A prolife awakening for Catholic Ireland
What happened in Ireland few days ago was unimaginable two decades ago. In a May 25 referendum, voters decided by a margin of 66.4 percent to 33.6 percent to remove the right to life of the unborn from the constitution. It repealed the Eight Amendment of the Irish Constitution that for ages protected the unborn.
The turnout of the referendum stunned not a few. “Like many others who advocated a NO vote in the referendum, I am deeply saddened that we appear to have obliterated the right to life of all unborn children from our constitution and that his country is now on the brink of legislating for a liberal abortion regime,” said Archbishop Eamon Martin of the National Marian Shrine in Armagh, Northern Ireland.
In the public discourse leading to the referendum, abortion was obviously framed as a human rights issue for women and for prenatal humans. In social media and in public debates the discussion was mostly converging on very secular perspectives. Some observers easily noticed that the Catholic Church was conspicuously absent in online discourse which meant to some as reflective of the condition of the Church in the wake of successive sexual abuse scandals by the Irish clergy.
At the aftermath, the Irish Church felt the need to be missionary in its pastoral ministry. “The Irish Church after the Referendum must renew its commitment to support life…The Church is called to be pro-life, however not only in words and statement and manifestations but to be pro-life in deeds,” Archbishop Martin was quoted as saying, as he pointed out that “reshaping the Church of tomorrow must be marked by a radical discovery of its roots.”
The next World Meeting of Families will be held this August 25-26 in Ireland. This obviously is an opportune time to boost the Irish Church. “In August, we will united as a family, to renew that sense of family when the World Meeting of Families comes here. We have the privilege of Pope Francis coming, and today I cannot think of his visit being more timely; to come here and remind us of the importance of family, of the love we have of family, of the reality that, yes, families get bruised sometimes, but they should never be broken,” said Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, Ireland.
Perhaps, the abortion referendum will provoke Ireland to a prolife awakening.