Another separation of church and politics
Published 14/07/2015 | 02:30
There is an undeniable logic in the core message from the Diocese of Elphin to the political parties. In summary it can be rendered as follows: You are not obliged to support Catholic teachings and, in practice, you do not on certain issues. So, please take your collection plates from outside our Sunday Masses.
This is another example of a changing Ireland. Up to now it was taken for granted that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael collected at the threshold of many Catholic churches, and many used Sunday Mass to make their allegiance known with a visible donation.
Now the west of Ireland diocese says rather pithily: "Common decency would suggest that they go and collect somewhere else." There have been tensions between the Catholic bishops and the political parties in the run-in to the enactment of the abortion legislation two years ago, and during the same-sex marriage referendum in May.
We will see more such tensions after the next general election when the issue of an abortion becomes more immediate. The Catholic Church has every right to contribute to the national political discourse. And a more clearly-defined and arm's length relationship between the political parties and the Catholic Church is a positive development.