I spent three weeks in Ireland in August and September. When people ask me “How was your trip? I have to give a double answer. Personally it was very enjoyable, seeing my sisters and various cousins and nephews and nieces. But when they ask me, “How are things in Ireland.” I have to make some distinctions. I gathered that, economically, things are very good. Viewing the approach to Dublin from the air, the highways appear to be at least second cousins to the 401 in Canada. Everybody seems to have at least one car and the fields in which I remember cows grazing are now large housing estates.
But, sad to say, spiritually and morally, Ireland is not the country in which I grew up. Because I felt that I could not adequately explain it, I have decided not to write about it. But on returning to Toronto, I found in my mail box the Human Life International News Letter-Special Report N. 140-in which Father Paul Marx, describes his findings on a recent visit to my Native Land. Needless to say, Fr. Mark has far more expertise and I have in getting to the root of national and international situations and in explaining their underlying causes. So, most of what follows will be a summary of HLI Special Report No. 140.
In 1969 the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) moved into Ireland to lobby for contraception and, of course eventually and inevitably, for abortion. The IFPA is simply a branch of the International Planned Parenthood Association for the sole purpose of which is to spread abortion worldwide. Knowing the reason why IFPA was in Ireland, Fr. Marx visited Ireland in 1972. He had a meeting with the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Dermot Ryan in order to alert him to the well-known work of IFTA in destroying the family worldwide through contraception and abortion.
The Archbishop received him graciously but would not listen to his warnings. He told Fr. Marx that this was “Catholic Ireland” and that even the suggestion of abortion was “unthinkable.” He did admit the possibility of the introduction of contraception, which was then illegal in Ireland. Some years later, when head of one of the Papal Congregations in Rome, Archbishop Ryan now deceased, admitted that he had been wrong in his estimation of the impeccability of “Catholic Ireland.” I must admit that if it had been suggested to me in 1971 that Ireland would, within 10 years or so, have accepted and wholesale practice of contraception, divorce and abortion—by referral—I would probably taken the position as did the Archbishop.
For the next few paragraphs I shall take the liberty of quoting Fr. Marx as he sums up the sat situation in his own inimitable terms: “Soon the anti-life forces in Ireland, through vicious propaganda and legislative moves, legalized contraception, at first for married people and eventually for singles too, with a few restrictions, which soon vanished. Twice the Irish people beat back, by referendum, government attempts to legalize abortion. Later court decisions and another referendum (1992) legalized travel to England for abortions and the peddling of abortion “information” in Ireland, through defeating the legalization of baby killing in Ireland.
Today the abortifacient pill and sterilization are the chief means of birth prevention. Dr. Jan Quinlan, who teaches Natural Fertilization Regulation (NFR) in Cork says that the ranks of sterile women are growing in Ireland, thanks to the Pill, Venereal Disease, etc. And Ireland’s birthrate is barely reproductive.
Owing to the fact that girls traveling to England to have abortions do not declare their reasons for going, it is impossible to ascertain the exact figures. But, according to Fr. Marx, between 1,500 and 4,000 Irish girls go to England yearly to have their babies aborted. For anyone who knows the history of Ireland’s relation with England-starting with the invasion of Ireland by King Henry the Second in the 12th Century—thre is a deep and tragic irony in this situation. For centuries Irish Blood has been shed in ongoing struggle for total independence. And now, English doctors are being handsomely paid to murder our Irish babies, who are planted on their door-steps by their Irish mothers. “Oh judgment thou hast fled to brutish beasts and men-and women-have lost their reason.”
Under this heading “Scandals Rock the Church,” Fr. Marx mentions recent happenings which have included both priests and bishops. He says, “Scandals among priests and bishops have brought the Church into ridicule and damaged her credibility. Good Irish lay leaders are convinced that these scandals were the chief reason the people voted (by some 5,000 votes) to amend the constitution and permit divorce.” I would like to add that, while such scandals do weaken people’s Faith in practice, they no more affect the substantial validity of the Church than did the treachery of Judas or the weakness of Peter affect the Divinity of Christ. But scandals to have their practical effects and they have in the case of the Church in Ireland. For instance I gathered that the attendance of young people at Sunday Mass has deteriorated considerably and this fact is attributed to their lack of respect for their priests.
But all is not lost! Many years ago I remember Archbishop Fulton Sheen saying on one of his T.V. shows, “Dead bodies float down stream. One has to be alive to swim against the tide.
Against the tide
There are many young people in Ireland who are “swimming against the strong secular tide.” Which is so powerful everywhere today. In particular I would like to mention Peter Scully, who, in his early twenties, gave up his good job to become the Director of Human Life International in Ireland. HLI is probably the most effective force in Ireland today against the Irish pro-abortion movement.
Than there is a wonderful group called “Youth Defence” under the directorship of a lovely young girl named Niamh Nic Mhathana-a very Caelic name. These young people have had the courage to picket against abortion. They have been arrested and treated very roughly by the police. But they are still swimming against the tide and will continue to do so. And they need our prayers.
This article may appear to be very negative and perhaps it is. How I would love to writ an article saying that everything in my native land is wonderful. But it would not be the truth. Ireland was never perfect. But there were certain Christian principles which were accepted and lived—respect for life, respect for the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage, etc.
I know that probably the majority of Irish people still hold to these principles. But the thinking of the younger generation has been severely damaged by the secularism of the media propaganda of the anti-life forces.
There is a pious myth that St. Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland. But I’m afraid he left some of them in the grass and they have slithered their way even into the highest positions of the “Powers that be.”