported Mr Renzi confided privately that in the wake of the Ireland vote the question of civil unions in Italy can no longer be put off. Many of his key cabinet members and key party allies spoke out in favor of swift passage of the proposed legislation.

Roberto Speranza said it was now Italy's turn (AFP/Getty)
"What joy," said Roberto Speranza, leader of Mr Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party of the result. "Now it is Italy's turn." "The moment has arrived, finally, to approve this before the summer's end," said Democratic Senator Andrea Marcucci.
"Ireland is giving us a lesson in civility," said gay Italian politician Nichi Vendola, president of the Apulia region since 2005.
Laura Boldrini, speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, said Ireland was giving Italy a much-needed push forward. "It is time that Italy has a civil unions law," Ms. Boldrini said on Twitter. "To be European means to recognize rights."
• Ireland's love for its gay children won out over fears for 'family'

The crowd in Dublin celebrates the referendum result on Saturday (EPA)
Ireland is the 13th EU country to recognize gay marriage. Many countries, such as Germany, allow civil partnerships but are yet to allow marriage, while Cyprus, Greece and most of Eastern Europe do not recognize any form of same sex union.
The vote in Ireland crowned a dramatic shift in public attitudes towards homosexuality and a wide range of other social issues as the Roman Catholic church's once-firm grip on the country weakens.
There was soul-searching in churches across the country after the vote in favour of changing the 1937 constitution specifically to allow same-sex marriage was declared passed, with a vote of 62.1 per cent in favour, on Saturday.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says there's a "growing gap between Irish young people and the Church" (AFP/Getty)
The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, described the vote against church teaching on gay marriage as "overwhelming" and said Catholic leaders needed "urgently" to find a new way to speak to the country's young.
"It's a social revolution," he said. "The church needs to do a reality check right across the board."
He said that some church figures who argued in the "No" camp came across as "harsh, damning and unloving, the opposite of their intention".
"Have we drifted completely away from young people?" he said. "Most of those people who voted 'yes' are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years."

After being honoured with the Tipperary International Peace Award on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon said the landmark referendum giving equal rights to same-sex couples was a truly historic moment (PA)
 
The vote is likely to have a knock-on effect elsewhere, particularly in Catholic-majority countries. It was also welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general.

"This is a truly historic moment: Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve marriage equality in a nationwide referendum," he said.

"The result sends an important message to the world: All people are entitled to enjoy their human rights no matter who they are or whom they love."

Italy's proposed civil partnership law – based on the German model - gives same sex couples many of the same rights as married couples, as well as the option of stepchild adoption, which allows a partner the possibility of adopting the biological child of the other partner. But the law is stuck in a Senate committee, where it has been bombarded with 4,320 amendments and is currently being rewritten with careful language that does not mention marriage.

Many of the roadblocks to the law have been thrown up by the far-right Northern League and the New Centre Right party of Angelino Alfano, which remain steadfast in their opposition to the adoption of children by same sex couples, the right for same sex partners to each other's pensions or a union that resembles marriage. "In our country we need to identify a path for civil unions that at the same time is not the same as marriage," said NCR's Fabrizio Cicchitto.

Pope Francis remained silent on the Irish vote during his Pentecost Sunday address (SIPA/Shutterstock/ Rex Features)
 
How the Vatican will respond to the social shift underway is as yet unclear. Pope Francis remained silent on the Irish vote during his Pentecost Sunday address, while comments by some senior Catholic clergy suggested the Church was reeling from the result.

"Many times the Catholic Church in Italy has said it is one thing to respect legitimate rights of every person, but it is another to speak of gay marriage," said Sicilian Archbishop Michele Pennisi in La Repubblica. But at least one senior Catholic cleric in Ireland now disagrees, saying the outcome of the vote was a message that the Church needs a "reality check. "

"I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day," said Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin. "That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live I think it is a social revolution."

While Pope Francis has in the past stressed that the Church continues to regard marriage as being a union between a man and a woman, he has also asked senior Church leaders to study the reasons why many countries continue to legalise same sex marriages.

Father Timothy Radcliffe is an outspoken proponent of gay rights (Nick Cornish)

In Latin America, where Catholic traditions and conservative governments tend to be anti-gay, Brazil, Uruguay, the Pope's native Argentina and the Federal District of Mexico City have passed laws allowing same sex marriages. Last week, the Pope appointed a liberal Dominican priest, Father Timothy Radcliffe, as consultor for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The Englishman is an outspoken proponent of gay rights – another sign, some say, that Pope Francis is showing willingness to take a more inclusive stance on the issue.

And here is the commentary concerning the loss of Christian Faith altogether:

Secularism has filled the vacuum left by the decline of Irish Catholicism
Saturday’s vote for same-sex marriage in Ireland is one for the history books. It’s the first time a country has legalised gay marriage by popular vote.

The question on everyone’s lips is: what changed Catholic Ireland into a post-religious country where gay marriage has been enshrined in law by the will of the majority of people?

The vastly diminished role of the Church has left an elephantine emptiness in Irish life. One very important factor is how ashamed many Irish people feel about the sexual abuse crisis. Perhaps the people who ought to feel that shame are the guilty priests and nuns. But Benedict XVI was right, in his book-long interview with Peter Seewald, when he pointed out that most Irish families had a member who had a vocation either as a priest or a nun. Therefore most Irish people felt very deeply the disgrace caused by the revelations of clerical sexual abuse. This was the case even if the priest or nun in a family was totally innocent.

Growing up in Ireland, I saw this first-hand, when a friend or acquaintance who had a brother who was a blameless priest, they would feel embarrassed to say that their sibling was a good priest, for fear that people would think they were “covering up”.

Humiliation and regret have gone hand in hand, and increasingly in the past few decades, the Irish, who have, by an average margin of two to one, legalised gay marriage, convinced themselves that if the Church was wrong, then the opposite of the Church’s teaching must be right.

When the Church lost power and influence in Irish life, that same power and influence was inherited by the forces of secularism. Have no doubt: the vacuum was filled by secularism: The Irish did not turn to another religion such as Pentecostal Christianity. When tens of thousands of people stopped practising as Catholics, they did not en masse convert to any other Christian denomination.

Jon Anderson hit the nail on head when he recently wrote: “Many Irish believe in Jesus in the same way that Hindus believe in Gandhi, an interesting historical figure.”

It’s not as simple as saying that the Irish have rejected the Catholic Church. It goes much deeper: the truth is that the majority have abandoned traditional Christianity and will not let it guide their choices and their way of life.

It’s a strange irony that the Irish constitution, dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity, will now enshrine same-sex marriage. An austere portrayal that even the most formally Catholic legal charters for a formally Catholic country can be usurped by secularism.

13 comments:

jolly jansenist said...

It is a phenomenon affecting the entire Christian world. Unbelief rules the day and moral values are values are eroding worldwide. But, the Pope is all over global warming and those evil rich folks. He needs to wear that clown nose all the time...

Anonymous said...

And Francis remains silent. Does nothing, says nothing. Yet he has time to call a convent of cloistered nuns on the other side of the world and leave a message asking why they aren't picking up the phone.

So go ahead Father rationalize how the bestest pope everrrrr is acting correctly and doing his duty in confirming the brethren in their Faith. Go ahead I can't wait to hear how you spin this one. And please stop with the " you are committing a mortal sin" "you are really Protestant" nonsense. That has gotten really old.

Flavius Hesychius said...

You know, Jansenist, many people both inside and outside Ireland are gushing over the referendum... whilst ISIS kills people, and everyone just shrugs.

Narcissism, anyone?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course the secularists are ignoring it, not the Catholic Church. Bit point well taken concerning post Catholics on the far right.

Anonymous said...

"Of course the secularists are ignoring it, not the Catholic Church. Bit point well taken concerning post Catholics on the far right."

What does that even mean. "Post Catholics on the right". What are you talking about. Catholics on the "right" were not even mentioned. But there you go again. Denegrate Catholics who actually believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church. And you have this fantasy that Traditional Catholics who,disagree with your views are Pentecostal converts. Ok, live that fantasy world. You wouldn't be a Freemason who infiltrated the Church with the intent of destruction, would you?

Paul said...

We know things like this will be coming. It's just sad (yet reaffirming) to actually see them happening. Some of us are blessed to have lived long enough to have first-hand perspective rather than just "what somebody told you". An even more blessed subset will recognize the flood of evil for what it is and not get swept away in the current.

Flavius Hesychius said...

I'm not sure if Fr. M's post was a response to mine, but I wasn't necessarily talking about any particular ideology.

My point was that everyone in the West seems more concerned about small fish like homo-marriage than the fact people are being slaughtered in the Middle East.

It certainly doesn't surprise me—I hear many my age talk about how 'great' it would be to 'reduce the populations of China and India' to prevent a Malthusian catastrophe.

Seriously, if this is 'Western civilisation' (after all, the gay politician Nichi Vendola said, 'Ireland is giving us a lesson in civility') then, from what I see, it needs to be put down like the sick dog it is.

Paul said...

Civilization has become distracted, influenced and, in some cases, enslaved by the false freedom of "tech".

That minutiae has seemingly overtaken the important should be no surprise. We don't know what we're doing. Not really.

For now we're getting fat on "information".

If history is any indication, dark ages lie ahead.

Mark said...

Dear Father, you noted in your post that in South America, Pentecostalism has destroyed Catholic identity.

If you permit, I would like to present a 1992 A.D. news story about Pope Saint John Paul II's response to "spirit-filled" Protestant communities into which millions of Catholic have poured.

The story 23 years old...and note that Pope Saint John Paul II's plan to reverse the collapse of the Church in Latin America failed to place even a dent in said collapse.

Pope warns against 'wolves' of Protestants Evangelicals' rise in Latin America viewed as divisive

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Pope John Paul II opened a key Latin American bishops meeting by sounding alarm bells over the phenomenal growth of Protestant evangelical groups in the region, which he likened to "voracious wolves" threatening the Roman Catholic flock.

In his opening speech to the IV Latin American Conference of Bishops, a 17-day meeting that is to set policy guidelines for Latin America's Roman Catholic Church for the next few years.

Reflecting the Vatican's concern over the growing numbers of Latin American Catholics who are defecting to Protestant evangelical churches, the pope called on the more than 250 cardinals and bishops attending the conference to launch a "new evangelism" effort to reverse the trend.

Referring to Protestant evangelical groups as "sects," the pope urged Latin American church leaders to "defy the expansion and aggressiveness" of the new religions.

He also suggested that the evangelical groups, mostly funded by members in the United States, were following a "clearly defined strategy" to divide Latin American countries by undermining their common Catholic culture.

"Following the example of the Good Shepherd, you should care for the flock with which you have been entrusted and defend it from the voracious wolves," he said.

"The sects and pseudo-spiritual movements are, as you well know, cause of division and discord in your church communities."

In what some bishops interpreted as a veiled criticism of the United States, the pope said, "one cannot underestimate a clearly defined strategy whose objective is to weaken the ties that link Latin American countries, and to thus undermine the strength that is born from unity."

He added, "Large economic resources are being spent to fund persuasion campaigns, whose goal is to break Catholic unity."

Left-of-center Catholic groups have long contended that the U.S. government is sponsoring or helping well-funded evangelical groups in Latin America, which tend to be politically conservative.

Many mainstream church officials have come to share these suspicions.

"I am convinced that the U.S. government is either directly or indirectly helping these sects," said Monsignor Hector Gutierrez, a Colombian bishop who is the spokesman for the CELAM conference.

"The U.S. government has a political interest in keeping Latin America divided and weakened."

Mark Thomas

Anonymous 2 said...

It looks like the Church is heading in the right direction: “[Pope Francis] has also asked senior Church leaders to study the reasons why many countries continue to legalise same sex marriages.”

This is a welcome and sensible development, central to the needed “reality check” the Archbishop refers to and much better than just continuing to use rhetoric, as apparently happened in Ireland, that comes across as "harsh, damning and unloving, the opposite of their intention". Hopefully it will enable the Church “to find a new way to speak to the country's young [and others]” without compromising the Truth.

jolly jansenist said...

"Study the reasons why many countries continue to legalize same sex marriage." What's to study? Certainly, from a theological/doctrinal perspective there is nothing to study…it is evil and the continued decline of Christianity and civilization. I suppose there is academic sociological interest…if you like that sort of thing…sort of like studying the table arrangements on the Titanic. But, seriously, what a monumental waste of time.

Paul said...

Gay to Church: "You hate our love."
Church to Gay: "Your love is not love but a disorder."
Gay to Church: "Huh? You're both crazy and hateful".

Isn't that, simply put, the proposed dialog that would be had with practicing gays?

The following dialog then would be the same dialog with people who are immersed in sin. In essence: "You are not to be who you and many others say and think you are. You are to be someone else. Believe it. Live it." No small task, there.

Some people make the leap when they hit rock bottom -- HARD. Right now, gays don't see rock bottom: they're celebrating.

jolly jansenist said...

BTW, I see where Nevada's "Bunny Ranch Brothel" is seeking paid "quality control" testers. No, I'm serious.
In a world that celebrates the Fall and openly embraces evil anything is possible…and the jokes just write themselves. Remember "the Grand Inquisitor?" "If there is no God, all is permitted."