It appears that the problem of government infringement on religious liberty is rapidly spreading! Across the pond—almost—the Irish government has voted to reduce the 242 euro grants given to Irish families suffering from First Communions and Confirmations!
Last year 14,000 families were paid the grants, meant "to cover the cost which could include a white dress, veil, shoes and bag."
But on Feb. 2 cash-strapped Ireland's Department of Social Protection said the sacrament payouts would now be capped at a mere 110 euros. That's barely enough to tip the bartenders!
Like the Obama Admin.'s efforts to justify its HHS decision, Irish authorities are struggling to rationalize forcing unsuspecting Irish Catholic families to have less fun by cutting back on the sacramental dough. “[The Communion and Confirmation grants] are designed to meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenses,” a spokeswoman for the department said, not all the craic-raising seen these days. Seems folks are upset at how over-the-top sacramental celebrations have become. (Hey, and while they're at it, could they do something about those crazy curly wigs and outlandish outfits they make the girls wear in Irish stepdancing these days!)
I kid, but amidst our current government/church woes it is kind of amazing to see how folks in thoroughly secular Europe behave on such matters. I know Eire is a bit of an outlier regarding church relations, but throughout Europe many Catholic institutions, seminaries, parishes and schools are supported partly to completely by the state (as are Catholic schools in Canada, Australia and New Zealand) with little of the civic discord that such arrangements provoke living in the USA. Maybe we should take a lesson from the Old World. I look forward to my NY State First Communion voucher this May for himself, the eldest, as he steps up to the rail.