Indeed the events of the last four weeks have really overwhelmed many of us here in Ireland. The brutal murder of one of our great advocates for the pro-life cause here in Ireland, Tom O'Gorman, has winded us. And the violent outpouring of invective and bile from the enemies of life and marriage in Ireland at the very time we were mourning Tom has left us stunned. I had thought that opponents in any campaign would respect a time of mourning and at least stay silent and let us bury our friend in peace. Not so, it seemed certain activists in Ireland actually used this moment of grief and weakness to intensify the attack, aided and abetted by the media. And indeed, from the safety of parliamentary chambers, certain elected members joined in the attack on certain pro-life and Catholic figures. It has been a ugly few weeks and has given us valuable insights into the nature and tactics of our enemies.
There was the whole "homophobe" saga which, strangely enough, broke on the night Tom was murdered. In defending themselves against defamation, those accused of being homophobes took legal advice and won a paltry victory, but that was then attacked and denounced. It seems to me that the media and powers that be believe that it is okay to defame Catholics and pro-life, pro-traditional marriage advocates. It is obvious in this saga that the same sex marriage activists wanted to silence all opposition through their branding opponents as homophobes and so, perhaps, force the people of Ireland to give them what they wanted for fear of being accused of discrimination. That one failed, and they are furious.
It looks like the campaign leading up to a referendum on same sex marriage next year will be vicious and controversial. I would urge all those opposing the referendum to practice restraint and resist the tactics of opponents. We can expect that they will try to taunt us and create flashpoints to force a reaction, we must resist and stick to calm and rational debate. I would urge the various groups involved in the campaign for traditional marriage to control their more extreme members - they will be the ones the media will use to demonise us. Remember, we are the underdogs here, though we may represent the majority opinion in Ireland. Our opponents will have the media, the government and most of our elected representatives, as well as numerous NGOs. They will also have a huge budget. But we must pray, reflect carefully on what we do and say, and commend our campaign to the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The UN report into the Vatican's handling of child abuse was another notable moment. As expected in some quarters, the UN used the opportunity to attack the Church's teachings on issues of life and morality. As one Vatican spokesman said, it seemed the report was written long before the Vatican officials came to testify. That is obvious, since the report took no account of the measures the Holy See has put in place and has been trying to have implemented in every diocese.
Some good news. Last Sunday afternoon I was at a ceremony in Silverstream Priory where two aspirants were received into Noviciate and donned the Benedictine habit. Dom Mark Kirby, the founder of the new Benedictine congregation, and prior of the community, presided. His homily was magnificent, as his writings and speeches tend to be. The two new novices, one American and one from our diocese here in Meath, were given the names Br Elijah Maria and Br Finnian Joseph. They now begin at least a year of preparation for their first vows. Please keep them and the new community in your prayers. Dom Mark is working hard to establish the new congregation, however he needs financial help both to meet the community's bills and to help buy the house. If you can help please contact him, and if you have been blessed financially, or know someone who has, large donations to help buy the property would be appreciated. This new priory is a blessing for us, not only in Meath, but also for the Church in Ireland. It is and will be a place of prayer, silence and pilgrimage for all of us in the years to come. Indeed, perhaps even a haven and refuge in the wars to come.