While Irish society has become very secularized, as the results of last year’s referendum that led to the legalization of abortion go to show, an active minority, proud of their Catholic roots, seems to be rising.
This is according to Kim Bielenberg, who published an article on January 12, 2019 in the opinion columns of The Independent on two protests in Drogheda, a small industrial port city in the county of Louth, on the eastern coast of Ireland, 56 km north of Dublin.
On Monday, January 7, Catholics came by hundreds to protest against a decision by the city hospital’s board of directors to change the establishment’s current name – Our Lady of Lourdes – to something with no reference to the Catholic religion.
“We are being swept along by a tide where Christianity is being eroded and despised,” lamented one of the protestors, Charles Byrne. For this music professor who believes there is a plan at work to erase Ireland’s Catholic past, doing nothing is out of the question; a few days later, Charles Byrne was back at the hospital to protest against the country’s first legal abortion that was scheduled to be committed there.
Over the past few years, remarked Kim Bielenberg, the forward march towards a liberal and more secular Ireland has seemed implacable; but although liberal Ireland has won all the great battles against the Church, “there are now signs of a fight back.”
For many Catholics, the legalization of abortion came as an electric shock.
The Taoiseach – the Gaelic term for the Prime Minister – Leo Varadkar thought the battle for abortion was won with the “yes” vote to the referendum, but he may have been very wrong; in response to the repeated protests, the government now has to scramble to present a bill on the entries to abortion clinics where all protests will be forbidden.
“We are not trying to start a war, but a war has been started,” was Charles Byrne’s response; he is more determined than ever to continue with the campaign to stop abortion and "the creeping secularization of Ireland".