Here’s tae us, wha’s like us? Damn few, an’ they’re aw deid!

Let us see if we can find some disturbances in the Force. Here’s something from our old friend Titus Oates of the National Sanderson Society:

The first thing I want to say is that the Protest the Pope campaign is not anti-Catholic. Some Catholic bloggers have tried to portray us as some kind of off-shoot of the Orange order, but this simply isn’t true.

That’s right, the leader of the most bigoted anti-Catholic organisation in the British Isles is upset because some people may think that his latest anti-Catholic campaign is, er, anti-Catholic. Wherever could they have got that idea? Perhaps by reading the NSS website? Or being aware of Mr Oates’ habit of conducting personal vendettas against even the most humble papist who hoves into his line of vision?

I do notice, incidentally, that over the last couple of weeks the No Popery Coalition has been featuring disclaimers on its propaganda claiming that it isn’t anti-Catholic. This rings a little hollow, since the Coalition hasn’t withdrawn any of its wilder assertions or toned down the Guy Fawkes language, but a month ago they weren’t even bothering with a token disclaimer. Evidently a nerve has been hit.

Oh yes, there was this other comment from none other than Ma Pepsi:

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the influential Catholic weekly the Tablet, offers a more nuanced assessment. “If you developed an interest in British Catholicism by reading the various ‘Catholic’ blogs that have sprung up in recent years, you would conclude that we are in the midst of vicious cultural wars,” she says. “But when you get to the parishes, nobody seems to be at anyone else’s throat.”

Well, there was that unfortunate episode in Blackfen, of which Ma Pepsi is well aware. But beyond that, and yes, we do know that the Peppermint Spinster is in the habit of railing against these pernicious “web-logs”, but could this be Ma admitting that she actually reads them? Presumably she means the destructive role played by blogs like this one, or this one, or indeed this one here.

Finally, while we’re in trumpet-blowing mode, the Dale fella has been releasing his big list of the most popular blogs in the sphere. The safest bet there is for Slugger to top the Norn Iron standings, which it deservedly does for yet another year, but it’s with great aw-shucksitude and no little astonishment that your humble host finds himself in the runner-up position. Do take a look at some of the others on the list, for there’s some powerful stuff there:

1 (1) Slugger O’Toole
2 Splintered Sunrise
3 (3) A Pint of Unionist Lite
4 (2) Three Thousand Versts
5 (5) A Tangled Web
6 Open Unionism
7 (14) Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland
8 (10) 1690 & All Thon
9 (7) Bobballs
10 (6) Ulster’s Doomed
11 Ultonia
12 Bavarian Orange Order
13 (8) Devenport Diaries
14 Alan in Belfast
15 Hand of History
16 (18) O’Conall Street
17 Jeff Peel’s Diary
18 Burke’s Corner
19 (20) The Dissenter
20 East Belfast Diary

Notable that much of the energy in our local ‘sphere is with moderate unionism, a political creed that’s nain too healthy in meatspace. But if it’s providing some good reading on the blogs, I’m not complaining.


  1. leftfooter said,

    September 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Influential Catholic weekly?



    Weakly, ok.

  2. Ulick said,

    September 3, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Comhghairdeas, straight in at no2. You’ll be on the UTV couch beside Mick and Frank McClory for ‘Ulsters’ Ultimate Top Ten soon.

  3. bobballs said,

    September 3, 2010 at 3:10 am

    thoroughly well deserved! The blog has been ass-kickingly good for some time now.

  4. peekaboo said,

    September 3, 2010 at 5:52 am

    my grandma says she doesn’t go to mass for they changed it but when I say I’ll pick her up and I’ll drive her to a Latin Mass and I’ll take her back and I’ll make sure she’ll get the best seat there so she can see it all and if she doesn’t want this i can make an appointment with a 100 % traditional priest who would visit her and could even celebrate mass for her at her place and he’s in good standing with Rome then my grandma just says non non non which is french for no no no because they changed the mass so she no longer goes she no longer prays she no longer gives to the church and she still calls herself a catholic but I don’t know what this means exactly to her maybe it’s more like part of what she feels is her identity you know like some people would tell you they’re half Irish half Italian and how comes I have that weird feeling grandma just lost the faith or maybe she never had it in the first place and she just took her kids to church when they were small for that was what the neighbors expected her to do but then her children became adults themselves and that was two generations ago and she no longer had any social pressure to attend mass plus many people stopped attending at that time so instead of saying look this doesn’t mean anything to her so she’ll stay home on Sundays morning she decided to blame the priests for it and I feel like she’s not the only person using cheap excuses some will tell you it’s because of the sex scandals it’s because of the liturgy it’s because of this and that and now tell me how comes they don’t turn to a traditional priory or stay home and pray their rosary
    oh really i don’t know don’t know don’t know…..

  5. petrus said,

    September 3, 2010 at 10:54 am

    err hello! this from the lady who claims Britain isn’t anti-Catholic [below Feb 2010 editorial] maybe she means her type of Catholicism isn’t treated with disdain

    “If children in Catholic schools cannot be told that the Church to which they belong opposes abortion, or regards sex outside marriage as wrong, or even that it officially disapproves of contraceptive and homosexual acts, then what is taking place is little different from an attempt to rewrite Catholic doctrine by Act of Parliament.

    Any sensible administration will draw back from such an outrageous idea. Nevertheless, the Government is being assailed by secular and progressive opinion – as part no doubt of an anti-faith schools and pro-gay rights agenda – for its ­willingness to make these concessions. “

  6. September 3, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Big congratulations. Enjoy the new readers.

  7. Jim said,

    September 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Attempts to stifle yawn. Fails.

  8. September 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Anybody know what happened to Chris Gaskin? Balrog used to appear on these lists of nordie blogs all the time but the site stopped being updated about a year ago. No goodbye or anything. How are we supposed to know what Willie Frazer is up to these days?

  9. Garibaldy said,

    September 4, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Did he not declare he needed a break after 10 years of hard activism, the poor soul was tired? I remember reading something along those lines. What about his religious blog (the flame of truth or something I think)? Is it still going?

  10. September 5, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Hard activism, Garibaldy? In Ógra Shinn Féin? I suppose painting letter boxes green does take its toll on the arms after a while. As for the religious blog, The Flame of Truth seems to have been extinguished after a mere four posts. That overt Catholic fundamentalism was an intriguing aspect of his posts (as were the slightly worrying remarks he had to make once about the travelling community in Ireland). He seemed to be from the Gerry McGeough wing of Provisional politics. I always had a feeling that Chris might have been in Ailtirí na hAiséirghe had he been around a few decades earlier!

    It is interesting to note that out of the top 20 blogs in Northern Ireland not one of them is being written by a member of the party that has topped the poll in the last two elections here. Is it just me or does that seem odd? Most parties on this island do seem to have at least one stand-out blogger. Perhaps all those years of following party lines has removed the capacity for independent thought from the minds of Provo rank-and-filers.

    • Garibaldy said,

      September 5, 2010 at 1:41 pm

      And yet considered himself strongly on the left. A strange mix. I guess though reading Connolly about painting postboxes green remains off the education programme. I take your point about the blogging, but I think it reflects a much more functionalist attitude towards it. A reflection of the attitude to politics more generally perhaps – pragmatic and not ideological.

    • Blissett said,

      September 18, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      ‘Most parties on this island do seem to have at least one stand-out blogger.’

      Really? I cant think of a single particularly interesting blogger from any of the main political parties north and south. What most parties do have is politicians who use blogs as a way of communicating with constituents etc, and have the occasional interesting piece.SF have a few of these, David Cullinane, Daithi mcKay, even Gerry A’s slightly folksy effort. I would include mcDevitt in that category, perhaps among the better of that category, but really not much.
      The best blogs come from people not in political parties, and the odd time in smaller parties. There is, imo two main reasons for this.
      No.1 They are more free to say as they wish, not suggesting that parties operate under any form of omerta, but generally speaking washing your linen in public is discouraged, and disagreements are better kept in house. Which does limit the interesting contributions one can make.
      No.2 people in political parties have other avenues for discussion and debate, summer schools, the likes of An Phoblacht indeed meetings themselves. So frustrations, opinions etc can be vented internally and construcively without damaging the party.
      Therefore party members have less incentive to blog, and generally write much less interesting blogs.
      I really struggle to think of these stand out bloggers…

    • Ramzi Nohra 1 said,

      October 13, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      I think thats a bit harsh on Chris. He did have at least some leftist opinions, and none that I saw that could be considered fascist. His opinion on “foreign affairs” were uniformly leftist IIRC. He spoke quite a bit on gender equality, and liberation theology.

      Although he did start that Catholic blog he had previously heavily critised the church. I was quite surprised to see him swing back behind the Church actually as he had at one point mused about the possibility of converting to Protestantism.

      His last few posts I believe talked about his work-load in his day job. I would imagine that time commitment has crowded out his blogging work.

      He also had the balls to put all his opinions out under his own name, unlike most on the blogosphere (including me!)

      “All those years of following party lines has removed the capacity for independent thought from the minds of Provo rank-and-filers”
      Yes indeed, unlike those free-spirit-let a thousand flowers bloom dudes of, say, the DUP and WP? 😉

  11. johng said,

    September 5, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Don’t know if you saw this:

    • shane said,

      September 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm

      A few errros in that:

      “from the outset, rearing generations of conformist, sexually repressed, authoritarian young men […]the students of Maynooth were being fed a philistine diet of papist apologetics and garbled chunks of scholasticism.”

      This is such a ridiculous and ignorant generalization I don’t even know where to begin, so I will instead direct people to read Maynooth College : its centenary history (1795-1895) by Archbishop Healy (it’s on

      “Catholics in Ireland were barred from Trinity College, Dublin, and the Queen’s Colleges, established by the British government to civilise the natives”

      TCD was indeed established by Queen Elizabeth to ‘civilise the natives’ but the same claim can hardly be sustained for the Queens Colleges – which were explicitly intended to give non-sectarian third level education (this is why the Young Irelanders supported them and the Catholic hierarchy condemned them at the Synod of Thurles). The ban on Catholics attending TCD was lifted in the mid-18th century though they were still banned from scholarships and professorships until 1873.

      TCD had an intimate relationship with the Anglican Church up until relatively recently, and Anglican seminarians studied there; some of its provosts (incl. Archbishop Bernard) and professors used their position for religious controversy (a favourite was arguing that the Church of Ireland was the true successor to the ancient Irish Church). Its ethos and atmosphere was thoroughly Anglican, liberal and anti-Catholic. It’s hardly surprising the Irish bishops were so averse to it.

      The Catholic University of Dublin was underfunded and Catholics as a whole much poorer than Protestants, but it still excelled disproportionately*. The establishment of the National University of Ireland (with UCD as a constituent) meant, in return for government funding, the banishment of theology, and the end of a specifically Catholic university in Ireland. Archbishop McQuaid often referred in his pastorals to the lack of a Catholic university and viewed this as an unsatisfactory grievance in a mostly Catholic country (Anglicans after all still had their divinity school at TCD).

      *From the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912:

      “The college had two purposes to fulfil; first, to show by its success in the competitive field that Irish Catholics had the material and capacity, given equal opportunity, to establish a university of their own upon the highest academic level; second, to afford a university training to young Irish Catholics, whom conscience prevented from availing of Trinity College, with its Protestant Episcopalian atmosphere, or of the Queen’s Colleges, with their secularist atmosphere. The first president of University College was Rev. William Delany, S.J. With an interval filled by Rev. Robert Carbery, S.J., Father Delany continued in office until the newcollege was founded. His colleagues of the Society at the beginning were Rev. Thomas Finlay, philosopher and economist, Rev. Denis Murphy, Irish historian, Rev. James J. O’Carroll, Gaelic scholar and linguist, Rev. Gerard Hopkins, Oxford Classicist and poet, and Rev. Robert Curtis, mathematician. Of Newman’s old guard and their first successors there still remained Thomas Arnold, son of the Master of Rugby, Robert Ornsby, the biographer of Hope Scott, James Stewart, a Cambridge rector who had followed Newman, John Casey, the Irish mathematician, Dr. John Egan, afterwards Bishop of Waterford, and Abbé Polin. Among the assistant professors selected by Father Delany were Mr. William J. Starkie, a Cambridge scholar, now Resident Commissioner of National Education, and Mr. (now Sir) Joseph Magrath, the present registrar of the National University. Father Delany began practically without endowment. The only public assistance received was indirect. Beaconsfield’s University Act empowered the senate of the Royal University to appoint Fellows, with a salary of 400 pounds a year out of the university revenues, on condition of their examining for the university and lecturing at certain assigned colleges. Fourteen Fellows, out of twenty-eight, were assigned to University College, the remainder to the Queen’s Colleges, already endowed to the extent of 12,500 pounds a year each. Two of the first Fellows were Jesuit Fathers; some years later the number was increased to five, and with their salaries the equipment and maintenance of the college were undertaken.

      […]Year by year the tabulated results of the examinations of the Royal University showed that the unrecognized Catholic University College was not only doing better than even the most successful of the well-endowed Queen’s Colleges, but that it was ever increasing its lead until it far out-distanced the three together. The following table shows the relative endowments of the colleges and the first-class distinctions won by each college in the year 1898 compared with those ten years later.

      University College, Dublin
      Endowments: £6,000
      Prizes and Honours (1898): 40
      Prizes and Honours (1908): 99

      Queen’s College, Belfast
      Endowments: £11,400
      Prizes and Honours (1898): 28
      Prizes and Honours (1908): 22

      Queen’s College, Galway
      Endowments: £11,400
      Prizes and Honours (1898): 5
      Prizes and Honours (1908): 5

      Queen’s College, Cork
      Endowments: £11,400
      Prizes and Honours (1898): 1
      Prizes and Honours (1908): 0

      In scholarship, in literature, in the public service, past students began to win honour for their college. Even in the department of scientific research, hampered as was the staff by lack of equipment, the work of Preston, M’Clelland, and Conway established the name of the college in the annals of scientific advance. Murphy’s work for Irish history, Hogan’s in the Irish language, and Finlay’s in the field of practical Irish economics were also far-reaching. An aim of Father Delany had been to train a thoroughly competent staff to meet the time when justice should be done and a wider field opened. This, too, was fulfilled; and the men selected for the first appointments to the chartered college by the commissioners entrusted with the work, unfettered though the commissioners were in their discretion, include, in all the chief departments, a large majority ofmen who had been educated in University College.

      […]All the other faculties are adequately provided for, and include arts, philosophy, Celtic studies (including archæology, history, and philology), science, law, medicine, and engineering. The staff consists of the president (Dr. D.J. Coffey, dean of the old successful medical school), forty-three professors, and eight lecturers. All the professors of philosophy are Catholics. The public endowment of the college is £32,000 a year and the total revenue in 1910-11 was £40,357. Six hundred and ninety-five students were in attendance in that year. The first plan of buildings provides for eight hundred students. One hundred and ten thousand pounds of public grant is available for their erection and equipment, but it willcertainly prove inadequate, and must be supplemented from either public or private sources. So far, though the college is open to all, ninety-eight per cent of the students are Catholics.”

  12. leftfooter said,

    September 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Eagleton is, or was, a Marxist. A thrilling credo for one’s teens, but for an adult?

    If he told me the time, I’d want a second opinion.

    • September 6, 2010 at 1:01 am

      Oh dear. I do love the serious Catholics and the serious Marxists who frequent this blog getting into Cult Wars. XD

  13. DG said,

    September 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Can’t someone take the NSS to court using hate crime legislation?

  14. Mick Hall said,

    September 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    “A thrilling credo for one’s teens, but for an adult?”

    That must be one of the more stale reactionary put-downs. In fact no self respecting young person should have enough spare time to trawl through Marx somewhat turgid prose. But when one get older they are well worth a read, as there is still much in them which helps us make sense of the world we live in.

    To dismiss Marx out of hand is as infantile as dismissing unread Keynes or Friedman. One does not have to agree with something to understand it has worth.

  15. leftfooter said,

    September 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Dear Mr Hall,

    Did I dismiss Marx ‘out of hand’? I did not.

    My remarks were directed at Marxism and Marxists, particularly the well-heeled academic sort

    I,too, read Marx’s Capital, a long time ago. I thought it (in translation), sometimes poetic, even thrilling.

  16. Gonzo said,

    September 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Well done Splintered. Well deserved on the Dale thing. I’ve taken a self-imposed sabbatical from Slugger for a while, so can claim no credit there, but have taken rather a shine to this blog (well, the political stuff. The religious stuff is outside my sphere of knowledge and interest!).

  17. Stephen Hero said,

    September 7, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Marx’s prose isn’t turgid!

  18. leftfooter said,

    September 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I remember “A spectre is haunting Europe…” – turgid it ain’t.

  19. Mick Hall said,

    September 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    “Marx’s prose isn’t turgid”

    OK, but I felt turgid had a nice ring to it, it sounded both pompous and just a tad catholic and gave the impression I understood what I was talking about. How about gruelling, will that pass your intellectual standards?

  20. leftfooter said,

    September 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Well, I’m Catholic and try hard not to be turgid.

    Sorry I spoke (shuffles away sobbing) to the euthanasium :- ).

  21. Mick Hall said,

    September 7, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Nice one 😉

  22. Doug said,

    September 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    What I’m (slightly) interested in knowing is how come you’ve changed from a socialist to hysterical apologist for Catholicism in the last few months. Started fancying the kiddies now have you?

    • Darius Jedburgh said,

      September 8, 2010 at 10:27 pm

      To adapt a comment I have made in a similar context…

      Good job you were careful not to make Mr Sunrise’s point for him, Doug. You might have come off looking like an idiot.

    • andy newman said,

      September 9, 2010 at 10:50 am

      If ever there was any doubt of how deep anti-Catholic prejudice is steeped into English culture, Doug has just dispelled thjose doubts.

      How can the Socialist party continue to allow someone to be a member who makes such comments that are blatently bigoted?

      • neilcaff said,

        September 9, 2010 at 2:15 pm

        Andy: I think the bad feeling between yourself and Doug stemming from your time together in the SWP way back when is clouding your judgement slightly. Doug is not representative of ‘English culture’ or the the Socialist Party.

        Doug: As a fellow Socialist Party member and as someone with parents who would have views on the Church not a million miles from Splintered’s that remark is completely unacceptable. You should withdraw it and apologise to the author.

  23. arf arf said,

    September 9, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I always had the impression that a safe career path for those who started fancying the kiddies was to enrol in a Trotskyist sect and start “orienting to revolutionary youth”. I wonder whether Doug could confirm that.

  24. Doug said,

    September 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Oh get off your high horse Newman. The point I’m making is quite clear – this blog has changed from one that was consistently one of the most interesting, entertaining and incisive left wing blogs to one that’s overwehelmingly crammed with absurd reactionary apologetics for the behaviour and remarks of the Catholic hierarchy and ridiculous accusations against any secular criticisms of religion. The idea of a rich and powerful organisation like the Catholic Church being portrayed as some sort of innocent, weak and defenceless victim of a nasty and unwarranted onslaught from the powerful forces of atheism is laughable.

    • Friend of Doug said,

      September 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      While he does not back down in his criticism of the pro-reactionary Catholic turn of this blog, Doug would like to withdraw the comment about ‘fancying the kiddies’, and apologise unreservedly for this remark (to Splinty and any others who were angered or offended by it), which was expressed in the heat of the moment as a result of frustration with some of the unfair criticisms of secularists that now seem prevalent on this blog. He won’t be posting on here again, which is why I post this on his behalf.

    • andy newman said,

      September 10, 2010 at 1:21 am


      I think the bad feeling between yourself and Doug stemming from your time together in the SWP way back when is clouding your judgement slightly.

      No, I don’t know Doug from Adam

      Doug your inference that Catholics are more inclined to paedophilia than other people is scandalaous; and I am disappointed that Neil tries to make light of it by implying my objection is in bad faith.

      • neilcaff said,

        September 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

        I’m hardly making light of it if I’m asking him to apologise.

        I am making light of your claim that he’s somehow representative of deep seated anti-Catholicism in English culture.

  25. arf arf said,

    September 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    “The point I’m making is quite clear”
    Indeed it is – that Catholicism is synonymous with paedophilia. I live in a heavily Catholic area where a Socialist Party candidate regularly runs for election. I should imagine the press and the local Labour Party would be interested in knowing whether this viewpoint is common with the SP.

  26. robert said,

    September 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Hopefully our host will give it a rest after the Pope’s visit. These Catholic posts are becoming a bit too much of a good thing.

    There’s always been Catholic posts on the blog and Splinty’s position hasn’t changed – he’s always been critical of the British and Irish hierarchy, sympathetic to Benedict and sympathetic to orthodoxy rather than trendy liberalism. I’m an atheist but I can’t see anything unreasonable in that.

    Your remark was well out of order Doug and you should be man enough to back down.

  27. Ex-Catholic said,

    September 10, 2010 at 5:06 am

    19) That’s true (though it is his blog so I guess he can write about whatever he wants). Still, there’s no need to make cracks about Catholics being paedophiles, is there?

    “If ever there was any doubt of how deep anti-Catholic prejudice is steeped into English culture”

    This, though, is a ridiculous overreaction. It’s a comment on a blog, not an Orange march.

    Anyway…. ““If children in Catholic schools cannot be told that the Church to which they belong opposes abortion, or regards sex outside marriage as wrong, or even that it officially disapproves of contraceptive and homosexual acts….”

    The Church is perfectly free to teach these things at church as Catholic doctrine. It has no right to teach homphobic bigotry or anti-abortion & anti-contraception propaganda (or for that matter, belief in God) as fact in schools. As if teenage boys in Britain aren’t generally homophobic enough, here’s the chaplain & the teacher to tell them that homosexuality is “unnatural” & “a sin”. It is ridiculous to be taught about genetic inheritance & the theory of evolution in biology classes, & then to have this contradicted by a ‘teacher’ who clearly doesn’t understansd it (“why are there still monkeys?”, for God’s sake!) in RE.

    Education should be secular. Children should be taught about religions (note the S) from a neutral position.

  28. Ex-Catholic said,

    September 10, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I mean, why not give them the chance to make up their own minds? If we had teachers saying to children that “religion is the opiate of the people, the sigh of the oppressed….” for 12 years you’d not be very happy about it, would you?

  29. leftfooter said,

    September 10, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I hope our host will keep up the good work.

  30. Edgar said,

    September 10, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Splintered – have you seen this? Good to have the measure of the movers and shakers in the No Popery brigade.

  31. Fr Paul said,

    September 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Well, I appreciate the Catholic comment. I do miss some of the political stuff though, and would welcome some posts linking the two – investigating how you can be truly Catholic and engaged on the left. I too am Ratzingerian in theology, without signing up to the reactionary extremism and crusading bigotry of some of the Catholic posters here. I do worry that Splinty increasingly seems to be pandering to the prejudices of the latter.

  32. September 10, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Doug, if you feel so aggrieved that Andy, Splinty and me have fallen into what you regard as renegacy, then why don’t you start blogging your ever so revolutionary views about everything? I’m sure it’d be a smash.

  33. shane said,

    September 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    At least Doug isn’t employed as a columnist in a mainstream newspaper (to my knowledge):

  34. robert said,

    September 11, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Well Julie Birchill is a nasty piece of work as well as being a rabid Zionist and had to back down having libelled Galloway. She’s no part of the left. Hari on the other hand is. I respect Hari even when I disagree with him. He was the only one of the Decents to accept reality when the Iraq war turned into a catastrophe and he did a serious mea culpa.

    • WorldbyStorm said,

      September 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

      Very much agree robert.

      Doug, that, as robert said earlier, was well out of order what you said about Splintered.

  35. Mick Hall said,

    September 11, 2010 at 11:44 am

    “Doug your inference that Catholics are more inclined to paedophilia than other people is scandalaous; and I am disappointed that Neil tries to make light of it by implying my objection is in bad faith.”

    On an individual level you are correct, but it does seem the Church of Rome, organizationally is more prone to employing paedophiles than most similar large organizations. The recent report into Belgian child abuse does seem to hold this up. As does the manner in which senior clergy covered these abuses up. The strategy of the current pope was once an abuser had confessed their criminal and abuse acts, and received absolution, that was that.

    Throughout his visits to the UK and Ireland, I personally hope his victims snap at the ankles of this obnoxious beast of a man.

    Matthew 19:15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

    • September 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

      “I personally hope his victims snap at the ankles of this obnoxious beast of a man. ”

      Yes, because Joey Ratzinger has been roaming around Europe personally raping children for fifty years?

  36. robert said,

    September 11, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    He (the pope) makes the profound error of equating criminal and deviant behaviour with “sin”, thus appealing to religious antidotes to salve the soul, rather than applying appropriate social and criminal justice measures.

    Catholic sexual morality has for centuries concerned itself with the state of the soul of the sinner rather than the consequences for the abused. Recourse to confession for sexual “sins” wipes the soul clean without consideration of the harm done to others. The holy father argues that penitential regimes create purity of heart in a potential perpetrator. He might as well recommend chemotherapy.

    The Catholic priesthood, its ethos and formation, is in need of root-and-branch inquiry. A married priesthood, and ordination for women as well as men, would be a start. Encouragement of mature, lasting friendships, a university-style education and on-the-job training, is essential. I don’t think it will happen under this pope.

    • September 12, 2010 at 10:35 am

      “A married priesthood, and ordination for women as well as men, would be a start.”

      See, I’ve never got that. Ian Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church allows women and married men to be ministers and preachers, but I don’t think they’re a healthier organisation.

      • robert said,

        September 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

        I disagree Doloras. Firstly while the Free Presbyterians may not be your cup of tea they don’t suffer from a major paedophile scandal as far as I’m aware.

        The Guardian article is wrong about women priests in that such a reform is not compatible with orthodoxy. But there’s no theological reason why priests shouldn’t be able to marry and the training regime in the seminarians certainly needs looking at.

        Apart from anything else in many countries there’s a serious shortage of priests and they may be forced to relax the celibacy rule to avoid dying out.

        The distinction between sin and crime is key. The Church prime concern is absolving sinners so as to protect them from consequences in the hereafter. This makes them less concerned than they should be about consequences in the real world. Indeed there’s some evidence that fear of the hereafter makes behaviour worse rather than better. In Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock the gangster Pinkie is a devout Catholic and is convinced he’s damned so he might as well persue a vicious life of crime being doomed anyway.

        I can see why confession needs to remain secret between the priest and the confessor but if a sinner is not prepared to confess to the secular authorities and accept his punishment the priest should tell him he hasn’t truly repented and refuse confession. Repentence should involve atonement, at least for a sin as heinous as child abuse.

      • shane said,

        September 12, 2010 at 7:08 pm

        “they don’t suffer from a major paedophile scandal as far as I’m aware.”

        The Free P’s are very small but have still suffered from numerous sex scandals, but very few get the same publicity – aside from the Toronto case.

        “Why did the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and North America, under the leadership of Ian Paisley, Alan Cairns and Frank McClellan, fail to report the sexual abuse of a 13 year old girl by several of its men? Why did they take the shocking decision to blame her for the abuse, and to label her as an “adulteress”, even though she was beneath the age of consent? BBC Spotlight’s ‘Burning Secret’, screened in June 2006, investigates this disturbing story, and features interviews with a Detective from the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit, church leaders Frank McClellan and David Brame and an attempted interview with a reluctant and evasive Ian Paisley.”

      • shane said,

        September 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

        This Baptist abuse victim and campaigner points to the disparity in church records kept by the Cathlic Church and other institutions. Basically the Catholic Church requires bishops to keep elaborate records on priests. Police are then able to mine through these records and assess how abusers were dealt with. The same facility is not available with other institutions, especially given that almost all priestly abuse happened decades ago. In fact I remember reading that the Irish Department of Education still refuses to hand over documents relating to ‘historical’ incidents of abusive teachers.

      • shane said,

        September 12, 2010 at 7:27 pm

        As you’ll see from the second link, it appears, at least in the US, that abuse incidents are higher in Protestant churches than the Catholic Church – it’s just the same facility to mine through historic records is not available.

        Patricia Casey, Professor of Psychiatry at University College Dublin and consultant psychiatrist in the Mater Hospital, Dublin , also wrote an article in the Irish Independent on the culpability of psychiatrists, particularly their role in advising bishops to move on abusive priests to new parishes (whereas, as the Murphy Report pointed out, Catholic canon law required them to be defrocked).

    • RJ said,

      September 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      mature lasting friendships, a university-style education and on-the-job training are very much on the agenda in priestly formation these days. I have some idea of what I am talking about, having been through such a programme myself.
      Hopefully, mature friendship can be compatible with non-sexual relationships?

  37. Mick Hall said,

    September 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm



  38. September 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Can someone please explain to me the assumptions behind the whole “celibate = child rapist” thing? As if married men never did any such thing?

    • robert said,

      September 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      With regard to catholic practises not being responsible for child abuse, there is a theory that sticking boys and girls in seminaries and convents from a young age and enforcing upon them a doctrinally justified celibacy arrests their sexual devolopment which means they find it much easier to identify sexually with children rather than with adults. It might be worthwhile remembering that nuns were responsible for rape and abuse, too.

  39. CharliueMcMenamin said,

    September 13, 2010 at 11:13 am

    A few observations:

    Shane, that Baptist survivor does not say that child abuse is more common in Protestant denominations – the piece suggests ,as your first post correctly inferred, that this is unknowable.(As an aside, I note that Wikipedia suggests that Protestants represents over half the American population whilst Catholics represent under a quarter, so you’d expect a greater number of any kinds of problem in absolute terms to pop up in the Protestant population, other things being equal). Most pertinently, the piece says,“Clergy sex abuse is a scourge that knows no bounds of theology or denomination. Regardless of who may have a bigger number, clergy sex abuse is a serious problem for all faith groups”.

    Secondly, as an atheist, I get a bit uneasy about suggesting to Catholics their priests should be married, or female or whatever. Perhaps they should be, but it is surely for people of that faith to make that decision, not the rest of us.

    But where am I am more than happy to say insist things mustchange in all religious organisations is on Robert’s key point: the difference between sin and crime. Religious organisations have the right to declare any kind of behaviour they choose as sin and to devise appropriate theological punishments. What they don’t have the right to do is ignore or cover up actions which democratic states have decided are crimes. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s..” is the motto we must remind the Christian denominations of: child abuse is a crime, one that the secular authorities have an absolute duty to investigate and stop – a duty which all of us, religious and atheist, clergy and laity, have a duty to co-operate with.

  40. servingblogger said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:21 am






    PLEASE !

  41. Friend of Doug said,

    September 16, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Rather dishonestly and disingenuously, the host has deleted a comment by myself relaying a retraction and apology for the specific comment made by Doug. I make this comment to record this fact.

  42. robert said,

    September 17, 2010 at 12:27 am

    What an interesting visit compared with the previous Popeye.

    On the one side, Papa Popeye – beatifying a man who questioned authority and wanted Popes to die early; comparing the UK to a third world country (how dare he, sir, how dare he!!); making blatant appeals to Scottish nationalism; proclaiming that Christianity when opposed must take the offensive.

    see for Benedict as the best-dressed liar in the world

    On the other side, assorted Guardian atheists standing for equality, democracy, human rights,with Stephen hawking bouncing back and forth like a yoyo in his claims tho show by equations and hypotheses that there is no God, er, there is a god, er there is no God. Richard Dawkins asks people to enjoy the world as it is, not a fantasy world to come (Prof Dawkins is not living on benefits). A very well-heeled Scotswoman tells BBC that two million Scots are happy without God. Peter Tatchell does a hatchet job misinforming us about the evil Benedict – a head of a new Inquisition, presiding over the coverup of a legalised pedophile ring and plotting to deny the holocaust – he is a German innit?

    Result – Benedict is the better-dressed liar. And a militant offensive by the Church is not good news for abortion and gay rights, but probably – hopefully – won’t have much impact in the UK. The Pope is a formidable intellectual, a centrist not a concservative, rejects biblical inerrancy, and endorses the historical-critical school. But he also endorses the hurtful and dangerous policies of sexual repression, attacking gay rights, abortion, contraception.

    So what is the stand of another German – Herr Marx?

    The bombastic atheists are not new. In Germany in the 1830s and 40s, a group called the Left Hegelians furiously denounced religion. David Strauss’s Life of Jesus (1835) started the ball rolling in his discussion of Jesus as just a bloke, not the Son of God, Feuerbach argued God was created by man, not the other way round, while Bruno Bauer was scabrous in his attacks on religion. He saw Christianity as the culmination of human slavery, a “subhuman” distortion of humanity, “the last enemy of mankind…the unman, the spiritual irony of mankind, the inhumanity that man has committed against himself”. Heady stuff, and a youthful Engels was particularly impressed.

    Not so Herr Marx, who moved towards socialist ideas instead. It wasn’t God who was the enemy, but social conditions, and religion was seen in much more sophisticated terms than those presented by the bombastic atheists.

    In distancing himself from a group he satirically called the Holy Family, Marx didn’t move towards faith or away from faith. He moved outside faith, claiming in the Paris Ms that a Creator lay outside the realm of human proof, and that it didn’t matter anyway. Marx didn’t see religion as evil, or subhuman. He saw it as the heart of a heartless world, the opiate of the masses – life was too miserable and short, social change was cut off, so people turned to the only heart and love they could find on offer – the Church.

  43. charliethechulo said,

    September 19, 2010 at 2:34 am

    Bring back Doug: a rational voice in this sewer of Catholicism.

  44. September 20, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Okay, it’s all over now, yeah?
    From “across the pond”, not such a bad thing now, was it?
    The Beautification Mass…okay…not up to par; compared with Westminster Cathedral (the Gregorian chant…awesome…the polyphony…equally as awesome).
    Did they “hamstring the Oratorians” for the horrid altar space?
    But the music, and Latin, overall, compared to HH’s visit to the USA (horrid!) was much, much better…yeah, that’s my take on it.

  45. September 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    […] tag this person, this person, this person, this person, this person and this person (I just copied Phil tbh) for this reason, […]

  46. September 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    […] tag this person, this person, this person, this person, this person and this person (I just copied Phil tbh) for this reason, […]

  47. robert said,

    September 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I know many in the Communist Party abandoned Marxism long ago, but Marxists have never claimed to be ’secularists’; they simply agree with some secularists on the need for the separation betwen Church and State, a key democratic demand.

    But Marxists also understand the roots of religiosity in a way that secularists do not. Just look at their behaviour in recent days. This wasn’t a campaign in favour of gay rights, nor women’s reproductive rights, nor for justice for victims of child abuse. There was no broad mobilisation of these forces on these issues- they were anti-Catholic demonstrations pure and simple, bundling all these legitimate issues up in an anti-Papist tirade. Above all it stygmatised a minority in society (they are ovewhelmingly workers and he poor), a campaign to make them feel alien.

    Predictably, it is the rightwing press, including the Daily Mail, which leaps to the defence of the Pope’s reactionary social views, and thereby attempts to build an alliance with Caholic communities in Britain on a reactionary basis, as Reagan did. The protestors have helped them.

    The Marxist approach begins from an understanding that it is oppression that makes the oppressed seek a better world. What all religions have in common is that they simultaneously provide and divert that yearning into mysticism and, more ofen than not, postpone that desire to the hereafter. With very few exceptions they preach acceptance of the status quo.

    Socialists should take a very different approach to the one outlined here (Catholic adoption agencies cannot be compelled to stay open). We should welcome the religious diversity already achieved, which is registered by a Papal visit, and argue that it should go further, by removing the privileges of the established Church of England especially with regard to its legislative powers and landholdings. Catholics should be engaged in debate on the basis of their disregard for Papal teachings on abortion, contracepion, gay rights, which they overwhelmingly flout. And argue for equal treatment for non-believers, ie paticularly the abolition of denominational teaching in our schools.

  48. shadrach said,

    September 23, 2010 at 2:37 am

    I miss splintered sunrise. Time to come back?

  49. Dan said,

    September 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Where’s Splinty these days? Did he go and join Opus Dei?

  50. Invocante said,

    September 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    “here’s tae us…..” splinty are ye deid? Why the long delay in posting? Will ye no cam back again?

  51. chjh said,

    September 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Maybe he’s been taken up by the rapture…

  52. robert said,

    September 28, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Bring back Splinty, all is forgiven…

  53. September 30, 2010 at 1:51 am

    What the hell?
    Did you go “on holiday”?
    Get back to us, man!!
    I’m dying’ here (even if in the US!):-)!

  54. BenSix said,

    September 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Splintered Sunrise, 3 years and 9 months old, was last seen following Terry Sanderson, wielding an electric razor…

  55. robert said,

    October 1, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    RIP Splintered Sunrise you legend

  56. andy newman said,

    October 14, 2010 at 12:47 am

  57. CharlieMcMenamin said,

    October 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    You’ve been quiet a long while now.

    If it is a health or personal circumstances thing – we’re all with you.Come back when you can. Life is more important than blogging.

    If it is a ‘just-running-out-of-things-to-say’ thing then you’re plum wrong, you’ve got lots of interesting things to say. Perhaps we all just need to find more interesting ways to disagree with you…

  58. Phil said,

    October 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    He still seems to be out there, and doesn’t sound too distraught.

    Another vote for you to come back to the blog, Splinty!

  59. Paschal said,

    October 29, 2010 at 12:08 am

    One for the road on the United Left Alliance and then we will leave you in peace.

  60. Maureen O'Brien said,

    November 13, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I miss you

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