Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Iraq & the 1937 Constitution

The Irish Constitution contains the following in the preamble.

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

There are a couple of Articles that should also be read:

Article 41-2
  1. In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
  2. The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

Article 44-1

The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.

These two sections of Article 44 were removed after a referendum in 1973:
  • Section 2: The State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens.
  • Section 3: The State also recognises the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing in Ireland at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution.
Article 41-2 was used for years to discriminate against married women here. I believe that both divorce and contraception were were made unconstitutional by the 1937 Constitution (both were allowed under British law, which the Irish Free State inherited in 1922).

Again, I know that to many people in W. Europe these sorts of clauses are distasteful and unwelcome. Ideally, Iraq would be Denmark already. Still, Ireland in the 1950s was not as monstrous as Iraq in the 1980s and 90s. Even if the new Iraqi constitution appears to be a step backwards in some areas, what's important is that the Iraqi people are allowed to make their own way. They have to recognize that change is possible and that it is the people who have the power to make changes.

Ireland was a 'priest-ridden' country and 'run by the Bishops'. If the Iraqis get something similar, why is that such a problem?