Goodbye Catholic Ireland: Lessons from the Abortion Referendum

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By Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, L.C., Patheos, May 25, 2018

Today’s abortion referendum put an end to the idea of Catholic Ireland, the Isle of Saints. Here are the results.

Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised, according to an exit poll conducted for The Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI.

The poll suggests that the margin of victory for the Yes side in the referendum will be 68 per cent to 32 per cent – a stunning victory for the Yes side after a long and often divisive campaign.

Four thousand voters were interviewed by Ipsos/MRBI as they left polling stations yestersay. Sampling began at 7am and was conducted at 160 locations across every constituency throughout the day. The margin of error is estimated at +/- 1.5 per cent.

Counting of votes begins this morning at 9am with an official result expected to be declared in the afternoon.

History of Catholic IrelandCatholic Ireland saved civilization from extinction in the dark ages, produced copious missionaries and saints. But that is no more. It didn’t die a great battle but in a whimper. Years of English persecutions could not break Catholic Ireland, but in a much shorter time of apathy has more or less extinguished the faith. This nation had 87% weekly Mass attendance when I was a boy but today voted 2:1 to legalize abortion. That is quite a shift.There is a multitude of interlocking factors here and I won’t go into every single one in-depth. However, we can draw several lessons from this tragedy. Rather than just lamenting the demise, let’s ask what lessons can we take from it?

  1. Apathy and worldliness can damage the Church far more than persecution.

  2. The Church must maintain a moral but not partisan position in the public sphere (an American example I wrote about).

  3. The Church needs to win over cultural leaders to her side. In this vote, almost all cultural leaders except priests and bishops were on the other side.