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May 28th, 2015


If you can bear it, watch this video until the end. I can’t improve on Fr Ray Blake’s comment:

In a way this video says everything about what is wrong with the Church in Ireland; it is narcissistic and feel-gooding, self-neutering, incapable of reproducing itself, neither evangelising nor being self-critical. It is shallow, self-referential, lacking the ability to speak to either the mind or the heart, only to sentiment. It neither depends on or leads to Jesus Christ, in fact it becomes a replacement for him.

Elsewhere Fr Blake  says:

A friend bought an autobiography of a bishop recently and then complained how shallow, self justifying it was. How it seemed to lack any talk of Grace and seemed spiritually vacuous, as if it was written by a name dropping minor politician, rather than a Christian and a man of faith. I have yet to read it but I suspect it is typical of any apologia of any bishop today, with no attempt as Newman might have made, to reveal his method of thinking or his spiritual motivation, or the action of God in his life.

A Church that is rootless is not ‘owned’ by the people. A Church that is afraid to teach because it has cut itself from its previous Magisterium, and which instead sows uncertainty, has nothing to say in the daily living of its members, nor in the intellectual forum in general. In fact it is irrelevant. It has all the outward appearance that it once used for the furtherance of its mission but has lost its interior meaning. It is not so much an Emperor with no clothes, but the clothes without an Emperor; all that is left is the institution, which itself is meaningless. In Germany, as in Ireland, the real-estate portfolio seems to be what the Church is about rather than any actual teaching or revelation of Christ.

What I find so sad about Archbishop Martin’s statements is that they  seem to be about institutional power, and influence, the very thing that disgusted the Irish during the abuse crisis. This is what even practising Catholics seem to find so objectionable about the Irish bishops, but in fact they are like many European bishops who have nothing to say and nothing to offer except a vacuous institution; the Church preaching not Jesus Christ but simply protecting its back…

…they have emptied the Church of meaning, leaving it ineffectual, substituting for doctrine a warm feeling, for the worship of God, a celebration of community. This what the Irish Church has been offering for decades—pap!


May 27th, 2015

The Noble Act of B——y in the New Ireland

An anonymous reader sums it all up….

Well,  Stramentarius…..
It’s surely time for hi-fives and trebles all round ! The Irish people have had their say and lead the world, but, Stramentarius, there’s a big job left to do for the likes of you and me. We have to clear our language box so that the now ennobled activity which formerly was the butt of jokes is given the respect which the Irish people know it deserves.
So, Stramentarius, out with demeaning language like ‘b—–er off ’, ‘well I’ll be b—–ed’, ’it’s all gone to ‘b—–y’ and so on. And in particular, we must all press for recognition of ‘informed consent’. For example, if an onlooker in an open space hears another citizen saying ‘Well. b—-er me’ or some such words they should be entitled to believe that informed consent has been given and that the activity so cherished by the Irish people can take place without further discussion.
Well, I suppose that I should keep up new Irish customs by asking you to ‘b—-r’ off to your study and start on the job ahead of us.
What better way to begin, than without more ado to “take a reality check” and then  share the above inspiring message with you all?

May 26th, 2015

Our Dark Age of Unrepented Mortal Sin

The endorsement by the Irish people of sodomistic pseudogamy is part of a continuum that began with the wholesale rejection of  Humanae Vitae in 1968.  The rot might have been stopped, or at least mitigated, if priests and bishops had been brave enough, or convinced enough, to back up Pope Paul’s encyclical, vigorously,  in their preaching and in the confessional. Even if they had failed,  they would have done their duty to their flocks and to Almighty God. But the overwhelming majority of them kept silent, and our present predicament is the result.

Here’s Fr Hunwicke’s take on where the Church is now at:

Well, we all know what happened in the twentieth century. Divorce got its toe in the door … and within decades the door was wide open. Unnatural and disordered sexual practices corrupted Marriage. Fornication gradually ceased to be furtive and, after being ‘Free love’ in the 1930s, had by the end of the century become the natural assumption of Western societies. Homosexuals … no; some homosexuals … ceased to enjoy inhabiting an amusing subculture and became aggressive public ideologues. The mortal sin of missing Mass without good cause ceased to be a matter of guilt. You know all this, and much more.

My analysis, and suggestion, is this. Society has in effect regressed to the superficially christianised state it was in during the ‘Dark Ages’. We are, in other words, in a new Dark Age of widespread unrepented mortal sin. In fact, ours is an even darker age, because people do not even accept that they are in a state of sin, and do not repent, not even once a year. Nor, probably, even when they die.

Unhappily, however, we have inherited the ecclesial sacramental culture, to which the reforms of S Pius X have led, in which it appears that a General Communion is the normal custom at every Mass. It is not commonly preceded by Confession; that sacrament has become so uncommon that, at the beginning of the Year of Faith, I heard (yes, I heard this with my own ears) one priest in a mainstream church, say this to his congregation:I have decided to use the Year of Faith to revive confession. As you all know, in this church we have for long used the Confessional for storing what gets left unsold after a Parish bring and buy sale. It’s pretty full, and we need to get rid of all the stuff so as to use the Confessional for confessions again. There are a lot of books … I invite everyone to come and help themselves to any thing at all they can take away and use; and then we’ll have a Work Party to clean it out.’

So people who have not been to their duties for years receive Communion when, at family events, they have the rare experience of being at a celebration of Mass. People who have committed sexual sins for which they feel no repentance, which they have no intention to strive to avoid in future, naturally troop up to the Altar and receive Communion. As a product of Anglican culture, I am still horrified by the widespread Catholic custom of receiving communion into the hand and then walking nonchalantly away putting the Host into ones mouth as one walks.

May 25th, 2015

The Bishops Were ‘Frit’

The bishops’ performance in the referendum was utterly pathetic, with the one exception of Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin. It’s surely no coincidence that the only constituency to vote No was Co. Roscommon in the Elphin diocese.
The performance of His Grace of Dublin was probably the worst. He’s the one who needs a “reality check” most of all. A consummate politician and diplomat, he set himself the impossible task of avoiding annoying  the Irish Times and RTE, without offending Almighty God. He’s a highly intelligent man, and he must know in his heart of hearts it can’t be done.
Yes, the Bishops of Ireland were “frit”, to use Margaret Thatcher’s expression.  Just like the English hierarchy under Henry VIII.
My friend Pastor Emeritus sums it all up neatly:
Now we know that the Catholic Church in Ireland needs a ‘reality check’!   That’s official.   But such a check has already been taken by the Association of Catholic Priests, resulting in the acceptance of the mores of society in Ireland today as the way forward for the Church.  It would seem that many bishops, judging by their actions before the referendum, go along with that.   As the Archbishop of Dublin put it, ‘The time when a bishop would tell people how to vote is long since gone’.
I think that we now face the problem Newman faced in the Anglican Church—do the bishops believe in Apostolic Succession?   Do the Catholic people of Ireland believe in it?   What drew people to Jesus was the fact that he spoke with authority.  Then he said to the apostles, ‘He who hears you, hears me’.   Have the bishops lost their nerve, afraid of unpopularity?   All they could bring themselves to say was that they would vote NO, but the people they were meant to lead were left to confuse compassion for gay people with the truth of the nature of marriage.    Faith and morals are the sphere for the bishop, and he cannot opt out with a “who am I to judge?”
God help us all now.

May 24, 2015

Don’t Despair: Look at France

Following the sodomistic pseudogamy disaster, I’ve been given lots more to think about; but I haven’t had time to get  my thoughts into any sort of order. The most important thing , I feel is not to give way to discouragement: the present triumph of the enemies of Christ and His Church will be comparatively short-lived, even though it may first develop into a full-scale persecution. The counter-revolution will come; even if I don’t live to see it, my children probably will, and I believe my grandchildren definitely will.

There are some encouraging signs already in—of all places—heavily secularised France. Here’s a morale-boosting report from the British Catholic Herald:

The last country you’d expect to see a vibrant socially conservative and Catholic movement emerge from would be France, with its reputation for entrenched secularism and libertinism. And yet, this is exactly what La Manif Pour Tous (or Manif, for short), the mass-protest movements against France’s Socialist government’s same-sex marriage bill, managed to spark. Though the bill eventually passed, the movement managed to put more than a million people on the streets, won real concessions from the government, and more importantly created a new sense of a young, eager and growing Catholic social conservative movement in France.

What gives?

The Manif was an utterly unexpected phenomenon. Nobody anticipated that protests against a same-sex marriage bill would draw more than a few tens of thousands. Instead, the largest protests drew more than a million. Over several weeks, with clockwork-like regularity, the Manif drew large amounts of people in every large city of France to protest against the bill.

Also unexpected was the Manif’s spokeswoman, Frigide Barjot, once known for highly risqué 1980s hit songs, who became the public face of the movement, lending it a patina of cool. Some of the movement’s spokesmen were also faithful Catholic gay people who opposed same-sex marriage in conscience.

While the Manif was officially a secular movement unaffiliated with the Catholic Church, backed by secular groups as well as groups from all major religions, the clear driving force behind the Manif was the French bishops’ conference, which provided money and organisational muscle behind the scenes.

In France, it is an unwritten rule of politics that mass protests will kill a bill even if it has majority support in Parliament and in the polls. That France’s Socialist government made an exception just for social conservatives only energised protesters further. In the end, the government did have to walk back on some important issues: off the table were adoption, surrogacy and in-vitro fertilisation for gay couples, and the government also shelved a planned euthanasia bill.

The Manif also generated spin-off movements, some sad, some fascinating. Le Printemps Français (“French Spring”, after the Arab Spring) became the radicalised wing of the Manif, overheated in its rhetoric and sometimes violent. In contrast, les Sentinelles (“the Watchmen”) organised peaceful, candlelit sit-ins and poetry readings in front of government buildings ­– some of which, not having been approved by government authorities, led to arrests. Tugdual Derville, one of the founders of the Manif, founded a think tank to promote an ideology he calls “human ecology”, a warm and fuzzy term for Christian humanism. By contrast, Sens Commun (more on which below) is a more explicitly political movement allied with the centre-Right UMP party.

The Manif has also had international echoes. Social conservatives around the world awoke in blessed stupor to find the French–the French!–building a large grassroots social conservative movement. Some facets of the Manif were inherently French and would probably fall flat in other countries, such as its pink scheme and its racy leader. But some aspects have borne fruit overseas, such as the effective rhetorical focus on children’s right to a mother and a father, rather than the socio-economic arguments that are common in the Anglosphere.

How did this movement not only get started, but produce so much fruit, some of it bad and some of it good?

There is a simple first explanation which is much broader than the issue of same-sex marriage or French Catholicism. The movement happened in the context of simmering frustration with the country’s direction, which has been widespread in French society for 20 years. This feeling was only exacerbated by the combination of economic recession and the perceived incompetence of François Hollande’s government.

Many who protested against same-sex marriage expressed the belief that, while they were only lukewarm about that idea, for the government to focus on such a divisive issue at a time of serious economic issues was a case of irresponsibly playing politics. Hollande was seen, probably not inaccurately, as asleep at the controls on the economy, and trying to shore up his political support by rallying his base around symbolic social issues. Where he miscalculated was that such naked politicking would create an equal and opposite reaction of angry frustration for countless French people. The movement tied in, and played into, this widespread sense of dissatisfaction that had to do with both everyday politics and longstanding socio-economic trends.

Another important explanation has to do with the simple fact that the Catholic conservative opposition never went away; it just went silent. French history is famous for its late 19th-century battles between secularists and Catholics over laïcité–the separation of Church and state. France is also famous for the May 1968 student riots which ushered in a new cultural era marked by sexual revolution.

In the biggest battles over social issues of the past century, French social conservatives lost. That much is true. But this created the false sense – both within France and outside it – that because secular liberalism won the big political and cultural battles, all of French culture signed up to the new regime. In reality, as with almost every country on the planet, France still has, as it always had, a silent conservative majority.

Everyone remembers the May 1968 student protests. Few remember the conservative counter-protest of June 1968 which was far greater in terms of numbers. (Since the conservatives had the good taste not to riot or destroy public property, they made less news.)

Few also remember that after May 1968 president Charles de Gaulle called a snap legislative election, which resulted in a conservative landslide, even though conservatives had barely held on to their majority in the election of the previous year.

When social conservatives lost the cultural and political battles, they retreated and left the field, but they did not die. They kept running their churches and their schools and having children (often at an above average rate). Those millions of marchers did not appear out of thin air: they were always there. When the right moment came, there was already a reservoir of people who were willing to march…

…The leaders of the movement aim not just to be an interest group but to promote a wholesale rethinking of French society and its values. To do that, they will have to appeal beyond people who are already lifelong Catholics with Catholic parents. And they will have to be–and look like–something other than a movement that simply wants to go back to The Way Things Were…

…The Manif is an endlessly intriguing phenomenon, because it shows that there is the material for a Catholic revival in France. Already, contrary to myth, in the large cities of France, Catholic churches are full on Sunday. Whether this revival truly sets the country on fire will depend on what happens with the energy that the Manif has awakened.

Surely, Ireland has even more material for a proper Catholic revival. The Faith of our Fathers is living still. Isn’t it?


May 23rd, 2015

Mince Tall…

One of the funniest comedians ever, at least in my opinion, was Kenneth Williams of the radio show Round the Horne and many Carry On films. He was, if you will pardon the expression, as queer as a coot—or, if one prefers to be polite, as camp as a row of tents and as gay as a palm tree full of parakeets.   One of his stock phrases was: “Oh, hello! I’m Julian and this is my friend Sandy.”  In one episode of  Round the Horne his admonition to Sandy was “Mince tall!”  Julian, Sandy and  and all their friends  are doing just that in Ireland tonight.

I expect that like me you are feeling as though you have just been mugged by a gang of homofascists. Their victory has been so crushing and so complete that one just feels like going away to a quiet corner and  nursing one’s bruises. Its a luxury we can’t afford, because the next battle, over the repeal of  the Eighth Amendment, will be upon us sooner than we expect.

Now that sodomistic pseudogamy has been written into the Constitution with the overwhelming endorsement of the Irish people, the political and media establishments have good reason to believe abortion will be a pushover.

I shall have more to say on this in future posts, but for now I need to ponder just why we lost so badly. I’ll leave you with this thought: what would the men of 1916 have said, had they known that just 99 years after their sacrifice, the Irish people would have chosen, freely, to change the concept of marriage to include homosexuality.




One of  the funniest comedians ever  Queer as a coot…..Gay as a palm tree full of parakeets



Add May 20th, 2015

Last Chance Saloon, Holy Father!

Pastor Emeritus adds:

Today’s audience  provided Pope Francis with what may have been his last chance to back the NO campaign, and trump former Presidents et al.   At this eleventh hour, If he does not ask the Irish people to defend marriage as being between a man and a woman, I will be very disappointed.  It will mean that he is afraid to frighten the State horses, and that a rupture is appearing between faith and morals.  They are two sides of the one coin where the Church is concerned.

“Who am I to judge?—”

“—You are the Pope.”

May 20th, 2015

 Return of the Barbarians?

A YES result in Friday’s referendum will mean an effective end to Catholicism in Ireland, according to Michael Voris of the American station ChurchMilitant.TV.  I’m reproducing his remarks in full, although I don’t agree with his blanket condemnation of the Irish clergy:

When the barbarian hordes descended on Europe in the fourth and fifth centuries, crushing underfoot what was left of cultural antiquity, it looked as if civilization was at an end. Irish monks, in their monasteries and scriptoriums, preserved the writings from antiquity by transcribing them for posterity. They kept the classics alive, safe in their isolation, keeping a secure touchstone to the civilization their faith had transformed. For this reason, the Irish are largely credited by historians with saving civilization.

This week, 1500 years of civilization will come to an end.

Indications are very strong that after hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars poured into the Irish nation by pagan Americans, homosexuality will win a national referendum as being equal to traditional marriage. Surveys do show the gap narrowing as we get down to the Friday vote, but the margin is still somewhere around 10 percent in favor of sodomite unions becoming legalized. This will be the first time in the history of the world that the issue will have been approved by a national referendum of voters.

It was Ireland — through St. Patrick —  that cemented the overthrow of homosexuality as an acceptable practice as it was engaged in regularly by the Celtic warriors. The rise of Catholicism brought an end to that. Now 1500-plus years later, homosexuality is being embraced and is evidence of Catholicism coming to an effective end in Ireland.

How did this happen? Two causes: the failure of Catholic leaders, and huge financial pressure from America.

First, the money: The grant foundation Atlantic Philanthropies has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Ireland to change the culture toward evil. Huge sums of money have been given in grants by AP to groups advocating for sodomite marriage. And if you’ve never heard of Atlantic Philanthropies, don’t worry. Many people haven’t. But you’ve heard of many things they’ve caused to happen — like Obamacare, for example. They were the leading bankroller of lobbying groups to push through the immoral legislation. And who said politicians couldn’t be bought? It should come as no surprise then that AP is also spending a fortune on all the illegal immigration efforts that keep coming up.

So, pro-homosexuality, pro-contraception/abortion, pro-illegal immigration — does anyone sense a civilization destabilization effort at work here?

And the only force able to counter this kind of organized evil is the Catholic Church. And where were Catholic leaders these last 20–30 years in Ireland? Nowhere to be found.

They were busy not teaching the Faith, covering up homosexual priests who raped altar boys, advancing the militant homosexual cause by talking like sissies about having to find a way to accommodate the disordered love between members of the same sex. Not totally surprising, that, since they counted so many active homosexuals in their own ranks.

Mark the date and put a big red circle around it: May 22 — the day that in all likelihood civilization comes to end, on the very shores that preserved it, brought on by a foreign invasion — and this time left undefended by a clergy who had forsaken the Faith and embraced the very evil their patron saint had defeated.

Pray that whatever Almighty God has to do to rid the world of these evils,  He commence, so that justice may be established.



On Wolves and Sheep Deaf to the Voice of the Good Shepherd


Fortuitously, the lesson in the Novus Ordo Mass I attended  this morning contained St Paul’s warning to the presbyters  at Ephesus:  “I know well that ravening wolves will come among you when I am gone, and will not spare the flock; there will be men among your own number who will come forward with a false message, and find disciples to follow them”(Acts 20: 29).   As a follow-up to a recent post from Fr Brendan Purcell, I have lifted the following from a New York priest, Fr George Rutler.  Although it might not seem so at first sight, it is of very great relevance to the referendum. Note particularly Fr Rutler’s last paragraph:

The restoration of Grand Central Terminal took several laborious years. It was saved from demolition in reaction to the barbaric destruction of the grand Pennsylvania Station, an aesthetic tragedy paralleling the vandalism of liturgical renovators around the same time. The new and unloved Penn Station insults the aesthetic culture just as do many churches built in that period.

The ceiling of Grand Central retains a small untouched patch to show the contrast with what it looked like before the cleaning. So too, we need an historical sense to appreciate the contrast between civilization before and after Christ changed the world. He contrasts the world redeemed and unredeemed in his imagery of the Good Shepherd who “lays down his life for his sheep” versus the wolf that “attacks and scatters the sheep.” The contrast is vivid again today, in the saints who follow the Good Shepherd and the evil people who terrorize humanity as wolves.

Often, the wolves do not look like wolves at all. It is easy to spot a terrorist, but most moral degenerates can disguise themselves well. Some wolves are sociopaths with such characteristics as superficial charm, few close friends, unsettling obliviousness to danger, lack of empathy with suffering people while claiming to feel their pain, chronic lying, manipulation by habitual laughter and feigned cheerfulness, and a restless ego. Although they have no “concern for the sheep,” their anti-social skills paradoxically help them attain high places in society, supported by the very sheep they would devour. In contrast, the Good Shepherd “is one who lays down his life for his sheep.”

Wolves can fool the sheep, scattering and dividing them through flattery (Psalms 5:10; 78:36; Proverbs: 28:23, 29:5). It is significant that the same Apostle who justly boasted that he flattered no man (1 Thess. 2:5) warned against wolves who disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing by perverting  the truth (Acts 20:28-31).

Putting aside the tendency to nostalgia, there certainly is enough evidence to warrant a fear that our culture is being seduced by wolfish leaders into a new barbarism as the end of a cycle of civilization. The innovative philosopher of history, Giambattista Vico, described the pattern:  “Men first feel necessity, then look for utility, next attend to comfort, still later amuse themselves with pleasure, thence grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad and waste their substance.” The new barbarism would be worse than the old, in the words of Churchill in 1940: “. . . a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.” He also warned that the worst enablers of social vandalism are not wolves in sheep’s clothing, but sheep in sheep’s clothing. Ignorant of the difference between sin and virtue, they naively “waste their substance” and welcome wolves while deaf to the voice of the Good Shepherd.

May 18th, 2015

From Tandem to Time Bomb: the Unravelling of  the Irish Constitution by Same-Sex Marriage

Today, as promised, I carry a piece by Fr Brendan Purcell that I consider to be the best summary  to date of the absurdities and dangers inherent in the Irish government’s referendum proposal to introduce homosexual pseudogamy. As a summary, it is very long, but that is unavoidable under the circumstances. Fortunately it is also very readable.

Fr Brendan is scrupulously charitable to the Yes side: far more so than I would be.  I would not, for instance employ  the homosexuals’ self-designation “gay” which  I consider a deceitful euphemism. (It is now so universally accepted that  I am almost certainly fighting a losing battle.) I also can’t altogether endorse the idea of an implied “get into heaven free card” for practising homosexuals who  don’t believe their actions are wrong. It seems to me this  would amount to “ignorance is bliss”. Which is hardly fair on homosexuals struggling against their temptations.

But these are really quibbles: the great strength of Fr Brendan’s article is that it is intended to convince not people like most of my readers, but even those who don’t regard homosexual activity as a serious moral offence.  Among the most powerful witnesses against this amendment proposal have in fact  been homosexuals campaigning to save marriage as the union for life of one man to one woman. They have had to endure an appalling amount of abuse.

I also like Fr Brendan’s occasional use of irony, as where he refers to “the Yes-declarations of various courageous priests and religious.”



The Sydney Morning Herald did a piece on 37 western quolls—a small carnivorous marsupial—being reinstated in the Flinders ranges, South Australia, 100 years after they’d become extinct there. We all understand how important it is to protect severely endangered species. But there’s also what Pope Benedict XVI called human ecology, and the development in the West of marriage as between a man and woman for life is surely a radically endangered reality in Western culture and in Ireland today. That photo a week or so ago of the tiny Princess Charlotte with her delighted parents was a lovely reminder of what a precious piece of human ecology the traditional family is.

I’d like to spell out some of the principal dangers to what we’ll call here OSM (other sex marriage) posed by the proposed adoption of SSM (same sex marriage) in the Irish Constitution. First a word on how the proposal empties marriage of any meaning. Then how the huge protection our Constitution gave to the family will become a time-bomb to completely destroy it. Thirdly, how that proposal, along with the incredibly rushed Children and Family Relationships Bill, will enormously damage children—who’ll be the principal victims of the new legislations. Then a word on the necessary denial of religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection that would follow if the SSM amendment is passed. Finally, a word on the undermining of democracy that’s characterized the Yes campaign.

Before beginning, I’d like to say that I’ve no doubt that every human being, gay or straight, is a personal “you” for God, with an unsoundable depth of dignity. I’m also aware—that behind the slogan of  “equality” there’s an ocean of pain in many gay people from experienced rejection. In the mid-’90s I lost a family friend and in 2004 a very dear colleague to AIDS, sharing with that colleague all his ups and downs over the years with the temporary successes various treatments gave him. I remember a dialogue with gay journalist Quentin Fottrell, courtesy the Marian Finucane show, when I was happy to admit that he could be a lot nearer to God (given he saw nothing wrong with his lifestyle) than I was (my friends would of course say that wouldn’t be hard). So while I’m setting out here some reasons why, if I could, I would vote No in the referendum, I’d like to make my own the words of Bishop Brendan Leahy in his pastoral letter on this topic: “It is not easy to dialogue about these issues. Let’s try all of us to remain respectful of each other’s view, listening to one another and, no matter what the outcome, committed to building up a society that is good for families to be brought up in.”

1. From marriage to tandem licence

A Yes vote would make, at least for Ireland, marriage a victim of what Pope Francis has called the throwaway culture. Here’s a comment by Charles Moore from an article in the Daily Telegraph 10/5/13 on the legalization of SSM in England:

By accident, then, the Government is introducing, for the first time, a definition of marriage which has no sexual element. Yet it refuses to face the logical consequence of this surprising innovation. If sexual intercourse is not part of the definition of same-sex marriage, why should blamelessly cohabiting sisters not marry one another in order to avoid inheritance tax? Why should father not marry son? Why shouldn’t heterosexual bachelor chum marry heterosexual bachelor chum? What, come to think about it, is so great about the idea of monogamy, once sex and children are removed from the equation? Does the word ‘marriage’ any longer contain much meaning? And if Equality is the highest of all moral aims, how can the Government possibly justify not extending the gay right to a civil partnership to heterosexual couples who, at present, have no such privilege?

Backing up what Charles Moore said in 2013 of the UK SSM law, the Iona Institute asked the Referendum Commission, “Could two heterosexual male or female friends who are not closely related marry each other under the terms of the proposed new marriage law?” A Referendum Commission spokesperson said: “The simple answer is yes.” Commenting on this, David Quinn of the Iona Institute said:

The fact that the referendum would allow two straight friends of the same sex to marry confirms the extent to which the current meaning and understanding of marriage would be radically changed.. it will simply be a legally recognised relationship open to any two people who are not closely related and are of the right age…In New Zealand last year, two straight male friends, Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick married. They did it for a joke, but it was legally recognised. Over time, as the public understanding of marriage changes, and as people realise marriage is no longer understood as a sexual union per se, some will marry simply to avail of tax advantages, especially in terms of being able to inherit one another’s property without paying heavy tax. What we are seeing is a total transformation of marriage into what in some cases will amount to no more than a method of tax avoidance.

In other words, once you separate procreative sex from marriage, it becomes a legal piece of paper, a tandem-licence, applicable to any couple who call their relationship marriage. Already we’ve seen this unhooking of marriage from its meaning as between one man and woman for life leading to demands for the legalization of relationships between multiple partners, going beyond couples to “trouples” for a triple relationship, reminding me of someone on the Goon Show complaining that two sexes weren’t enough. Are we that far off from a human zoo, where no relationships are special, because they’re all legalizable?

And the Taoiseach’s claim that SSM will have no effect on OSM is questioned by Bruce Arnold in his 5/5/15 Open Letter to the Taoiseach, where he asks, of similar legislation, “How then could the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court also say on April 27th, to proponents of gay marriage: ‘you’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship?’”

But introducing SSM in Ireland is legally even more catastrophic than it has been in England, because of our special constitutional protections for the family.

2. From Constitutional Protection to Constitutional Time Bomb

The Iona-commissioned legal study brings out that the Constitution’s huge defence of the family as the basic building block of Irish society could become a battering ram which destroys it. Why? Because all the powerful legal protections for OSM can now be turned against it in favour of SSM. Any attempt to privilege OSM—in speech, action, education, commerce, even religious practice—could be seen as undermining SSM, which is now also the fundamental building block of our society. Just think of what applying Article 41’s protections of OSM to SSM would mean—I’ll mischievously put in SSM for wherever OSM was originally intended:

1 1° The State recognises the Same Sex Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Same Sex Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.

3 1° The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Same Sex Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

And from the legal opinion commissioned by Iona:

Article 41.3 and related Supreme Court jurisprudence holds thatthe Family’ for the purposes of Irish law is ‘founded’ on the ‘institution of Marriage’. This has been interpreted to mean that a married couple, even without children, constitute aFamily’ for the purposes of the Constitution and Irish law. The Amendment prohibits any discrimination in respect of the right to marry that is based on the sex of the prospective spouses. Assuming that the Amendment is passed, it follows that the ‘institution of Marriage’ for the purposes of the Constitution is an institution which is blind to and exists without regard to the sex of the persons who are married. It is on such an institution that Article 41.3 statesthe Family’ isfounded’. It must therefore also follow that two married men or two married women constitute a ‘Family’ for the purposes of the Constitution and Irish law.

The status and entitlements of two married men or two married women as such aFamily’ would thus include (emphasis added):

Recognition by the State, pursuant to Article 41.1.1°, as being an instance of ‘the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.’

The benefit of the State’s guarantee, pursuant to Article 41.1.2°,to protect the Family  in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.’

The benefit of the State’s pledge, pursuant to Article 41.3, ‘to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.’

The benefit of the State’s acknowledgement, pursuant to Article 42.1,that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family

Rights recognised by the Supreme Court as ones ‘which the State cannot control’ and are ‘superior to those of the State itself.’

Bruce Arnold in his Open Letter to the Taoiseach asked: “When Article 41.3.1 of the Constitution provides that the State pledges to protect the institution of Marriage upon which the Family is founded from attack, what does this really mean for a marriage of two men? Does it not mean that they will have a constitutional right to donor assisted human reproduction and surrogacy to ‘found’ their family? Must not all legislative restrictions on these practices be subject to this new and radical constitutional right?” And various commentators have explored how the Constitution, if the Amendment passes, will come in like a battering ram now in protection of SSM, as we’ll see.

And that’s possibly the reason why the government has adamantly refused to allow any exceptions because of conscientious objection in the proposed amendment. The Constitutional backing for SSM in Article 41 is so powerful that in law—as the Iona opinion amply indicates—any appeals against it in education, commerce, or other than purely intra-Church matters wouldn’t have a hope.

3. Children’s need for a mother and father crushed by tectonic plate of adults’ desires

I think we’d all agree that a society can be judged on how it treats its defenceless and most vulnerable members. Passing the proposed SSM amendment increases the danger that children’s upbringing and need for a mother and father will become secondary to the satisfaction of adults. No amount of happy children brought up in SSMs could make up for the threat of to children of their being legally deprived of their natural fathers and mothers.

Although Yes supporters deny any connection between issues like adoption and surrogacy with the SSM amendment, John Waters in “The danger lurking under surface of the referendum: Marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples involves discrimination against children and existing parents”, (Sunday Independent, 29/3/15), pointed out how that amendment, bolstered by the Constitutional articles defending OSM, will reap the benefit of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (C&FR). He notes that denying the connection between the SSM and C&FR

is so fatuous as to be transparent to a child of eight. Any individual change in the constitutional treatment of marriage and family is likely to have implications for the future interpretation of all other such provisions. Therefore, in considering the SSM amendment, the voter needs to contemplate implications arising from the inter-working of the amendment with other family-related constitutional provisions, as well as the C&FR Bill and no less than 18 other Acts of the Oireachtas mentioned in its text. If there is no connection between the C&FR Bill and the SSM amendment, why was it necessary to introduce the bill before the referendum? The reason is clear: the Government wishes to deny the people the right to decide on the question of gay marriage and adoption together, rendering the more contentious issue of same sex adoption a fait accompli and confining the referendum to the question of gay marriage alone. The C&FR Bill makes it possible for same-sex couples to adopt children, extending high degrees of protection to the parent-child relationships thus created. The change to the definition of marriage implicit in the SSM amendment will also expand the definition of family, and extend to same-sex couples the premium level of constitutional protection in respect of parental rights.

Earlier, David Quinn, in ‘Sexuality is irrelevant to the debate on marriage’, Irish Independent, 19/01/2015, wrote:  

If the Constitution changes to allow a same-sex couple to marry, then all laws will have to treat them in exactly the same way as an opposite-sex married couple. You might think, ‘fair enough’. However, what it will mean (among other things) is that it will become impossible for any adoption law to recognise a child’s right to a mother and a father because the law will have to pretend that when it comes to raising children two men or two women are exactly the same as a mother and a father.

And Breda O’Brien, in “Does Mary McAleese understand why people are voting No? If the referendum is passed, there will be children born in this country who will never experience a mother’s love”,  Irish Times, 18/5/15, asks:

Has Mary McAleese ever spoken with someone raised by gay parents, who loved both her mother and her mother’s partner but still had this to say: ‘Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalises a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting.’ Heather Barwick adds: ‘I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father.’ (Heather Barwick is a straight woman raised by a lesbian mother. Heather was a gay marriage advocate and poster child for lesbian parenting until her 20s, and it was only when she married a man and had children that she allowed herself to come out of the closet and say that children need both a mother and a father.)

It gets worse. To get a flavour of the Brave New World language of the C&FR Act, hurriedly rushed through the Oireachtas with only two senators voting against it, Senators Rónán Mullins and Jim Walsh. Here’s a paragraph from the Act:

‘DAHR procedure’ means a donor-assisted human reproduction procedure, being any procedure performed in the State with the objective of it resulting in the implantation of an embryo in the womb of the woman on whose request the procedure is performed, where—(a) one of the gametes [sperm or egg] from which the embryo has been or will be formed has been provided by a donor, (b) each gamete from which the embryo has been or will be formed has been provided by a donor, or (c) the embryo has been provided by a donor…

Once again, SSMs, if the amendment were passed, would allow SSMs these various kinds of surrogate children. William Binchy in “Same-sex referendum Yes would affect child welfare laws: Second major consequence is in relation to assisted human reproduction and surrogacy”, Irish Times, 12/5/15, said:

The syllogism that a court would confront is as follows: married couples have a right to procreate; married couples include two gay men, who can procreate only by means of a surrogate arrangement; therefore, a law restricting or, a fortiori, banning such an arrangement would be unconstitutional as it would prevent the gay men from procreating by the only means open to them…. Some electors may support legislation permitting surrogacy in such circumstances; others may oppose it. The point of significance is that, directly contrary to the Government’s assertion, the proposal to change the Constitution has a direct impact in radically restricting the range of legislative options open to the electorate. It gives preference to the choices of adults over the welfare of children.

Gay blogger Paddy Manning puts it more trenchantly in his ‘Marriage Equality Referendum: Why I’ll tick that níl box in a pink glitter pen.’ Examiner, 12/5/15:

This change to the Constitution makes it impossible to legally privilege a married mother-father couple for an adoptive child, deliberately ignoring what is best for the child. If prostitution is a short-term rental, what are we to make of the long term-lease that is surrogacy? Implicitly a de-gendered marriage in the Constitution puts this ugly trade at the heart of family law, because two men require a woman to create a child… In the rush to be cool and please Twitter, no consideration has been given to how a de-gendered marriage will affect children, child custody, adoption, assisted human reproduction, or the rights of unmarried parents. We are having [an] adult-centric debate on marriage when we should be putting children, their rights, needs, and outcomes at the centre of the discussion. Marriage, we are told, is not about children.

As Professor Bernadette Tobin writes in The Sydney Morning Herald (15/5/15), “the international trade in surrogacy exploits poor women…and of course children—the baby Gammy—who do not come up to the expectations of the commissioning couple would…be at risk of abandonment…Children are entitled to be brought up by their natural mother and natural father…If we thought that by legalising commercial surrogacy in Australia we could give surrogacy an ethically sound underpinning, we would be deceiving ourselves.” That self-deception occurred on a massive scale in the Oireachtas with the passing of C&FR.

But a Yes for the SSM referendum won’t only affect OSM or, powered by the Constitutional articles formerly defending OSM, OSMs’ and individuals’ ability to adopt, or furthering various forms of surrogacy. It’ll also affect the education of children from infancy onwards, as well as the Churches’ freedom to teach in the areas of sexual morality, and the rights of Christian and other business people to refuse certain services to SSM couples.

4. Implications for conscience and religious freedom

The Examiner on 15/5/15 carried a story of a new group of teachers called Educators for Conscience.

A spokesperson for the group, Kevin Leavy said: “The reality is that if this referendum passes, gender-neutral “marriage” would be elevated to a new status in the Constitution, and employees of the State would be obliged to protect that new model of marriage.

‘As teachers, our fear is that for example, a teacher who gives preferential treatment to a view of marriage as between a man and woman over a same sex marriage, will be seen to be discriminating.’ He said that the proposal will change the way that sex education classes in schools would have to be taught…Mr Leavy said: ‘We already have material being sent into primary schools with the approval of the INTO called “Different Families, Same Love”. Among other things this advises teachers on how to teach children in Junior Infants about transsexuality and the different varieties of adult sexual desire before they even know the basic facts of life. If the referendum passes, it will become more and more difficult for teachers to refuse to teach material they believe is entirely age inappropriate.’

When the UK legalized SSM, Charles Moore (Daily Telegraph, 10/5/13) wrote that

Even without gay marriage, Catholic adoption agencies which have refused to place babies with homosexual couples have been forced to close down. With same-sex marriage, any charitable religious assistance in family life – a Christian marriage guidance bureau such as Marriage Encounter, for example, maybe even the famous Alpha Course – will be vulnerable to state legal attack.

Which of course has just happened, with Minister James O’Reilly retrospectively cutting off government support of Catholic marriage advisory agency Accord—where James O’Reilly had already threatened to defund Catholic hospitals unless they supported his abortion legislation. (see Irish Catholic, 15/5/15). William Binchy in his 12/5/15 piece in the Irish Times writes:

We have in article 44 of our Constitution provisions that protect religious freedom…The new and specifically identified right to same-sex marriage will assert itself in potential opposition to religions that understand marriage as involving men and women.

The argument will be made that, while religions may perhaps continue to adhere to that ethos within their own faith communities, any engagement between religious denominations and the public or with the State system will have to respect fully this new constitutional right…Other religious denominations with a similar understanding of marriage are equally affected by the proposed change. A litigant who challenged the constitutional entitlement of religious denominations to register marriages that exclude same-sex unions would have a reasonable prospect of success. More radically, there are implications for the State’s role in prescribing the normative content of education in schools and for withdrawing or restricting funding if it considers that a school programme fails to give sufficient support to the normative premises of same-sex marriage.

Perhaps the Irish public isn’t aware of most of these issues—which have nothing to do with their attitude towards homosexuality or SSM, but with the very foreseeable and catastrophic “side effects” of voting Yes in the SSM referendum. As David Quinn has repeatedly pointed out, “the debate about marriage ought not to be a debate about homosexuality. It should be a debate about what marriage is and what purpose it serves and what gets changed when we change marriage.” (Irish Independent, 19/1/15)

At least some—not excluding prominent personalities, politicians, or media people—are so intimidated by fear of being labelled homophobic that they’re keeping their heads down, like the so-called “shy Conservatives” that upended all the polls in England a week or so ago. So let’s say a few words about:

5. The virtual prohibition of questions

I’ll begin with blogger Brendan O’Neill, from his Spiked blog piece,“Gay marriage: a case study in conformism: Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying”:

How do we account for this extraordinary consensus, for what is tellingly referred to as the ‘surrender’ to gay marriage by just about everyone in public life? And is it a good thing, evidence that we had a heated debate on a new civil right and the civil rightsy side won? I don’t think so…It’s better described as conformism, the slow but sure sacrifice of critical thinking and dissenting opinion under pressure to accept that which has been defined as a good by the upper echelons of society: gay marriage. Indeed, the gay-marriage campaign provides a case study in conformism, a searing insight into how soft authoritarianism and peer pressure are applied in the modern age to sideline and eventually do away with any view considered overly judgmental, outdated, discriminatory, ‘phobic’, or otherwise beyond the pale…With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing. The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised…Eventually…even those who are unsure about gay marriage ‘quell their natural misgivings’…How many other people are saying ‘yes’ not because they believe in gay marriage, but because they don’t want…to be thought of as ‘losers’ who have failed to ‘emulate their betters’?

Though every word of O’Neill’s blog applies to us just now, it was posted on 11/4/13 while legalizing SSM was being proposed by David Cameron’s government (and eventually passing into law in March, 2014). While apparently herself supporting SSM, Sunday Independent correspondent Eilish O’Hanlon sharply criticized the intellectually disadvantaged Yes campaign on 3/5/15, in an article headed ‘It doesn’t take much to be branded a bigot these days’: ‘Campaigners for same sex marriage are giving a master class in how to turn certain victory in the referendum into defeat’:

The No campaign is based on a fallacy, which is that the conditions under which marriage is legally permitted by the State should be dependent upon a particular view about the best way to raise children; but it’s a single error, endlessly repeated. The Yes side, by contrast, seems to be after a world record for most logical fallacies committed in a single campaign. Appeals to emotion. Appeals to flattery. Appeals to ridicule. One could go down a list of common fallacies, and tick them off, one by one. Most of all there is the appeal to authority…It doesn’t take much to be denounced as a homophobe these days. It coarsened the tone of the debate and introduced an edge of liberal McCarthyism that has still not dissipated.

An article by another Sunday Independent correspondent, Brendan O’Connor was headed: “Sneering at No voters could lose referendum: Government, the media and tech companies telling people how to vote could end up with a surprise like the UK election.” (10/5/15) I’m sure what Dublin GAA player, Ger Brennan said, when declaring he was voting No the Irish Independent on 13/5/15, could be multiplied by thousands if not tens of thousands in Ireland today:

I very nearly decided not to write this piece. I know I’ll be targeted for it and labeled for it. It would have been easier to keep my mouth shut and not rock the boat. But I’m sick of the accusations being flung around that if you vote ‘No’ you are homophobic. I know I’m not homophobic; my gay friends and family can attest to that. I am voting ‘No’ because I don’t want our Constitution to deny that it is a good thing for a child to have a mother and a father. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights proclaims that everybody is equal in dignity and it holds that marriage is a male-female union. I don’t think the Declaration of Human Rights is homophobic. I’m voting ‘No’.

But the one-sided coverage of the debate leading up the referendum hasn’t only been in the constant coverage of Yes-voting entertainment and sports celebrities, the Yes-declarations of various courageous priests and religious, and the collapse of anything like a parliamentary opposition to do the work of critical sifting both of the C&FR bill and the SSM amendment. There’s also been what Breda O’Brien dealt with in her Irish Times 2/5/15 article, headed “Garda body’s call for a Yes vote undermines democracy”: “It is just one of the deeply disturbing aspects of the debate, or should that be non-debate, in advance of the referendum.” There she wrote:

Until Nuala O’Loan’s intervention this week, virtually no attention was paid to the issue at all, which shows just how stifling the consensus has become. O’Loan, of course, was police ombudsman in Northern Ireland at a most troubled time, and has acted in an advisory capacity regarding policing and police accountability, in India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia, the US, Canada, Finland, The Netherlands, Macedonia, Romania, Portugal and throughout the United Kingdom. She told the Irish Catholic that ‘the police are supposed to be independent. Trust in them is dependent on that independence. This should not have happened.’ Even if a person thought same-sex marriage is the most important civil rights issue of this generation, how could anyone be indifferent to gardaí­ becoming so partisan, given the implications it has for our democracy? As Nuala O’Loan also said, ‘Since the gardaí­ and the GRA are established by statute to carry out specific functions, and are publicly funded, that makes them even more an emanation of the State, under the same obligations I would argue as the State not to intervene in referendums.’

It is just one of the deeply disturbing aspects of the debate – or should that be non-debate – in advance of the referendum. The framing, right down to what you will read on your ballot paper, that is, ‘marriage equality’, has been designed to shut down debate. And our Taoiseach offered to debate, and then disappeared behind a wall of advisers. It is deeply sad we are now a country where people cannot freely express themselves, and a country where even the police force can be captured to achieve a political goal.

Breda O’Brien has also written the very revealing article about the millions of US dollars poured into gay activism in Ireland. I’ll have to leave its heading to speak for itself: “Asking questions about funding for referendum campaign: Groupthink has been exalted to an Irish sacrament” (Irish Times, 9/5/15).

And I’ll finish this section on the serious damage to democracy the highhanded handling of the amendment campaign by government and a largely compliant media with a remark of Paddy Manning, who is himself gay. (Though in these matters it’s good to remember what Tony Schwarz, who crafted the single most successful TV ad ever used in a US presidential election—where he’d implied that if Barry Goldwater was elected, he’d nuke the USSR. He was asked if he didn’t think he was manipulating people. “Manipulation?”, he replied, “No. Partipulation. The people wanted to be manipulated.” Communication becomes intoxicant, where its audience has become so critically dulled that it prefers being manipulated to being told the truth.) Here’s Paddy Manning in the Examiner, 12/5/15:

Terrible damage is being done to democracy by the enforced unanimity of politicians on this huge change. No is not homophobia, whatever the activists scream. Consensus based on terror has empowered yes campaigners to drive their mailed fist through the electoral laws, defying criminal sanction by removing no campaign posters and sharing pictures of these triumphs over democracy on social media…The electorate deserve honest answers, even to questions they are told may not be asked. I am very proud of the tiny no campaign, a small handful of amateur activists up against the entire political establishment, the unquestioning media, the trade unions, and Chuck Feeney’s millions. In a fight that is now as much about democracy as it is about children’s rights, their courage is vital as ‘activists’ systematically attempted to target and threaten the livelihood of anyone campaigning against same-sex marriage. ‘X is a homophobe and cannot teach/nurse/practise medicine or law’ is a terrifying totalitarian campaign that deserves the term Gaystapo. LGBT activists trying to scare you into voting yes don’t speak for me or many other gay people that they have silenced in this campaign.

6. What would Socrates do?

Plato’s Socrates was profoundly aware of the oppressive weight of popular opinion to which he opposed a revolution of persuasion. His belief in the autonomous dignity of each person was so strong that he addressed his questions not to parties, or cities, but to each single person’s conscience. A later Socratic dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn invited his fellow countrymen and women to join, not the ruling elites of Soviet Russia, not elites of wealth, celebrity or aristocracy, but “the elite of sacrifice”. And it’s to such elites of sacrifice that Bruce Arnold, William Binchy, Patricia Casey, Paddy Manning, Rónán Mullins, Breda O’Brien, David Quinn, John Waters, Jim Walsh, and others are courageously inviting us to join, with them, and reject the SSM referendum proposal, not out of emotion or fear, but on the basis of our shared capacity for reason.


May 16th, 2015

Expect  the ‘Yes’ Side to Play it Even Dirtier

Her is another offering from Pastor Emeritus on the homosexual pseudogamy referendum:

I will not be surprised if the Yes campaign gets dirty, with Colm O’Gorman and his 1-in-4 making more appearances.   They have had, from the beginning, the scandals issue in the Church deliberately focused on next Friday’s vote.  It was their aim to plant in the minds of the Irish people the sentence,‘Who are they to be telling us how to live our lives?’  Notice how, in withdrawing money from Accord, the point is made that money is needed ‘for safeguarding children’.

O’Gorman et al must be raging when they hear bishops and priests say that it is the children that will suffer most if the Yes people win, and that people are beginning to listen to them.  I cannot see those Yes leaders playing clean if they begin to anticipate that the No side might yet win.  While O’Gorman won sympathy, and rightly so, at the beginning for his own story of being abused by a priest; as time went on, and it was known that he lived with a gay partner, and was campaigning for ‘gay rights’ to the extent that he went for election to the Dail, the people seemed to have had a sense that something was not quite right.   He lost his deposit.

He has gone on to lead Amnesty, for a fat salary, but all the time aware that only one obstacle stood in the way of gay marriage—the Roman Catholic Church.   It had to be demonised if he was to win out.  Of course he says he goes to church.  So do many others today, and they pray; but they also hold that ‘if Jesus was alive today he would agree with me!’   So, folks, fasten your seat belts for a rough ride in the final week.

Tomorrow, or possibly on Monday, I will publish another, much longer post on the Referendum, this time from my friend Fr Brendan Purcell.