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Ireland, Irish Catholocism and the 'Moral Order' Issue in the First Years of European Membership

Pauline Beaugé de la Roque

This paper would put forward a Modern History and Political science perspective on the way European membership had a deep impact on the mainly Catholic Irish society and the process of secularisation in Ireland. It would focus on the first years of membership which show a deep evolution. In order to meet the changing world of the second part of the 20th Century, and to try to resolve a deep economic crisis Irish officials started to look towards Europe and accepted to put an end to protectionism. After a lasting process of twenty years, Ireland became one of the first three enlargement accession states. If we agree that the European Economic Community was created to prevent the Continent from reliving the horrors of the Second World War, then it has to be understood that the situation was very different in Ireland which had been rather sheltered from such dramatic events as it had adopted a neutral policy during the conflict. For this very reason most of the members of the Hierarchy had remained quite confident about their supremacy and had not foreseen all the social and mentality changes which were happening in Europe.This paper will show how Europe raised new issues and challenges for the Catholic Church and for Irish Catholic thought, and how it had a real impact on domestic affairs related to what is generally called the "moral order". Focusing on how, through the European membership, Catholic Ireland engaged with key contemporary concepts such as pluralism, multiplicity, diversity and unity, we may observe how its hastens a new beginning which might lead the Irish society into secularized Modernity.

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