DUBLIN -- Ireland just voted to repeal one of the world’s more restrictive abortion bans, sweeping aside generations of conservative practice and dealing what would be a stinging rebuke to the Roman Catholic Church -- a church that is veering sharply left under the guidance of the current Pope.
Ireland was once a very conservative nation; now it more closely resembles an American progressive’s idea of Utopia. They allow voluntary abortion, same-sex marriage, and non-citizen voting.
The surprising landslide, reflected in the results announced on Saturday, cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. In the past three years alone, Ireland has installed a gay man as prime minister and has voted in another referendum to allow same-sex marriage.
But this was a particularly wrenching issue for Irish voters, even for supporters of the measure. And it was not clear until the end that the momentum toward socially liberal policies would be powerful enough to sweep away deeply ingrained opposition to abortion.
“What we have seen today really is a culmination of a quiet revolution that’s been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said at a counting center in Dublin before the results of Friday’s vote were released, giving an early indication of the final outcome. The “yes” camp took more than 66 percent of the vote, according to the official tally, and turnout was about 64 percent.
How did this liberalization, this rapid decay of conservative Christian values, happen so quickly? I would argue it is a result of a tyranny of the majority and the influence of a Social Justice Pope.
Globally, the Catholic Church’s center of gravity continues to shift away from Europe to Africa and Latin America. Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the New World, has sought to realign the church’s priorities in political discourse, and has prioritized economic and environmental Social Justice issues over cultural ones such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
In 2013, the United Nations reported that abortions were legal upon request in 58 of the 193 Member States. The World Health Organization estimates that there are between 40 and 50 million abortions per year. Ireland finally joins the majority of North America and all but four countries in the European Union in granting women the right to terminate their pregnancies as a matter of convenience – and the price of inclusion was just the lives of potentially millions who now will never be born.
Welcome to “civilization,” Ireland.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:12).