Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Irish Rainbow Referendum: Valuable Commentary from Past Few Days (As Vatican Wags Its Finger at the Rainbows)

Another story that keeps popping so fast, I can't really keep up with everything that's being said: Ireland. And its recent rainbow referendum. I very much appreciate the links and reports you readers have been providing (notably, from the other side of the pond, the indefatigable Chris Morley). Here's my own pick of things worth reading that have appeared in the last several days:

1. For the British Catholic journal The Tablet, Irish journalist Ursula Halligan, who came out in a public way during the referendum, highlights the Catholic "paradox" of the Irish vote:

Therein lies the paradox in the Catholic Church revealed by this referendum. The most faithful of the faithful found ourselves, not just going against Church teaching, but going against it publicly. They included some very prominent Catholics including the former Irish president Mary McAleese, Fr Peter McVerry, Prof Linda Hogan, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Fr Gabriel Daly.

2. At Religion News Service today, Paul Morrissey of USA Today echoes Halligan's analysis of what has just happened in Ireland:

The Irish have been brought up by the Catholic Church to view marriage as a sacrament and that’s the reason they can shift sideways to see a same-sex relationship in the same God-blessed way. Because marriage is a beautiful commitment of love, taught to them by the church, the Irish can make the connection to two people of the same sex loving each other with a similar commitment. It is the love commitment they value, and have come to see in their friends and family members who are gay and lesbian as well. Love conquers.

3. As Mary Hunt also does today at Religion Dispatches: noting that "good Irish Catholics followed their faith in the direction of inclusion, compassion, equality, justice, and a host of other Catholic values when they voted with the majority despite some clergymen’s efforts to lead them astray," she concludes,

Much remains to be done to dismantle deeply entrenched structures. But the Irish referendum means that a top-down, clergy-heavy model of church heard its death knell in Dublin. As it reverberates around the world the Gospel message might get a little more airtime. As the Irish say, it will make a glass eye cry—with joy.

4. As does Frank Bruni in today's New York Times, as he points out that Catholic nations have been at the forefront of the movement to afford rights to LGBT people, including the right of civil marriage: he states,

We journalists too often use "the Catholic Church" as a synonym for the pope, the cardinals and teachings that have the Vatican’s stamp of approval. 
But in Europe and the Americas in particular, the church is much more fluid than that. It harbors spiritually inclined people paying primary obeisance to their own consciences, their own senses of social justice. That impulse and tradition are as Catholic as any others. 
Catholics in the United States appear to be more, not less, progressive about gay rights than Americans in general are.

5. And then there's Margaret Spillane in The Nation on how the yes side won the referendum:  

As for the church itself: devout Catholics counted among the most fervent supporters of the Yes Equality vote. Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, legendary advocate for the rights of homeless persons, declared marriage equality "a civil right and a human right." Limerick's Father Iggy O'Donovan proclaimed the value of the Yes vote because "when we become legislators…as we do when we vote in referendums, we legislate as citizens for ALL our fellow citizens." Tony Flannery of Athenry, suspended from the priesthood in 2012 by the Vatican for his progressive sexual politics, greeted the announcement of the Yes decision by declaring that "the day of doctrinaire Catholicism is over in this country." Even Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who had personally voted No, told a radio audience "This is a social revolution… The church needs to do a reality check."

6. As both Roisin Davis (for Truthdig) and Liam Hore (for Slate) are pointing out, what Catholic Ireland just chose to do now puts Northern Ireland, whose political life is heavily influenced by conservative evangelical Christians, in a tight spot. Davis:

Composed mainly of evangelical Christian instead of Roman Catholic elements, Northern Ireland’s main governing party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has taken a regressive stance on LGBT equality akin to that of the tea party in the United States. . . . With Saturday’s vote in the Republic of Ireland, equality for Northern Ireland’s LGBT community now seem less impossible. Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast, the island’s second-largest city, is taking momentum from Dublin’s 75 percent "yes" vote, with huge marriage equality rallies planned over the coming weeks.

And Hoare:

A month before the Irish people gave their wholehearted support to marriage equality, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted down same-sex marriage for the fourth time. It was embarrassing then, but after the referendum in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland’s status as the only nation in the British Isles willing to deny same-sex couples the right to marriage—an outpost of homophobic discrimination in Western Europe—is even more disgraceful and unjustifiable.

As Hoare notes, the Democratic Unionist Party has, "[s]ince it was established by Ian Paisley in 1971, . . .been associated with social conservatism and Protestant fundamentalism." The DUP is the largest party in the Northern Irish Assembly, and is heavily influenced by the right-wing evangelical church the Free Presbyterian Church.

7. And, last but not least, there's the Vatican's bumbling, unfortunate response to the rainbow referendum vote of Irish Catholics, as represented by the words of the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Tuesday evening. As Stephanie Kirchgaessner reported in The Guardian yesterday, Parolin represents what just happened in Ireland as "a defeat for humanity."

As Phil Ewing of the wonderful Ennis Blue blog site linked in my Bilgrimage blog list pointed out to me yesterday, have a look at the comments responding to Parolin at The Guardian. They're as well worth reading as the article itself. And as Chris Morley notes in another of his stellar reports in the comboxes here this morning, until the Queen's opening address to Parliament displaced this story as The Guardian website's top story, the Vatican-responding-to-Ireland piece was the journal's top story.

In the words of the inimitable Harold Beale of the 1976 film Network, people are as mad as hell at the Vatican and they're not going to take it any more. The message the Catholic people of Ireland have just sent the Vatican: keep talking down to us and keep wagging your moralizing finger at us, and we'll continue to go right on not listening to you.

Because pedophile priests and nuns wreaking havoc with the lives of unwed mothers and their children. Because spectacular pastoral malfeasance of one top church authority figure after another. Because the primacy of conscience and the sensus fidelium. Because the maturity of the people of God while the church wants to pretend we're children.

Parolin's response indicates that the leaders of the Catholic church continue to be intent on not getting it. The Irish vote indicates that, if that's the case, we the Catholic people will keep flowing around them like a rushing river flowing around a rock impeding its path. 

That's rather what the Holy Spirit does, isn't it?

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