Facepalms at the FCO

Regular readers will know that I’m something of a fan of Pope Benedict. The man wears red shoes, rehabilitated the Tridentine Mass and annoys Richard Dawkins just by getting up in the morning – what’s not to like? And you’ll also be aware that from time to time I bang on about anti-Catholicism in the broader culture. That said, though, my response to the FCO memo affair is of amusement rather than outrage.

Actually, my initial reaction was “What is Frankie Boyle doing working in the Foreign Office? Doesn’t he have a tour to do?” The most disappointing thing for me was the teenage nature of the memo, when you would expect something more sophisticated from the FCO mandarins. As satire goes, it was very much on the Viz level. Granted, the line about getting Benny to open an abortion clinic was in very poor taste. But that stuff about blessing a civil partnership, or launching papally-branded condoms? There’s little there that Kevin Smith, or the writers of Father Ted, haven’t already done and done much better.

It’s important to point out that Catholics, as a group, are rather good at self-deprecating humour. It wasn’t any Catholic figure who called for Father Ted to be banned from TV screens – it was an ageing Trot from the hilariously misnamed Irish In Britain Representation Group. If there is sensitivity sometimes veering into chippiness, it’s when there’s the suspicion – as with portrayals of the Irish, where there’s a significant overlap – that this joshing is not quite as good-natured as it portrays itself. Likewise with criticism of the Catholic Church, whether it’s over Catholic doctrine or ecclesiastical politics or the handling of the sex abuse scandal – if you read the Catholic press or Catholic blogs, all these issues are openly and furiously debated; what winds me up is the inability of wide swathes of left-liberal and secular opinion to discuss any of these issues without resorting to Gordon Riots language.

But I’m not going to go off on a rant here about left anti-Catholicism – that’s a question for another day. What Catholics ask – and not unreasonably – is “Would this sort of stuff be aimed at anyone else?” For instance, President Zuma of South Africa has recently been on a state visit to Britain. There are plenty of questions about Jacob Zuma’s political record and personal behaviour, but it’s difficult to imagine FCO officials – whose job is diplomacy, after all – writing a similar memo on the Zuma visit, replete with hilarious “black man” stereotypes. Or indeed, imagine something like this happening around Hu Jintao’s state visit. In those cases, a junior FCO official who decided this was a good opportunity to try out his Jim Davidson act would find his feet not touching the ground.

One expects, of course, those who regard themselves as terribly modern (even if their ideas are 200 years out of date) not to have a lot of understanding when it comes to an organisation that’s supposed to be all about Tradition and unchanging truths. But then, this is a problem for the FCO – the government minister in charge of Benny’s visit is Jim Murphy, on the grounds that he’s a Catholic and therefore should have some insight into such matters. If the FCO is going to farm out its brainstorming to teenagers whose only knowledge of Catholicism is some fairly flimsy reportage in the Guardian and Independent (thus the memo stressing trendy causes célèbres like the ordination of priestesses), they’ve only themselves to blame. Of course, New Labour’s established practice of urinating all over Catholic voters and then expecting (and getting) their votes may not be irrelevant.

I was very taken, by the way, with the furious reaction from Bishop Malcolm McMahon, who has accused the Foreign Office of “disrespecting” the Pope. Yes, that’s right, a bishop using “disrespect” as a verb. Booyakasha! This is interesting, because it’s a long time since I can remember +Malcy being this indignant about anything. But then, our friend in Nottingham is the bishop in charge of the “Catholic” Education Service, and must therefore have had some input into the appointment of retiring Labour MP Greg Pope as deputy head of the CES. Mr Pope’s voting record on abortion, embryo experimentation and the Ed Balls Bill may place him well within the mainstream of today’s Labour Party, but does not necessarily make him the obvious candidate for a top CES job. In fact, short of appointing Dr Death Evan Harris, it’s hard to think of a less suitable candidate. The trendy lefties in the Bishops’ Conference, not least +Malcy, have some ground to make up, and an ostentatious show of outrage on behalf of the Holy Father won’t hurt.

The funniest thing about this, though? The enumeration of “Papal Visit Stakeholders” by importance and whether they were a positive or negative influence. This in itself is not surprising, nor is is a surprise to see (for instance) the Queen and David Cameron ranked as positive influences, or to see Professor Dawkins and the loose alliance of atheist and homosexualist groups in the No Popery Coalition as negative influences. No, what grabbed my eye was that SuBo was ranked as more important than the Archbishop of Westminster. I’m sure that caused +Vincent to spit out his porridge.

More on this from Ruthie Gledhill (who finally gets it) and from Archbishop Cranmer.


  1. Mark P said,

    April 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    You really should lay off the Damien Thompson you know. It’s not good for you.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      April 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm

      Oh, Damo has gone absolutely ballistic over this. It’s not often I would use the words “Opus Dei” and “common sense” in the same sentence, but I did think Jack Valero’s reaction captured the essential silliness of it.

  2. shane said,

    April 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Completely agree.

    Fr Ray Blake says much the same thing….


  3. Phil said,

    April 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Innocent Smith is rather good on this – as he says, it’s not just stupid and disrespectful, it’s ignorant.

  4. Garibaldy said,

    April 25, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I do think that the people arguing that this would not be done if a Muslim leader was coming do have a point. In my opinion this government has had far too cosy a relationship with religious people in general (one need only look at the whole communities strategy) but equally, government officials – Oxbridge educated halfwits or not – should know better than to behave like this. Probably brought back some fond memories among retired civil servants who used to work at Stormont though. Actually, on second thoughts, they’d probably have been more professional.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      April 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm

      There’s probably, and this is just my theory, an environmental aspect to this. Over here, anti-Catholicism is quite a serious matter, and has been literally a matter of life and death. For these guys, it’s just a matter of having some fun at the expense of people who they’ll probably never meet in real life. That’s the thing that always takes me aback about English bourgeois anti-Catholicism – it’s the casualness of it.

      But yeah, for people who are supposed to be working in the diplomatic field, the lapse in professionalism is as shocking as anything else.

      • ejh said,

        April 26, 2010 at 3:22 am

        That’s the thing that always takes me aback about English bourgeois anti-Catholicism – it’s the casualness of it.

        Well, possibly that’s because you’re doing what you often accuse other people of doing, which is coming in from outside and assuming that your experience of the situation is the same as the peopke you’re ticking off. English bourgeois anti-catholicism is causal because English anti-Catholicism is casual. It’s casual because it contains no element of persecuting people for being members of (or being born into) a Church. This makes it an entirely, fundamentally different thing from Ulster anti-Popery. I was brought up a Catholic in Stevenage: my experience of discrimination, let alone violence or the threat of violence, deriving from that identity was and is nil. And this is among the many reasons why it’s absurd and stupid to talk about “black man stereotypes”. It’s parodying the Church, not Catholics.

        Now actually I’m sure you areaware of this, but I’m also sure that this is why you like to elide the two things as if they were’re fundamentally different, and why you occasionally like to refer to No Popery. Or, in this instance, “Gordon Riots language”. Fuck’s sake. Really? Where is the incitement here, please? Show it to us or doing be so bloody stupid.

        It’s important to point out that Catholics, as a group, are rather good at self-deprecating humour

        Well, no they’re not, not really, no more than anybody else. And not, perhaps, unless it comes from within the group. When it doesn’t there is suddenly this large tendency to scream about how the Church is being victimised and picked on.

        And, as you know good and damned well, nothing like Father Ted could possibly have appeared on RTE, rdio or television for the first half century of its existence, and the reason for that was the Catholic church.

        Now, please, take the advice of the “possibly related posts” and give it a rest. Where the “it” is claiming that parodying the Church and picking on Catholics is one and the same thing.

    • NollaigO said,

      April 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      they’d probably have been more professional.

      Surprisingly, I knew one such person, Garibaldy.

      Although from a Northern protestant background and an admirer of Chris Patten, he used to visit the Blasket Islands regularly during the summer period.

      When the Provisionals arrived on the scene in City Hall, he felt he had a duty to treat them with equal courtesy. On his retirement in the early 1990s they presented him with a first edition copy of An tOileánach, to show their appreciation.

      An tOileánach

  5. shane said,

    April 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I do think some of the ‘professional’ anti-Catholics in Ireland have a tendency to live in a time warp. The time of ‘Catholic Ireland’ has long passed, but many in the media haven’t woken up. I remember reading Ryle Dwyer in the Irish Examiner a few weeks ago bitterly denouncing the Catholic Church and then ranting on about the bishops’ (widelymisrepresented) opposition to the Mother and Child Scheme in the early 50s.

    this time warp mentality can often be quite selective and hypocritical. The ISPCC (‘cruelty men’) rejected all blame for the industrial schools because “we are no longer the same organization“, which would never have worked for the religious orders.

    • Mark P said,

      April 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      The time of “Catholic Ireland” is certainly passing, but the Church still maintains a dominant position in education and health.

      The current backlash against Church power and influence has been prolonged and deepened by the endless revelation of physical and sexual abuse by clerics but it will eventually fade out. If they manage to keep significant control of the health and education sectors over the next few years it will be extremely difficult to ever dislodge them.

      When the Church no longer controls most schools and hospitals, then I might be a bit more open to bleatings about how “professional Anti-Catholics” are picking on the poor Church.

  6. Quinn Febray said,

    April 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    ‘The time of ‘Catholic Ireland’ has long passed, but many in the media haven’t woken up.’

    Is that why the Catholic Church still has influence and control in most of our schools and hospitals? Or why it still hasn’t come to terms with the legacy of it’s child abuse?

  7. De Northside Socialist said,

    April 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    “Oxbridge educated halfwits or not” – you beat me to this phrase, but aren’t they chosen to work at government departments like the FCO because they are of this type? Certainly when I saw this item on the news, my imagination visualised a group of Oxbridge chinless wonders guffawing as they came up with this puerile nonsense.

    With regards to the Irish in Britain Representation Group, I came across one of their activists teaching an Irish language class in the late ’80s or very early ’90s in an inner London borough. He could certainly be po-faced with regards to many issues of the time, however there were sufficient examples of anti-Irish and also anti-Irish Catholic sentiment in the UK to ensure he had a hearing amongst those attending the class. I would of course find their views on Fr. Ted bizarre.

    Again, I would agree with Mark P’s views on the role of the Catholic church in Ireland. I am also continuously bemused by the Splintered’s views on Benedict. I’ve seen little evidence of Benedict’s sincere compassion for the victims of abuse and more of his desire to defend the power of the institution that is the Catholic church.

    Fintan O’Toole wrote on this in the IT recetnly, is he one of the “‘professional’ anti-Catholics in Ireland” mentioned above? There are also pro-Catholic church apologists in Ireland – for example our minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern.


    “Some liberal critics of the church often fail to answer the question, too. They may blame Catholicism itself, as if other belief systems did not end up justifying vile crimes. They may blame celibacy, as if the vast majority of attacks on children were not perpetrated by non-celibates – often, indeed, by the child’s own parents. The truth is that child abuse and cover-up are not primarily about religion or sex. They are about power. The bleak lessons of human history are that those who have too much power will abuse it. And that organisations will put their own interests above those of the victims.”

    • April 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm

      As to the “celibacy makes you want to rape children” argument, I’ve never got that one. Is there a paedophilia scandal among Buddhist monks I haven’t heard of?

    • Tom Griffin said,

      April 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

      Re: the IBRG, I had a fair bit of contact with them about a decade ago. They were more or less a one man band at that time, and certainly had their eccentricities, but I found them quite helpful on a number of issues.

      Their real impact was in the early 80s, when people like Professor Mary Hickman were involved. The story I was told that was that they emerged out of the wave of mobilisation around the hunger strikes, and this was one of the factors which led the Irish Government to start supporting the Federation of Irish Societies as a counterweight.

  8. shane said,

    April 26, 2010 at 12:37 am

    If the Irish bishops really ‘control’ most of Ireland’s primary schools, then they’re doing a very bad job of it. Under their watch, “Catholic” primary schools have spawned a generation that is almost wholly theologically illiterate. Few (any?) schools in Ireland are more than vestigially Catholic.

    The current patronage system is the legacy of a variety of historic factors. Here is how Bishop O’Reilly describes it:

    “Whether Catholic or otherwise, a patron can only be recognised and registered as such by the Minister for Education. Thus no person can act as a patron unless recognised in law by the Minister.

    All patrons are fully accountable to the law of the land for the responsibilities which they exercise for the schools under their patronage. However, in all schools, whoever the patron, complete responsibility for running the schools rests with the board of management.

    Regarding the appointment of boards, the patron’s role is in no sense autonomous. In common with other patron bodies, Catholic patrons nominate only two members out of a board of eight. While the patron appoints all the board members, these appointments are subject to the sanction of the Minister.” (Catholics Entitled To Their Schools, Irish Times 19.12.09.)

    Diarmuid Martin a few months ago requested the Government to establish a National Forum on Patronage with a view to transferring a substantial proportion of Archdiocesan schools to state or multidenominational proprietorship. The Education Minister, Batt O’Keefe, flatly refused to do so. Archbishop Martin also requested the Government to resign as Chairman of Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. The Government asked him not to do so.

    Personally I have feeling that the government’s reluctance may stem from one single consideration.

    Let’s get this straight: the vast majority of parish priests in Ireland would happily hand over the burden of management of their local schools. But I doubt the Department of Education are ready in a dire recession to pay lay managers to replace the priests, who are already overburdened, especially because of their rapidly ageing and declining numbers, and who work for absolutely nothing.

    According to the above linked Fergus O’Donoghue, SJ: there’s the presumption that “control” of primary schools is still desired by bishops, priests and religious. In reality, the situation is messy and chaotic: parish priests doing the tasks nobody else wants, including arranging basic maintenance of buildings; lost title deeds; school financing based on the presumption that priests are available as nonsalaried managers.

    • Mark P said,

      April 26, 2010 at 1:10 am


      What exactly is your point?

      Few people here are supporters of the government, still less great admirers of Batt O’Keefe. The Church is certainly willing to consider handing over a portion of the schools it controls, but that is part of its own retrenchment strategy – “Better fewer but better” as Lenin might say – a strategy to hold on to as much influence as it can in a period when vocations are nearly non-existent and church finances are stretched both by the age profile of the religious and by an ongoing decline in church attendance.

      Supporters of secular, free, state owned education and health systems shouldn’t have any faith in our current government nor in the good intentions of the Church. I don’t blame the Church for acting in its own long term interests, but their interests are not mine. As for our government, Irish governments consistently sought a close alliance with the Church when the Church acted as the chief ideological bulwark of conservatism in Ireland, and continues to try to preserve an alliance and division of labour which has long served both governments and the Church well. Although rather less so a large number of children.

      The people who introduced a blasphemy law and, more significantly, gave the church an indemnity against claims for child abuse are not anti-Catholics. Nor are they proponents of progressive, secular, state funded, social services. But what does that have to do with those of us who are proponents of exactly that?

      • shane said,

        April 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm


        In my previous comment I argued that the time of Catholic Ireland has long passed. I was rebuffed for this by Quinn Febray who countered with the Church’s ‘control’ of schools. My comment was intended to clarify the nature of this ‘control’ and the fact that the current state of affairs is less voluntary and advantageous to the Church than seems to be assumed.

        You argue that the Church’s (rejected) offers of transferring more schools to state patronage are motivated by a retrenchment strategy: “Better fewer but better”. If that were true it would be an entirely welcome conversion on the part of the Church hierarchy, but traditionalists like myself have good warrant to remain skeptical. The Irish bishops have had ample opportunity since the 70s to implement a Catholic ethos and ensure actual Catholic doctrine gets taught in Catholic schools, but have consistently failed to do so. Indeed, they have shown outright hostility to those who attempt anything in that direction. One thinks of the Dublin Archdiocese’s attempts in the 70s to supress a school established by concerned parents for “Tridentine teaching” or the patronising arrogance exhibited by the Church establishment to parents who expressed concern about heretical and constructivist pseudo-catechetical vomit like Children of God or the Alive-O series. I concluded long ago that the post-conciliar Irish hierarchy (most of whom are of doubtful orthodoxy anyway) have no interest in ensuring that students receive a Catholic education.

        The blasphemy law was not requested by the Church. There was already I believe a common law offence against blasphemy directed towards the Christian God, but it was never implemented since independence. The new generic blasphemy bill has obscure origins, the most convincing explanation for it was the Government’s concern for the implications for Irish trade in the Middle East should a Danish cartoon style situation flare up here. This law would actually outlaw many Catholic liturgical and doctrinal texts, and could be used against a priest who determined to teach Catholic dogma on the salvific uniqueness of the Catholic Church. It is utterly ill-conceived, but I think (and hope) it will remain a dead letter.

        ‘The Church’ was not given an indemnity against abuse claims, the Redress deal was made with 18 religious orders and concerned exclusively allegations of historic abuse in industrial schools. The religious superiors actually wanted every case to be tried in open court and were reluctant to be part of a process that would have the conduct of their members judged without due process. But the Ahern Government wanted the ‘quickie’ of the Redress Board process. The Government’s actuaries estimated the total would come to €300million, and the government suggested the religious orders be made liable for €100million, a third of the estimated total (remember these are the same people who brought you the Dublin Port Tunnell etc way over budget). The Orders co-operated reluctantly – they were under no obligation to do so – and settled for the Redress deal.

        The Catholic Church was historically influential in Irish politics because the vast majority of the electorate were devout Catholics. And in those days people expected Church and state to be linked. In some countries they still do. In England, Anglicanism is the state church, and the sole religion of the head of state; its senior bishops are entitled ex officio to seats in the Upper House of Parliament. In Scotland, the Church of Scotland is the national church and its doctrinal formulations form part of the statute book. All European countries that have an established church are Protestant. Catholicism is the state religion of no country, because Pope Paul VI asked for it to be disestablished everywhere.

      • Mark P said,

        April 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm


        I am not particularly interested in your doctrinal or liturgical squabbles with the leaders of your Church. I am only interested in your Church in so far as it, as an institution, continues to wield political and social influence in this country.

        It is not at issue between us that right wing governments and the institutional Church in this country have had a mutually advantageous relationship. I am not arguing that the Church simply dominated or took advantage of the state. It was an alliance of conservative forces, in which the Church gained enormous influence over social policy and the eduction of the young, while right wing governments benefited from the moral conservatism pushed by the Church and also saved money. Both sides benefited from it and, in a more limited sense, both sides continue to benefit from it.

        The government is not persecuting the Church. The government is not hostile to the Church. The government has little option but to be critical of it at the moment because the Church was responsible for the physical and sexual abuse of countless children and cover ups of that abuse. Public opinion, rightly, wouldn’t stand for an outright defence of the Church in that context. But for reasons of political self interest (and perhaps, although it is insignificant either way, personal piety), the government wants to preserve as much of the status quo as it can.

        The Catholic Church is not, believe it or not, interested in handing over a limited number of its schools to the state out of generosity or a sudden conversion to the merits of a secular education. It is interested in doing so for reasons of institutional self-interest. It is a tactical and partial retreat, not some sign of “post-conciliar” heterodoxy or some such drivel.

        Your account of the indemnity deal is amusing. The various orders concerned struck a deal with the government which involved the state taking on the overwhelming majority of the cost of compensating the people raped and/or tortured by religious in decades past. It was a perfect example of what’s known in the union movement as a “sweetheart deal”. I fully agree that this government’s incompetence was an additional factor in just how disastrous the deal is likely to prove, but at root, even if the government had been right about the costs, it would have been a deal in which the taxpayer agreed to indemnify the religious orders in return for a contribution of one third of the money. That was disgraceful.

        As I said earlier in the discussion, I will have some interest in the bleatings of Church apologists about how their Church is being given a hard time when the power and influence of the Church over society as a whole is thoroughly broken. When the education system is secular, free and state run. When the health system is the same. When the state stops picking up most of the tab for clerical child rape and torture. We are a long way from all of that, and so we are a long way from a situation where the Church has any right to whine about being criticised.

  9. April 26, 2010 at 12:40 am

    […] Reactions to the FCO Memo story (UK minister insults Pope in internal communications); short one from Gerard Cunningham and longer from Splintered Sunrise. […]

  10. ejh said,

    April 26, 2010 at 3:31 am

    the loose alliance of atheist and homosexualist groups in the No Popery Coalition as negative influences. No, what grabbed my eye ws…

    What grabbed my eye here was the term “homosexualist”, which, as you and I both know, was a favourite of Private Eye in its old homophobic days. What are you playing at?

    • April 26, 2010 at 6:34 am

      Could “homosexualist” connote a political attitude to homosexuality in the same way that “nationalist” does towards nationality? I’ve often thought that such a thing is one important stream of thought in modern social-liberal imperialism, in that that wars and invasions and economic blockades are justified if “gay people” are seen to be oppressed in any foreign, brown, oil-rich country. (Never mind that “gay people” is a very modern western idea – and that self-declared “gay rights” movements in non-Western countries are almost entirely made up of rich professionals who totally identify with Western culture, including free market capitalism and the iron fist that props it up…)

      We know the reactionary consequences of narrow Zionism in Western countries – I think the same can be said about narrow feminism, and narrow… well, “homosexualism”.

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        April 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

        Gore Vidal uses it in precisely that sense, and it’s from Gore that I take the usage.

      • PamDirac said,

        April 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm

        “Gore Vidal uses it in precisely that sense, and it’s from Gore that I take the usage.”

        I’d say employing “homosexualist” with a political connotation is closer to the Richard Ingrams sense of the word than Vidal’s. It’s been awhile since I read Vidal’s old essay promoting the term but I believe his view is that “homosexual” can only refer to acts and not to people, hence the modifier, and he resists “gay” because he doesn’t believe in sexuality as a defining aspect of one’s identity.

        These days the “homosexualist” usage is often encounted on the right, where the term is used by National Review types to deride gay activists.

      • April 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

        Perhaps we should use “gay nationalist”, instead. A bit cheeky but I think it makes the point.

        On my facebook page I have one gay man who keeps posting the most virulent Islamophobic drivel, now interspersed with Catholic-bashing drivel. In my local gay press, the news articles are always written from the point of view that the one and only sign of social progress in any country is tolerance verging on celebration of a Western-style gay subculture, which leads to some pretty repulsive pro-Zionist cheerleading.

  11. shane said,

    April 26, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    [Liberal] Augustine Martin writing in 1965:

    “It is quite evident to everyone that a fresh approach will have to be made to the priest in Irish fiction, or else had better be left alone. The facile doctrinaire anti-clericalism which has dominated Irish fiction since George Moore’s time stands as a mark of our failure. […] Anti-clericalism is clearly flogged to death. It has had a substantial innings: for more than sixty years the Irish priest has been lambasted from every conceivable angle”.

    Martin, Augustine. ‘Inherited Dissent’. Studies, Vol. 54, No. 213 (Spring, 1965), pp. 1-20

  12. shane said,

    April 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    When it comes to clerical abuse, the same ’survivors’ are almost always interviewed, namely Andrew Madden, Colm O’Gorman and Marie Collins. We never hear from the rest, one must always worry about the extent to which ‘spokespeople’ are representative of their ‘community’.

    According to Marie Therese O’Loughlin (a victim of Goldenbridge Industrial School and industrial abuse victims campaigner)…

    “Colm O’ Gorman, (now director of (Irish) Amnesty International) from what I gather, was invited by the Irish government to set up One in Four. The red carpet was laid out and huge funding was given to the organisation, as well, as naturally, a lucrative salary to the founder. There was a big vacuum with respect of clerical sexual abuse and he was definitely the appropriate face to fill it – being at the time, a very high profile media sexual abuse victim of Sean Fortune. Some survivors of Institutional abuse and others, who were running groups, already, long in existence – were more than a trifle peeved when Colm O’ Gorman started speaking publicly about industrial school institutional abuse. They found it so utterly not right that a victim of clerical abuse of some few years – who never set foot in an industrial school and who came from a family background, should speak to the media on their behalf. It was let known to him in no uncertain terms by some victims/survivors of institutional abuse where he stood in relation to their campaign.

    The media and politicians adored CO’G. This very educated, articulate, victim served the media only too well and the government was also pleased with the fact that the limelight was taken off it, somewhat, regarding institutional abuse victims -as sadly, the government was/is knee-deep in the debacle because of it lack of responsibility in the past towards the former whilst under its care.”

    • Mark P said,

      April 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

      Shane, you seem to be intent on constructing an argument by insinuation here. Neither your comment about the existence of Anti-Clerical novels in 1965, nor your comment about only a small number of victims of clerical child rape getting a lot of media attention are at all meaningful in and of themselves, unless you are trying to imply something wider.

      1) Are you trying to suggest that Ireland was suffering from an epidemic of Anti-Clericalism in 1965?

      2) Are you trying to suggest that there is a “silent majority” of those who have been raped or tortured as children by Clerics who are somehow still enormously sympathetic to the Church, but that some conspiracy is encouraging Anti-Clericals to drown them out?

      • De Northside Socialist said,

        April 26, 2010 at 10:28 pm

        Insinuation is good way to undermine those who report or comment unfavourably on the church’s role in Ireland. For example the Catholic Alive newspaper that is delivered through my door monthly.

        In this month’s edition there is an attempt to smear Joe Little, the RTE religious affairs correspondent, who shock-horror, may or may not be a Marxist fellow traveller of the WP.


        There is also a bizarre article referring to Lukacs and the Hungarian revolution of 1919, an article by Peter Hitchens on sex education (the political past of Hitchens they fail to mention) and an article in praise of a member of Catholic Action, who was active in support of the Falange in Spain.

  13. Jessie St. James said,

    April 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Wasn’t it in 1965 that John McGahern’s The Dark was banned and he was sacked from his teaching job? Wise up Shane. The Catholic Church had the Free State, lock, stock and barrel, and they fucked it up. In my humble view several dozen priests and bishops should have been strung up when the child abuse cases came to light.

  14. April 28, 2010 at 8:17 am

    […] And finally, an insouciant Foreign Office memo on a possible by the Pope to the UK (complete with references to Papal-branded condoms) elicits a spirited defence of the pontiff by Splintered Sunrise. […]

  15. milgram said,

    April 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    “There are plenty of questions about Jacob Zuma’s political record and personal behaviour, but it’s difficult to imagine FCO officials – whose job is diplomacy, after all – writing a similar memo on the Zuma visit, replete with hilarious “black man” stereotypes”

    This is a false analogy. I can well imagine an equivalent memo ripping the piss out of Zuma’s attitude to women. Or his predecessor’s idiotic HIV denialism.

    You’re muddying up stereotyping with policy and topical scandal.

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