Ireland… What is Ireland?

At Crisis I saw something about what the Irish did that serves as a pretty good summary.  The whole thing is HERE.

This is a sample:


Some scholars tell us that the gothic genre of story-telling grew up as a response to the Catholic Irish. A society that saw itself as enlightened, rational, secular, and modern suddenly found itself haunted by some frightful other, a ghoul, a return of the repressed: an avatar of superstitious, atavistic, arcane Catholicism. The Irish and Catholic response to such tales of Whiggery was easy: Catholicism “returns” not as the ravenous claw of the past reaching up from the grave to strangle the present, but as the truth, which never goes anywhere. Truth always asserts its inescapable claim on every person.

But what is one to do when that claw represents not simply the past, but also the future, the Catholic nation that Ireland was meant to become, but never quite did? What is one to do when the gothic monster is not something intruding from the depths beneath one’s society, but is, if anything, the institution that seemed to represent the most distinctive virtues of that society? Kill it, of course. Kill it, and take joy in the sport.

The joy with which the “gay marriage” referendum is being greeted not only in the streets of urban Dublin but across the whole country must surely be a complex emotion. Insofar as the Irish are just like most of us westerners, they are celebrating a new freedom of the will to assert itself without any moral prohibition. But the therapeutic triumphed long ago, and didn’t need Ireland to cement its victory.

The reason the Irish—as Irish—are celebrating is that they have with this referendum delivered a decisive and final blow to their venerable image as a Catholic nation. They have taken their vengeance on the Church. They must relish the unshackling; they must love the taste of blood. But, finally, they take joy in becoming what, it seems, they were always meant to become. An unexceptional country floating somewhere in the waters off a continent that has long since entered into cultural decline, demographic winter, and the petty and perpetual discontents that come free of charge to every people that lives for nothing much in particular.

That’s about right.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Orphrey says:

    Did I miss something, or did the Pope say nothing about the Ireland referendum? Maybe it is not the place of a pope to “interfere” in local politics, and yet souls are at stake. Why would the pope have nothing to say about this diabolical “social revolution” in a “Catholic nation”?

  2. JonPatrick says:

    Maybe the Pope recognizes that this outcome is merely the result of a century long process that started when the Church of England allowed the use of artificial contraception in 1930 and accelerated in the 1960’s with the Pill and sexual freedom. Many in the Church have quietly (or not) supported this movement for example when many church leaders rejected Humanae Vitae. So it’s a little late to be trying to stop it now.

  3. Kerry says:

    That island nation, defenestrated of these Druid pleasantries, will once again bloom with monasteries.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    This overturn of religion did not happen overnight. I visited and stayed in Ireland for quite some time in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and this past January, 2015. An excellent priest told me that the Irish Catholics did not appropriate their adult faith even in the 1950s,refusing to read or study their own religion. My take was that socialism and radical politics, as well as money, were more important than religion. Ireland is not a poor country. Dublin is a rich, international metropolis. Google International is located in Ireland, which has become a tax haven for American companies. The American, Hollywood idea of Ireland has been long gone. I was there when the abortion bill was pushed through the Dail. There was relatively little resistance.

    What commentators are forgetting is that Ireland has cooperated more than most countries with the Big Brother of Brussels, giving up sovereignty in many areas, which are hidden to most Americans. Ireland has also pandered to American interests, many businesses, and American liberal groups which push international far left politics.

    In addition, in 2012, when I was there, the banks accepted sharia law banking. Look that up, giving preference to loans given to Muslims in exchange for money deals with Saudi Arabia. This is not arcane knowledge, but was touted on the television and radio when I was there.

    Also, many of the clergy, specifically the bishops, have given Communion to pro-abort politicians and have not stood up against ssm, and two came out and said vote “yes”. at least two. Again, this sea-change did not happen quickly, but in an atmosphere of growing hatred of the Catholic Church,. Of course, the sex scandals did not help clergy-laity relationships.

    Catholic Ireland is officially dead, but it was dying a slow, long death, imho. There has been a disjoint between Catholic practice and politics since Catholic Ireland made a hero out of Charles Parnell, the “uncrowned king of Ireland”, despite his infamous adultery. Even then, Catholics turned against the Catholic Church, which, of course, condemned the man’s actions, and many so-called good Catholics sided with Parnell, making him some sort of martyr. This split between politics and religion is not new in the land of Patrick.

    One more thing–neo-paganism, since another “hero”, William Butler Yeats, has made a huge comeback in Ireland, (and many have never left the Isle) in the form of satanism and witchcraft, which are both highly popular. One cannot ignore the fact that the slow fog of compromise grew into the storm we saw on Friday and that this fog was a long time growing in the hearts of many Irish people.

  5. Kerry says:

    ” Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. “

  6. Joseph-Mary says:

    One of my all time favorite priests, Fr. Liam, was from Ireland. He was ordained at a late age as he cared for his parents and their farm as they declined. He went to seminary but had to stop and start as I recall. But he was faithful! And holy! And he spoke the truth. And he was blackballed in Ireland and could not finish his training. So he came to the US and it was not easy to find a bishop here to sponsor him. Finally he did in a dying diocese desperate for priests and was ordained at the age of 57. And he was wonderful! NO compromising with immoralities from him. He brought individuals and families back to church. And Ireland rejected him.

    In 2004 my family went on pilgrimage to Ireland. Some churches were so beautiful that I wept because in my part of the country we have no churches like that. But they were almost empty even then and I noted it.

  7. Grumpy Beggar says:

    JonPatrick says:
    “Maybe the Pope recognizes that this outcome is merely the result of a century long process that started when the Church of England allowed the use of artificial contraception in 1930 and accelerated in the 1960’s with the Pill and sexual freedom. Many in the Church have quietly (or not) supported this movement for example when many church leaders rejected Humanae Vitae. So it’s a little late to be trying to stop it now.”

    When I followed the link to the entire Crisis Magazine article to read more of it, I started getting this little pop-up in the lower RH corner recommending other Crisis Magazine articles . I couldn’t help but have a look at Dale Ahlqusit’s G. K. Chesterton: It’s Not Gay, and It’s Not Marriage – fantastic article tracing out the pathology. Chesterton had actually warned/predicted in 1926 that,

    “ . . . ‘ The next great heresy will be an attack on morality, especially sexual morality.’His warning has gone unheeded, and sexual morality has decayed progressively. But let us remember that it began with birth control, which is an attempt to create sex for sex’s sake, changing the act of love into an act of selfishness. The promotion and acceptance of lifeless, barren, selfish sex has logically progressed to homosexuality.

    Chesterton shows that the problem of homosexuality as an enemy of civilization is quite old. In The Everlasting Man, he describes the nature-worship and “mere mythology” that produced a perversion among the Greeks. ‘Just as they became unnatural by worshiping nature, so they actually became unmanly by worshiping man.’ Any young man, he says, ‘who has the luck to grow up sane and simple’ is naturally repulsed by homosexuality because ‘it is not true to human nature or to common sense.” He argues that if we attempt to act indifferent about it, we are fooling ourselves. It is “the illusion of familiarity,’ when ‘a perversion become[s] a convention.’

    Your causality appears to concur with Chesterton’s , JonPatrick .

  8. Imrahil says:

    Three points:

    1. There is no such thing as a final blow to the Catholic Church.

    2. Failure and sin do not render nations (or people) unexceptional who were exceptional before. Germany, who certainly in some senses is an exceptional nation (I hope that statement is neutral enough) committed a crime when in 1933 it voted a ghastly heresy into power; but as to exceptionality, if anything, she became even more exceptional in the act. Ireland, glorious Catholic Ireland, now is the first nation that actually voted for gay marriage in a referendum. Whatever that be, it is not unexceptional.

    3. There are complex and multiple reasons why a nation – if it is not only that third part which actually did vote ‘yes’ – starts to celebrate. Why did President Bush celebrate (as he did) the victory of Obama, the opposing party’s candidate? Why did Gottfried Benn declare that “in spite of everything he is for the New [Nazi] State seeing that it is my People that have decided that way”? Archduke Otto very reasonably remarked (to those who critizise Austria for cheering Hitler in 1938) that you can collect some cheering masses for any cause.

  9. SanSan says:

    An entire Catholic nation falls and nothing from our Pope….not to mention our own priests and Pastors? And, the leading AB in Dublin can only say before the vote “I’m voting no” and after the vote “its a social revolution”…….God help them all!

  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    Several thoughts:

    1) The Devil sure must be clicking his heels and having a good ol’ time. He can enjoy his victories for now, but his defeat is inevitable. Unfortunately, he knows that and is trying to take as many souls away from God as he can.

    2) I saw on Facebook were the Vatican decried the referendum result as a “defeat for humanity”. That’s a little like closing the barn doors after the horses have already escaped. Just sayin’.

    3)My wife has some relatives who still live in Ireland, her impression was that the country was acting like little kids, getting back in the faces of an authority figure that they imagined had “oppressed them”.

    4)The German bishops must be thrilled.

  11. ocalatrad says:

    My heart wrenches over this tragedy in Ireland. It seems when a Catholic country collapses, it COLLAPSES. “Ex”-Catholics don’t bother with grey Protestantism; they go straight for atheism. Protestant countries just seem to fade gradually.

    I agree with the comment about the monasteries reemerging, and this is why I support Silverstream Priory ( and the good work of renewal they are engaged in in Ireland. Traditional monasticism is the seed by which the revival of the True Faith will come.

  12. jfk03 says:

    The Irish church will continue to exist, but in little cells and pockets of disciples. The Lord Jesus remains in control. He is the victor, having trampled down death by death. I recommend “Simply Good News” by N T Wright as a way to maintain one’s perspective.

  13. Imrahil says:

    ad 4) As a matter of fact, they aren’t. What they’re advocating for is sacramental tolerance of the divorced and remarried; they have just now

    i) repudiated sharply a demand by the “Laity Organization” of German Catholics to allow for, amongst other things, gay marriage (which happened to be some days before the referendum),

    ii) issued an official statement concerning the referendum which disapproves of its result.

    Just because some people are saying A and other people assume (rightly or not) that “whoever says A must say B”, does not mean the firstmentioned people are actually saying B.

    In fact one of the reasons the German bishops may have so sharply reacted against the proposal of gay marriage (by the Laity Organization) may have been – besides that they really are contrary to it, which I do believe* – that it may be bad propaganda for their real position (concerning remarried).

  14. aquinas138 says:

    Though there is some truth to the quasi-adolescent glee of snubbing authority in this vote, I think it should also be kept in mind that it isn’t all about thumbing a collective nose at an oppressive moral authority – it’s also thumbing a collective nose at a socially-pervasive purported moral authority that enabled and shielded child rapists and abusers for a looooong time. Some of the details that have emerged from those abuse situations are nothing less than Satanic. This is not to defend answering moral failure with the same, but the bishops and the Vatican, to the extent it was an enabler, are in a sense reaping what was sown by the moral cowardice in shuffling around known abusers and the subsequent failure to discipline bishops who did the shuffling. Ignoring the anger at the Church over its incredible failure to protect the innocence and safety of children means not accurately diagnosing how the Irish vote could be so opposed to the Church.

    The world and the Church are in great need of prayer.

  15. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The Church in Ireland was persecuted quite harshly from the XVI century well into the XIX century. Now she’s headed back to persecution in the XXI century. The campaign couldn’t have been won in the months leading up to the election. A society that in which such a vote could be seriously proposed isn’t amenable to appeals to authority, reason or basic human dignity. During the brief respite from persecution, the Church in Ireland failed to rebuild civilization (cf. the famous epitaph of Francis Cardinal George).

    The persecutions that are bearing down on us in the rest of the English-speaking world are also, to some extent, of our own making (at least those of us who have been Christian for a few years or more) in that we have not been the salt of the earth. We have been too ready to compromise, to withdraw or merely to demur rather than to contend for the faith once delivered and the awesome dignity inherent in each human person.

  16. haydn seeker says:

    I go back to Ireland several times a year. I’m not particularly fond of it, but I keep in touch. I have two thoughts:

    1. This is a classic example of Chesterton’s “when you stop believing in God you don’t believe in nothing, you believe in anything.” The Irish have done this on a whim, because other people are doing it. If the UK had not introduced this a couple of years ago, it would never have occurred to the Irish. They are a deeply conformist people and have done this in a deeply unserious way.

    2. The standard of liturgy is APPALING in Ireland. I cannot think of a single Irish priest who gives the impression that what goes on at mass is important, and wouldn’t be improved with a joke or a poem. You can’t beat a something with a nothing, and the Irish clergy are a whole lot of nothing. I would send every Irish priest and bishop to the missions, close pretty much every church except a couple in remote, barren outcrops, import a couple of Nigerian priests to say mass like they mean it, preferably in Latin, and grow the Church back from the remnant.

  17. Orphrey says:

    If the Irish bishops are wondering what to do next, I’ve heard ashes and sack cloth can work wonders.

  18. Benedict Joseph says:

    A complex of historical events and dispositions are responsible for this tragedy, but not the least is a pastoral practice put in place fifty years ago, abandoning catechesis, assuming a mantle of shame in regard to the Magisterium, spitting upon devotion, and dispersing the flock into the hands of charlatans of all shades. Though they certainly don’t hold the monopoly, in my narrow experience the Irish and Irish-Americans seem particularly prone to this nonsense. They appear to find themselves unable to put aside a pastoral theory that has simply proved itself inadequate at best, but by and large, utterly tragic in its consequences. It’s as if the generation of priests born in the thirties and forties, ordained in the fifties and early sixties, were administered a theological education laced with a disorienting addictive component. This state of unawareness is manifest in an entire spectrum of pastors, from the local to the Roman. The exceptions exist, but they seem quite few.

  19. Sonshine135 says:

    Don’t think for a minute America and the Holy Roman and Apostolic Church isn’t in the exact same boat as Ireland right now. The only difference is that they had a referendum to vote on. Should the Supreme Court, by some slight chance, say there is no such thing as SSM here, I would look for push for a constitutional amendment and quick and expedited ratifications by all parties and people claiming various faiths. This has always been the plan. The purpose of these pushes are not to win some great victory for those who claim homosexuality either. It is simply so these individuals can cheer and dance around the ashes of what they claim to be an unjust morality and civilization. Once destroyed, they will move to their next target, because their only joy in life is the suffering of others.

  20. Simon_GNR says:

    I’d just like to point out that the same-sex marriage referendum was only in the Republic of Ireland, not the whole of Ireland. In the six counties of Northern Ireland same-sex marriage will remain impossible for the time being, as the law in that part of the U.K. was not altered by the U.K. Parliament ‘s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which applies only England in England and Wales. I believe there are is at present no government proposal to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. So, not all of Ireland will be allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages.

  21. WYMiriam says:

    Imrahil said something that needs to be reiterated often and forcefully — only 37.5% of all Irish voters cast a “yes” vote for same-sex “marriage”. While it is deplorable, it’s certainly not “overwhelming”.

    And it’s deplorable in at least two ways — (1) because a behavior long viewed both as sinful and as contrary to human nature has, in Ireland, been given moral equivalency with marriage, and (2) because this is just another example of rule-by-the-minority (one can see it in the U.S.A. every time we go to vote). With the apathy that runs rampant when elections are concerned, unless or until we see voter turnout rates approaching 100 percent, we will continue to have minorities — sometimes shamefully small minorities — of voters deciding who is going to make and enforce our laws.

    What’s the answer? I don’t know what the complete answer is, but it starts with educating yourself, educating others, and VOTING every time we are able to.

  22. jaykay says:

    Supertradmum said: “I was there when the abortion bill was pushed through the Dail. There was relatively little resistance.”

    Well, if you call two rallies/marches that saw the equivalent in U.S. terms of 2 million and 4 million people on the streets of the capital, in January and July respectively, “relatively little resistance”, I reckon the definition of “major resistance” must be something else entirely. Not to mention the many other rallies, talks, postering, mailshots etc. organised on a local basis around the country. I know. I did some of it.

    The fact is that this evil legislation was rushed through in a relatively short time, on a tidal wave of hysteria following the (deliberate mis-) reporting of the Savita Halappanavar case. The resistance had, as ever, to be organised on a shoestring basis, with funds raised by voluntary donations and in face of the concerted and powerful opposition of the political parties (with some, few honourable exceptions), the media, both national and international and, needless to remark, the full strength of the LGBTQWERTYUIOP lobby ever ready to give their support to anything that they feel will advance their cause. Not to mention the passive resistance of a great part of the sheeple, especially the young, who don’t really care about anything deeply but are anxious to be seen to “do the right thing”. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, that impulse is huge over here. So basically, we had a full-dress rehearsal for the abomination that was passed last week.

    haydn seeker: in regard to your first point, you’re spot-on. The get-with-the-crowd impulse is, and has been for a long time, huge. However I think your second point is, erm, a tad excessive. I would tend to say that the standard of liturgy is more medium-to-mediocre, but calling everything “appalling” is over-generalising more than a little. As for the Nigerian priests, well, we’ve had two in our parish, and are lucky to have a deacon currently, but none of them knows more than a smattering of Latin. That said, their standards are high and I do appreciate their ministry. I suppose I could volunteer to teach them Latin. Hmmm… :)

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear WYMiriam, thanks!

    I’d assume, though, that in normal elections, not only those who are to lazy to vote or even care abstain from voting – but also who can’t decide, protest against given decisions, etc.

    So also here:

    1. those who think that “gay marriage” is demanded by justice and that not having it hitherto is but a result of maliciousness of the heterosexual majory, they would vote “yes”.

    2. those who are opposed to gay marriage because it’s, to say the least, nonsense, they would vote “no”.

    3. those who are to apathic to care or to lazy to vote, they vould vote “abstain”.

    4. and finally those – and here it becomes interesting – who in their heart feel that there’s something odd, something weird, something abnormal about gay marriage, but then again are very keen on being nice to everyone, “and the homosexuals seem to want that, don’t they?”, “and after all why would it hurt?”, “this is still Ireland and we’ll still treat it as something for a negligible number of men who happen to be homosexual – it’s not like we were introducing a school education that treats the normal family as an abnormality” (which is pretty much the case in some German states, at least in things proposed there – not Bavaria, though, this is still Bavaria^^), “and it’s going to be a ‘yes’ anyway”, “and afterwards if we vote ‘no’ now, we’re going to have another referendum ere five years are over”, “it’s the alternativeless course in this age”, etc. etc. etc.

    I suspect that these category-4 people are always very numerous in a given populace, but in our age with its spirit turned against dogmatics and clear rationality, even more so than others.

    Of them, now, some may have found their way into the ‘no’ camp. Some, I guess, more, would have found themselves into the ‘yes’ camp. And quite many, I guess, might actually have thought that ‘abstain’ is quite the choice which actually represents their opinion.


    Here, by the way, is something to be said about the Church’s influence. Over categories 1 and 2, in has – in practice – ever been limited. (Maybe, so they tell us, not in Ireland and Poland; but certainly in France, Italy, Germany, Spain and so on.)

    But as for ordering category 3 to the ballot-box, and as for making category 4 to decide for the thing they feel to be right in their heart of hearts, instead of being drawn to anyother side by their complicated and mixed feelings,

    that would have been, in the old times, quickly been settled by the bishop’s order, read aloud instead of a sermon on the Sunday preceding Election Day.

    (Though the fault is not simply that they have been silent; they may justifiedly have thought that clearly giving orders might have made things worse.)

  24. KateD says:

    First, the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and now the Emerald Isle (the great legacy of Saint Patrick) herself. Interesting.

  25. SanSan says:

    Prior to the vote in Ireland, hardly a word from Bishops in Ireland or around the world….after the vote….they’ve all come out to condem……why not come out in masse prior to important votes or legislation… from the pulpit maybe? SPELL it out clearly……Once the die is cast…..too late?

  26. WYMiriam says:

    Imrahil, the bishops can’t “order” us to vote one way or the other (otherwise, what happens to free will?) — but they certainly can . . . . and maybe have a duty to . . . educate us before such a vote as to the Truth of the matter. I have heard precious few sermons in my life concerning Church teaching on any matters of sexual morality. (Actually, I’ve heard precious few sermons — other than sermons by FSSP priests — concerning ANY Church teaching.) We need to be properly informed. And we need to properly inform ourselves if the bishops and their priests refuse to do it for us.

    There are, as you point out, several reasons for not voting, some of which are truly legitimate (like getting sick too late to ask for an absentee ballot). I would rather have the uneducated voter stay at home if he doesn’t know anything about the politicians and/or the issues, because an ignorant vote is truly a wasted vote.

  27. Imrahil says:

    Dear WYMiriam,

    naturally I was not referring to a bishop using physical force to make people vote, but, yes, about the force which the order of a legitimate authority has in its subject’s conscience.

    What happens to free-will?

    Just as little as happens to free-will when God orders us to go to Church on Sunday, or when an officer orders a soldier to stand at attention. (I realize that people may respectfully disagree with the bishop – which is why I said that over those who really have made up their minds, the effect of direct calls from the bishop has always in practice been limited.)

    Some countries may not be accustomed to this, but after all, it is only consequent when this yes, around here before Election Day, bishops regularly give out orders like “Go to voting, do not stay and home”, and not long ago, they also ordered “vote in a Christian manner”, which was meant to say and was understood to say “vote for the Christian Democratic/Social Union”.

  28. Imrahil says:

    ah, I forgot to finish my sentence. I’m really sorry!

    So, the entire last paragraph should read:

    Some countries may not be accustomed to this, but after all, it is only consequent when this education you refer to does directly apply its principles to practical cases. And yes, around here before Election Day, bishops regularly give out orders like “Go to voting, do not stay and home”, and not long ago, they also ordered “vote in a Christian manner”, which was meant to say and was understood to say “vote for the Christian Democratic/Social Union”.

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