While listening to the first reading at Mass this morning (NAB version, JB version) I found myself thinking about last Thursday’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the Irish Republic. Those who voted rejected it clearly. Yet the three million or so voters of the Republic of Ireland, less than one percent of those in the EU, were the only ones asked to vote.
Though I really don’t know which way I would have voted – Irish citizens overseas don’t have a vote – I found myself comparing Naboth with Ireland and the establishment of the EU with Ahab. ‘I will not give you my ancestral heritage’, said Naboth to King Ahab. Many Irish voters thought in the same way. Whether the Treaty would involve taking that heritage isn’t fully clear to me. ‘Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer’. It seems that some of the EU establishment have similar feelings, though, unlike Ahab and his wife Jezebel with Naboth, they’ve no plans to kill Irish prime minister Brian Cowen or any of the country’s citizens.
The ‘No’ campaigners included pro-life people who were afraid that the Lisbon Treaty would force pro-abortion legislation on the Irish Republic. (Last week the Democratic Unionist Party, that of Dr Ian Paisley, were able to get a guarantee from Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, that the pro-abortion legislation in Britain would not be forced on Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK but has been exempted until now from those laws. Mr Brown needed the nine votes of the DUP in Westminster to pass controversial legislation that allows the police to detain suspects for up to 42 days. To their credit, the DUP got something worthwhile from their horse-trading).
There’s no doubt that the prevailing viewpoint in EU countries is in favour of legalized abortion. Pressure is being brought on Ireland, Malta and Poland to change their laws. Poland has very restrictive abortion laws – though any taking of the life of an unborn child for whatever reason is intrinsically evil - while abortion is illegal in the other two. I’m not sure that a ‘Yes’ vote would have made any great difference.
However, it was understood that if any country rejected the Lisbon Treaty that would be the end of it. But it seems that President Sarkozy of France and some others don’t see it that way. They are already talking of a second referendum so that the Irish people will say ‘Yes’. But that could backfire and it’s reminiscent of the late Ferdinand Marcos’s way of changing the Philippine Constitution after declaring Martial law in 1973. The people were assembled throughout the country and asked to raise their hands in favour of ‘Yes’. The question was repeated in each assembly until enough raised their hands. However, such a crude approach wouldn’t work in Ireland.
So maybe the story of Naboth and Ahab is particularly relevant in Europe today.