My Irish Autopsy

So the inevitable capitulation to secular nicety in the face of reality has taken place in Ireland, the land of my Mother.

I feel very sad about this I have to say, especially as I have Irish roots. I'm watching posts from family there and relations here, on Facebook, supporting the yes vote and saying things like "hopefully people will see sense". People see this as a simple issue, they seem to think this is about equality, about discrimination, about whether we like gay people or not.

Even if those voting do not see it in these terms, this is how the "Yes" campaigners have sought to portray the debate. The very fact that this is true is demonstrative of just how huge the failure of the Church in Ireland has been. Mary O'Regan puts this in stark relief in The Catholic Herald where she asserts that it is the Irish Church’s failures which have caused people to pick secularism over faith

It will now be interesting to watch how the political parties attempt to capitalise on the "Yes" vote. There is little doubt that the party which will benefit most from the referendum is Labour. It was Eamon Gilmore who made this issue a crusade, and Labour was the most visible political party throughout the campaign. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the passing of the Same-sex Marriage Referendum shows Ireland’s ‘pioneering leadership’ and will send a signal from Ireland to the rest of the world.

During the campaign, Government Ministers talked about damaging the gay people’s mental health if the "No" vote prevailed. But these are the very same Ministers whose Government presided over the disintegration of mental health services – everything from removing guidance counsellors from school, often the first to pick up serious problems – to decimating the psychiatric services. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Kenny also claimed “with today’s vote, we have disclosed who we are: a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people.” His Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burden called the vote a “magical moving moment.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Referendums cannot change reality. What has changed is Ireland. It has rejected its Christian roots, the roots which formed it as a home of justice, scholarship, generosity and compassion. The veneer of Ireland as the home of Christian missionaries has been ripped away.

I was shocked by the attitudes on display from English politicians on Question Time last Thursday night, suggesting that there was a correlation with slavery. Stella Creasy actually said that if the Asher's bakery had discriminated against a black couple there would be no argument. All the panel agreed that this was a case of discrimination. Yet that is simply not true, because this is not about discrimination against people, it is about discriminating against actions. All these people would discriminate on the same issue given alternative circumstances. Some might accept some statements on the Asher's cake, while others might not. The point is that discrimination is subjective. If Asher's bakery was making cakes that supported sexual activity society at large still regards as illicit, we would all be saying it was an outrage and they should not be allowed to bake such cakes.

The point is the subjective nature of the decision.

The racism parallel is offensive and nonsense, as Catholic Voices point out in this article:
The many black Americans who played a decisive role in opposing marital redefinition in California, and who have generally been less enthusiastic about SSM than other US ethnic groups, would find this a deeply offensive claim. Yet it’s oddly common. To oppose marriage definition is somehow made equivalent to Jim Crow laws in the 1950s banning interracial marriage.
The real similarity, however, is between SSM and the Crow laws themselves. Both are or were attempts to make marriage something it isn’t. It has always been a key principle of marriage in the western world — reflected in human rights charters — that any man can marry any woman, if both are eligible and free to marry.
That’s why, in 1967, the US Supreme Court struck down laws restricting marriage on racial grounds as unconstitutional. The reason given by Chief Justice Warren, concluding the court’s ruling, was that because marriage is a biological and procreative institution, “fundamental to our very existence and survival”, marriage mattered too much to be constrained on so arbitrary and meaningless a ground as “race”.
The same ruling, of course, would exclude same-sex marriage. Arguments that marriage isn’t at heart about children are, in effect, arguments against that Supreme Court decision.
The fundamental problem seems to be that people are confused about the nature of Marriage, and who can be surprised that that is the case in a world where Marriage means very little to most people today: another transitional transaction we can move in and out of as it suits. The objective effect of these decisions are subordinate to an individual's desires. We are a society chasing our immediate cravings who seem unable to think of any good reason why we must refrain from indulging the merest whim, from sexual relations with whoever, or whatever (this is on the BBC kids news programme, one has to wonder why??) we decide, to tattooing our skins with the name of someone we just met. We are loosing any concept of consequence.

So what are the consequences of this change? Surely all that can happen is that we become a more accepting, less judgmental society?

The consequences will be a further erosion of sacramental marriage. I have found it rather ironic that the people at the end of society who were campaigning for this change are very likely the same people who would refuse to be confined by such a defining construct as "marriage" anyway. We are becoming experts in dismantling things without seemingly, very much thought about what that will mean for our futures.

Religion sacralises our sexual relationships; makes them holy; lifts them up to God. Sacralising our most intimate relationships orders them towards the other. This reduces the problems we recognise within such relationships and pushes us to aspire to a higher behaviour not simply grounded in our most base physical desires and cravings.

Many are suggesting that abortion will be the next target for Labour in Ireland, who already called for its legalisation in March. As Ireland moves away from a morality informed by millennia of Judeo-Christian thinking, this seems an obvious prediction, and a disastrous one which will further weaken the concept of consequence and feed on the sexual liberalisation inevitable from the "gay marriage" decision. [Edit: look out! They're already at it!]

Surrogacy will increase because every time two men bring a new child into the world, they need to use surrogacy. Every time. It was a fantasy to suggest that the referendum would extend marriage to same-sex couples and then give them no way to have children. Yet the "Yes" campaigners continually reiterated that the referendum had nothing to do with children, much less surrogacy.

Given the "Yes" vote, when two married gay men conceive a child through surrogacy, then those two men and the child will be the natural, primary and fundamental unit of society and the child’s mother will not be. Ireland have given the status of marriage, superior and antecedent to all positive law, to a family that can only bring new children into the world through surrogacy, egg donation or sperm donation. This damages irreparably the connection between marriage and a child’s right to know and be cared for by the two people who each give them half of their biological, social and familial identity. Sure, reproductive technologies are used anyway, but before May 22nd, no one could say that the Irish people voted to affirm in our Constitution something that inevitably separates children from half their genetic heritage and one half of their relations.

Contrary to the mantra that homosexual ‘marriage’ does not affect heterosexual marriage, researcher Dr. Patricia Morgan reviewed data from countries that had, to the time of publication (1 March 2013), redefined marriage. Her report found that:
“opposite sex relationships have to conform to gay norms, rather than vice versa, since matters pertaining to complementary sexes cannot apply to those of the same sex.” 
For example, in Spain, birth certificates use the terms “progenitor A” and “progenitor B” in place of mother and father. Canada has removed the concept of “natural parent” from its laws and Sweden seeks to remove the terms “boy” and “girl”, replacing them with one term. This is because, in order to establish Same Sex Marriage, real Marriage must be abolished and replaced with another concept, hostile to the first. This must be, as homosexual ‘marriage’ cannot exist under current law without first having the need to change terminology, and introduce numerous changes.

One of the most disturbing of these changes is that homosexual activities will now have to be taught as part of sex ed classes in secondary schools, see here for the full horror of what is now a reality in the UK!

Dr. Morgan's paper presents the following summary of the damage to real Marriage by "Same Sex Marriage":
  • As marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, this reinforces the idea that marriage is irrelevant to parenthood. 
  • Same sex marriage leads to the casualisation of heterosexual unions and separation of marriage and parenthood. 
  • Spain saw a pronounced acceleration in the decline of marriage following the introduction of same-sex marriage (same-sex marriage was introduced at the same time as the ‘express divorce bill’). 
  • Across all countries analysed no causal link has been established to support the idea that same-sex marriage prevents marital decline.
  • In the move to same-sex marriage, opposite-sex relationships have to conform to gay norms rather than vice-versa.
  • A publicly professed, legal, partnership does not prevent homosexual couples from breaking up more frequently than married heterosexual couples. 
  • Experience with same-sex partnerships/marriage legislation tends to suggest that availability is all, and participation more or less irrelevant to sexual minorities.
  • Same-sex marriage may be the end-game of long-running anti-marriage, anti-family policy typified by Sweden. 
  • Same-sex marriage may begin the process of severing marriage from family in otherwise family-friendly societies such as Spain and the Netherlands. 
  • Same-sex marriage triggers dismemberment of family structures in family-friendly societies. 
I think, scanning the various websites and blogs, there are many more repurcussions becoming evident as we move further along this path as a society.

However, the real tragedy for me is the turning away from the Church. As Tim Stanley pointed out the "Yes" vote was undoubtedly a reflection of growing tolerance towards gays and lesbians. But it was also a politically trendy, media backed, well financed howl of rage against Catholicism.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told the Irish Times that the referendum amounts to a social revolution and the Catholic Church needs to do a reality check because “most of those people who voted yes are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years.” That is why the Catholic Church in Ireland, and throughout the West, needs a new evangelization. A code word for the old evangelisation- that is, that the Church stops being terrified in the face of the zeitgeist and starts to teach its doctrine with faith, hope and confidence once more! Meanwhile, the fact that Archbishop Martin's lack of clarity had an undoubted effect on the result seems to have escaped the man himself.

I mean a blind man locked in a box wearing ear muffs would know that what passes for "Catholic education", both here and there, is not fit for purpose in any way shape or form, apart from in a few exceptional cases.

Whatever was said by clergy to try and explain the situation to the people can only of looked weak and confused, given that other priests were calling for a yes vote, and the Bishop of Derry said that Catholics could vote "Yes" in good conscience! 

Weakened by scandal and hypocrisy, failing to teach doctrine, suffocated by a ceaseless mantra of false ideas of love and mercy, the Church in Ireland has little political capital to call on. Whatever it did have was undoubtedly strangled by the clear demonstration that it was far from united on this issue and many priests and the odd bishop either didn't understand or didn't care what the Church actually teaches on this issue.

My experience of faith in Ireland is confusing. It is an endemic part of what constitutes Irish identify, but the people do not want it to interfere, let alone dictate, what they do or feel. Surely this can only be because they no longer have confidence in the truth of what the Church teaches, and that can only be the fault of those doing the teaching?

We have to have courage in explaining the faith to others in a way that shows how unfounded the criticisms of prejudice and homophobia are, but instead reinforces the true nature of justice and agape for all! But we also need to be united in our profession of faith; the dissenting voices need to be disciplined and shut out. I never understood how you could be a priest who does not believe the faith. Sadly it is, in my experience, a particularly Irish quirk.


  1. Thanks this is a very good analysis.

  2. Very good indeed, Mark, especially pointing out that "opposite sex relationships" are required to conform to same-sex norms, and the examples given.

  3. The BBC is running a series on Friday nights entitled: The Greatest Generation. I watch with a heavy heart, knowing that we have rejected the very civilization which Churchill so memorably urged us to defend. We no longer have coherent values to unite us; instead it is every man for himself and my rights above all else, including conscience. Even at the height of our crisis, room was made for conscientious objection, but today mainstream Christian values are met with the full force of law if you dare give expression to them in the way you do business or in what you say in defence of them.

    We have allowed one small sector of society to bully us into distorting our values to accommodate them; the intimidation exercised on those who do not acquiesce reminds me of nothing so much as that visited on German citizens who wished to do business with Jews. We distort language to make it mean what we wish - as Mark has demonstrated, we have now rendered meaningless the structure which has held communities together for countless generations. The arrogance is unbelievable.

    And yet ..... our Faith teaches us that man yearns for God, for eternal values, for what is good and true. We have to get our act together and offer people something worthy of who they are, which expresses the fundamental equality common to every man: that we are created by God and in His image. We cannot expect understanding and respect if the message we proclaim is compromised, as it sadly so often is, by those who should be showing the way currying favour by being half-hearted in their proclamation of the Truth. We owe to our fellow-citizens nothing less than the Truth that will set us free; to offer them anything less is to collaborate in keeping them enslaved to the lies that abound.

  4. As straight forward as ever Mark.

    There are so many things brought up here that I have issue with (as you know), some of which I think come from some quite deep themes within Catholicism & others that just come with the way that humans construct their realities. In fact so many things that, I dont have the time at the moment to delve into the philosophical depth needed to do my arguments justice.

    One thing I will comment on however is this;

    "But we also need to be united in our profession of faith; the dissenting voices need to be disciplined and shut out."

    I find that kind of attitude worrisome & I dare say that a lot people who voted, lets be frank, against the Catholic Church on this issue, also find worrisome.

    1. Thanks Nic.

      I think your concern is likely born of a misunderstanding. If there were someone lecturing in Mechatronics in your University and saying the opposite of what you were saying, would you think that was OK or would you expect the University to take action to (at least) correct their error?

      The same is true with theology. If you have a tried & tested model and a mouthpiece for truth, it is bewildering and unhelpful to have members of that organisation contradicting the agreed position. I'm all for free discussion outside the Church this is extremely healthy, but inside the Church, you can't have priests pushing positions which fundamentally contradict systematic theology.Indeed it is a concern that they don't seem to even be familiar with it. Everything we hold & teach must be in continuity with the Magisterium; the teaching authority of the Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit and has never erred.

      The instruction of the CDF of 1986 Persona Humana, specifically approved by St John Paul II, reminds us that this living tradition of the Church’s teaching on this area is found in continuity with Scripture (PA 5). This continuous and living tradition was further attested to by the universal magisterium of the Church in the teaching on homosexuality in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2357-2359; at this point the Catechism specifically refers to Persona Humana as congruent with its teaching.

      I know you do not agree with these ideas particularly, but try to see that the discussion I am facilitating here takes place within that framework.

  5. Absolutely brilliant summation!


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