Pray for Ireland

Pray for Ireland
Prayer given to me by a priest in Ireland. Please pin the graphic if you can.

This Friday, May 22nd, citizens of Ireland will vote whether to change their constitution to allow same sex marriage, so called.

If the referendum vote is yes, Ireland will have the dubious distinction of being the first country in the world to approve gay ‘marriage’ by popular vote.

At this point, the election cannot be called. The Yes vote has long led in the polls by a wide margin. That margin however has dramatically decreased. A recent poll had Yes at 53 percent. Moreover, opinion polls are less accurate for referenda than they are for political candidates. A wider error of margin must be allowed. Moreover, those who respond yes may indeed feel intimidated, scared to admit they are actually opposed – or at least confused.

So far I have declined to comment about these developments. I’d like to explain why.

The reason has to do with competence, basically. At this site, my wife Kim and I try to limit our writing to areas where we dare to believe we are competent to speak.

Thus, Kim has been pondering the matter of the liturgy and the liturgical calendar for years now.

For my part, my twenty years experience in the New Age movement, gives me, I think, some authority to speak about it. Likewise, I hope my years of reflection on other themes – such as the plight of the post-Vatican II Church – justify my speaking.

But when it comes to  same sex ‘marriage’ the situation is entirely different. Furthermore, in Ireland this subject is also tied up with complex issues regarding the already existing Irish civil partnership law and surrogacy, among other things I have hardly considered enough.

All that being said, I’d like to venture some very personal comments – with the caveat that is all they are: personal and my arguments are not fully-formed.

Once upon a time, I was a very liberal, secular-minded, New Age type who would be horrified by the person I have become today. I have had numerous close gay friends in my life – people I still respect and love – and I imagine many of them are horrified by me.

What happened to me? The question is too big to enter here (though I speak of my conversion here).

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Suffice it to say, I converted to the Church – but initially only as an ultra-liberal Catholic who could not even oppose abortion.

But, as the magic of the Sacraments worked ever more deeply on my soul, I began to listen – really listen – to the Church. I stopped making my old automatic assumptions that Popes likes St. John Paul II were simply narrow-minded. Indeed I began to see that I had been narrow-minded in assuming this in the first place.

I realised I had too long participated in a kind of liberal, secular ‘groupthink’  that automatically writes the Church off.

At the same time, I noticed that other great religious figures said the same things as the Popes – but they were excluded from the ‘groupthink’. For example, Gandhi’s sexual ethic was far stricter than Catholicism’s. And the Dalai Lama has openly criticised homosexual acts. Yet the secular ‘groupthink’ I once participated in conveniently forgets such things.

Because the Dalai Lama is cool. The Popes – at least until Pope Francis – were just bigoted reactionaries … So speaks the ‘groupthink’.

One thing that emerged through all this questioning is that I increasingly saw: the Catholic Church is on the side of nature – God’s creation.

Whether it is a matter of not artificially interfering with procreation or a matter of stressing a child’s deep psychological need for a both a mother and a father, the Church stands by a vision of human society that is natural and wholesome.

By contrast, I began to see that my old liberal perspectives were leading ever further from the natural world.

I am tempted to start speaking of these things – for example, how surrogacy threatens to turns us ever more into machines. Or how there is something terribly, terribly abstract in denying the nature of mother- and fatherhood.

But beyond that, I shall refrain for now. Again, I am not fully competent to address all the issues here. All I will say is I have come to ever more deeply trust the magisterium of the Church and to obey her Hierarchy.

After long interior battles, I am now, as Pope Francis is fond of saying, a loyal son of the Church.

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Now, most of my readers are not Irish, but from around the globe. But if you are a faithful son or daughter of the Church, I beg you to keep Ireland in your prayers these next few days. And, if you can find time, to pray earnestly for the protection of marriage in Ireland.

In that spirit, I offer a prayer given to me by a priest in Ireland. It is a prayer with a unique and striking strategy – praying to the Guardian Angels of each individual Irish voter tomorrow.

Dear Guardian Angels of the Irish people, please illuminate our minds to the truth of marriage and prompt each person to vote in accordance with the Plan of God. Amen.

St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, Pray for Ireland. Amen.

The situation here is truly heart-rending.

One journalist here, John Waters, recently described it as ‘Mental Civil War’.

I am trying to understand both sides of that war.  Today, I received a Facebook message from an old friend who said she would block my Facebook posts – those promoting a No vote – because of the hate she sees in the No side. She is a genuine soul and I think she genuinely means it.

But it is odd for me, for I have simply posted innocuous pins such as a video of gay Irish men explaining why they are voting NO (that video is here) or slogans like Mums and Dads Matter. Vote No.

I want to sympathise with my old friend. And I do. But I am struck by her attitude of simply ‘shutting out’ the other side – not trying to understand or listen.

The same, I am sure, is likewise true with many on the No side. No voters need to remember, I think, that many of the Yes side vote the way they do because they genuinely believe that same-sex ‘marriage’ is the most humane, noble and enlightened way forward.

No voters also, I believe, need to remember the treatment meted out to homosexual people for centuries. With St. John Paul II, we should all ask forgiveness for whatever crimes members of the Church have committed.

And – given that there have been billions of Catholics over these last two thousand years – those crimes are countless.

At the same time as we ask forgiveness, we should be under no illusion to the viciousness frequently displayed by secular culture – from the 1789 French Revolution onwards.

My prayer would be that Catholics and secular liberals could repent together for all the hate and violence they have committed. But that is a subject for another post.

The point in Ireland now is that each side is decrying hate in the other.

Let me return to Waters, who has a daughter with Sinead O’Connor. To me, this journalist seems steeped in the same liberal background I myself once was.

Yet in recent years, Waters started questioning the notion of gay marriage – not because he is against gays, but because of children’s psychological needs. If I understand the situation correctly (and given my lack of full competence here, I may not) this earned him the accusation of being homophobic by a drag queen on state television in Ireland.

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When Waters pointed out that he had never said or done anything homophobic in his life and threatened legal action, he was awarded thousands of euros.

The result has been that Waters has been persecuted. (After all, Waters is an obvious ‘homophobe’ – why should state television award him damages from taxpayer’s money?)

Thus, it is possible that personal hurt colours what Waters has recently reported. Apparently, Waters was scheduled to give a talk which had nothing to do with the referendum, but members of the Yes lobby tried to intimidate organisers into oust him.

I hope I am not amiss in quoting what Waters writes at some length:

This is what we have come to by virtue of the unaccountable surrender of our political class and media to perhaps the ugliest lobby group to cast its shadow over Irish life in the years of our independence. Held to ransom by a tiny indigenous minority with global muscle, we are enjoined to reach a sabotaging hand into our Constitution, and anyone who dissents becomes an instant public hate figure.

My family and I have been living this for 16 months, since I was attacked, without basis or evidence, by a drag queen on a TV talk show.

In all my years observing and writing about the political life of Ireland, I have never encountered anything like the venom of the baying mob that descended on me afterwards, or the duplicity and cowardice of media people who joined in. What I have observed over this past 16 months has chilled me to the quick, and alerted me to the fragility of our democracy.

This is Ireland 2015 – an Ireland where reason is alien, where the truth fears to speak its name in the face of hatred, demonisation and lies, and our supposedly free press not merely averts its gaze but runs, when it can, with the mob, offering a sullen tokenism in lieu of its responsibility to provide a free and fair forum for public debate.

The lobby behind the same-sex marriage amendment includes elements that are nasty, out of control and indifferent to democratic values.

I admit I almost chickened out of being involved in the campaign. [But] as the hurt and confusion percolated through my psyche, it began to occur to me that the consequences of failing to stand against what was happening might be fatal for our freedoms in the most intimate and sacred contexts.

 So this is why [I have] come out. …

For the past three weeks, I have been participating in media debates and addressing public meetings. I am so glad I found my bottle. Now that I’m out, I feel free. I still get attacked, but I no longer care – there’s too much at stake.

I met a man the other day who confided his belief that, in pushing this amendment, [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny had provoked in Irish society a ‘mental civil war’, which will have ramifications of their type just as serious as the Civil War of 93 years ago. He may be correct.

The stories I’ve come across of intimidation and hate-mongering are for me unprecedented in over 30 years writing about Irish life and politics. I met men whose daughters begged them not to let anyone know they were thinking of voting No, lest they, the children, be ostracised by their peers….

There are countless examples of illegality and blackguardism: the tearing down of No posters, the gloating YouTube video boasting of this usurping of the democratic process, the egg-throwing, the harassing of a hotel in Galway until it cancelled an anti-amendment meeting.

This has been the most comprehensive betrayal of democratic principles by an establishment in living memory . . .

There will be other consequences too: a new climate of prohibition concerning certain forms of thought and speech, an Orwellian revisionism directed at texts and records bearing witness to old ideas. And if you think this extreme, ask yourself: who among our political class is likely to resist? The fingers of one hand will prove more than adequate to the task of enumerating them.

I quote Waters at length, because truly I am hardly ready to speak with my own voice. The rest of Water’s brave, acutely observed piece can be found here.

However, the concerns he raises are critical ones. Again, they point to the vicious side of secular culture that we have witnessed in many guises since 1789 – but which are often covered up by secular media.

There is also Water’s allusion to ‘a tiny indigenous minority with global muscle.’

By this he means that the indigenous elites pushing this in the media and government are really very small – yet they have immense backing from international funds.

Speaking very, very personally, I have long been gravely concerned by Anglo-American cultural imperialism in Ireland. But it has never been as substantially clear to me as it is today. I will not say more now than to point the reader to the following link about massive American funding for the Yes campaign.

So, so much more must be said when I am more capable of finding my own voice.

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But in lieu of that, I simply repeat my prayer that both sides of this ‘Mental Civil War’ remember that each side believes itself to be animated by a noble cause.

And I beg you, once again, dear Reader, to please pray for Ireland in these coming days.

And do not forget every potential voter has a Guardian Angel who seeks to help, protect and guide him or her to the truth.

Finally, the graphic above has been created in the hope that it might be pinned on Pinterest.

I also have other pins for the referendum at my Pinterest feed here.

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5 responses to “Pray for Ireland”

  1. Emma Avatar

    this writing has pushed me further away from God than I thought possible. I’ve already been told I’m going to spend eternity in hell, thanks for bringing a little piece of that hell to earth.

    1. roger Avatar

      Emma, I am grateful for your comment, because it has actually been quite, quite important for me. Significant psychological processes have been triggered for me, which, whilst painful, have been helpful.

      I won’t say much more here, because the processes were so significant to me, that I devoted a major chunk of my latest blog to them.

      I will paste in a portion of that blog here …

      How to convey my grateful, terrible sadness? Perhaps I can tell you a story. Yesterday, I received a comment at this site to my last post on this subject from a woman called Emma. It ran like this:

      this writing has pushed me further away from God than I thought possible. I’ve already been told I’m going to spend eternity in hell, thanks for bringing a little piece of that hell to earth.

      Emma no doubt felt attacked by my post. Although I said nothing whatsoever about hell or anything that would seem to connect to her comments. But for whatever reason (possibly very painful episodes in her past) I do imagine Emma felt attacked – and attacked me back.

      Now, being rather thin-skinned myself, I often feel hurt by such attacks. This time, however, was different. By God’s mercy, I did not feel personally hurt by Emma. I did not even feel annoyed. Rather deep sadness welled up in my heart. Her words evidently betray her own deep suffering and I felt terribly sad – not only for her but the no doubt untold thousands more Yes voters who feel akin to her.

      Emma – what can I say?

      I, of course, never said you were going to hell. And any human being who has ever told you that is guilty not simply of being asinine – but of monstrousness. For it is monstrous that any mere human being assume the supreme arrogance – and heartlessness – of condemning any soul to hell. I, myself, cannot even condemn Hitler to hell, no matter how many millions he tortured and killed. Judgment is reserved for God alone.

      Emma – I am sorry if you have been attacked by asinine, monstrous remarks like this …

      There is a little more, at least more context, at my latest blog entitled Tragedy in Ireland. But if you read it, I am afraid you may feel even more hurt or angry.

      Whatever you feel, please know that I trust that you believe in what you take to be a noble cause. (This is evident from your email address, which, of course, I will not publish.) I hope you may understand that – as deluded as you may think me to be – I also believe I am working for a noble cause.

      It is tragic how people are separated. Both parties expending enormous effort for what they genuinely, sincerely believe to be the most humane, noble way forward for humanity.

      Peace be with you, Emma …

      NOTE to anyone else reading this comment: Please note that I am behind in my responses to other comments – and have prioritised Emma instead. But the other comments are much appreciated – and they WILL be answered soon.

  2. Even Keal Avatar
    Even Keal

    Great article! Thanks for posting. Praying for Ireland today from here in the United States!

    1. roger Avatar

      Even, although my reply is ridiculously belated – partly due to illness – I thank you warmly.

      (Other ridiculously belated comments will be forthcoming soon, I hope. I do not mean to forget anyone. I am just slowed down.)