Editorial from Church & State, Summer 2009 (Number 97)
The Road To The Industrial Schools
The Church is now in official disgrace. It is berated by the media which not very long ago refused to engage in conflict with it. The leader of the Opposition says that, if elected, he will set out to bankrupt it. And the democracy is being encouraged to denounce it in terms which suggest that the Church existed apart from the democracy with which it was in fact closely interwoven, and that it oppressed the democracy.
We pioneered open criticism of the role of the Catholic Church in Irish society back in the 1960s when the Irish Times did not want to hear such things any more than the devout Irish Independent of those times—yes, the Independent was once the devout paper of Irish society. But now, with the Church in official disgrace, we feel that it is more to the point to recall some indisputable historical facts than to contribute our mite to denunciation long after the event. If the democracy feels the need to absolve itself by pretending that the Church with which it was interwoven existed over against it and oppressed it, so be it. But we feel no need to make that pretence. And we suspect that a large part of the democracy does not mislead itself in the matter either.
The abuse of children in care is not a particularly Irish or a particularly Catholic phenomenon. If it owes something to Rome it also owes much to London. London set out to destroy Catholicism in Ireland. What it destroyed after many centuries of effort was the very old and very human distinctive Catholicism of the Irish. It then facilitated the introduction of full Roman discipline into Ireland, while in Catholic States that was not allowed. And the establishment of Roman discipline was curiously inter-twined with the assertion of Victorian values. London then sought to use this Romanised and Victorianised Church as an instrument of its rule in Ireland, and as a restraint on national political development.
When developments connected with the Great War led to the democratic assertion of Irish independence in the 1918 Election, and London continued to rule Ireland by force, and the Irish resisted by force, the Church did not support the Irish resistance or recognise the elected Irish Government as legitimate. The Irish resistance continued despite condemnations and decrees of excommunication by Bishops. When Britain offered a measure of self-government under the authority of the Crown, with the threat of unrestrained warfare if the offer was refused, and manipulated those who accepted the offer into making war on those who rejected it, the Church hierarchy threw its weight behind those who bowed to the British ultimatum. The Republicans were excommunicated by the Church and were crushed by the Treatyites using weaponry supplied by London.
The Treatyites depended heavily on the Church hierarchy during and after the so-called Civil War of 1922-3, and the Church/State combination that prevailed for many decades was established in that period.
What fell apart during the past generation was the Church/State relationship established in the 'Civil War' context when those who undertook to establish a state on the authority of the Crown were heavily dependent on the support of the Church hierarchy. There is no reason to suppose that there would have been a relationship of that kind if the elected Sinn Fein Government of 1919 had been recognised by Britain; or if Britain, having partitioned Ireland in June 1921, had submitted to the overwhelming demand for independence in the 26 Counties.
The resurgence of Republicanism in 1932 amended the Treaty State in its grosser aspects, but the damage done internally by the breaking of the Republican dynamic by the Treaty War was not easily remedied.
Contents of Number 97
The Road To The Industrial Schools.
Some Ulster Social History.
Sullivan's Soup (Poem).
Darwin And The Origin Of Species.
Religion And The Descent Of Darwin.
Kenya: Rape And Mutilation (Lest We Forget, Hiden History, No. 5).
Scottish Nationalism And The Catholics.
The Bloody Irish Times.
Devlin In Dublin (Part 3 of series).
Marked For Life (Poem).
The Black Man.
To The Blacksmith.
Lifted / Tiocfaidh Ár Lá (Poems).
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