Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Future of the Catholic Church After Ireland's Vote

Ireland's vote to approve same sex marriage is reverberating far from Ireland's shores and already there is a renewed energy in Italy to pass civil union legislation if not outright gay marriage.  The forces that transformed Ireland from a nation controlled by the theocratic power of the Catholic Church to a secular nation where the young in particular reject main Church teachings are taking place in modern nations across the globe.  Whether or not the Church faces this new reality will likely determine whether the Church is reduced to a church of the elderly in the western world with new growth only in backward, uneducated areas such as Africa.  A piece in the New York Times looks at Ireland and what the Church must come to terms with.  Modern society is washing its hands of what the Church is peddling, especially on matters of sexuality.  Given the bitter old men in dresses in Roman who live in a Fox News like bubble, I don't see the Church reforming itself anytime soon.  Here are article highlights:
After the votes were counted, the carefully planned and executed campaign by activist groups seemed as much about putting behind a past entrenched in theocracy and tradition as it was about marriage for gays and lesbians. And it underscored how different Ireland is today for the young, who turned out in droves to vote. In a little more than a generation, Ireland has both distanced itself from the church and sharpened its secular identity.

“The church needs to take a reality check,” Archbishop Martin said after the Mass, repeating a comment he had made Saturday. “It’s very clear there’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the church, and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the church.”

The country’s cultural evolution reflects a blend of disaffection with the church, and Ireland’s willingness to embrace a wider vision of itself in the world. As the church lost many people in its scandals and its unwillingness to yield to sexual freedoms, the European Union found itself with a willing and eager member.

Tony Flannery, a priest who was suspended in 2012 because of his criticism of the church’s views on women and homosexuality, said contraception was a seminal issue for a generation that became the parents of today’s youngest voters.

And it “was the first time that Irish Catholics first questioned church teaching,” Mr. Flannery said. “That opened the door, and after that they increasingly began to question a whole raft of Catholic sexual teaching, and then the child sexual abuse scandal came along which destroyed church credibility in the whole area of sexuality.”

“The people have changed their relationship with the Catholic Church because they’ve been disappointed and let down,” said Christina Breen, 54, who visited Dublin Castle on Saturday to see the results of the vote, a show of support because one of her sons is gay.

Or, as Mr. Flannery put it, “The day when the church had the power to influence social debate in Ireland, or to swing it, is gone.”

“The biggest change I see is the young people,” said Annie Dillon, 58, who works for a community-based health organization.
“I’m thinking of my 20-year-old nephew; it was like a no-brainer for him,” she said. “He was like, ‘Of course, why wouldn’t we want to be including everybody?’ That seems to be the prevailing attitude.”

“For many, and I’ve said this before, inside the church becomes almost alien territory to them in today’s society,” he [Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin] said. “If the leadership of the Irish Catholic church don’t recognize that, then they’re in severe denial. Have I got a magic formula? Certainly not.”
With over a third of America's Millennials having walked away from organized religion, the Catholic Church and other anti-gay, fundamentalist denominations  are moving quickly to the sort of rejection that just happened in Ireland.  Preaching hate and division and psychological obsession with all things sexual simply isn't selling anymore. 

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