Not to deny in the least the need for our continued work towards human rights and equality in Ireland, we in the Church must not be naïve. There are powerful undercurrents in the ongoing equality discussion which, while not necessarily essential to questions of rights and equality, pose a significant threat to the place of faith in society. Within hours of the Marriage Equality referendum result becoming obvious so-called radical left voices were eager to present this as a victory over the Church. Social equality is the business of everyone; that of the entire political spectrum and no less that of the many religious communities. The complete liberation of society – for which there is still a way to go – is not intrinsically beneficial to Socialist ideology, as gay women and men are as likely to be aligned with the political left and right as anyone else. Liberation is the goal of Christianity as much as it is the goal of International Socialism, but instead of seeing the common struggle we are now listening to a glib triumphalism which has appropriated this wonderful event for its own particular ends. Was this radical left fighting for equality at all or grinding its own axe?
Like many people in the modern Church I believe that human liberation is integral to the lived expression of the Christian faith, and not a mere gimmick with which to score points against a political or ideological foe. It is not possible to be a Christian while standing against the freedom of other people. Such an articulation of the faith has always been present in the Church, and we on the inside are deeply sad and frustrated that it has not always been visible. The Church, in all its parts around the world, is a human institution. Traditional values that have imprisoned people have been a sorry stain on the Church, but not any more so than it has been on civil and secular society. We are maturing together, and the road we have ahead of us to human liberation is a common journey. Reading these conflations of different things leads me only to suspect that this leftism had scant interest in the referendum per se, but in advancing its own misguided ‘struggle’ against Christians and the faith. Now that some are blasting clergy as ‘bigots’ in the debate would certainly point to a very clear anti-clerical agenda at work in the midst of the real and authentic work for liberation.