On faith, life and the family in Ireland – example from the west

Anthony Murphy

The following talk was given on 16 May 2019 at the Rome Life Forum on the theme “City of man vs City of God – Global One World Order vs Christendom”, organised by Voice of the Family.

Introduction

There has been much discussion on the parlous state of the Church in Ireland and the failure of Church leaders to counter the rampant secularism of the culture. 

On 19 March 2016, Solemnity of St Joseph, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland. It provided a way forward for the Irish Church, which, sadly, has been ignored by many, if not most, of our Catholic leaders. Taking his cue from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pontiff calls on us: “to consider the rock from which you were hewn.”

Many years earlier, in 1979, Pope John Paul II addressed the following prophetic words to the Irish nation. They fell on deaf ears: 

“Your country seems in a sense to be living again the temptations of Christ: Ireland is being asked to prefer the ‘kingdoms of the world and their splendour’ to the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 4:8). 

Satan, the tempter, the adversary fo Christ, will use all his might and all his deceptions to win Ireland for the way of the world. What a victory he would gain, what a blow he would inflict on the Body of Christ in the world, if he could seduce Irish men and women away from Christ…”

Sadly many Irish including those who call themselves catholic even those who call themselves bishops have been seduced.  

Cultural and political context of the crisis

Before addressing the state of the Church in Ireland it is useful to examine the current political climate and how this has impacted on the way modern society thinks about culture and values. 

The decaying society we see all around us is a result of the twin cancers of liberalism and socialism. We need to remember that before socialism raised its ugly head liberalism was the enemy and the threat from the enemies of the Church. It was eclipsed by the rise of socialism. Both liberalism and socialism today have similar aims but for different reasons. Both are anti-Christian. Both are internationalist and globalist, liberals because of trade and the pursuit of profit at all costs, and socialists because it is part of Marxist dogma – let us not be fooled by terms, socialismis simply communism for slow learners. 

These treacherous partners have been behind the dumbing down and slow drip-feed destruction of our society, whether it be in dress, music, literature, heritage, history, culture, architecture, the heterosexual family unit, Christianity, God and nature, and much more. 

Since the 1960s they have enacted legislation across Europe which was aimed specifically at the destruction of the family. Political correctness, which stigmatises and even criminalises those who speak out against this new 1984 ’end of civilisation” scenario is now the dominant feature of our societies. They refuse to discuss the issues confronting us, labelling decent people as “rigid” or “conservative” is far easier and final. 

They brainwash our children with words such as “inclusion” and “tolerance” and openly teach them chronic degeneracy. They constantly rant about “Liberal Democracy” and its “values” so as to suggest that without liberalism we would not have democracy. This is a lie.

Our “values” are inherited from Christianity which is the foundation of civilisation in Europe. Not from “liberals” or “democracy”. Legislating for degeneracy is not a value.

The liberal-left today attack our Christian nations, our national consciousness, normality and rational reasoning, constantly apologise for the errors of past generations, including erecting monuments to shame.

They now control education and other institutions and have been successful in infiltrating the highest levels of the Church – so that the masses remain receiving only their evil destructive message. 

Sir Roger Scruton, the famous English political philosopher, has pointed out that one of the greatest cancers is the existence in our education system of leftist ideologues and activists. We cannot have our enemies educating our children. Laws need to be introduced removing such activists from the classroom – as they were in the past – I will address this point later in the presentation. 

Against this evil totalitarian backdrop the modern Church has retreated to the peripheries remaining silent while the enemy corrupts our children. We no longer see the Church defending civilisation as happened at the time of Lepanto, or the witness of the heroic Bishop von Galen or the prophetic voice of Cardinal Mindzenty. 

Instead we see collaboration with the worldly powers to the extent that men like Cardinal Zen are thrown to the wolves simply so the Church can enter into an agreement with the communists – what better illustration of the cowardly surrender before the forces of the new global world order could there be. 

But back to Ireland let us now examine the success or otherwise of the Church in Ireland in countering the rampant secular culture. 

The current state of the Church in Ireland: a timeline of decline

A summary of the timeline of decline as follows: 

July 1968: Pope Paul VI issues Humanae Vitae. In Ireland’s main seminary six professors publicly dissent from the encyclical’s infallible teaching on contraception. None were disciplined; none were dismissed; all were permitted to continue the formation of our future priests. 

December 1978: A Bill permitting the sale of contraceptives in Ireland is introduced. 

March 1992: The X Case – the Irish Supreme Court rules that abortion is permissible in certain circumstances. 

September 1995: For the first time the sale of pornographic magazines is allowed in Ireland. 

November 1995: Divorce is legalised in Ireland by a majority vote. 

July 2013: “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” sets out further conditions under which unborn children may be killed. 

May 2014: In an interview on RTÉ radio, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin took pains to avoid answering a direct and straight question: “Do you believe in hell?” At the third time of asking, he conceded that he believed “in the possibility of hell”, and that’s as concrete as he would go on it.

May 2015: 1.2 million Irish people, mostly “catholics” reject God’s design for marriage. They vote for the pretence that “marriage” between two members of the same sex is possible. Cardinal Parolin comments the vote, “I believe that we are talking here not just about a defeat for Christian principles but also about a defeat for humanity.” 

His comments contrast with the tone of remarks by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who said the Church in Ireland needed a “new language” to connect with people. He said the Church needed a “reality check”, adding “I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day. That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution.”

August 2017: Irish bishops release the Amoris programme to help prepare Catholics for the World Meeting of Families. This programme is promoted in every parish in the country and features an image of two lesbians embracing – on the same page as the picture is the following passage: 

“While the Church upholds the ideal of marriage as the permanent commitment between a man and a woman, other unions exist which provide mutual support for the couple.” 

The programme is based on “personal experience” rather than the teachings of Christ and His Catholic Church. 

The enemy within

The archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, is a gifted media performer and a skilled diplomat. He was appointed archbishop in 2002 and so has witnessed much of the decline. Here are some more recent examples of his contribution to the defence of the faith: 

August 2017: The Pro–life cause is undermined by the Archbishop of Dublin. In reply to a question, Archbishop Martin said that he hoped that Pope Francis would not become embroiled in the referendum on the subject of abortion. Dr Martin described the subject as one that is marginal to the Pope’s visit. In other words, the plight of the innocent unborn and the defence of human life is – in the mind of the archbishop – a marginal issue, an inconvenience which might get in the way of the glamour and glitz of a papal visit! 

May 2018: In a May 25 referendum, voters opted by a margin of 66.4 percent to 33.6 percent to remove the right to life of the unborn from the constitution. 

January 2019: On January 1st – the day on which the killing of unborn babies begins in Ireland – the Archbishop of Dublin delivers his first homily of the New Year. Rejecting the plight of the defenceless innocents he chose to speak exclusively on….. Brexit! Not one mention of abortion or the right to life in his homily. 

February 2019: The Archbishop of Dublin criticises anti-abortion campaigners who wait outside hospitals to provide counselling to women planning to kill their unborn child. The Irish bishops have already closed their own crisis pregnancy counselling service. 

February 2019: The Archbishop of Dublin bans Lumen Fidei Institute from his diocese and forbids the distribution of Catholic teaching on homosexuality in his diocese. Two days later he apologies and lifts the ban on the Lumen Fidei Institute!

March 2019: In a newspaper interview Archbishop Diarmuid Martin labels faithful Catholics “cultural warriors” saying,

“How do you deal with a demoralised society, or a demoralised structure. One of the ways is Putin. He takes over in a Russia where everybody is depressed because it isn’t the power that it was. His answer is ‘Let’s go back to the way we were before and dig up all the old aggressions’ and so on. We have a bit of that in the Church. People are saying, ‘Well, the answer is let’s restore what we had before and let’s be there, let’s be aggressive and let’s close our ranks.’ That isn’t the answer.”

March 2019: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gives a lecture to celebrate the 175th anniversary of St Michael’s Church in Limerick – a Protestant Church – his lecture is called the Church of the Future. This is a summary of the points he made:

Change has to come even though continuity and tradition are prized in the Catholic tradition.

Fear of change leads some people to find comfort zones where they can feel the support of the like-minded, building firewalls between their belief and the world in which they live.

‘Cultural warriors of certainty’ who focus on one aspect of the truth can manipulate Church leadership into a certain sympathy with them and into taking wrong decisions.

The experience of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sì has opened a wider path of ecumenical collaboration in the area of the environment and climate justice.

The culture of Irish life have changed from being the culture of an enlarged faith community into a heavily secularised culture.

Structures of school-based religious education, despite enormous good-will, are not producing the results that they set out to achieve.

Churches together have to discover new ways of reaching out to young people to help them develop a strong faith that can be authentically lived-out in a more pluralist Ireland.

A major challenge for the future of the Catholic Church lies in the area women’s issues and of sexual morality.

Leadership in the Catholic Church must involve lay, clerical and religious, women and men, young and old.

My hope is that the future of the Church in Ireland will be one where we truly learn from the arrogance of our past and find anew a fragility which will allow the mercy and the compassion of Jesus to give us a change of heart and allow others through a very different Church to encounter something of that compassion and faith for their lives.

Following this speech, the dissident Association of Catholic Priests issue a statement praising the archbishop and saying that he has “stolen our best lines.”

The decline of priestly formation in Ireland

The very fact that the life of the priest ought to be ordered towards the salvation of souls and the spiritual welfare of the people entrusted to him, means that a rigorous and thorough spiritual formation must lie at the heart of formation of our future priests. Sadly, the only seminary left in Ireland, St Patrick’s College Maynooth, has been in a deplorable state for several decades but our bishops have failed to take serious and decisive action to correct matters. 

In May 2015, a number of seminarians from one class had been asked to take time out on account of their orthodoxy – or, as the Maynooth authorities preferred to term it, “theological rigidity”. 

In 2016, a seminarian who had concerns over the existence of a homosexual sub-culture within the seminary was suspended by the seminary authorities. 

On foot of this news the Archbishop of Dublin removed his two seminarians from Maynooth on account of his concerns that there was a “poisonous” atmosphere in the seminary and amidst reports that some seminarians were using a gay-dating app. 

Underscoring all this is the consistent failure of the Irish bishops to deal with scandals in the seminary stretching back to at least the 1980’s – with allegations against former president of St Patrick’s College, Monsignor Micheál Ledwith, and claims of abuse and impropriety on the part of Monsignor Ledwith.

Last year, Father David Marsden, a former seminary priest spoke out on the homosexual subculture in the seminary. He also described the seminary as a “cesspool of liberal theology and heterodoxy”. Father Marsden challenged one of the most notorious homosexual seminarians about his disordered lifestyle but was given an arrogant response “my bishop knows, the seminary council knows, my spiritual director knows – none of them have a problem with it so neither should you” – in other words shut up this is none of your business. It was after this encounter that Fr Marsden knew it was now not possible to conduct proper formation in the seminary as such widespread dissent of Church’s teaching was blatant amongst the seminary council and the spiritual directors.

Why on earth are Irish bishops not prepared to learn from the United States? Why on earth is a thoroughly orthodox seminary so distasteful to them? 

Our Lord expects big things of His priests, but our bishops continue to disgrace themselves by lamenting that there appear to be few priestly vocations, they continue to preside over the disgraceful state of our National Seminary. Do not expect the young Catholic men of Ireland to commit their lives to anything less than the fullness of truth!

The demise of Catholic education in Ireland

Dr Eanna Johnson presented his findings on the collapse of Catholic education in Ireland at the Lumen Fidei Institute’s Spring conference on 12th March, 2019. The video of his talk is available on our website (www.lumenfidei.ie) and offers a valuable insight to Catholic parents in Ireland who wonder whatever happened to the Irish education system.

Dr Johnson’s talk looks at a brief time in the history of Catholic Education in Ireland which shows how the systematic education in the Catholic Faith collapsed after the Second Vatican Council. Those with responsibility for ensuring that what was taught in Catholic schools was authentically Catholic, failed Catholic parents and betrayed their trust.

The legislation to allow for the first time on Irish soil and in Irish Catholic Hospitals, the killing of innocent human beings in their mother’s wombs, is just one sad consequence of this failure. Those children who should have been properly educated in the Catholic Faith, but who were instead subjected to the corrupt and, in places, depraved Alive-O programme, voted to allow the killing in their droves. 88% of them according to an RTE exit poll on referendum day, most of whom were educated in Irish schools.

Here are a few examples of sadly what has become all too common in our so called Catholic schools:

The new Sex Education Bill will mean that the false and unscientific LGBT agenda will be imposed on Irish school children regardless of the school’s ethos and regardless of parent’s wishes in this matter. Consultation with parents was minimal and the response from the Church was non existent.

An Irish Catholic secondary school, named after Our Lady, hosted a self professed lesbian abortion activist, to raise the LGBT rainbow flag at the school on Monday 25th February 2019.

That young children in Catholic Schools are being exposed to deceitful propaganda which contradicts Catholic teaching on human sexuality is disgraceful. That our Irish Bishops refuse to publicly condemn these public acts, which harm the innocence of children, shows us the power of the media when it comes to the public discourse.

We must never give up hope, but we must form a strong and uncompromising Catholic resistance movement to re-kindle the Catholic faith in Ireland.

What must we do to restore a Catholic culture in our Church and Irish society? 

The only solution to the current malaise is for the Church in Ireland to get serious about the salvation of souls and for bishops to hear the voice of the faithful Catholics, calling out to them in prayer, to lead us to our Heavenly home.

In March this year the Lumen Fidei Institute presented the Bishops of Ireland with a petition seeking a commitment from the bishops to stop the abuses outlined in this presentation. 

The following is an outline of the petition which will form the focus of our work in the coming years – the steps may seem bold and radical but this must not diminish our determination to achieve success nor our faith in the Lord to come to our aid – remember we only need one Bishop to begin the work of renewal. Either we do this or we face a future where the faith in Ireland will diminish and it’s very survival will be in jeopardy – the stakes could not be higher. 

Here then is what we need to reform and renew the Church in Ireland:

Catholic education

We ask for an immediate reform of all Catholic schools in each diocese with due regard to the primacy of Catholic parents in this matter and the subsidiary role of all others, and we call on our bishops to reassert the Catholic Church’s authority over Catholic schools by insisting that the Irish State stops overstepping its rightful place and ceases its encroachment on the Catholic curriculum and on the Catholic ethos which these school children are entitled to have in these schools. Nothing which contradicts authentic Catholic teaching should be taught in these schools. No teacher should be allowed to contradict Catholic teaching when giving instruction to children. The faith and moral aspects of Catholic teaching must permeate all subjects that are taught in these schools.

It is also important that no Catholic Schools are handed over to the secular state. To do so, in the sure knowledge that the state seeks to introduce teachings which are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church, would be to co-operate in evil.

It is important to note that there are other forms of child abuse apart from physical sexual abuse. Failure to uphold the Catholic faith by teachers; failure to give adequate formation in the faith in Catholic schools; and permitting the false LGBT agenda to be promoted in Catholic schools all constitute abuses of children that need to be stopped.

Formation of seminarians

Given the long running scandals within the Maynooth seminary, epitomised by the appointment of Monsignor Michael Ledwith as president of the college in 1985, and which have continued to this day, the Lumen Fidei Institute calls on our bishops to close the Maynooth seminary. We further call on faithful bishops to found new seminaries which will give proper formation to those of our young men who wish to serve God in His Holy priesthood.

The Lumen Fidei Institute, on behalf of the parents we represent, calls on the Irish Bishops to issue a firm statement regarding men with homosexual tendencies to the effect that these men will not be admitted to Irish seminaries. Where it is discovered that such men have already been inadvertently admitted to a seminary, they should be charitably asked to leave the seminary and helped to live good lives as lay Catholics. 

Finally, we seek an assurance that men who suffer from disordered same-sex attraction, will definitely not be ordained to the priesthood. We ask for this measure to ensure that our children and grandchildren are not exposed to the risk of child abuse that previous children were exposed to from men who had been ordained to the priesthood in spite of their same-sex attraction. The majority of sexual abuse that was perpetrated against minors in Ireland was homosexual in nature and included homosexual acts.

Correcting Errors

The Lumen Fidei Institute calls on our bishops to publicly correct the public errors and public statements of priests when these contradict Catholic Church teaching. We also call for the public correction of prominent ‘catholics’ who publicly contradict Catholic Church’s teaching or promote public policies which contradict Catholic teaching whilst claiming to be Catholics. Many of our Catholic politicians who publicly voted for abortion have not been publicly corrected and in many cases, they are treated as if they did nothing wrong. Some of these politicians hold public positions within their parishes which is a grave cause of scandal.

Marriage and family life

The Lumen Fidei Institute calls on our bishops to ensure that young engaged Catholic couples are not given a distorted teaching on marriage and family life when they attend their Catholic pre-marriage courses which are insisted upon by their bishop. We call on the Irish bishops to reject state funding for pre-marriage courses because such funding allows the government to exert pressure which leads to compromise. Those commissioned to give this teaching should be required to sign a declaration that they fully accept Catholic teaching on marriage and family, particularly Catholic teaching about the intrinsically evil nature of contraception.

The Lumen Fidei Institute calls for the closure of the ACCORD marriage guidance and counselling service. ACCORD, by agreeing to counsel those in homosexual relationships, now encourages people to remain in sinful situations. This was agreed to as part of a requirement to secure government funding. Many ACCORD counsellors do not accept Catholic teaching on marriage and family life, particularly with regards to contraception and the same-sex lifestyle.

In place of ACCORD a new Catholic Marriage Advisory Council should be established to promote Catholic teaching on marriage and to teach couples in difficulty in their marriages that by seeking to live their married lives according to the sure teachings of the Catholic Church, and with the sacramental graces available to all validly married Catholics, that all marital problems can be resolved.

Crisis pregnancy counselling

The Lumen Fidei Institute calls on the Bishops of Ireland to establish a ‘directive’ pregnancy counselling service in Ireland for women who are distressed on account of being pregnant and who may consider killing their child. With the closure of CURA, whose website now directs pregnant women to pro-abortion counselling services, there is no official Catholic counselling service in Ireland from the Irish Bishop’s Conference for women who are unhappily pregnant. The Irish government needs to be challenged when it insists that all pregnancy counselling must be ‘non-directive’. Such restrictions are not placed on heart surgeons, urologists, general practitioners, or others in the medical and counselling professions. These ‘non-directive’ restrictions seek to ensure that pregnant women only receive counselling from those who favour the killing of certain innocent human beings.

The CURA website should be shut down immediately or else it should direct women to those Catholic pregnancy counselling services which seek to help women to choose life.

Catholic hospitals

The Lumen Fidei Institute calls on our bishops to protect our Catholic hospitals and to resist government pressure particularly in the area of abortion. We seek a clear declaration from the Irish Bishops Conference that the legislation which permits the killing of innocent human beings in their mother’s wombs, will be resisted in Irish Catholic hospitals. Contraceptive services should not be provided in Catholic hospitals. Catholic hospitals have been compromising on the Catholic faith for too long. Faithful Catholics need to have assurance that they will be treated in a manner consistent with their faith if they have need to go to hospital.

Clear directives also need to be issued as regards end of life care for Catholics and in Catholic hospitals. There is a growing trend towards withholding nutrition and even hydration from comatose patients. In this regard, the advanced care directives called ‘Think Ahead’ promoted by the Irish Hospice movement, gives people the option to opt-out of morally imperative artificial feeding.

The Charter for Health Care Workers, issued by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, in 1995, at no. 120 states:

“The administration of food and liquids, even artificially, is part of the normal treatment always due to the patient when this is not burdensome for him: their undue suspension could be real and properly so-called euthanasia”.

The Irish Hospice movement’s ‘Think Ahead’ directive is a legally binding directive which could cause great distress to Catholics whose elderly parents may have inadvertently signified that they do not want to be artificially fed and whose children will be helpless to protect their parents from these immoral directives. This matter needs to be addressed by the Irish Bishops.

The bishops must also defend the right of Catholic doctors to conscientious objection and provide every support to those who chose to resist the totalitarian approach of the state which seeks to force doctors to perform abortions. 

Financial accountability and transparency

The Lumen Fidei Institute calls for financial transparency from our bishops. Given that the danger represented by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was facilitated by financial settlements which were used to silence some of his victims and were used to keep the abuse hidden, we call on all Irish dioceses to review their past financial history and to declare if there have been any private/secret financial settlements made to abuse victims on behalf of any priests or bishops who are currently in ministry. 

Where such settlements have been made on behalf of a priest, we call on the bishops to remove that priest from active ministry. Where payments have been made on behalf of a serving bishop, we call for the resignation of that bishop and, in the case of a failure to resign, we call for the publication of the relevant information. The same standards need to apply where there is knowledge that a private settlement has been made without the use of diocesan funds.

Conclusion

Addressing the early Christians as “children of light” St Paul then goes on to pass judgement: ‘This is a wicked generation but your lives should redeem it.’ The question is how can we redeem the age through which we are living.

St Paul gives us the answer charging us to preach the Gospel fearlessly – to Timothy he writes: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead … to proclaim the word, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it…”

However, it has been clear for well over a decade and possibly for more than two decades, that we have been steadily losing the moral war in our country. We have divorce, contraception, so called same-sex “marriage”, abortion, widespread pornography, and a growing problem with sexually transmitted diseases. 

Divorce, abortion and same-sex “marriage”, were all introduced by popular vote. 

But the same losing tactics and policies continue to be used. We must change our battle strategy if we are to have any hope of reclaiming our nation for Christ the King. 

I don’t have the audacity to claim that I have all the answers, I am only too aware of my own faults, failings and sinfulness. But we must change how we are fighting in this war for the souls of our children, or we will lose the next generation to the world as well. 

We must stop basing our strategies solely on secular worldly methods and we must once again put our Catholic faith to the forefront of all our actions. 

I was so disappointed to attend one of the pro-life Marches in Dublin prior to the abortion referendum, to see Our Lady relegated to the back of the March. We should have been proud to have Our Lady leading that March rather than having her at the back in order to satisfy those who were deemed to be religious. We will never win this battle without our Blessed Mother. 

The French philosopher Blanc de Saint-Bonnet, speaking of the clergy in the late 1800s said: 

“Charity leads them into all the regions withdrawn from the light they bring – so much do they abhor all that takes us away from God.

For two centuries, clerics have been studying our worldly ideas so as to penetrate our minds, even going so far as to borrow the idiom that attracts the admiration of men in order to speak to us. Without realising it they found themselves seeing the world through our spectacles, and, like us, thinking with the mind of the world. From then on, the great catastrophe was in preparation. For thenceforth it was the human rather than the divine perspective which prevailed.” 

This great catastrophe is reaching its crescendo in Ireland and sweeping all before it. We must once again put the divine perspective first in all our actions and public utterances if we are to rout our enemies from the City of God that is Ireland. Failure is not an option and we will continue to fail until we return Christ and Our Lady to their rightful place as head of our Catholic organisations. We must also encourage our clergy to do likewise. 

The Lumen Fidei Institute and Catholic Voice will continue to battle the pitfalls of the worldly, watered-down spirituality present today as we set our gaze firmly on the City of God. For to quote St. Augustine: 

“The whole of history since the ascension of Jesus into heaven is concerned with one work only: the building and perfecting of this ‘City of God’.

Let us close with a note of hope from Pope Benedict in his recent essay: 

“A society without God – a society that does not know Him and treats Him as non-existent – is a society that loses its measure. . . .Western society is a society in which God is absent in the public sphere and has nothing left to offer it. And that is why it is a society in which the measure of humanity is increasingly lost.  At individual points it becomes suddenly apparent that what is evil and destroys man has become a matter of course.”

“It is very important to oppose the lies and half-truths of the devil with the whole truth: Yes, there is sin in the Church and evil.  But even today there is the Holy Church, which is indestructible. . . .Today God also has His witnesses in the world.  We just have to be vigilant to see and hear them.”