Well, well, it seems there is life in the old dog yet. Fianna Fail, the main opposition party in Ireland, and the one which was decimated in the last election, has taken exception to Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte's remarks on excluding the Church from the upcoming debate on abortion. FF Health spokesman Billy Kelleher has accused Rabbitte of disrespect towards the Cardinal, trying to suppress discussion and "intimidate" the Church from being involved in the public arena. All of which is true.
Some backbenchers in Fine Gael have also reacted and have stated that they will not support legislation which will introduce abortion. Two have come out in defence of life: Tom Barry and John O'Mahoney. Time to put a tick after their names. Indeed it is time to have a list of all our TDs and to find out how they would vote - if they would vote against abortion, put a tick, as you would, say in the poll booth; and if they say they would vote for abortion or get all squirmy and vague, cross out their names and remember to ignore them at the next election.
But let us hear from other backbenchers. A good revolt in the ranks could sort this issue out. Backbenchers sometimes forget that the future of a party leader is, ultimately, in their hands - it is their gift. Party leaders like to strut around as if they were in charge, sometimes they need to be reminded that their position is a precarious one.
I see Labour chairman, Colm Keaveney, is as entrenched as his comrades. He said that while the Catholic Church was entitled to be listened to, the Cardinal's comments were "in excess of the Church's current standing". As per usual some believe the moral law is decided by popularity and numbers. And let us not forget, abortion is not a Catholic issue - it is a human issue. People of all faiths and none stand united in the defence of life because we all recognise that life is sacred and precious.
And that brings me back to another old chestnut of mine: when are the churches and religious communities of Ireland going to unite in protest? May I suggest that His Eminence and their Lordships make contact with the Anglican bishops, moderators and leaders of other Christian communities, the Chief Rabbi, the Chief Imam and leaders of other religious traditions, to sit down and plan a strategy to oppose the introduction of abortion. As I said before, we need to work with others and present a strong united front. So far the secularists in Ireland have divided and conquered: they have used the Catholic Church's self delusion that we can act alone and use the influence we once had - the quiet word with the local TDs, to promote their agenda. That way of lobbying may not work anymore - if the TD is sincere he/she may not have the character to go against the whip, or he/she may well be preening a bishop's feathers to get votes but will betray confidence when convenient.
"New wine, new wineskins" - while not rejecting the "quiet word", a new world order in Ireland, may also require a new response and new tactics. We are not looking for a fight, but a strong united front from all religious traditions on this island will make the government realise that they will not legalise the killing of our children without forceful opposition - an opposition that will not go away even if parliament should shuffle abortion in.
Of course all of this is very ironic when you remember that the government and her secular friends are anxious to get a children's rights referendum passed! There can be no rights without life.
Time to pray and fast. So now, people, bread and water on Fridays - for the little children.