What is your feeling about today’s vote?
I think--and I should hope--that today's vote ought to be a strong and unified chorus of the Gaelic peoples reaffirming the infinite worth and dignity of every human life, especially at its earliest stages. While I am saddened by the prospect of unborn children being the collateral damage of socio-political ideologies, it is still an opportunity for historically Christian Ireland to reaffirm its faithfulness to the Gospel.
Is Ireland at a turning point when it comes to abortion?
I think it would be more accurate to say that the Irish Church is at a turning-point: It will gauge the credibility of the Church on matters of human life and give a clear signal to the Church about what sort of mission field she stands before once this weekend passes. The Church in Ireland--or anywhere, for that matter--can no longer depend on the momentum of whatever clout she held in the past. If the Church cannot speak the word of God "with boldness" (Acts 4:31) then we must engage in an examination of conscience: Have we relied more upon social standing than upon the Holy Spirit in "being Church"? We will certainly know once the ballots are counted.
If the amendment is repealed, what do you think it will mean for the country and for women in particular?
If the eighth amendment is repealed, then it would mean the further subjugation of women in Ireland, just as it has for women wherever abortion is legal. It becomes an "escape hatch" of sorts for "guys being guys"--but falling short of being men, since it allows them objectify women with fewer consequences. A large number of abortions take place because of pressure from the male partner who prefer to be more chauvinistic than chivalrous with regard to women.
How does this referendum reflect on Ireland’s Catholic identity? Is Ireland in danger of losing that identity because of this vote?
Ireland's Catholic identity has been eroding for some time now, and I think that all parties can agree that certain segments within the leadership is largely at fault. British journals, in fact, seem to suggest that the repeal of the eighth amendment is about humiliating the Church as much as it is about the so-called "liberation" of women. If the eighth amendment is repealed on the basis of at least three-quarters of "Yes" votes, Ireland's identity as being "Catholic" would seriously be in question.
What repercussions could this vote have at the global level? For the Church?
British journals speak of bringing Ireland "into the twentieth century"--ageism at its worst. Our sister and brothers in Africa are often frustrated and angry that social aid comes at the price of legalising abortion. If Ireland legalises abortion, it would very likely galvanize proponents of "ideological colonization," as Pope Francis rightly calls it. It would also erode respect for people with disabilities because a disabled person who hears of an unborn child's potential disability as a reason for legalising abortion only serves to weaken her or his self-image and to second-guess her or his dignity. Such a motive for abortion is only a few steps away from the Aktion T4 program of Germany's Third Reich. It would be, effectively, microeuthanasia.
As far as the Church is concerned, I would be shocked to see how quickly the teachings of Pope John Paul II--St John Paul the Great--have been discarded. It would probably mean that priests and catechists have not done a good enough job at teaching the "Gospel of Life". That having been said, I think I'll take my weekend up with re-reading both his Evangelium vitae and Veritatis splendor.