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The New York Times and other organs of the mainstream media have offered only the most superficial and boringly predictable coverage of the referendum in which the Irish approved a constitutional amendment permitting gay marriage—according to the Times, the vote resulted from the march of enlightenment, the continuing dawning of modern consciousness, blah, blah, blah. So I’ve been looking around for commentary that truly attempted to explain how it happened.
How, that is, the nation that just a decade-and-a-half ago remained, with little Malta, one of the most Catholic nations in Europe; how the nation in which essentially the entire population turned out to greet the pontiff when John Paul II visited, how the nation that used to pride itself, that used to define itself, as faithful to the teachings of the Church even as Europe grew increasingly secular–how this nation could have changed so much, so quickly, as to reject the Church’s position on marriage by a margin of more than 3 to 2.
What have I found? “The Joyful Death of Catholic Ireland.” Although a long piece, it neatly sums up its entire argument in the concluding paragraph:
The reason the Irish—as Irish—are celebrating is that they have with this referendum delivered a decisive and final blow to their venerable image as a Catholic nation. They have taken their vengeance on the Church. They must relish the unshackling; they must love the taste of blood. But, finally, they take joy in becoming what, it seems, they were always meant to become. An unexceptional country floating somewhere in the waters off a continent that has long since entered into cultural decline, demographic winter, and the petty and perpetual discontents that come free of charge to every people that lives for nothing much in particular.
The Irish didn’t vote for gay marriage, in other words, as much as they voted against the Church–which the scandals of the last decade have caused them not merely to question but to hate.
To those among the Ricochetti who know Ireland–and I’m conscious that we have members in Eire itself–does that sound right? Does it ring true? Does it truly explain things?