One of the Irish bishops has said the Church needs a ‘reality check’. As recent events suggest the hierarchy of that Church is, by its own admission, out of touch with reality, I thought it only right to offer the services of a superannuated Baptist school-master.
Here’s the reality. The Irish Catholic Church, once so dominant in Ireland, is now all but an irrelevance. Its catechesis is so bad that despite the fact that most Irish people went to Church schools, they voted for same-sex marriage; in fact it is so bad, that even some of its bishops seemed unable to advise their flocks to vote in the way the Church teaches. Why is this? Very largely because in the days of its power the influence, the Irish Church and the political establishment were at one: the power of the latter would be underpinned by the Church, and vice-versa. This meant that the elite were happy to ignore or go along with the various cover-ups which members of the Church hierarchy engaged in to hide the scandals of paedophile priests, and priests who were abusing women. The notion that a Church so tarnished would have any moral authority at all is, when you look at it from that point of view, a quaint one. That nearly 40% of those who voted opted for ‘no’ is remarkable tribute to the persistence of a Catholic moral conscience. The Church might ask why it has done to deserve even that loyalty, and how it is going to retain it?
Reality check number two. Most Irish people were taken with the argument for ‘equality’. Presented with an argument which went ‘why should not people who love each other be allowed to marry, whatever their gender?’, a majority of those who voted could see no reason why not – and the Catholic Church failed to present one. Now, the Bishops and Archbishops might care to ask themselves why they were unable to present one in a persuasive way? The short answer, as a help to them, is that most Irish people seem not to have heard of the ‘natural law’ or the idea that male and females are complementary, or the notion that marriage is a sacrament. There is only one reason for this – the utter failure of the Catholic education system. The hierarchy should ask serious questions about that system and how it can be made fit for purpose. A supplementary question might be whether it is possible for it to be made fit for purpose?
The third, and hardest reality check, is for the hierarchy to ask itself how it came about that the trumpet gave such a hesitant bleat? If, as seems to be the case, some bishops actually agree with the Irish political establishment, should they not have the intestinal fortitude to say so and take the consequences? Why do those who agree with Church teaching not do something about those so-called Catholic politicians who support same-sex marriage and abortion and euthanasia? In what sense can these people be fit to receive Communion? I won’t ask when the last time a Catholic politician in either Ireland, the UK or the USA was barred from Communion for supporting such policies because I suspect the answer is not for a very long time. In which case, what message is the hierarchy sending out?
I have little doubt that what the hierarchy mean by a ‘reality check’ is ‘how can we align ourselves with the mood of the people?’ – and if that is the case, then the only thing to do with the Catholic Church in Ireland is to close it down now, turn the buildings over to someone who believes in what those who paid for those buildings believed, and for the hierarchy and many priests to join the social work profession – where many of them would be very much happier – and a deal more useful.
The words Cromwell addressed to Parliament seem apt for these bishops: “you have sat here too long for any good you are doing – in the name of God, go!”
If, as some suggest, the next target for the progressives is Ulster, bring it on. Ulster Protestants are used to be talked down and despised by the Mainland and the media – and my father’s people, whatever their defects, aren’t lacking in courage. Ulster will say ‘no – however much cowards flinch and traitors sneer – we’ll keep Christ’s banner flying here!’ – to adapt a phrase.