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Sorry, Mr Weigel: the Irish Church has problems, but to call Ireland the ‘epicentre of European anti-Catholicism’ is simply wrong

There’s an obvious distinction between the governance of the Church and the essence of the faith

By on Thursday, 4 August 2011

Abuse survivors confront Archbishop Diarmuid Martin outside St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Abuse survivors confront Archbishop Diarmuid Martin outside St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

I had not meant to return so soon to the subject of the crisis in the Irish Church, for though this is something I care about very much for personal reasons, I’m still an Englishman and this isn’t my business. But the American George Weigel has now written with ponderous weight on the subject, and I cannot simply ignore his piece, since people are influenced by what he says and somebody has to say something about it. After his epic and authoritative biography of the late pope, Weigel now speaks plausibly about a wide variety of subjects. And he’s a great one for the well-turned phrase which arrests attention.

He has now outdone himself with an opening sentence to an article in the respected National Review (which in Buckley’s time I wrote for myself sometimes), a sentence which, though certainly striking, is quite simply wildly untrue. The article, disrespectfully entitled “Erin go bonkers” (“Erin go brach”, of course, means “Ireland forever”) opens thus:

While America’s attention has been absorbed in recent weeks by domestic affairs, something quite remarkable has become unmistakably clear across the Atlantic: Ireland – where the constitution begins, “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity” – has become the most stridently anti-Catholic country in the Western world.

Well, now. The point is, of course, that the current crisis in Irish Church affairs, involving certainly an unprecedented fury against Ireland’s bishops and also against Vatican bureaucratic procedures – of which Enda Kenny’s late performance was the most striking example – is not about Catholicism at all. Incidentally, though the invocation of the Holy Trinity at the beginning of the Irish constitution certainly implies that Ireland is Christian, those behind the constitution (who also devised a national flag implying peace between Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants) were well aware that the Island of Ireland is home to more than the Catholic majority, and as Mary Kenny pointed out recently in an article I quoted on Monday, the constitution nowhere says that the Irish state is officially Catholic.

The flaw in Weigel’s article is very obvious: to be anti-clerical isn’t necessarily to be anti-Catholic. Later in his piece, Weigel asks the question “How on earth did this most Catholic of countries become violently anti-Catholic?” Well, of course, it didn’t. To be strongly disenchanted with your own bishops is hardly to be anti-Catholic (and it may indicate precisely the reverse).

But Weigel isn’t saying that the Irish are turning against the excessively deferential way in which they themselves have treated their bishops (and high time too, some might say) he’s actually saying (get ready for this one, it’s a corker) that “Ireland has now become the epicentre of European anti-Catholicism”.

The online version of this piece attracted a furious riposte:

Sitting here in Ireland, rather than thousands of miles away, I take serious offence at this inaccurate and misleading article.

“violently anti-Catholic”?

Firstly, Ireland is 85 per cent Catholic, and while there are many who have turned from their faith in despair, there is no violence (other than the priests who are obviously still quite content to rape and torture children as shown in the reports recently published) and there is no anti-Catholic actions – other than fully justified disgust that the organisation we have trusted for so long could be so lacking in any moral authority. As an 85 per cent Catholic country, one which I might add has been embroiled in fights for religious (Catholic) freedom for near on 800 years in one shape or another, we would need to be self-loathing to fill your inaccurate description of us.

That these crimes were committed by those who are meant to be the guides in life and one’s spiritual journey is sad, but in fairness the Irish congregation did put in place some (relatively soft touch) guidelines for the safety of children and reporting of crimes by clergy. What is unacceptable to many here is that the Church authority – the Vatican – would interfere and advise that same congregation (ie the Vatican’s staff as such) that those were not rules to follow but instead just things to discuss.

My good Lord! How dare they.

And for that matter – how dare you. What on Earth gives you the knowledge and authority to state “Ireland has now become the epicentre of European anti-Catholicism”? …. Or is it simply that you have failed to research your subject properly?

…We are more Catholic than you would comprehend.

Weigel’s article is partly based on a common American error about Europe, the notion that it’s really all the same country with a few different languages in it. Another comment under Weigel’s piece made the point rather well, I think, pointing out

… an error that is made all too often by American pundits or “experts”, and that is to refer to Europeans as a single group with the same culture and attitudes …a measure of how ["expert"] any American really is [is] that he can look at all these countries in Europe and say to himself “yeah, they’re pretty much the same”.

Weigel has a quick tour d’horizon of the reasons for the secularisation of a few formerly overwhelmingly Catholic countries, which leads him to a bewildering conclusion: “Once breached, the fortifications of Counter-Reformation Catholicism in Spain, Portugal, Quebec [not European, not a country], and Ireland quickly crumbled. And absent the intellectual resources to resist the flood-tides of secularism, these four once-hyper-Catholic nations flipped, undergoing an accelerated course of radical secularization that has now, in each case, given birth to a serious problem of Christophobia…”

Christo WHAT? WHAT phobia? What is actually a crisis in the governance of the Catholic Church in Ireland has now become a general European hatred for the Saviour of the world. As one of my Scottish critics vividly commented recently about something I’d said: “Sheessh!!!”

Weigel’s plan for the reform of the Irish Catholic Church is to clear out most of the Irish bishops and import a load of foreign bishops who understand nothing of Ireland or the Irish, to sort everything out: “Men of indisputable integrity and evangelical passion who have no linkage to this sad, and in some instances tawdry, history are needed to lead the Irish Catholic reform for which Benedict XVI has called. I know no serious observer of the Irish Catholic scene, anywhere, who disputes the necessity of clearing the current bench of bishops; I also know no one who thinks that a reconfigured Irish episcopate, even one leading fewer dioceses, can be drawn entirely from the resident clergy of Ireland today.”

And why is that precisely? No reason is given. And where are the bishops to sort this out to come from? The US, perhaps? Maybe the gruesome results over the last 20 years of self-confident American efforts to tell other people how to run their own affairs might be thought to rule this out? England perhaps? That’s all the Irish need, a few English voices telling them what to do. I think we’ve been there before: it didn’t work. The point is, Mr Weigel, that the Irish spent 800 years shaking off foreign tutelage: they’re certainly not going to accept it now.

The real point about the Irish people is that they have not become disenchanted with the Catholic religion at all; it’s precisely by the moral standards of the Catholic religion that they are now judging all too many bishops and some, a small minority but still far too many, clergy. The child abuse scandals themselves have brought no decline in Mass attendance. On the contrary, far from being the “epicentre” of European anti-Catholicism, the practice of the Catholic religion is one of the highest in Europe.

As Michael Kelly pointed out in the Irish Catholic in April: “Decline in Church attendance in Ireland happened long before revelations about abuse and the subsequent cover-up. Polls show that in 1981 a staggering 88 per cent of Irish people attended Mass at least once a month, with 82 per cent attending weekly. By 2006 that figure had slipped to just 48 per cent for weekly Mass attendance while that figure climbs to 67 per cent when those who attend at least once a month are factored in. Subsequent polls have been fairly consistent, putting weekly Mass attendance somewhere between 45 per cent and 48 per cent. These are remarkably high figures by western European standards (the latest figures for Italy are 22 per cent and approximately 10 per cent for France).”

So, Mr Weigel, I think it’s back to the drawing board for your “epicentre of European anti-Catholicism”. I don’t know where that would be: but it’s certainly not Ireland. Anti-clericalism, maybe…

  • Brendan Marshall

    No, Weigel is spot on. Anti-clericalism, anti-Catholicism…………….a distinction without a difference. There is, of course, the little matter that Ireland wants to codify in law the requirement that Catholic priests must break the seal of confession. I don’t see a discussion of this anywhere in your article. Is there any other country in Europe or the world for that matter,  which has that law on the drawing board? Well?

    We can argue about what percentage of Catholics attend
    Mass but one thing is indisputable; Ireland has no vocations which are the
    litmus test of the health of a church. It now has but one seminary which
    is on life support. There was recently talk of shutting Maynooth completely and sending Irish seminarians to Rome for their formation.

    And yes, we know………Weigel is AMERICAN. Is that a problem for you? It seems to be your main bone of contention with his article. That and the fact that as a commentator on affairs Catholic, he carries more gravitas than you. How dare an AMERICAN offer us advice!! Everyone knows Americans know nothing about culture and geography!

    Before you published this childish outburst, you should have put it in a drawer for a couple of days and pondered its merits. It has the rude, intemperate air of “Yanks go home”, reeking from every line.

    “So, Mr. Weigel………..”

    What puffery! So nothing, Mr. Oddie. You’ve embarrassed yourself with this diatribe.

    And learn how to write a headline. “A Response to George Weigel’s Thoughts on the Church in Ireland” would have been quite sufficient. Terse, polite, concise and without polemical overtones. Or have you been moonlighting, writing headlines at a British tabloid?

  • Jeannine

    Ever since Weigel published his bio on JPII, (I personally don’t remember his name before the bio publication.) many believe his ideas carry much weight in the orthodox Catholic circles here in America & abroad. Obviously, he went over the top regarding the Irish travesty by not totally understanding Irish politics. 

    I think what made him say that statement about Ireland being the epicenter of anti-Catholicism is the government’s response by wanting to pass a law forcing priests to reveal sins stated during confession. Reading that, kind of spooked me too. I can tell you that “breaking the confessional” is a very touchy subject here. Every so often, usually on the local level, there are politicians, usually non-Catholics, who hint about passing laws forcing priests to reveal what was said in the confessional or even trying to covertly record confessions for prosecution purposes. Also, now that the healthcare bill has been passed, many anti-Catholic biases are starting to surface.  

    Many of us, practicing Catholics, here in America are either Irish or part Irish (I believe Weigel too). We feel an affinity to Ireland, our ancestors’ home country, a loyal daughter of the Church. Maybe George Weigel was projecting his anti-Catholic fears towards Ireland w/the idea that if it can happen in Ireland & succeed, it can happen anywhere. 

    Dr Oddie, thank you for writing this piece& calming my fears. 

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ shane

    The problem with the Church in Ireland is not the dioceses but the men who govern them. Amalgamating dioceses will do nothing in itself to solve that. While it may be necessary in some instances, because of demographic changes, the excessive focus on it as some sort of panacea for all our problems is a distraction. Small dioceses have many advantages; they allow the bishop to administer greater pastoral care and supervision over his diocese — the lack of which was clearly a contributing factor to the scandals (and the negligent handling of them) in the first place.

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ shane

    It was the churches of the Rhine basin that lept head first into the “Catholic renaissance in biblical, historical, philosophical, and theological studies that paved the way toward the Second Vatican Council” and are they really doing any better? Considerably worse, I’d say. The Church in Ireland held longer, partly because Vatican II was implemented more conservatively. Vocations in the Dutch Church collapsed almost completely within a few years after the Council.
    Also I don’t buy his assertion about Catholic intellectual life ‘withering’. Here is an index of the Irish Jesuit magazine ‘Studies’ from 1912-1961 (all can be viewed on JSTOR). http://web.archive.org/web/20071118224456/http://www.studiesirishreview.ie/jgfx/pdfs/1912_index.pdf

    I have found that Studies, the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, the Irish Theological Quarterly, The Furrow, the Irish Monthly, Doctrine and Life, the Irish Rosary, Christus Rex etc. from pre-conciliar times all exhibit a far higher intellectual rigour than comparable reviews in modern Ireland, secular or religious. They certainly put to shame religious publications in Ireland today. Not to mention the CTSI (which published over 2500 pamphlets), the Irish Messenger of the Sacred Heart (which also produced pamphlets), the Irish Independent (which back then was a truly professional paper and not the tabloid rag it is today) and the Irish Press. (The Irish Times was then a Protestant paper.) The schools gave genuine and exacting Catholic catechesis and apologetics (eg. the Maynooth Catechism, Sheehan’s Apologetics), not the watered down rubbish that they do now.

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ shane

    Even early RTÉ television was permeated with a Catholic ethos (eg. http://www.rte.ie/laweb/smil/brc/brc60s_radharc_tv.smil ). The Church in Ireland had an almost endless array of resources on the eve of the Council, which has all since been destroyed. Weigel’s assertions do not stand up to scrutiny.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CIC3RWXRB36OC3KNXZMNBH3DIE Gerry

    Sometimes, it takes an observant, discerning eye which is watching from some distance to bring perspective, no matter how radical, to a particular issue.  George Weigel spares no-one’s blushes and suggests that Rome should move talented non-Irish bishops who have a proven track-record in resolving controversies, to vacant Irish dioceses in the wake of a clean-out of the current Irish line-up.   He may have overstated the case in describing “Ireland as the epicentre of anti-Catholicism”, but not by much.  Daily the Irish newspapers, television and radio-waves have been full of anti-Vatican invective that would not be out of place in socialist circles in 1930′s Spain or revolutionary France.  A recent poll revealed that 3/4 of Irish people thought that the Irish Church should withdraw  from the medical and educational sectors.  We could be on the verge of Ireland becoming a facsimile of other european countries like Spain or France.  Hopefully this proves not to be the case and that the faith of the majority of the Irish Catholic faithful is resilient enough to withstand any efforts to impose a soulless secularization.

  • http://jamiemacnab.wordpress.com/ Jamie MacNab

    Perhaps Weigel jumped the gun here.  Time will tell whether he was right in principle ; for it will be what happens in the schools and colleges that will largely decide the matter.  Watch the schools, watch the media and watch the politicians – for a generation at least.

    While events unfold, the Church must not be dispirited and certainly not idle.

  • D. Corrigan

    My first experience of Catholicism outside Ireland in 1960 was an eye opener and I could hardly believe that I was attending Catholic Mass. This is because the priest spoke Latin with perfect diction and the altar boys responded with perfect diction. The Mass was unhurried and the congregation followed the mass from their Missals. This was in complete contrast to the Mass in Ireland which was rushed through and the Latin was mumbled. The congregation did not use missals, but they said rosaries throughout the Mass and had no idea of the meaning of the Mass. When I went to confession, I began with the usual spiel of ‘bless me father’ etc. The priest asked me if I was in a hurry for a train or bus. He then reminded me that this is a sacrament (a sacred thing) that cannot be rushed. Instead of asking what sins I had committed, he asked me what was troubling me. I found it east to be explicit about my troubles. My main sin was that I had made a date with a girl, and I did not show up, even though she had travelled quite a way to meet me. Rather than giving me penance he spoke of restitution (making amends). He said, “you already know what you have to do to make amends, it is up to you”. There were no ‘Hail Mary’s’ I was pleasantly astonished and astounded by his manner.Later on when I got to know him he confided to me that he thought Irish Catholic attitudes were ignorant, shallow and cruel, and in Ireland it is the mothers of Irish priests who have the vocation. He was reassuring that major changes were on the way, and Irish Catholicism would change for the better. On that point he was mistaken, they became worse. The priest was from Buffalo. N.Y. Irish Catholicism has always been rotted to the core, with emphasis of pain, greed, beating and buggery. 

  • Honeybadger

    It has to be said. Mr Weigel is 100% SPOT ON.

  • Anonymous

    Granted, Mr. Oddie makes some good points, but anti-clericalism always bleeds into anti-Catholicism.  Because Catholicism is a religion which holds that clerics are a necessary part of the religion!

    To be sure, nobody who is not broken would fail to be utterly horrified by the scandal, and condemn unreservedly the actions of those that permitted it.  And it is perfectly rational to believe that those responsible aught to be removed from their positions of authority and responsibility.  Nor can the drama of compassion be focused on the perpetrator rather than the victims.  But there is no strength of thought on such subjects that can make one “anti-clerical.”

    Anti-clericalism is anti-Catholicism.  If it is not anti-Catholic, then on closer examination you will see that it also is not anti-clerical.

  • Rrazon

    Weigel’s fine work on the late pope is the one and only credible piece he has.  That’s it, period.  He failed then with his analysis on the abuse crisis of the Legionaries of Christ, as he miserably fails to understand the depth and scope of the problem in Ireland.  Writing an authoritative biogroaphy of JP2 is one thing; writing with vision, clarity and grasp is another.  His credibility wains everytime he comes close the topic of abusive clerics.  I wonder how he really arrives at his conclusions on issues related to clerical abuse.  He is creating his own track record of pitfalls on this topic. It is a relief to say that thank goodness, Weigel is not the definitive Catholic writer.  

  • Parasum

    ## What exactly gives Weigel his status as a commentator ?

    “The real point about the Irish people is that they have not become disenchanted with the Catholic religion
    at all; *it’s precisely by the moral standards of the Catholic religion
    that they are now judging all too many bishops and some, a small
    minority but still far too many, clergy*”

    [*my emphasis*]

    ## Oh, good; someone has at last noticed that – and about time.  Thanks for saying that. 

  • Parasum

    “Daily the Irish newspapers, television and radio-waves have been full of
    anti-Vatican invective that would not be out of place in socialist
    circles in 1930′s Spain or revolutionary France.” 

    ## Which is no evidence that the criticisms were unfounded, in any of those countries. Probably they were justified. The French episcopate was packed with men whose only recommendation was their blue blood. The Archbishop of Paris did not even believe in God. Comfortable Churches rot away, exposing the ugliness beneath. What’s happening in Ireland is what the Church needs to happen. It is a *good* thing, a very good thing. Pampering by the state, and domineering over the state, are not good for the Church – this shake-up needs to continue.  

  • Guest

    I’m not entierly convinced about Ireland being the epicentre of European anti-Catholicism but I suspect a reasonable argument could be put forward for it being the epicentre of small plastic statues in Europe.

  • David Devinish

    The problem is not Ireland or the “Body of The Catholic Church”, but the problem lies in it’s impossible Catholic dogma, and those gullible impressionable people who are still prepared to accept the most illogical and the most unfounded beliefs to delusional proportions. In the past The Catholic Church has had to change it’s Canon Law, regarding it’s teaching about the flat earth and the earth standing still and many other incredulous ideologies and prognostications. The Church could begin by explaining that it’s dogma is now completely anarchic, and was formulated in keeping with the acceptable superstitious zeitgeist of the times and the mores of accepted learning. It can state and there was never any intention to deceive the faithful. The Catholic Church could declare that it’s teaching is no longer sustainable in contemporary society in the digital age and that is why priests and the congregations no longer find the teaching to be feasible. The Catholic Church maintains it doctrinal stance for business reasons only insofar that billions of dollars change hands every year, and it is just like a world conglomerate.

  • David Werling

    “No, Weigel is spot on. Anti-clericalism, anti-Catholicism…”

    Ah, that post-Vatican II clericalism, rearing its ugly head once again. The modernists have sold you a fraud. Catholicism can’t be reduced to the ministerial priesthood, nor do you have to act like a priest to be holy.

  • Trealach MacSuibhne

    That’s all we need now, is a bunch of foreign atheists telling us how to run our affairs. Weigel is as moronic a journalist/commentator as I have come across in a long time. He would do well to learn about the Irish and their Faith, before spouting verbal diarrhoea about Ireland being the “epicentre of European anti-Catholicism”. He need only look at America if he’s looking for the axis of evil, and anti-Catholicism/Christianity. 

    The Irish are more than well capable of solving their own problems, without the interference of ignorant foreigners.What an insult, and what a moron!!

  • Parasum

    An excellent article. Is Weigel suggesting the salvation of the Irish Church lies in US imperialism ?

  • John

    I would suggest that the fact that Weigel’s essay was published in the National Review automatically disqualifies it as being worthy of serious consideration, except to be comprehensively criticised

  • Jeannine

    “What exactly gives Weigel his status as a commentator ?” 
    He’s part of the in crowd of Catholic “intellectual elitists” & who was also good friend of JPII. 

  • Just Sayin’

    He’s Dr. Weigel to you, Bill.

  • Just Sayin’

    No.

  • David Devinish

    “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM”Yes, Weigel is doing just that!! Cast your mind back to the funeral of Pope John Paul II in St Peters Square where three presidents of the US, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., were seen to kneel. George Bush Sr., is a 33° Freemason (the highest rank possible). Mr Clinton and George W Bush are of the ‘Skull and Bones’ brotherhood of Yale University, so what were they doing kneeling? Their action had more to do with the loss of a Masonic brother than with deference to The Roman Catholic Church. As mentioned earlier, The Roman Catholic Church embraced “Novus Ordo Seclorum” which is ultra Masonic Symbol and is the New Order for the rest of time. Therefore, America does figure strongly in everything that the Catholic Church says and does. There are ubiquitous Masonic symbols to be seen in all Catholic Church’s, all over the world. There is strong rumour has it that the next Pope will be American, and the headquarters of the Catholic Church will be moveed to Washington DC. The next few years will be very exciting for Catholics. Whatever the traditionalists may say, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” is here to stay. God Bless America

  • Anonymous

    Your comment comes across as just offensive and rude.  I think Mr Oddie is quite correct in suggesting that importing foreign bishops en masse is a non-starter.  Further the anti-Catholicism Mr Weigell sees is just the froth coming off the talking classes.  Disgust with the clerics is another matter.
     
    I would have thought that it should be possible to choose new Bishops from amongst the Irish clergy by selecting orthodox priests who adhere to the magisterium of the Church.  A papal nuncio perhaps reinforced by a deputy or two or a frequent visitation (not from England!) could then ensure that the new Bishops behave themselves.  After all any orthodox Catholic knows that paedophilia is a grave sin and must be stopped – it does not and should not need the Vatican to tell them that.
     

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I was in Dublin for a business trip just a few months ago and decided I would like to attend mass in a ‘Catholic’ country – a weekday mass. Well, it could quite possibly be the shortest mass in history!….I don’t think it lasted much longer than 15 minutes, and the priest could not have been talking much faster if he had been an auctioneer.

    Somehow that experience made me understand why the church in Ireland is in a bad state…It also made me appreciate my church, where the appropriate silence is held and the priests don’t seem to be in a hurry to elsewhere.

    Having written that, I think I might have caught the priest on a bad day, and I’m pretty sure that they don’t rush as much on Sundays.

  • Recusant

    “had to change it’s Canon Law, regarding it’s teaching about the flat earth and the earth standing still”

    And your evidence for these myths is what? If you can show me them, I’ll believe you, otherwise I shall have to mark you down as someone who’ll swallow the most outrageous lies as long as they are against Catholicism.

    And the money argument. Please. Do you really – really – believe that people smart enough to run a money making conspiracy like the one you claim the church is, wouldn’t actually just prefer to make the money without having at the same time to be chaste, celibate, obedient and a living contradiction to the ‘spirit of the age’ you are so keen on?

  • kfca

    While both George Weigel and William Oddie have made some valid points, please let’s not lose sight of what does remain fairly unrefutable:

    Standards of formation at Maynooth, and throughout many religious orders for the past 40 years have ensured that there are very few suitable home grown candidates for the Irish episcopy, so, please God, they can expect future terna’s to reflect a more universal field. UK? America? Europe? Africa, perhaps?  And, particularly given the current strength of feeling, the argument that the Irish would resent taking orders from an outsider can hold no water. Indeed, a two thousand year history of mission and evangelisation rather suggest that this approach has often been spectacularly successful.

    While few can doubt that the apostolic faith is, in the main, still an integral part of Irish self-identity, at least in those over 40, it should be made more explicit that the fall in Mass attendance is also an acutely generational phenomenon. The older generations, who have had a solid foundation in the Faith, have largely continued to attend Mass, whatever scandals have rocked the Church; yes they have been shocked, yes, many are outraged, but it can largely be assumed that they will not abandon the Church, and so do not need to be pandered to and appeased.

    It is the younger generation in Ireland that need to be evangelised, and this won’t happen through gimmicks or the new age ‘spiritual’ approaches favoured by so many religious priests, but through a solid knowledge of the catechism, through apologetics, and reverent liturgy celebrated in strict accordance with the GIRM, with universal provision made for the celebration of the Usus Antiquior, especially for those of a more contemplative leaning, at least at one of the 3 or 4+ Sunday Masses many parishes still have. 
     
    Faith is still there, amongst pockets of the young, but it is very malformed and therefore highly unlikely to thrive. Secular culture and materialistic aspirations continue to erode the institution of marriage and the traditional family, commonplace acceptance of contraception, co-habitation, divorce, extra-marital relationships following separation/divorce, and far worse still, is more widespread, and will continue to erode away the Mass-going population. Ireland also has its own fairly unique mix of social problems too which has, arguably, left them as one of the coarsest nations in Western Europe – (I’m Irish; I’m generalising) – they are largely a trusting and generous people, but with little of the intrinsic nobility evident in the cultural patrimony of other nations. Nor can any alliances be expected from the ‘Irish State’, as was; it has now spent the fruits of the surrender of its much boasted of independence and sovereignty, and is largely bankrupt.
     
    I think a ‘business as usual’ sign will just frustrate this process. It is for these younger generations that Rome need to act, and to be seen to act – by judiciously placing men loyal to Benedict XVI, those of solid faith and proven orthodoxy into key strategic positions of the Irish Church.

    As for a reduction in the number of sees, and redrawing of diocesan boundaries to reflect demographic shifts – this is overdue, not only in Ireland, but elsewhere too. May I be forgiven, if I have said anything untrue.
     

  • David Devinish

    Mark me down as anything you like, to me it will be a matter of indifference. I do not know if you have an enquiring mind or what research skills you possess, but there is a plethora of inexhaustible data on this subject available. I have selected two only:
    “The tree was great, and strong: and the height thereof reached unto heaven: the sight thereof was even to the ends of all the earth” Douay-Rheims Bible Daniel 4:11Douay-Rheims Bible Daniel 4:11The Holy Office, Condemnation of Galileo, June 22, 1633: “We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, the said Galileo … have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the centre of the world … after it has been declared and defined as contrary to Holy Scripture … From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that…you abjure, curse, and detest before us the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.” TheCatholicFaith.info@gmail.com
    The Holy Office, Condemnation of Galileo, June 22, 1633: “We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, the said Galileo … have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the centre of the world … after it has been declared and defined as contrary to Holy Scripture … From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that…you abjure, curse, and detest before us the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.” TheCatholicFaith.info@gmail.com

  • Brendan Marshall

    Without the ministerial priesthood there is NO organized Catholicism. No Mass, no Confession. No reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. Just empty buildings. Therefore, an attack on the priesthood IS an attack on Catholicism. A distinction without a difference…………..

    The seal of Confession is absolute. This is a fundamental part of Catholic teaching and practice. An attack on the seal of Confession is NOT anti-clericalism. It is anti-Catholicism. It affects not only “clerics”, it affects penitents, also. The proposed law in Ireland is unprecedented.

    Ireland is unique in wanting to take this step and in so doing it has made itself the epicenter of anti-Catholicism in Europe. No other country is even talking about going down this road.

    Weigel was spot on.

  • Brendan Marshall

    Ahhhh………… “US imperialism”. Wonderful to once more hear that tired ’60s Cold War cliche, so beloved of the loony left. So nice to see that there are still some socialist “true believers” keeping the flame burning even as the socialist EU rapidly approaches economic Armageddon.

    There are times when I think that the demographically dying Europe really deserves sharia and its benevolent Islamic overlords.  You’re going to experience a brand of “imperialism” which will make your head explode. Literally.

  • Oliver Stoops

    There is a little problem that you seem to have overlooked in keeping with Weigel’s article, and that is: Very few people give a damn what catholic priests and the catholic church have to say about anything anymore. Usually confession is not a big deal because murderers, bank robbers and rapists usually do not respect confession. If the relative of a criminal confesses to the priest that a crime has been committed, The priest needs to point that confession requires restitution, and a firm resolution of sinning no more, if absolution is to be given. Therefore the priest is bound to advise the person to go to the police if they are to obtain absolution otherwise, no sacrament has been received, and there has been no confession, within the meaning of the “Sacrament of Reconciliation” and the priest is not obliged to honour the secrecy of the confession. Also, a priest can stop a person and prevent them from disclosing further information if a crime has been committed. For example, during “the troubles” in Ireland, young men who were going on a mission where they might be killed in action used to reveal what they were doing in advance of the crime. Like during the war, the priest did not usually reveal to the police what he knew about it, in case the was shot by the terrorists. However, big dramas like the film “I Confess” are rare.The biggest problem of all is that priests are no longer respected or trusted in Ireland, and the people tend not to believe very much, any more, in what priests say. I certainly don’t.

  • Noronha vivian

    The Irish have catholicism in their bones and they will sort out the mess brought out by their clergy and bishops sooner or later.Nobody  else can fathom out their culture and least of all the British or American.Out of the turmoil will come a new spirit and leadership that will help remove the blot.

    That there  few young people ready to join the priesthood is an international fact and not necessarily Irish. The Church is worried about this problem  especially in West Europe..However in Asia and Africa and Latin America and even in Russia there are many vocations.When the U.S and European Peoples find it difficult to sustain a consumerist society and they are forced into understanding they have to change, will God come back into their assemblies.Till then prayer will help. 

  • SFPalladin

    Brendan..Woah! Nobody is calling for abolishing te priesthood. Yes intrus on the seal of confession needs to be opposed, however Mr. Weigl is, as he often does, overstate his case and writes with a broad and nasty brush.

  • Anonymous

    ..

  • Anonymous

    Having lived in Ireland for 25 years and still return frequently. I must comment that both yourself, Mr Marshall and Mr Weigel(whoever he is) are wide of the mark. Media-fed wishfull thinking perhaps.

  • Anonymous

    ..

  • Anonymous

    Disqus!! just awful

  • Anonymous

    It has to be said , he is way off the mark.

  • HV Observer

    I agree with Mr. Weigel.  For evidence, take a look at these “in the street” views, from Dublin, of the state of the faith: here, here, here, and also here, which will explain my point.

  • Jeffreycal

    Wonderful rebuttal!  It is not the Catholic Religion that we decry in our church today, it is the Popes, Bishops and Priests who under the guise of authority rape and pillage our children.  And your famous Pope John Paul II, Mr. Weigle, is a great part of the problem… Blessed, indeed.

  • LAJ

    “Maybe the gruesome results over the last 20 years of self-confident American efforts to tell other people how to run their own affairs might be thought to rule this out?” Mr Oddie, I take extreme exception to this comment.  Exactly how have we Americans been telling other people how to run their affairs?  I’d really like to know because I know of no such happenings.   

  • Peter S

    Unfortunately because I live in the Antipodes this article only hit my screen to-day. I think William Oddie is spot on and the vituperation from the likes of Brendan Marshall indicates that Oddie has sunk his teeth into a very raw American nerve. I lived in Ireland ten years ago and have been familiar with it for over forty five years. I visit every two years, I was there ten months ago long after the abuse crisis hit the ether. The churches I visited each Sunday were nearly full as always and the healthiest thing is that most still get baptised, and make their first communion and everyone is scandalised by the abuse crisis because they judge their clergy harshly, as they should.

    Long before the current crisis, the Eamonn Casey fall-out had its effect on the people and they became further disillusioned with the clergy and episcopacy. It didn’t alter people’s faith. The Angelus is still said twice daily on radio, most people bless themselves on passing a church and the faith of the vast majority is very real. It is part of the culture of over fifteen hundred years and one of Ireland’s great prides is that the Irish re-Christianised and re-educated Europe in the Dark Ages. It is inconceivable that a proud people would throw away such heritage. The Irish Christian communities got along fine without Rome until the arrival in England of Augustine and then later the influence of the Synod of Whitby which sought and succeeded in Romanising an already Christian Ireland in the face of considerable opposition I might add. Rome’s relations with Ireland may deteriorate, Celtic Catholicism will grow and thrive. The Third World’s Missions are still filled with generous and saintly Irish clergy and religious.

    I should be amazed at Weigell’s ignorance and lack of understanding. But I am not; as someone once said to me apropos of a similar topic; “So much knowledge, so little understanding”. The USA has amply demonstrated in the last two generations that its leaders are ignorant and arrogant, understand little about the rest of the world and cannot understand why the rest of the world don’t want to be American. Weigell’s American defenders give ample evidence of why this is so. The world doesn’t want to be re-made in the US image and Ireland doesn’t want or need outside bishops to set it straight. Maybe we should start populating the American Episcopacy with South American Bishops to give their creaking Conservative Bishops some idea of what real poverty is and how the real Christian message should be disseminated.

  • Brendan McGinnity

    I LIKED YOUR ARTICLEI love Ireland, but I don’t like Ireland. I have just returned from Ireland after climbing Croagh Patrick in my bare feet. The people I met there were of old Ireland, like my parents and grandparents. They seemed to be uncontaminated by modernity and had unshakable faith.Sadly this is not true of Ireland as a whole. After joining the EU, money came into Ireland by the plane load, and poverty changed into affluence and all it’s trimmings. Very beautiful houses were pulled down and replaced with synthetic vulgar structures for reasons of greed (EC grants). The beautiful Gothic Cathedral in my home town was desecrated; the altar rails were pulled out and the sanctuary was changed into what looks like a film set for an American blockbuster film like “Camelot”. it just looks right for the part. The same happened all over Ireland, as Irish politicians sent the peoples’ money to the Cayman Islands.Importing American religion to Ireland would not be a good idea in my opinion. A good trusted friend has informed me that there is a Catholic Church in the Midwest where you buy the communion as you enter the church, and then hold it up during the consecration for the purpose of transubstantiation, and then you just pop it in your mouth. (done and dusted). They have a juke box where you can pay for hymns are selected. I do not want that. He said, “the next thing we will have a virtual reality mass, and there will be no need for priests or a church’s anymore”In 1978 I recall a catholic priest being dressed in a purple shirt, chocolate brown trousers, black patent shoes and primrose coloured checked jacket. He looked hideous as he smoked his petit corona cigar. All this nonsense should have been stopped then. John Paul II became pope. He could have said “enough is enough”, but sadly he did not. So Ireland has the legacy of Irish catholic priests dressed in costly Italian silk suits designed and bought on the Via de Conciliazone in Rome and visiting the adjacent brothels and bordellos.

  • Peter S

    I am astonished at the ignorance of LAJ. I am an Australian and we are one of the USA’s closest allies. Every time we look around we have some American telling us what we are doing wrong from running our telcos to operating our banks. The two things they all have in common are arrogance and ignorance. Interestingly our banks have withstood the current crises precisely because we did what the USA criticised years ago; we regulated them. We tried to follow their telco model and the result has been disaster.

    That you know of “no such happenings” indicates to me that you are perhaps typical. Try Central America; Nicaragua, El Salvador,Grenada, Panama, Guatemala not to mention Mexico and of course Cuba. For goodness sake the Monroe doctrine enshrines the great American right to interfere anywhere they like in the Americas at any time.

    Further afield try Vietnam, Cambodia. Try the Middle East, only to mention Iraq and Afghanistan where US style democracy will never work and perpetual warfare has been initiated in a vain attempt to apply US democracy and values. What about the corrupt regimes of Egypt and Lebanon all having significant US support all because of the doctrinaire US need to support Israel. There is a saying in circles here “watch what the USA does and do the opposite”.

    There is much to admire about the USA but its attitude to other countries and their cultures is not part of it. The arrogance filters down to matters relating to the Church as well. The extremes of liberal and conservative are alarming to the rest of the developed Christian world and to suggest that a Catholic Irish Church fifteen hundred years old needs an imported episcopacy is astounding. As I said in an earlier post, the Celtic Catholic Church got along fine without Rome for 200 years and to-day’s Church will get along fine without the opinions of the conservatives in the USA and even the Vatican!

  • LAJ

    Peter S – You jump to the erroneous conclusion that I am
    ignorant simply because I do not agree with your myopic view of my own country
    and of Americans in general. 

     

    If you find individual American pundits and/or Government
    spokespeople voicing opinions and or advise arrogant them by all means exercise
    your God given free will and turn the TV off.

     

    I find your opinion of US involvement in other countries,
    whether military or otherwise, as I indicated above, myopic.  If we took your approach of non-involvement
    then you would be goose-stepping it right about now.  The USSR would still be a threat and radical
    Muslims would more than likely have pulled off another 9-11, quite possibly in
    your own backyard. 

     

    You say we go around telling people how to live and what to
    do. And you guys do not?  At least we have
    the guts to do it out in the open with no apologies.  You guys try and shove your European liberal
    ideology down our throats via non-binding U.N. Resolutions.  And before you point out that it’s
    non-binding, let me remind you that lawyers then take these non-binding
    resolutions and bully the courts of countries to recognize them as binding bypassing
    that countries duly appointed government. 

     

    We are forever hearing “help us, give us money, give us
    food, give us medicine, bail us out, give, give, give, give………. YOU ARE NOT
    DOING ENOUGH, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG, YOU ARE ARROGANT, LEAVE US ALONE, NO WAIT
    GIVE US MORE MONEY”

     

    It would be my pleasure to leave you to your own
    devices.  Don’t do what we do by all
    means but don’t come crying to us when you need more money, food, medicine, or
    military support when you are being forced to bow down to Mecca five times a
    day.

  • Jack

    Silly point above about Ireland fighting for religious freedom for 800 years, no we did not. The first few hundred years were all about land, language, culture, and foreign occupation unless you take the Norman/English Roman Catholic Church V the Indigenous Gaelic & Hiberno-Norse Christian church as a conflict over religious freedoms.

  • D. Corrigan

    It is just over 840 years since the conflict between Henry II and Thomas Becket. How strange that virtually the same conflict between Church and State should raise it’s head again with Enda Kenny. Irish history shows that there always has been deep conflict between the Catholic Church and the Irish people e.g. Daniel O’Connell, Parnell, James Joyce and many, many more who left Ireland in disgust. The Catholic Church has oppressed the Irish people more than the Invaders, who were in fact not invaders at all, but invited guests. (regardless of what Irish history books say)
     
    There was widespread murder and mayhem in Ireland before the Normans came in 1169, and there was still murder and mayhem after the British left 1922. The problem rests in what you have just stated. An eminent English Roman Catholic Cardinal summed Irish Catholicism up in these words: “In general, the Catholic Church as a whole, is like the Kirov ballet, whereas the Irish Catholic Church is like village idiots performing clog dancing”
    FROM MY HISTORY NOTES
    As I recall from my history notes (not taught in Ireland) Pope Anastasius IV sent an envoy to Ireland in 1151 asked the Irish Bishops for military help in the Second Crusade that was going badly The synod of Bishops held the council of Kells in 1152 and refused to help and they gave him a curt response. In 1154 Pope Adrian IV begged the Irish for assistance, but again they said no. In 1155, three years after the Synod of Kells Adrian IV published the Papal Bull ‘Laudabiliter’,(permission to invade Ireland) which was addressed to King Henry II of England. Adrian urged Henry to invade Ireland to bring the Irish Catholics to obedience under the Roman system. [That was the problems then and it is the problem now]Henry II was preoccupied with family feuds and the war in France and it was not important to him at that time. One of the Kings of Ireland was called Dermot McMurrough the King of Leinster who thought that he was entitled to be the High King but he lost his kingdom when he was deposed by Rory O’Connor. To recover his kingdom, Dermot MacMurrough solicited help from King Henry II of England. However Henry was far too busy with affairs of state mainly Thomas Beckett and the Catholic Church together with family turmoil and the war in France. Henry II delegated the task of helping Dermot McMorrough to Richard de Clare, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, also known as Strongbow. Under Strongbow, the first invasion of Ireland happened in September 1169 and Rory O’Connor was disposed as High King . Dermot MacMurrough then became The High King of Ireland for a short time. However, there was a fly in the ointment insofar that Dermot McMorrough’s daughter Aoife married Strongbow . It has been alleged that Aofie and Strongbow planned to murder Dermot McMorrough with the intention of Strongbow becoming the High King of Ireland. Someone sent word to Henry II who perceived this action as a threat to his throne and it was only then that Henry II started to worry and mounted a large invasion in 1171 (840 years ago). Of course Henry II used the ‘Laudabiliter’ as the excuse and said that he was acting with the permission of the Pope. The Irish had brought trouble on themselves , just as they are doing now. The Irish Bishops were then corrupt and nothing has changed in 840 years.Synod of Kells Adrian IV published the Papal Bull ‘Laudabiliter’,(permission to invade Ireland) which was addressed to King Henry II of England. Adrian urged Henry to invade Ireland to bring the Irish Catholics to obedience under the Roman system. [That was the problems then and it is the problem now]Henry II was preoccupied with family feuds and the war in France and it was not important to him at that time. One of the Kings of Ireland was called Dermot McMurrough the King of Leinster who thought that he was entitled to be the High King but he lost his kingdom when he was deposed by Rory O’Connor. To recover his kingdom, Dermot MacMurrough solicited help from King Henry II of England. However Henry was far too busy with affairs of state mainly Thomas Beckett and the Catholic Church together with family turmoil and the war in France. Henry II delegated the task of helping Dermot McMorrough to Richard de Clare, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, also known as Strongbow. Under Strongbow, the first invasion of Ireland happened in September 1169 and Rory O’Connor was disposed as High King . Dermot MacMurrough then became The High King of Ireland for a short time. However, there was a fly in the ointment insofar that Dermot McMorrough’s daughter Aoife married Strongbow . It has been alleged that Aofie and Strongbow planned to murder Dermot McMorrough with the intention of Strongbow becoming the High King of Ireland. Someone sent word to Henry II who perceived this action as a threat to his throne and it was only then that Henry II started to worry and mounted a large invasion in 1171 (840 years ago). Of course Henry II used the ‘Laudabiliter’ as the excuse and said that he was acting with the permission of the Pope. The Irish had brought trouble on themselves , just as they are doing now. The Irish Bishops were then corrupt and nothing has changed in 840 years.Laudabiliter’ as the excuse and said that he was acting with the permission of the Pope. The Irish had brought trouble on themselves , just as they are doing now. The Irish Bishops were then corrupt and nothing has changed in 840 years.

  • Italo

    That Mister Weigel , according to an old dutch saying, talks rather well, but he eats better!.

  • W Oddie

    If he’s Dr Weigel to me, I’m Dr Oddie to you: and i’m never “Bill” to anyone