“a Vatican Talks Defeat” As Pope Ducks Irish Vote

By Jerry Slevin
Christian Catholicism
May 26, 2015

The Vatican’s official newspaper has said that Ireland’s passing of the same-sex marriage referendum constitutes a “defeat” that highlights a gap between the Catholic Church and modern society. While Pope Francis has officially so far avoided addressing this disastrous Irish referendum result, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is seen as second only to the pope in the Church’s hierarchy and a likely contender to succeed Pope Francis soon, reportedly said that the Irish referendum that overwhelmingly backed marriage equality last weekend was a “defeat for humanity“. This represents the most damning assessment of the Irish vote by a senior church official to date.

It was a far more critical response than, and even conflicts with, the circumspect reaction offered by Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin , who said: “It is very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people … [then the Church needs} a reality check.” Parolin and Martin served together for years under Cardinal Angelo Sodano and may be laying out markers should they both run to be elected the next pope.

Meanwhile, the Irish vote appears to have lit a fire under the pope, the Vatican and even so-called liberal Cardinals as they strategize now how best to handle the almost farcical celibate male final Family Synod in October. The pope is meeting with his Synod officals to discuss the working document for the October 2015 meeting . At the same time, so called liberal European bishops are meeting in closed-door session to plan their Synod strategy. Only in the Catholic Church could a couple of hundred old celibate bishops so confidently and arrogantly discuss matters they have little or no direct experience with. Truly absurd, as Cardinal Walter Kasper pointed out earlier.

The referendum in Ireland, in which voters approved same sex marriage by a 62.1 to 37.9 percent margin, was the first time such a right has been granted by popular national vote. It’s a huge defeat for the Catholic Church in a country where some 84 percent of the country is at least in theory an adherent to the faith, though the Church has grown markedly less popular because of its handling of child sexual abuse by its priests and its hardline anti-abortion and anti-gay rights positions.

So far, Francis has failed to gain approval of more liberal church doctrine on a series of social and sexual issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage. The gulf between Francis’s rhetoric and official Church policy has been particularly striking at the United Nations, where the Holy See’s diplomats at the United Nations continue to work hard to block progressive policies on sexual and reproductive right that they see as being in conflict with traditional Church teachings.

The Vatican newspaper earlier reported the Irish rejection of Pope Francis’ marriage position as “a challenge for the whole Church,” and of “the distance, in some areas, between society and the Church.” It also said: “The margin between the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ votes was too large not to be accepted as a defeat. It was the result of high voter turnout, notably among young people, … “.

On Saturday (5/23/15), Dublin’s Archbishop Martin had said the marriage referendum results show that the Church has a huge task in front of it to get its message to young people.

A basic premise of the Vatican newspaper and Martin is flawed. They both, in effect, claim that the Yes vote won because of the young.

Polls, however, show the Yes vote won by landslide margins among all groups except the over-65 age group. The Church hierarchy’s current message is clearly falling on deaf ears among a lot more than just the young. The hierarchy, including Pope Francis and Cardinal Parolin evidently, yet again fail to appreciate that the priest child sex abuse scandals have reduced their moral authority severely.

The pope apparently is still even standing up for disgraced Cardinal George Pell, who must be directed by the pope to return to Australia promptly to testify. Pell is becoming another repeat of the Cardinal Bernard Law/ Vatican cover-up script. The Royal Commission into child abuse has shown that victims from Ballarat Australia, which Pell once oversaw, still lack justice.

Cardinal Georges Cottier, a theologian, was cited by the newspaper as saying it was impossible to understand the Irish referendum result “without taking into account the paedophilia scandal which has rocked the Irish Church.” But that scandal is an obscenity to old, as well as young, Catholics in Ireland and everywhere else.

While the majority of Irish people still consider themselves Catholic, this is largely considered a cultural identity. With pedophilia scandals only adding to growing secularisation, only a third of Irish people under 21 identify as Catholic, with another 20% identifying as atheists.

Pope Francis has called on Roman Catholics “not to judge” homosexuals who seek God, but he has also referred approvingly to Church teachings which decry homosexuality. A mixed message at best! The pope calls for “mercy”, while most Catholics call for honesty. If homosexuality is not sinful, there is no need for “mercy'” here.

As one blog commenter perceptively observed after the Irish vote,” … it seems almost pathological that the Catholic hierarchy is unable to grasp the advancements in psychology, science and ethics of the past 100 years. Their concepts about human sexuality are not only anachronistic in terms of the social sciences, but are also rooted in Middle Ages theology. Modern educated people consistently try to point this out to them by refusing to follow their political views and now by leaving their churches. The entire civilized world celebrates the equality now given to Irish gay people while the Roman Catholic Church condemns it as a betrayal of humanity … . This is beyond a stubborn closed-mindedness to self-righteous thinking and is now pathological. ”

The Vatican needs to realize that Irish Catholics’ landslide rejection of Pope Francis’ key marriage position has shown that the pope’s “media created” worldwide popularity is superficial at best. The latest horrendous disclosures concerning the pope’s pick, Cardinal George Pell, as his top financial czar, that got Pell Vatican sovereign immunity protection from Australian prosecution, shows how cynicial and insincere the pope really is about protecting children from priest abusers.

Irish Catholics and Cardinal Pell, whose mother was a devout Irish Catholic descendant, have providentially and paradoxically combined to remove the curtain from the current Papal Wizard, Pope Francis. Irish voters overwhelmingly showed that the pope’s expensive and distracting public relations ploys (papal trips, photo ops, climate change encyclicals, celibate male “Family Synods”, etc.) cannot get Catholics to accept the Church’s corrupt status quo and irresponsible positions on sexual morality, including on same sex marriage, contraception and women’s equality. Many now expect Italy to be the next to reject the pope’s position after the Irish marriage vote . It is clear that an out-of-touch Vatican must now address its obsession with a ‘sexual morality’ that is biblically and naturally unsupportable.

Indeed, prominent Irish priests have described the marriage vote as an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for the Catholic Church. Influential Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and many others have even publicly challenged Pope Francis to make a Vatican “Reality Check” . See also as further reported in the New York Times here and also Ireland’s approval of same-sex marriage is itself a ‘reality check’ for the Catholic Church and the comments thereto by many Catholics .

And Pope Francis should also stop beating the Middle East war drums of right wing US Republican politicians and their “low tax” billionaire backers by ginning up a new “crusade” to save Middle East Christians from Islamic extremists. Over 1,000,000 Iraqis (Christians and Muslims) died as a result of the last US invasion under George W. Bush that was premised on removing non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Another unnecessary invasion would likely just kill more, including many Christians.

The pope has been a Latin American Jesuit for most of his life, not a US military strategist. Indeed, even US professional strategists still make major mistakes. The US Pentagon now admits it had no plan when ISIS recently took Mosul. And the USA’s Fordham University’s Jesuit president even makes mistakes on an honorary degree given to the CIA head who continues to play a key role in the US’ disastrous Iraq War policy. Jesuits would do well to leave military tactics to professionals, especially to avoid risking exacerbating inter-religious wars between Christians and Moslems. ISIS must be contained, but not by another counter-productive US led “war on terror” repackaged as a new “crusade”.

At this time, the world’s Catholics now are well aware of the pope’s poor example that he set by protecting Cardinal Pell from possible criminal prosecution in Australia. This is little different from Pope John Paul II’s and/or ex-Pope Benedict’s shameful protection from cover-up charges of Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady, the UK’s Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Belgium’s Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the US’s Cardinals Roger Mahony (Los Angeles) and Justin Rigali (Philadelphia), et al., all of which Pope Francis has acquiesced in for over two years.

Cardinal Pell’s attempt now to use the Vatican Bank’s government mandated financial reform to distract from his outrageous record on addressing priest child abuse cannot succeed. The Vatican Bank is being reformed mainly because of outside governmental regulators’ guns to the pope’s head. The Banks’ 2014 financial results may look good, but that is mainly so when compared to how bad the 2013 results looked. 2013 was the first year the Bank had independent outside accounting auditors, which the rest of the Vatican’s much larger financial operations still lack. And the pope still secretively controls the Bank through clerics that make up the majority of the Banks’ overseers. In any event, Catholics main interest in the Vatican is as believers, not as investors!

The pope must now send Cardinal Pell home to face the Australian Royal Commission. Indeed, Pell recently visited on vacation the epicenter of abuse he allegedly covered up in Ballarat, Australia . There is no good reason he cannot return to testify, and Francis must demand it as many Catholics worldwide have already demanded it.

If the pope is sincere and serious about curtailing priest child abuse, he should order Pell to return to testify promptly. Almost 75,000 people in just a few days have signed a petition calling for Cardinal George Pell to return to his native Australia and face a government commission on child sex abuse, after allegations that he tried to bribe the victim of a pedophile priest. It seems evident now, to me at least, that Pell fled Australia to get the benefit of the Vatican’s sovereign immunity protection from presecution, with Pope Francis’ knowledge and support, as Cardinal Bernard Law did earlier under Pope John Paul II. Addressed to Pope Francis, the petition calls for Pell — the Vatican’s financial chief and former archbishop of Sydney — to answer questions under oath. Please see “Political leader calls on Cardinal Pell to face Royal Commission” , “‘Australia’s worst pedophile priest’ ” , and “Cardinal Pell is ‘weak and ineffectual’and not very smart” .

The Irish in the “Dark Ages” saved the Catholic Church from external “pagan barbarians”. Now the Irish are saving the Church from internal “hierarchical wrongdoers” who secretly abuse children, obstruct responsible family planning, pillage donations, intimidate honest opponents and disrespect women, divorced and gay Catholics.

Irish voters have declared a new reality in an open referendum that overwhelmingly rejected one of Pope Francis’ key positions on marriage. The Catholic Church is reeling after Ireland’s huge ‘Yes’ vote to changing, despite Pope Francis’ opposition, Ireland’s law on marriage . Predictably, Pope Francis remained silent on the Irish vote during his Pentecost Sunday address, while comments by some senior Catholic clergy suggested the Church is certainly reeling from the result.

All Irish political parties and their leaders stood up to and opposed Pope Francis and his Irish bishops. These political leaders rushed in to applaud the vote, as did UK Prime Minister David Cameron as well. Cameron tweeted: “Congratulations to the people of Ireland, after voting for same-sex marriage, making clear you are equal if you are straight or gay.”

Democratically elected political leaders worldwide, including US President Obama, had previously been fearful of standing up against the media created “superstar”, Pope Francis, especially with the Vatican’s longstanding ties to billionaire media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim. Yet an overwhelming majority out of almost 2,000,000 Irish voters have shown that the pope’s popularity, despite the media hype, is mainly a superficial “feel good” reaction after the last two failed popes. Irish Catholics overwhelmingly have demonstrated that the pope’s public relations ploys cannot get Catholics to accept the Church’s corrupt status quo and irresponsible positions on sexual morality, including on same sex marriage and contraception. Many now expect Italy to be the next to reject the pope’s position after the Irish marriage vote .

Political leaders worldwide are noting the pope’s clearly demonstrated weakness after two years of high priced Vatican media image management. Even the Archbishop of Dublin has publicly and boldly challenged the pope indicating that the Catholic Church needs a “reality check” after the Irish marriage vote .

Please see my “Reporters Note Gap Between Pope’s Words & Deeds” and “What Do We Now Know About The Real Goal Of Pope Francis? “.

This is very bad news for the pope and his “low tax” US Republican billionaire backers with their “anti-gay marriage” crusade now underway for next year’s US presidential elections. Catholics in the U.S. — white, Hispanic, and otherwise — support same-sex marriage at about the same rate as the Irish voted. This reportedly despite some US fundamentalist Christian funding of the supporters of Ireland’s anti-gay marriage crusade .

As Mark Silk has noted, this Irish vote will resonate around the world, and perhaps even ring a bell with the two Irish Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy, who represent the swing votes on next month’s (June’s) decision to determine whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to be married in the United States.

An Irish government minister reflected expletively the reaction of many angry Catholics, worldwide, who overwhelming and emphatically reject the pope’s hypocritical and homophobic position in a Church with a signicant number of actively gay clerics. The minister tweeted after the Irish vote, “F*** Yeah!”, see “ How Ireland’s Equality Minister Reacted To Vote “.

In less than three decades, the Catholic Church has lost its grip on the Irish. The self-destruction of the institutional church has been spectacular. Revelations over the extent of sexual abuse by predatory priests have undermined the moral authority of the Catholic hierarchy and overturned the nearest thing Europe had to a theocracy. It was not just paedophile priests. Scandals involving regimes of physical and psychological cruelty have been laid bare involving nuns and religious brothers in schools, care homes and the infamous Magdalene laundries set up by the Catholic Church for single mothers and “fallen women”.

The pope’s main source of political power with right wing leaders worldwide derives mainly from his potential ability in elections to “bring out” targeted, and mainly single issue, fundamentalist voters on issues like gay marriage and abortion. That potential influence is declining rapidly due to the Vatican’s sex abuse cover-up and financial scandals. This has been clearly indicated by the Irish vote, as well as by recently popular petitions focused on Cardinals George Pell’s and Timothy Dolan’s alleged abuse cover-ups and callous disregard for abuse survivors. Indeed, the Vatican’s Irish anti-gay crusade paradoxically brought out more papal opposition voters, as is likely to occur in next year’s US elections as well.

Reportedly, one of the strongest US supporters of the Irish anti-gay marriage crusade had been the well funded National Organisation for Marriage (NOM). In a reported letter to supporters around the world, it had urged evangelical Christians to visit websites campaigning against the Irish marriage law change. “Just like in campaigns for marriage here in America,” the NOM letter reportedly said, “slanted public opinion polls become fodder to influence and depress supporters of marriage. This is happening in Ireland. If [the campaign against the law change] can manage to pull off a victory, it will be a tremendous boost to the cause of marriage worldwide. Please do what you can to bring awareness to their efforts.”

Recently, a leading US group, that favors the legal recognition of gay marriage, had released an open letter addressed to Pope Francis asking that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the current US Apostolic Nuncio, withdraw from his speaking role at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)’s “Marriage for Marriage.” The Apostolic Nuncio leads the Vatican’s diplomatic mission to the United States. “There is absolutely no room for an emissary of one of the world’s great religions at an event that will espouse hate and bigotry and promote outright discrimination against LGBT Americans and their families,” reportedly said the group’s Vice President of Communications, adding that “Pope Francis has continually emphasized love and acceptance in his tenure, but this event stands for anything but.”

It seems clear that Pope Francis’ honeymoon with Catholics is definitely over! Predominantly Catholic Ireland has now overwhelmingly rejected in a landslide vote one of Pope Francis’ key positions by permitting same sex marriage. Surprising many who had predicted a generational divide, the support cut across age and gender, geography, and income, early results showed. This follows the recent Catholic revolt in a Chilean cathedral against Pope Francis’ controversial bishop appointment (see here and YouTube ). As noted above, even the Archbishop of Dublin has publicly and boldly challenged the pope, in effect, to “get real”.

The Irish voted to allow same-sex marriage, by direct referendum by almost a two to one margin, with one of highest voter turnouts ever at more than 60 per cent. The pope’s main source of political power with right wing leaders worldwide derives from his potential ability in elections to “bring out” targeted and mainly single issue fundamentalist voters on issues like gay marriage and abortion. That potential influence is declining rapidly due to the Vatican’s sex abuse cover-up and financial scandals. This has been clearly indicated by the Irish vote, as well as by recently popular petitions focused on Cardinals George Pell’s and Timothy Dolan’s alleged abuse cover-ups and callous disregard for abuse survivors. Indeed, the Vatican’s Irish anti-gay crusade paradoxically brought out more papal opposition voters, as is likely to occur in next year’s US elections as well.

Please see also my “Revolt Grows: Bishop Tells Pope To ‘Get Real‘ “, “A Pope, A New US War, Jeb Bush Neocons & Big Oil” , “By Sacking Only Bishop Finn, Now Pope’s Interests Are First, No?“, “Cardinals Pell and O’Malley Show Limits of Reform”, “Philly’s Monsignor Lynn’s Family Blames Cardinals For Crimes Against Children: Will Pope Act?“, “Now Chile Bishop Revolt Reaches Ireland, USA & UK” and “NY’s Cardinal Dolan, Criminals, & Hypocrisy” .

A few days ago in a last minute and desperate Irish Times article, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin tried unsuccessfully to use Pope Francis’ media created popularity to influence Irish voters: “My position is that of Pope Francis, who, in the debates around same-sex marriage in Argentina, made it very clear that he was against legalising same-sex marriage, … “. Now after Irish Catholics overwhelmingly rejected the pope’s and Martin’s position, Martin reportedly has directly challenged the pope publicly in pertinent part (in italics): “It’s a social revolution {the Irish vote} that’s been going on – perhaps in the Church people have not been as clear in understanding what that involved, … We have to stop and have a reality check, not move into denial of the realities. We won’t begin again with a sense of renewal with a sense of denial, … I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes {to allow same sex marriage} are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years. I’m saying there’s a big challenge there …” (emphasis mine)

In the weeks running up to the voting day and under Vatican direction evidentally, a series of Catholic bishops futilely issued public letters to their congregations outlining their objections to same sex marriage. The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, even threatened that the Irish Catholic hierarchy might even reconsider its position on whether priests would continue to solemnise the civil aspect of a marriage if a vote approving same sex marriage were passed. That foolish threat backfired apparently.

The world’s most staunch Catholic country for centuries, Ireland, is very significantly the first to legalise same-sex marriage by a popular vote. Fr. Tony Flannery, a leader of the largest Irish priests’ group, referred to the vote as “amazing”, adding that even the priests’ group had been “split down the middle”. Flannery perceptively noted reportedly: “This is a conclusive indication that the power of the bishops in Ireland is gone. Even the older generation is not listening to them any more. The young generation came out in force; some even came home from abroad to vote. A new, and very different, Ireland has become a reality today.” He added: “The challenge for the Church leaders now is to tune in to this new Ireland. I am not hopeful they have the capacity to do so.” (emphasis mine)

Irish political leaders were quick to react positively to the voters’ overwhelming and broad based decision. Gerry Adams in this short video noted this is a huge day for equality . Ireland’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, pointed out that it was the movement of young people who were firmly behind the reforms. Kenny reportedly added: “I think from a young person’s perspective, particularly for those who travelled from wherever to wherever to put a simple mark on a paper, shows the value of the issue and the importance of politics, … .”

Undoubtedly, political leaders elsewhere, e.g., the USA, Australia, Germany, the UK, the Philippines, in Latin America, et al., also noticed the weak support for the pope’s position and the rejection of the popular pope’s directives. The media fanfare associated with Pope Francis’ unnecessary trips, photo ops, views on climate change and other clear efforts to distract from the Vatican’s continuing scandals, apparently cannot lead to getting most Catholics to accept the pope’s irrational approach to sexual morality.

It is becoming clear that Catholics, especially young ones, are not buying what Pope Francis is trying to sell. Indeed, the lay female president of New York’s Jesuit Le Moyne College recently weighed in perceptively, in connection with student and faculty protests over having Cardinal Dolan as the graduation speaker. She was asked “Was the level of protest coming from some students a surprise?” She reportedly replied: “To be completely forthcoming, yes it was. I never imagined the depth of concern. And, frankly, I underestimated our students. I underestimated their concern for social justice, their concern for those who have been abused and marginalized, their concerns for reparation for those who have been abused. My hat is off to these 20- and 21-year-olds, who are already beginning to see the big picture, …”.

Only celibate men living in the childless Vatican bubble could make these bad decisions. Pathetic and outrageous, really. Many Catholics will not have it!

This type of approach is the “death knell” for the pope’s flawed sexual morality, it would appear. The curtain is rising on the real Francis, no?

Moreover, US political leaders of both parties are shamefully continuing to give the pope a pass on the child abuse scandal, likely to try to gain political advantage in next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

What the Irish rejection of Pope Francis’ position on same sex marriage shows is that the pope’s media star image does not carry over to political influence !!!

Political leaders, please wake up.

Courageous UN leaders and political leaders in nations like Australia, the UK, Chile, Ireland, et al., are challenging the pope and his subordinates’ indefensible records, but leaders like the USA’s Obama and Clinton, and even Catholics like Boehner, Biden, Peter King, Nancy Pelosi, Jeb Bush, Rubio, Guiliani, Cuomo, Christie, Jindal, Panetta, Santorum, Jerry Brown, et al., look the other way too often on priest child abuse and bishops’ cover-ups. I was a classmate of Guiliani and King and went to the same law school as Obama. I know they know better and deeply believe the others do as well!

Why this political cowardice? Pope Francis’ high poll numbers, that’s why! Francis’ recently created media star image, created by opportunistic supporters, including low tax/less regulation billionaires like FOX’s Rupert Murdoch, appeals to desperate Republicans and scares unprincipled Democrats. Francis supports through his US bishops’ right wing policies, like anti-gay marriage, anti-contraception/abortion and pro Mideast war policies, as he winks disingenuously to the left with platitudes about helping the poor and controlling climate change, and signals to fundamentalist Latinos with references to the devil and Our Lady of Guadalupe, to calculated canonizations for Archbishop Romero and Franciscan Serra, and to empty promises about the desperate immigrants fleeing Latin American Catholic countries where cardinals too often politically pimp for plutocrats.

Meanwhile, most politicians try to ride the pope’s media made coattails, followed by a mostly complicit and robotic media echo chamber. Yet, well over a hundred thousand (the Vatican’s experts’ own estimate) USA children have reportedly been abused by priests, while the pope and his selfish old boys club spend billions on themselves and try to to shift the cost of helping priest abuse survivors and their families from the bishops to government welfare programs. At the same time, Francis limits entry to the priesthood by excluding married men and women, which only exacerbates the abuse crisis by narrowing the priest candidate pool.

The Irish vote proves Pope Francis’ poll numbers do not translate into a similar level of influence over Catholic voters.








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