Later this month, Ireland will hold a landmark referendum to retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which protects “the right to life of the unborn.”
Up until now, abortion has been totally banned in the country, with zero exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities. But that could all change on May 25, thanks to a global initiative organized by pro-abortion advocates, glowing endorsements from a long list of Irish celebrities, and mounting hostility toward the Catholic Church.
Ireland has a uniquely Catholic — and by extension, a uniquely pro-life — heritage. It is home to an annual novena honoring St. Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expectant mothers and the unborn, which draws pilgrims from around the world. And while Irish society has been gradually infiltrated by secular progressivism, its laws still reflect the conservative, Christian sentiments of old.
In a recent piece for The American Conservative, Irish historian Crawford Gibson notes that the Irish Constitution is “an emphatically Christian political document,” which “reflects what has been the special status of the Catholic Church in Irish life.” The document boldly affirms Catholic teachings regarding marriage and family life, with references to “the Most Holy Trinity” and “all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Far from being separate, the Church and the State have traditionally served as essential and complimentary governing forces in Ireland. Unfortunately, the Church is dangerously close to losing its grip completely.
Many advocates of repealing the Eighth have denounced Irish Church leaders’ efforts to protect the unborn, claiming that Catholicism lost its privileged moral status in Ireland following the child sex abuse scandals of the 1990s.
But if sanctimonious Irish progressives are so utterly disgusted (as all should be) with the horrific abuses against children that were allowed to go on for decades, it doesn’t make sense to respond by repealing an amendment that protects the most vulnerable children of all — the unborn.
In an interview with The New York Times, Irish mother Bernie Linnane articulates the fundamentally anti-Catholic spirit of the progressive pro-choice movement in Ireland:
“The people who are leading the campaign to save the Eighth Amendment have been rejected by the electorate many times in recent years,” she says. “They have lost on divorce, gay marriage, contraception and sex education. Once the Catholic church loses on this campaign it has lost everything.”
For Irish progressives, repealing the Eighth Amendment represents the final nail in Catholic Ireland’s coffin.
But it doesn’t have to be — it’s not too late to #SaveTheEighth. While most Western countries have succumbed to the culture of death, Ireland still has the potential to be a city on a hill. They can’t do this by turning their backs on their Catholic identity.
For all the empty rhetoric of progressives, it is the traditional moral teaching of Catholicism that provides the moral language to righteously and aggressively denounce something as horrific as sexual abuse. And it’s the Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life from conception to natural death that provides the antidote to the empty virtue signaling of the Irish Left.
By voting “no” on May 25, the Irish electorate can reaffirm this vow and play an essential role in reclaiming their country’s beautiful Catholic heritage.