Wednesday, July 20, 2011
"Ireland's Secular Revolution: The Waning Influence of the Catholic Church and the Future of Ireland's Blasphemy Law"
Kathryn A. O'Brien, Comment, Ireland's Secular Revolution: The Waning Influence of the Catholic Church and the Future of Ireland's Blasphemy Law, 18 Conn. J. Int'l L. 395 (2002)
O'Brien's article explores the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland and discusses the legal status of blasphemy. For the latter, she notes that prior to the 1996 Corway case (in which the country's Supreme Court held that the constitutional reference to blasphemy could not be enforced in the absence of legislation), there had only been three known blasphemy prosecutions since 1703. Although recent events (the passage of a blasphemy statute) have dated the blasphemy discussion, the article does provide a brief overview of the subject in English history, European Union law, and the Corway decision. Other articles are more thorough on each of these subjects, so of more interest to most readers is the examination of events pointing to an increasingly secular society in Ireland. O'Brien discusses various provisions of the Irish Constitution referencing religion, and then notes that the country has become more liberal in areas like divorce (a 1995 referendum allowed it for the first time), gay and lesbian rights (homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993), and (to a lesser degree) abortion (judicially sanctioned in very rare circumstances). According to O'Brien, each of these trends occured despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.