Bishops' views reflect those of DUP and TUV
Despite the usual assumptions to the contrary, there is a definite and obvious change in voting patterns discernible among certain elements of the electorate.
The usual assumption that change is impossible was expressed by a visiting journalist years ago, who said of us here in Northern Ireland that we would literally and loyally vote at the hustings, if necessity demanded, for either an orange parrot or a green one.
Though that may be generally true, some political analysts have more recently observed that many potential voters, questioning their historical party/loyalties, are now beginning to scrutinise more closely the policies of both party candidates and independents standing for election - examining, especially, the moral and ethical principles which underpin the candidates' understanding of what have become three controversial areas in human life; namely birth, marriage and death.
Significant evidence in support of these observations emerged just a few days ago, when Catholic bishops, in a pastoral letter, directed the Catholic electorate to avoid conscientiously candidates who support pro-choice abortion; or who ignore the Pope's declaration "that there are no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar, or even remotely analogous, to God's plan for marriage and family"; or candidates who do not acknowledge the "inviolability" of a human being's existence as a fundamental moral principle, "whatever their state, or stage, of life".
After much discussion with others who have studied the various electoral manifestos, I have had it pointed out to me that the two parties which actually reflect the directions of the bishops and the teachings of the Catholic Church on these fundamental matters are the DUP and the TUV.
If we can briefly distance ourselves from reflecting on the seriousness of all these matters, we might be momentarily amused enough to consider that those parties are more Catholic than others we might think of and who might resent just such a conclusion. But, at the very least, who would begrudge those unionist parties a wry smile as they witness many traditional nationalist voters enter the polling booths in schizoid agonies.
In all psephological fairness, given these unionist parties' policies on birth, marriage and death (in contrast to the policies of other parties), they must be consciously savouring this contradictory - and delectably delicious - irony.
Limavady, Co Londonderry