Ireland should sever diplomatic relations with the Vatican

A group called ‘Ireland Stand Up’ are campaigning to have the decision to close Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See overturned.  Last Wednesday they met with almost a third of sitting Irish parliamentarians to support their campaign. Records released to the Irish Examiner show that 93% of public responses received by Foreign Affairs Minister, Eamon Gilmore, opposed the decision to close the embassy. The paper’s headline ‘Public decries closure of embassy to the Vatican’ becomes considerably less impressive when you take into account the fact that only 102 responses were received.

Has Ireland Stand Up really contemplated the nature and purpose of the Irish state’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See? Do they genuinely think that it is in the interests of the Irish Church? If so, why? What leads them to conclude that Irish diplomats and bureaucrats are motivated by any concern for Ireland’s spiritual welfare or for the health of the Irish Church? No, as paid servants of a secular government they are charged with acting on mere temporal and political considerations.

Currently seven of Ireland’s twenty-six dioceses are without a bishop and all bar four of the rest have bishops over the age of 65. The next few years will be extremely decisive in shaping the future mould of Irish Catholicism. New bishops who are appointed will be young and in their position for years to come. It is therefore indispensable that those bishops appointed to replace the current lot (who have failed disastrously) are unimpeachably orthodox, supportive of traditional liturgy, and are committed to a re-evangelization of Irish society. How likely is it that the Irish government will want to see such bishops appointed?  

Progressives dominate the Irish ecclesiastical infrastructure. (Orthodox Catholicism is powerless in the Irish Church and without a voice.) They will mobilize and lobby both the Vatican and the Irish state to secure the appointment of progressive bishops and the rejection of conservative ones. Irish diplomats and politicians will sympathize with them on an ideological level but also because outspoken bishops are more likely to forcefully challenge the government’s increasingly liberal social policy. They will lobby the Vatican for or against certain candidates. It was not for nothing that many French anti-clericals opposed the 1905 separation of Church and State, which turned out to be beneficial to the Church in the long run. (Although sadly Pius XI later conceded a veto over episcopal candidates to the French government, which they retain.)

The Irish Church is going through a really historic period of transition, which could make or break or it. It needs maximum temporal freedom from state intrusion in its constitution and internal affairs.

Indeed it would be best for the Irish government to simply break off diplomatic relations with the Vatican completely. By closing their embassy to the Vatican, Irish politicians have already done the Church a massive favour, only they’re too stupid to realize it. Let Irish Catholics be intelligent enough to remain one step ahead.

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Posted on January 25, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I am currently visiting Ireland for three months. I have, frankly, been shocked at the general anti-Catholic attitudes I find, even among Catholics. It is as if the Catholic population is standing on its head to be perverse against Rome in every possible way. It is so sad. Your point is interesting, but I would respectfully disagree with you. As much as I do not trust this government either, I think that an inside to the Vatican can work both ways, In other words, people who are on the ground may actually, gasp, be converted to the beauty and truth of the Universal Church. The Irish Church, except for a few, is so parochial and so 1970s, as if all the bad ideas in America post-Vatican II found their way on a boat over here. Ick. I am so glad there is a growing Traditional community. but I do not think having diplomatic relations will do any further harm and may do some good. Am I too hopeful?

  2. Supertradmum, I totally agree with you that the Irish Church is still stuck in a time warp, while the rest of society has changed. I remember you saying on Fr Z’s blog that you had visited Ireland in the 1980s; do you notice a drastic change in the religious situation since then?

  3. Hi,

    I never visited Ireland but knew many Irish seminarians at ND in the States in the 80s. They were great guys and great friends, but some were arch-liberals. Same with the priests who were there teaching overseas. No difference, as these men either became priests, or are priests of bishops now. Sad. Seems like JPII and Benedict have made no impact here.

  4. Supertradmum, thanks for the kind compliments and the link. I shall read them with interest.

  5. Liam Fitzsimons

    I have returned my Irish passport and now carry a British one, the only perk of living in the North of Ireland, and will do so until we once again have a Vatican embassy. Tiocfaidh ar la.

  6. Liam, if the Irish government re-established an embassy in Rome, what benefits do you believe would accrue to Irish Catholicism?

  7. Shane: I appreciate your points, and I hope I’m not getting it wrong, but I’m not sure that the Government really has any business reacting to episcopal appointments in the first place? Of course, there hasn’t really been a problem for the last few decades, since the worldview of the current incumbents could be broadly said to be liberal-leaning and would chime-in with the squishy pseudo-liberalism of what passes for most of Irish political thought.

    However, even assuming that irreproachably orthodox Bishops were to be appointed, would it be the case that the Government could react at all? After all, separation of Church and State does cut both ways, so it would be “ultra vires” for them to comment in any critical way and as far as them “wanting to see such Bishops appointed” well, basically, whether they like it or not it’s actually none of their business, or at least none of their business qua Government, whatever about their personal opinions (as Catholics or probably not).

    So go ahead and appoint those Bishops is my opinion, and if any official sort of objection comes than it should be slapped down decisively, followed up by a strong counter-offensive. There has been too much kowtowing to the zeitgeist and running after cheap popularity, and in the end it only gets you despised even more and treated as a quantité négligeable.

    That said, I would have to say that I have grave doubts that among the current crop of Irish secular clergy there would even be 7 eligible candidates who would meet those criteria of being “unimpeachably orthodox, supportive of traditional liturgy, and… committed to a re-evangelization of Irish society”. Whatever about the last one, it’s a sure bet that the first two would be difficult enough to find! And I have even more severe doubts that my proposed scenario above would in fact emerge. More likely the reaction would be more of the same old, same old: “pained surprise”, “regrets”, “pauses for reflection” etc. i.e. milk and water blathering, and more backing up into the corner.

  8. “I have grave doubts that among the current crop of Irish secular clergy there would even be 7 eligible candidates who would meet those criteria”

    I share your doubts. The four decades of seminary brainwashing has really taken its total. And of course bishops need to possess other rare qualities, such as intelligence. Piety and orthodoxy are essential but aren’t sufficient in and of themselves…

  1. Pingback: Ireland’s embassy to the Vatican should not be re-opened « Lux Occulta

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