Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on Ireland
April 18, 2019
On May 25 Ireland experienced a watershed moment in its national history and identity. With a voter turnout of 64 percent, two out of three voters (66.4 percent) cast a ballot to repeal a provision in the Irish Constitution protecting the right-to-life of the unborn child.
By doing so, the Irish people have made a fundamental and decisive choice for the “culture of death,” which we Americans know is a culture that permeates and poisons every aspect of human existence – it is a hole from which God alone can rescue us.
While the results of the election were undoubtedly shocking and a blow to morale, the results were also unsurprising. Ireland has been in a fight for its identity for decades. St. Pope John Paul II recognized as much in his apostolic journey to Ireland in 1979.
During his homily in Limerick, he stated: “Ireland must choose. You the present generation of Irish people must decide; your choice must be clear and your decision firm. Let the voice of your forefathers, who suffered so much to maintain their faith in Christ and thus to preserve Ireland’s soul, resound today in your ears through the voice of the pope when he repeats the words of Christ: ‘What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life?” (Mt 16:26). What would it profit Ireland to go the easy way of the world and suffer the loss of her own soul?”
“Your country seems in a sense to be living again the temptations of Christ: Ireland is being asked to prefer the ‘kingdoms of the world and their splendor’ to the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 4:8). Satan, the Tempter, the Adversary of Christ, will use all his might and all his deceptions to win Ireland for the way of the world. What a victory he would gain, what a blow he would inflict on the Body of Christ in the world, if he could seduce Irish men and women away from Christ. Now is the time of testing for Ireland. This generation is once more a generation of decision.”
As one Irishman, John Waters, has essentially stated: The people of Ireland have been on a mission to become the modern liberal state, surpassing all other modern liberal states. They have been pushing back on their historical identity – Catholicism – to institute a new Ireland, an Ireland that has become enlightened in the ways of the 21st century and is “with the times” (as the saying goes), an Ireland that has discarded the soul for the profits and ways of the world. This was exemplified in their decision to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015 and is now further entrenched by the decision to revoke the legal right-to-life of the unborn child.
The political victory to repeal protections for the unborn generated jubilant celebration among those who voted “yes,” as if to prove St. Paul’s statement true: “If the dead are not raised (and the Gospel of Life is false), ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Cor 15:32). It takes a certain crass moral compass (or complete lack thereof) to celebrate the annihilation of a category of human beings.
As Waters bluntly stated in another commentary on First Things online, “Today, Ireland dances on the graves of little children. It is a country where freedom means the right to do just about anything you please, without risk of consequences.”
There are no two ways about it, Ireland has fallen prey to the ways of the Prince of Darkness, who so desires to rule the hearts of the human person in this earthly pilgrimage, to effect an eternal condemnation.
In all of this, the cross of Christ continues to stand victorious, as a beacon of hope and salvation for all who turn to him. Though in a moment of defiance to the Creator, the Irish people have condemned their own children to die and undermined the wellspring of beauty that is motherhood, Christ still calls out to his people: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).
Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.