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An Irish apocalypse

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By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

As if the Catholic Church hasn’t had enough head-slaps the past few years, it got another one when Irish voters overwhelmingly voted against the anti-abortion amendment in their constitution.

The two-to-one vote was the same margin by which voters adopted the amendment in 1983, which says plenty about how the Irish view of the church has changed in just 35 years.

Want more proof? Sixteen percent of those who voted to repeal the amendment also attend Mass at least once a week. And 87 percent of voters aged 18-24 voted yes. This isn’t just a case of educational ineptitude. It is the result of the church forfeiting its moral teaching authority.

And yet this vote could wind up doing more good than harm.

Irish voters, like so many others with a bias against Christianity, point to priestly sex abuse, the torment of children and the fat egos of priests as reasons why they don’t need to listen to what “the church” teaches.

But in doing so they also reject Jesus Christ. When they cite those sins as reasons to reject what Jesus teaches they, in effect, blame Jesus for the sins that others commit. That’s sort of like me having you arrested for an unsolved murder that occurred sometime in the past in Iowa, New York or Tennessee. Don’t be ridiculous. You weren’t there. You had nothing to do with it.

It is equally illogical to abandon the love, joy, peace, etc., that emanate from the Holy Spirit simply because some priests abandoned those gifts.

Each of us must ask if we want to throw away all of that love, peace, joy, etc., that Jesus promises us simply because some of those who wear the collar do so from time to time. Those who throw away these gifts cause a lot of pain in the process. And if we, like them, throw away those fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we will cause a lot of pain, too.

Of course, we can’t throw away what we don’t have. And we don’t and cannot produce those abilities on our own. They are God’s gift. Thus, if we want those things, we must ask in order to receive. We must come closer to God, in other words, rather than moving farther away from him.

All God’s blessings – Mark

Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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