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English columnist disputes Weigel's view of Irish anti-Catholicism

August 04, 2011

William Oddie of London's Catholic Herald objects to a recent column in which George Weigel referred to Ireland today as the "epicenter of European anti-Catholicism."

The flaw in Weigel’s article is very obvious: to be anti-clerical isn’t necessarily to be anti-Catholic….To be strongly disenchanted with your own bishops is hardly to be anti-Catholic (and it may indicate precisely the reverse).

Oddie argues that while the Irish public is outraged by reports of sexual abuse, that outrage is fueled by moral standards based on Catholic morality. Moreover, he observes, "The child abuse scandals themselves have brought no decline in Mass attendance."

Actually, the decline in Mass attendance--which has been dramatic--began long before the revelations of sexual abuse. So while that decline cannot be attributed to the abuse scandal, it remains undeniable evidence of a decline in Catholic influence in Ireland.


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  • Posted by: Steve214 - Aug. 04, 2011 5:37 PM ET USA

    The major problem with Mr. Oddie's article is that anti-clericalism is functionally anti-Catholicism. If a statement is not anti-Catholic, then upon closer examination you will find that it is not actually anti-clerical. The problem with Mr. Wiegle's article is that he made observations about traditionally Catholic cultures in the wake of Vatican II with other countries--which often faired even worse.