WOULD the Catholic Church be better off if we had a Protestant as Taoiseach rather than Enda Kenny? I ask the question because Enda seems to go to such great lengths to show he is not a stooge of his own church.
The question is further prompted by something he said in the Dail on Wednesday in response to Mattie McGrath.
Mattie asked him if he understood why some people simply could not accept that the Abortion Bill is pro-life even though Mr Kenny insists that it is.
Enda responded by referring to the abusive messages he has received from some people opposed to the Bill including one that said he is a 'murderer'. (I've been told I should be 'castrated and hung up on O'Connell Street', and that I 'should have been aborted', among many other choice threats and insults).
But then Mr Kenny said that while he is a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, he is not a Catholic Taoiseach.
Why did he feel the need to say this? Would Ruairi Quinn who was sitting right beside him ever tell the Dail, 'I'm a Taoiseach who happens to be a Social Democrat, but I'm not a Social Democrat Taoiseach'? The idea is ridiculous.
Ruairi Quinn is in politics because he is a Social Democrat and because he wants Ireland to be Social Democratic. Enda Kenny will claim that he can't be a Catholic Taoiseach because not everyone in Ireland is a Catholic. Absolutely true. But not everyone is a Social Democrat either. In fact, there are far fewer Social Democrats than there are practising Catholics.
I'm not a Social Democrat. I don't think Social Democracy would be good for Ireland, but if Ruairi Quinn had his way I'd end up living in a Social Democratic Ireland regardless. Fine Gael used to be a Christian Democrat party. Could you imagine a European politician ever saying, 'I'm a politician who happens to be a Christian Democrat, but I'm not a Christian Democrat politician'? Never.
Christians established Christian Democratic parties all over Western Europe after the war with the express intention of getting into power and implementing their Christian Democrat policies. They were very successful for a long time.
Does Enda Kenny think those parties were somehow suspect from a democratic point of view?
Those parties were, among other things, pro-life. They were pro-life partly because many members of those parties were Catholic. But they weren't protecting the right to life of the unborn simply because that was the 'Catholic' thing to do. They did it because they believed it was the right thing to do, period.
Enda Kenny seems to think that if he removes the suicide clause from the Abortion Bill then he will be legislating only for Catholics.
However, if he removed the suicide clause he wouldn't be legislating only for Catholics, he would simply be protecting the right to life of the unborn.
Mr Kenny may have convinced himself that this really is a 'pro-life' Bill but the fact is that it will allow the deliberate and intentional destruction of unborn human lives when a woman is deemed to be suicidal even though there will always be alternatives to abortion available. If the Bill really is pro-life then he needs to ask himself why not a single pro-life group supports it and why the likes of Ivana Bacik see it as a first step.
He also needs to ask himself why up to 40,000 people took to the streets in Dublin last weekend to protest against the Bill if it really is pro-life? That was the biggest demonstration of the year of any sort and the pro-life campaign organised it in just three weeks.
As I say, Enda seems to feel the need to prove time and again that he does not 'defer' to the Catholic Church, that in this respect at least, he is his own man.
He 'proved' it with his thundering denunciation of the Vatican two years ago. He did it again when he allowed our embassy to the Holy See to be closed.
He did it when he permitted the passage of a law that requires the breaking of the Seal of Confession, making us one of the only countries in the world with such a law.
He did it when he was using his mobile phone in front of Pope Benedict, something he would not have done in front of the Queen.
He is doing it now in allowing the Abortion Bill to ride roughshod over the consciences of pro-life doctors and the ethos of pro-life hospitals (making us more extreme than the UK in this respect).
And of course he is doing it most of all by permitting abortion when a woman is deemed to be suicidal, despite the fact that there is no evidence a single woman will thereby be saved.
Would a Protestant Taoiseach – or rather a Taoiseach who happened to be Protestant – do all these things?
I can't imagine it. I can't imagine a Protestant Taoiseach closing the embassy to the Holy See or playing with his mobile phone in front of the Pope, or requiring doctors to go against their deepest conscientious beliefs.
Enda needs to know we get it. We know he's not the stooge of the Catholic Church. He has proven it abundantly. From here on in, therefore, he should just do the right thing, even if that happens to be the Catholic thing also.