Saturday, May 23, 2015

Catholic Ireland Says Yes to Human Rights (and Courage, Compassion, and Hope): Ball Now in Court of Church's Pastoral Leaders

Well, many readers will have awakened today, as I've done, to see news that Ireland appears to have voted for marriage equality — and by resounding margins of approval throughout the nation. The vote tallying is still going on, but all indicators are that voters chose equality by sizable majorities not merely in urban areas, as expected, but in rural parts of the country as well. 

I won't burden you with links to news reports. You can easily find them at any number of news sites this morning.

I'm bowled over, in particular, by the choice that thousands of Irish citizens, most of them young, made to return home yesterday to vote, from places like Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, Germany, Thailand, Australia, the U.S. and U.K. The video at the head of the posting is an Irish news video interviewing some of these "Home to Vote" folks as they arrived in Ireland yesterday.

As Scout Finch noted at Daily Kos yesterday, the Irish "won the internet" on 22 May as young Irish people returned home to vote and tweeted photographs and reports while they travelled. The Twitter hashtag #HomeToVote was created to gather these stories together, and inspired people all day long as it trended on Twitter, showing hot spots around the globe of people following the discussion at this hashtag:

George Takei's note of congratulations to Ireland at Facebook this morning specifically takes note of the #HometoVote phenomenon:

The question that the Irish referendum now poses for the leaders of the Catholic church: what to do with what is a quite specific loss for those leaders — an unambigous and loud repudiation of their vision of church for one that we the Catholic people have developed in recent years as we follow our consciences and live our lives of Christian calling in the world, while our pastoral leaders so woefully betray us and their pastoral leadership? Joe Stanley of London poses this question in his Facebook commentary on the Irish referendum this morning: 

The courage, the dedication, the compassion and hope for the future that motivated thousands of young people, most of them raised Catholic, to get on planes and take ships and ferries yesterday back home to vote yes on behalf of a minority group long despised and abused by those in the mainstream: this has to mean something very important in spiritual terms, it seems to me. Any church whose pastoral leaders have any real intent to be pastoral would do well to start thinking honestly about these matters. 

And to listen to the courage, dedication, compassion, and hope of people it keeps trying to shut out of the conversation, as its "leaders" define the meaning of the gospel for the rest of us . . . .

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