It is a tragedy to watch Ireland abandon centuries of Christian tradition to become a bastion of anti-christian sentiment, atheism and humanism.
I believe that the main reason that this has happened is that the majority of the people of Ireland have rightly turned with horror from the abuses of the Roman Catholic churches hierarchy which have been laid bare in these last few years like rarely before.
However, we are throwing out the divine Baby with the bathwater. Ireland needs to return to Christ and the Word of God as it was preached by Patrick when he first arrived in this country in 430 AD and not to return to the paganism that predated him. And for that we need to remind ourselves of some basics:
“A pope or a bishop has no more power than the humblest priest where the remission of fault is in question. And even where there is no priest, each Christian, were they a woman or a child, can do the same thing. For if a simple Christian says to you, ‘God pardons sin in the name of Jesus Christ,’ and you receive the saying with firm faith, as if God himself had spoken, you are acquitted. If you believe not that your sins are pardoned, you make your God a liar, and declare that you put greater confidence in your vain thoughts than in God and his word. Under the Old Testament neither priest, nor king, nor prophet, had power to proclaim the forgiveness of sins; but under the New Testament every believer has this power.”
(From Martin Luther @1518 AD quoted in Volume 1, Book 3, Chapter 10 of the HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION by J. H. MERLE D’AUBIGNÉ. http://www.DelmarvaPublications.com. Kindle Edition.)
The point Luther was making is that the truth that Jesus Christ was crucified so that we could know forgiveness of sins stands independently of the means by which it is delivered. It only takes faith in the hearer of the truth itself for it to be effective – and, as Paul says in Ephesians 2, that faith is itself a gift of God.
Luther goes on to say (from the same source):
“Repent, and do all the works that you can do; but let the faith which you have in the pardon of Jesus Christ stand in the front rank, and have sole command on the field of battle.”
This is the faith Patrick taught when he first arrived in Ireland @430 AD. It was hundreds of years later that St. Anselm and others brought the errors of the Roman churches teachings on forgiveness to Ireland and enforced them on the people by Norman arms. It was for control then that the Pope and the Roman Catholic hierarchy abrogated the power to forgive sins to themselves and it is for control over naïve people that they continue to do so.
We need to stop being children in our thinking and become men in our understanding (1 Corinthians 14:20).