Our title was meant to head a reflection on the outcome of the May Referendum, and to focus on the challenges the result has brought for those who opposed repeal of the Eighth Amendment and for the leadership of the Irish Catholic Church. But the visit of Pope Francis has prompted a widening of the lens, for it carried seeds of renewal even if it, and the event which occasioned it,
were shadowed by clouds that won’t easily dissipate. What now and what next in aid of the sacredness of life are part of a larger question about the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and the outcome of the Referendum and aspects of the entire experience have a bearing on the answers.
So what follows are some remarks on the campaign and its aftermath from a vantage-point within Catholic theology, arrived at in reflecting upon the Pope’s visit and all that happened around it. The Church’s future is in God’s hands – a truth of faith to be kept in mind these days – and in another sense in the hands of all its members.