“Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”. Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to Heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now and at the end of my death. Amen.”
In this month of Mary, pro-lifers around the world have an urgent intention to bring before the feet of the Blessed Mother. I am speaking about the Irish referendum on whether to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. This is the amendment that states that an unborn human being possesses equal dignity and right to life as his or her mother.
The vote has been set for May 25th. The present Irish government has promised that if the amendment is repealed on May 25th, it will introduce legislation legalizing abortion on demand in the first trimester.
This is easily one of the most important abortion-related votes of our generation. It is not just that a repeal vote would condemn hundreds of thousands of unborn Irish babies to death in the coming decades, but it would also mark an extraordinary symbolic victory for foreign agents of the Culture of Death. Ireland and Malta are the lone Western countries where the rights of the unborn are still protected. I greatly fear what will happen if Ireland falls.
Ireland – Disproving Abortion Lies
Pro-aborts have long pursued ways to overcome the indomitable Irish spirit, and to bring the country into the fold of the abortion regime. But their frustrations have grown with time. Instead of caving to foreign pressure, Ireland has resisted. And in the process, it has thoroughly debunked many of the abortion movement’s most common talking points, and acted as a beacon of hope to pro-life activists worldwide.
Abortion activists insist that legalizing abortion through the Irish Referendum is necessary to protect maternal health, gender equality, and economic and social progress. Failing to do so (they claim) will lead to a litany of horrors, including an epidemic of dangerous illegal abortions. But instead of these horrors, Ireland has boasted a maternal mortality rate half that of the neighboring UK, where abortion is legal on demand. Meanwhile, Ireland has experienced meteoric economic growth, and is ranked in the top 10 for “gender equality” by the World Economic Forum (WEF), even as they have almost completely banned abortion.
Meanwhile, the same study that found that Irish maternal mortality rates are so much lower than elsewhere also found that less than one-tenth of Irish women are likely to “experience an abortion,” compared to one-third in the UK. Rather than simply pushing abortion underground, the Irish law has successfully and massively reduced the number of abortions. Even though Irish women can relatively easily travel to neighboring EU countries to get abortions, Ireland’s pro-life culture and laws have spared countless women the physically, mentally, and spiritually traumatizing experience of abortion, without any detriment to their dignity or equality.
In other words, the Irish pro-life law has led to more woman-friendly outcomes than in countries that have abortion on demand. For this reason, the complaint made by one professor of “Equality Studies” that the WEF’s high ranking of Ireland on gender equality didn’t measure access to abortion comes across as desperate and hopelessly ideological. For abortion extremists like this professor, the claim that abortion is key to women’s rights is a kind of superstitious dogma: no amount of empirical evidence that women thrive better without abortion can possibly sway them from their conviction.
This only goes to show that on this issue, we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but the Father of Lies. With the practice of the faith collapsing in many parts of Ireland, many Irish people likely no longer believe in the devil. But I assure you, the devil is real, and he yearns for blood to be spilt in Ireland, as blood is being spilt in almost every other Western nation. The devil has often established his reign throughout history through the practice of child sacrifice, for a nation that sacrifices its own children is a nation without hope, a nation hopelessly blinded to the ways of God, for whom even the smallest and most helpless child – made in His image – has infinite value.
A “Hinge” Moment for Ireland
Though the blind may not see the connection, Ireland already took big steps towards legalizing abortion when it legalized divorce in 1996, and same-sex “marriage” in 2015. To alter the definition of marriage and the family is to alter the purpose and definition of sexuality, which is (inevitably) to usher in the “need” for abortion to clean up the mess left by the new regime of sexual libertinism. This same point was made, ironically, by the BBC, in an article about Malta, which suggested that by legalizing divorce, the island nation had “lifted the lid” on a host of other social issues, including abortion.
Still, there is something exceptionally fatal about the step to legalize child-killing. It constitutes something of a “point of no return,” a conclusive commitment to a diabolical inversion of values, elevating autonomy above responsibility, selfishness over generosity, and death over life. This is a poison that enters the veins of a nation, polluting every element of public life, and threatening its very future.
For Ireland, then, this upcoming vote is what I have heard referred to as a “hinge moment.” A vote to withstand the forces urging death could be a vote to save Ireland. It would amount to a firm rejection of the forces of secularism, an unmistakable assertion of Irish identity and independence, a foundation on which Ireland could build a brighter future. A vote, on the other hand, to embrace abortion, the anti-“sacrament” of the Culture of Death, could mark a tipping point, a tragic severing of Ireland from its Christian roots, from its foundation in the blood and sweat of its saints and martyrs, above all St. Patrick.
A Nation Divided – Look to Mary
In Ireland, it is the same as it has always been: The rich, the powerful, and the famous are falling over each other to throw Ireland’s children under the bus. While the ordinary, the humble, and the poor are rising up in defense of the vulnerable.
The Irish band U2, whose lead singer Bono has made great pretenses of being a Christian over the years, recently tweeted their support for repealing the pro-life amendment during the Irish Referendum. So too has actor Liam Neeson, who infamously shot a video ad for Amnesty International in 2015, disingenuously depicting the Eighth amendment as keeping Ireland in the “dark ages.” Large tech companies like Google and Facebook, and most of the media, are shamelessly campaigning for the repeal vote, often giving lip-service to “fair” reporting, while subtly prejudicing their users and readers against voting pro-life.
Unfortunately, even the Church in Ireland appears divided within Herself. Some bishops, thank God, are exercising their pastoral authority, warning their flocks of the peril of legalizing abortion. On the other hand, a group of treacherous Irish priests recently issued a statement expressing opposition to the practice of allowing pro-life campaigners to speak at Mass. They emphasized the “complexity” of abortion, while a spokesman for the pro-life effort shot back: “If we have reached the point where speaking about the right to life in a Christian church is in some way controversial that would be a sign that hysteria has overtaken rational discourse in this Irish referendum campaign.” Amen.
All this only goes to show that Ireland is deeply divided, and urgently in need of our prayers. Polls show that the “yes” and “no” sides are neck and neck, with the anti-life side slightly ahead. However, a large number of Irish voters remain “undecided,” and the pro-life side appears to be building momentum. Who knows what money and power are being poured into the effort to overturn Ireland’s pro-life laws? It is the faith, prayers, fasting, example, and resolute boots-on-the-ground activism of ordinary pro-life Irish that will make the final difference in this fight in these final days.
Ireland has much to offer the world, if it would only stand and give witness to Truth. Its Catholic legacy and culture is a precious gift, one to be reclaimed and shared. Becoming like the rest of Europe, much of which is in the throes of a demographic death spiral, is not the answer. Europe is dying. Is this what Ireland wants – to be like Europe? To level another blow against life and family is the most insane thing Ireland could do at this critical juncture in its history.
We know that our Blessed Mother loves Ireland. She appeared there, along with St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist, at Knock, in 1879. I don’t doubt that it is her mantle of protection that played a huge role in keeping Ireland abortion-free until now. Ireland now urgently needs our Blessed Mother, that great lover and defender of the weak and the vulnerable. I hope you will consider beginning a novena to Our Lady of Knock, asking her protection on the land of St. Patrick in these crucial final days before the May 25th vote. The Irish Referendum is quite literally, a matter of life and death.
Our Lady of Knock…pray for us! Pray for Ireland!