Reflection on the Referendum
Gerry O’Hanlon SJ reflects on last week’s referendum and the resounding Yes vote. Addressing the issue of conscience, Dr O’Hanlon says he believes that the Catholics who voted on Friday were thoughtful, intelligent adults who did not see the choice they faced in black and white terms. They were particularly aware, he added, of the hard cases such as rape and incest and fatal fetal abnormalities.
In this interview with Pat Coyle he also addresses the crisis that this outcome poses for the Catholic church in Ireland arguing that the moral authority of the Catholic church is in tatters. However he says that the decision also offers an opportunity for church leaders to engage in authentic dialogue and realise that they now have no choice but to engage in modern culture. He added that the alienation many feel from the Church may stem from the legacy of a Church that tried to exercise such control over women’s bodies. And that the result might allow the Church to listen sympathetically to the values of the day, as well as offering its own critique.