Ireland Legalises Abortion: Its Rejection of Roman Catholic Domination
In May 2018, Ireland voted – by a landslide – to legalise abortion, the murder of the unborn in their mothers’ wombs. 66.4%, or two thirds of the citizens, voted in favour of abortion, 33.6% voted against it.
How did it come to pass that a country which had been one of the most Roman Catholic countries in the world came to vote so overwhelmingly in favour of something contrary to official Roman Catholic doctrine?
The reality is that the Republic of Ireland is no longer the staunchly Papist country it was until very recent times. And this vote to legalise the murder of the unborn was, in the words of the pro-abortionist, homosexual prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, “the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years.” Indeed it was “the culmination of a fundamental shift in Irish society – and one that has come about with stunning speed.” And specifically, this phenomenally swift shift in Irish society has to do with the position of the formerly all-powerful Roman Catholic “Church” in Ireland. The vote in favour of abortion was “a dramatic defeat for the Catholic church’s one-time domination of the Republic”, “[reflecting] Ireland’s emergence as a socially liberal country no longer obedient to Catholic dictates.” More than anything else, it was “a blunt rebuttal to the Catholic hierarchy, which has been beset by scandals over sexual abuse, financial crimes and its historic treatment of women.”
This astounding change needs to be examined closely. The swing to an overwhelming support for abortion is just the latest phase in the rejection, by so many Irish people, of the religious institution which for so much of Ireland’s history dominated every aspect of their lives. Why has it happened?
To give an idea of just how rapid, and massive, Ireland’s rejection of Roman Catholic teaching has been, the following is a correct summary: “Social change in Ireland has been profound. In the 1990s, homosexual activity was criminal here. Divorce was forbidden. It was still difficult to buy a condom, the sale of which was outlawed until 1985. Within a generation [note that! – S.W.], all of that has changed. In 2015, the majority-Catholic nation of about 4.8 million people was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by referendum.” “The nation of 4.8 million people has experienced some of the fastest social and economic change in the world. In a matter of 30 years, Ireland has gone from being a poor and deeply Roman Catholic country to one that is seeing high growth rates and has installed a gay man as prime minister.” As one businessman put it: “Ireland has gone from criminalizing gays, having just one television channel and priests running the show, to now a liberal, European society.”
78% of Irish people still identify as Roman Catholic by religion, according to census data for 2016. This is a large drop from 1991, when 92% of Irish people identified themselves as Roman Catholic, but even so it is still a very high percentage. However, this figure of 78% does not refer to practicing Roman Catholics: the reality is that today, only 20% to 30% of Irish people attend the mass weekly, down from an astonishing 80% to 90% as recently as 1983. This is no longer the vast majority, but very obviously a minority.
What has happened?