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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
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The Irish government vs. the Vatican: opinion roundup

July 22, 2011

David Quinn, the most perceptive Catholic observer of Church affairs in Ireland today, has been working overtime in response to the latest public assaults on the Vatican.

Writing for the Irish Catholic, Quinn compares the fury of the current Irish government with the ardor of the Jacobins, warning that the Vatican is always the main target when zealots grow angry with the Church. Then following up quickly in the Irish Independent, he points out that the government’s denunciations of the Vatican are out of date, in light of reforms during the current pontificate.

Paddy Agnew of the Irish Times is not often a defender of Vatican policies, but he too sees the government’s criticisms as going too far. “There are many people in the Holy See, starting with Pope Benedict himself and working down to his senior spokesman, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, who most keenly understand the critical nature of the child abuse crisis,” he writes. Others may still resist true reform, he concedes, but even Pope Benedict has quoted the thoughts of his favorite Irish prelate, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, in discussing the topic.

From London’s Catholic Herald, William Oddie adds the observation that while the government is anxious to condemn the Vatican in the aftermath of the Cloyne report, that report itself finds that Bishop John Magee deliberately misled Vatican officials about his handling of abuse complaints. So the blame rightly falls on the bishop—who has since resigned—rather than the Holy See.

And Kevin Myers, also in the Irish Independent criticizes the irate speech by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, saying that it sounded “like a particularly enraged caller to a phone-in radio programme.” Such a speech, shedding heat rather than light, adds little to the public understanding of the problem, Myers argues. Lamenting the opportunistic attacks on Catholic influence in Ireland, he reaches a somber conclusion:

As an opponent of the political power of the Catholic Church all my adult life, I will just say this. The nuns of Ireland ran our hospitals with greater efficiency than the HSE, and at far less cost. The Celtic Tiger was made possible by a conservative educational system that was largely the creation of the Catholic Church. Tens of thousands of Irish people became priests, brothers and nuns, in the fond and fervent expectation that they would be serving God and the needs of others, not themselves or their own appetites. As the cataclysm of hate, hysteria and humbug washes the Catholic Church out of our lives, it is worth remembering those basic truths.

CWN editor Phil Lawler has contributed his own thoughts on "Why the Irish government attacks the Catholic Church" in an On the News commentary today.


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  • Posted by: - Jul. 22, 2011 5:53 PM ET USA

    I've been waiting for the outrage from Catholics: it seems minimal. Sad.