The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution has been repealed and the government is preparing to enact legislation that will permit the killing of innocent children in certain circumstances. The thirty sixth amendment to our constitution gives the Irish government complete freedom to legislate in providing for abortion. There is nothing to stop the government legislating for abortion on demand right up to the time of delivery, and the people of Ireland have voted away their authority to control the government in this matter. There is no longer any legal recourse to be had in the event of a future government passing such legislation which would allow unrestricted access to abortion.
I found my emotions to be quite changeable over the weekend of the referendum. I was one of those who thought that a ‘yes’ vote was the more likely outcome, but not on the scale that we witnessed. As the reality of what had happened began to sink in, I felt sad, I felt angry, I felt hurt, but despite this, the seeds of hope remained. I was fortunate to be with my mother in Dublin that weekend as it offered me the chance to travel to the Benedictine monastery in Silverstream for the office of Terce and for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the Saturday and the Sunday morning.
The world was in turmoil, Satan had scored another apparent major victory, and yet, in this Catholic oasis, where men gather to sing the praises of God and to try to live holy lives, life went on as normal. In the realm of the Divine, nothing had changed. God was still God, His commandments were still His commandments, His love for the unborn had not changed, His love for those who voted ‘yes’ and for those who commit the atrocity of abortion had not changed, His desire for us to be with Him for all eternity had not changed.
I remembered the words of St Claude de la Columbière and his treatise on Divine Providence. Hard words when they are first read, but consoling when one moves beyond the natural order of man to the supernatural order of God.
It is one of the most firmly established and most consoling of the truths that have been revealed to us that, apart from sin, nothing happens to us in life unless God wills it so. Wealth and poverty alike come from Him. If we fall ill, God is the cause of our illness; if we get well, our recovery is due to God. We owe our lives entirely to Him, and when death comes to put an end to life, His will be the hand that deals the blow.
But should we attribute it to God when we are unjustly persecuted? Yes, He is the only person you can charge with the wrong you suffer. He is not the cause of the sin the person commits by ill-treating you, but He is the cause of the suffering that person inflicts on you while sinning. God did not inspire your enemy with the will to harm you, but He gave him the power to do so. If you receive a wound, do not doubt but that it is God Himself who has wounded you. If all living creatures were to league themselves against you, unless the Creator wished it and joined with them and gave them the strength and means to carry out their purpose, they would never succeed. You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above, the Saviour of the world said to Pilate.
We can say the same to demons and men, to the brute beasts and to whatever exists “You would not be able to disturb me or harm me as you do unless God had ordered it so. You are sent by Him, you are given the power by Him to tempt me and to make me suffer. You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above.”
If from time to time we meditated seriously on this truth of our faith it would be enough to stifle all complaint in whatever loss or misfortune we suffer. What I have the Lord gave me, it has been taken away by Him. It is not a lawsuit or a thief that has ruined you or a certain person that has slandered you; if your child dies it is not by accident or wrong treatment, but because God, to whom all belongs, has not wished you to keep it longer. (St Claude de la Columbière)
St Claude tells us that we should have total trust in God and that we should thank Him because He knows what He is doing in allowing us to suffer this trial, to suffer this defeat in a referendum. He also commends our prayers and reminds us that we should never think our efforts are wasted.
This does not mean that we should not analyse the defeat. Perhaps God allowed this defeat so that Irish Catholics would reflect deeply, in order to discover where we are going wrong and why we are losing the cultural battles. In the following analyses, I do not absolve myself from wrong doing, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, and I do not apportion blame simply for the sake of apportioning blame. But before you can fix a problem, you must discover the causes of the problem, and so let me begin my analyses.
With the repeal of the eighth amendment to our constitution, we have reaped the fruits of a faulty catechesis on human sexuality that has permeated the Catholic Church in Ireland for many years now. This is because most Irish bishops have failed to uphold Catholic teaching on human sexuality as contained in Humanae Vitae and elsewhere, since 1968.
Bishop John Charles McQuaid, the last episcopal voice in this country to challenge the government on contraception, warned us in 1971, after publicly correcting one of his priests who spoke against Humane Vitae, “It may well come to pass that, in the present climate of emotional thinking and pressure, legislation could be enacted that will offend the objective moral law. Such a measure would be an insult to our Faith; it would, without question, prove to be gravely damaging to morality, private and public; it would be and would remain, a curse upon our country.”
Subsequent bishops have done nothing to remove this curse of contraception from our country and so we now end up with abortion. The Irish bishops have promoted sex education in our schools; they have tolerated the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle in our Catholic schools; children as young as five years old are now being taught, in our Catholic schools, which remain under the patronage of the bishops, that it is OK to have two mammies or two daddies.
The Irish bishops have overseen the homosexualisation of the Maynooth seminary and it would appear, that those with same-sex attraction are being actively encouraged to join the seminary.
A former president of Maynooth seminary made a financial settlement with a young man with whom he was alleged to have engaged in sexual activity. He subsequently resigned and was awarded a €100,000 bonus to his pension. I don’t need to mention the damage caused to the faith in Ireland by same-sex attracted priests who abused children in their care. Yet today, rumours of a culture of homosexuality still persist within the Irish seminaries. Given the damage caused to the faith, why has this not been tackled more decisively?
The Irish bishops have presided over what can only be called the destruction of liturgical practices in Ireland. I was once a member of a parish where they had a committee who checked for ‘exclusive’ language in the readings, and they changed the Word of God if anything offended them. Priests who contradict Catholic teaching are regularly allowed to speak at Masses in Ireland. Priests who publicly contradict church teaching are rarely disciplined by their bishops in Ireland. On at least one occasion, the Vatican had to get involved and prevent certain priests from speaking because of the inaction of their bishops to do so. People dressed up as cartoon characters are featured in Masses for children.
But the greatest failure of the Irish bishops has been in education and catechesis. The RTE exit poll indicated that 87.6% of 18-24-year olds voted for abortion. The majority of these young men and women were educated in Catholic schools in Ireland under the patronage of Irish bishops. They were not properly catechised. In one of his sermons at the weekend, Dom Kirby of Silverstream lamented that these poor young people have been deprived of the graces of the Catholic Church pointing to the lack of proper catechesis that has existed in Ireland for over forty years now. The Irish bishops allowed the state to take over the curriculum in our Catholic schools, including the religious curriculum, which is now set by the abortion providing government.
In many dioceses around the country in recent years, Irish bishops have set up a diocesan listening process. The shepherds are going to listen to the sheep. When you listen to sheep, you will hear what sheep have to say. “Baa-aa-aa-ah, women priests”, “baa-aa-aa-ah, same sex marriage”, “baa-aa-aa-ah, contraception”, “baa-aa-aa-ah, communion for adulterers”, “baa-aa- aa-ah, abortion”.
The Gospel of Trinity Sunday speaks to these bishops.
At that time, Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The apostles were commanded by Christ to teach, not to listen, and this is where the Irish bishops have failed. They have failed to ensure that uncorrupted and undiluted Catholic teaching was taught in the schools under their care. They have failed not only the children, but their parents, because they were not taught to observe all the things that Christ commanded.
Saddest of all is the fact that the Irish bishops either individually or collectively refuse to accept any responsibility for their systematic failure to protect the Irish education system and the children under their care. I have yet to see an apology from an Irish bishop, apologising for their failure to instruct the youth of Ireland in the Catholic faith which, of the 18-24-year cohort, has led to over 81% of these young Catholics abandoning their faith and over 87.6% of them voting to allow abortion in Ireland.
If the bishops do not share or take any responsibility for what has happened, and if they believe that they are powerless to change how things are going, despite being successors of the apostles, and if their main response to the current crisis is to close churches and cluster parishes, then perhaps it is time for them to do as the Chilean bishops did and resign, so that others with greater faith, greater zeal, greater love for Christ, and greater belief in the teaching authority that Christ gives to his bishops, can come and take their place and begin the renewal of the Catholic faith in Ireland.
As Catholics in Ireland, we seek to have true teachers of the Catholic faith, and we must resist when the Irish bishops bring dissenters from Catholic teaching, such as Cardinal Blase Cupich, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, to our shores to preach their erroneous views on marriage and family. They are breaking our trust when they invite these prelates and many of the faithful are unaware of the deception. When we ourselves seek to bring authentic Catholic teachers to our shores, to teach the truth to us about marriage and family, and when these authentic teachers are pressured not to come to us by members of the hierarchy, we must resist.
In these cases, our response must be that of St Peter and St John the evangelist to the Sanhedrin. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20-21)
We, at the Lumen Fidei Institute, with God’s help, will host our conference on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd August in Dublin. We will proclaim aloud the truths of the Catholic faith which Cardinal Blase Cupich and Cardinal Vincent Nichols refuse to proclaim. We have added another speaker to our conference, a young man, recently married and with his wife expecting their first child, who was let go from his teaching post at a Catholic university in Europe. What was his crime? He taught his philosophy students the philosophical arguments for regarding abortion as murder. He was suspended from teaching and eventually his contract was not renewed. This is how one ‘catholic’ university treats a young married couple expecting a child who proclaim the Catholic truths on abortion.
In a discussion I was having around the referendum, I had cause to compile the World Health Organisation’s figures for abortion from 1995 to 2017. In those 22 years alone, they give a figure of over 915 million surgical abortions. This is a staggering figure and a tragedy of enormous proportions, yet a greater tragedy occurs if just one soul is damned for all eternity in Hell.
As I have said before, we are living in a Maccabbean moment of history, and like the Maccabbees of old, we must rise up to defend our beloved Catholic Church and her teachings. We must fight for the faith of our children and our grandchildren otherwise we and our generations will be wiped off the face of the earth. We must rise up for the restoration of Christ as King of our Nation. We must rise up and fight to bring back the young people and the not so young who have lost their Catholic identity through faulty catechesis and the failure of our bishops to teach as Christ commanded them.
Let me conclude with the words of Dom Kirby from his sermon on Trinity Sunday after the passage of the abortion referendum.
What remains for us? I will tell you what remains:
And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13, 13)
Draw near to the altar of the Holy Sacrifice, even as our forefathers drew in around the Mass Rocks. The altar is Ireland’s Divine Hearth. Not for nothing was the altar of the Lamb shown at Knock in 1879. Fall down in adoration and in reparation. Cry out to the Immaculate Mother of God, still Ireland’s Queen and Sorrowful Mother. My own dear father, with all the wisdom of his 91 years, said to me yesterday, “God has a plan. God will have the last word.” And what says Our Lord in today’s Gospel? He says this: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28, 20). In this promise of His, let us rest all our hope.
Perhaps our readers in Ireland would consider forwarding this article to their bishop.
A version of this article was originally published at Catholic Voice. It has been edited for our website and reprinted with permission.
John Lacken is a columnist with the Catholic Voice newspaper specialising in writing topical articles on all matters concerning Marriage and Family life as understood from the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church.
John is also the founder of Legio Sanctae Familiae — The Legion of the Holy Family — which seeks to help Catholic families to live out the great call of married life. He is currently working on a book the working title of which is The Catholic Family – Bedrock of Society: A Handbook for Catholic Family Life.
John maintains the True Devotions website where his articles are available to download.