The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin is telling Catholics that they are not obligated to follow laws that contradict their faith.
Far from separation of church and state, Martin wants Church to simply ignore the State.
Concerning the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which goes before the Seanad this week, Archbishop Martin said, “There’s a clear Catholic teaching that if legislation is against the basic principles of faith of people that they can’t be forced to carry it out.
Asked whether this right of Catholics not to obey laws in certain circumstances also included legislation on divorce, same-sex marriage and family planning, Archbishop said: “There’s a hierarchy of truths in Catholic teaching and the centrality of some aspects. If people have conscientious objection it’s a very important thing to remember it. For me, very often social change comes from people who stand up for their commitments.”
Social change is also delayed for the very same reason: because people are unable to separate their sacred principles from the rights of others to live their lives as they see fit. No one is asking Catholics to change their beliefs — just not to force them on the public. That, apparently, is a separation Martin doesn’t accept.
Last week, in a strongly-worded statement, the Catholic bishops said they were “dismayed that, for the most part, the voices of those who voted against abortion in May’s referendum have been ignored. Even what many people would have deemed to have been very reasonable legislative amendments seeking to provide women with information and to prohibit abortion on the grounds of sex, race or disability, have been rejected.”
“Every one of us has a right to life. It is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law. We have it ‘as of right’, whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it. The direct and intentional taking of human life at any stage is gravely wrong and can never be justified.
If the preservation of life is the ultimate goal, Catholics will have to realize that they have no choice but to accept the lesser, “venial” sins of contraception and sex education in public schools. Those are just two of many methods that are most effective when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies. A “pro-life” ethic that is not influenced by the realities of poverty and socioeconomic privilege is useless and destructive.
Martin’s assessment might make former Kentucky clerk Kim Davis proud, but if everyone chose to follow only the laws they wanted to, while claiming a religious defense for ignoring the rest, society wouldn’t function. Martin’s fine with faith trumping civil laws… but I have a hunch he would be saying something very different if we were talking about Muslims and other non-Christians instead of fellow Catholics.
(Screenshot via YouTube)