Votes Threaten Church Power: Last Stand for Irish Bishops

John Coulter with his column from the Irish Daily Star on 9 March 2o15. John Coulter is a radical right wing unionist writer and an evangelical Christian. He is also a columnist at the Irish Daily Star.

The South’s May 22 gay marriage referendum and the North’s Conscience Clause campaign represent a Custer’s Last Stand for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Lose both battles and the Irish Bishops will be permanently confined to the dustbin of history so far as political influence is concerned.

George Custer was a famous American commander and Indian fighter. He took his invincibility for granted.

But in June 1876, he led his troops into the Battle of the Little Big Horn in the Montana Territory against the Indian tribes – and got himself and most of his soldiers massacred.

There is the real danger the referendum and clause campaigns could be used to register a massive vote of no confidence in the Catholic Church because of the clerical abuse scandals and allegations of cover-ups.

And heaven knows what other sexual abuse allegations have still to surface. During the presidency of Eamon de Valera, Ireland was a Catholic bastion and one of the Vatican’s leading global examples of the Church and State partnership.

With opinion polls so far indicating the Catholic Church will lose both votes, de Valera must be spinning in his grave with rage at how the Church leadership has lost control of the nation.

The Catholic leadership’s cassocks are in such a twist, it has even climbed into bed politically with Robbo’s DUP at Stormont to try and save the Conscience Clause from defeat at the hands of the Shinners and their allies on the issue.

In the South, mainstream Prod churches will keep quiet publicly on how to vote in the referendum so as not to rock the boat as the Protestant population in the Republic begins to rise after generations of decline.

Privately, these mainstream Prod churches will advise their flocks to vote No. Publicly, the No campaign will be fronted in terms of Prod churches by the Baptists and Elim Pentecostalists.

Win or lose, the results north and south should prompt the need to reform the Irish Catholic Church. My three-fold plan is needed to rescue the Church from eventual social oblivion.

Firstly, it must allow priests and nuns to marry; celibacy should be optional, not compulsory.

Traditional Catholic claim that if priests’ marriages ended in divorce, the women could walk away with the keys to parochial houses. That’s a red herring.

Relaxing the celibacy pledge would also scupper the stereotype that the priesthood and holy orders were havens for homosexuals.

Secondly, the Irish Church must distance itself from the Vatican in the same way many of the more politically active churches in South America have achieved. The Irish Church urgently needs to declare structural independence from Rome rule.

Thirdly, the Irish Church must follow the example of Christ Himself when he advised the rich young ruler to sell all his possession and give the money to the poor.

Given the cash-strapped Dail, the Irish Church is ironically in a prime position to use its vast wealth to help those caught in the poverty trap.

Such a move could also restore the Irish Church’s influence in the community to the privileged non-elected role it enjoyed during the de Valera era.

Whatever the referendum outcome, the Irish Catholic Church is facing its biggest upheaval since the Reformation which created Protestantism.


  1. Why bother trying to save it, let it wither on the vine. I mean, the pope is the infallible vicar of Christ? If you don't follow the church you will spend eternity burning in agony? Mary ascended bodily to heaven? Oh aye and she was a virgin? No-one believes that ballix, even the faithful know in their deep heart's core that it is all ballix. And once they wind it up and admit they have been having a laugh all these centuries then the prod churches and Islam can do the same thing. My problem with religion was best summed up by dougal:

  2. Peter,

    that comment is must unfair and grossly offensive.

    For decades we believed it was all bollix and now you come along alleging it was ballix.

    Some things are beyond the pale.

  3. Polite way of putting it an injun killer has that taught by Hollywood history truth to it. No harm done as the men women and children they were butchering and relocating did not believe in the almighty white god so slaughter them, displace them and force them to obey the Christian ways. Don’t let facts get in the way of a good flick not that the injuns today would agree living as second class citizens on “reservations” with all the grand things that impoverishment brings.

    As with all good myths a hero is needed in this case they did not have one so they exaggerated Custer into one, after all how could a bunch of savages win the day. Mainly because Custer was an military idiot he didn’t have his men in a defensive position the men were scattered and carrying single shot rifles, many of the warriors carried repeating rifles. The wanker knew they were outnumbered and out gunned and decided it was a good day for suicide.

    Yes, the church should buy Ireland they are the benevolent sort a great example of their caring would be the starvation in Ireland food and aide arrived by the imaginary boatload.
    Religion is always busy adapting new ways to extract pennies from the flock in exchange for a wee imaginary ticket to the kingdom of heaven.

    I would not hold my breath on the return of Jesus; churches are more corrupt than the Romans of his time.

    Why bother waiting it to wither on the vine add the much needed weed killer to it. 2000 years of constant turmoil, it is not possible to reform cross wielding, bible thumping, hypocrites.

  4. AM
    I thought you were a working class Belfast boy? Have you gone all south Dub since your move! Up here we say ballix.