Category Archives: Mother and Child Scheme

The Winnowing of the Wheat from the Chaff


The following article was published in Church and State magazine, First Quarter, 2010.


The Fall of the Irish Catholic Church: Part 2 by Julianne Herlihy

The notion of race was even more to the fore in the thought of the eugenicists, an influential current of opinion in the birth control movement of the 1920’s, as also, in child welfare. Under the optic of ‘race hygiene’, the poor were mental and moral defectives, a hereditary selection of the unfit—the ‘sub-normal types’ who fascinated the imagination of inter-war social investigators—and whose compulsory sterilisation a Parliamentary Commission in 1933 was solemnly pondering“.
(Patriotism: The Making And Unmaking Of British National Identity. Vol. 11: Minorities and Outsiders. Ed. by Raphael Samuel. Routledge. London & New York.1989.)

For us—for the Catholic Church—there is a feeling of deep-seated hatred—a feeling that lies as deep as the gravel bottom over which London stands. It seems it is an English feeling—hatred of Catholicity… This bitter dislike… shows itself everywhere… and it burns with a malignant, sulphurous flame … a Catholic Priest is like the prowling wolf or the crafty fox, and a show of millions of hands would be uplifted at any hour to banish us out of the country, if the thing were possible.
(The Great Link. Canon Bernard Bogan. London. 2nd Edition. 1958.)

Reading the newspapers over the last few weeks in Ireland and listening to the commentariat howling outrage at the Church was rather like the experiences encapsulated in the above quotations.

From the media to the Dail, there was no attempt at objectivity; only the most toxic quotient fell upon our ears. When the good and elderly Bishop Willie Walshe of Killaloe referred to a “public trial of Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick” (79 years old) on an RTE Radio programme, he was immediately called to book by The Irish Times. Next day they revealed “that in a sometimes emotional interview… he accepted that he now realised “my interview caused a lot of offence and maybe I used words which weren’t appropriate but it’s not in my nature to make a judgement on anyone. I am too well aware of my own frailties. I accept the fact that I may not have put the case well”…”.

During the year, we had the international scandal of the Swiss seizing the great film Director Roman Polanski on an outstanding warrant that the United States had out on him since he fled from their jurisdiction some thirty years ago. He was up on charges which were admitted— that he had drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. He fled to a very forgiving Europe before the trial started and has remained mainly in France since with
his second family. Now the Swiss have him tagged in his multi-million chalet after releasing him from custody but awaiting execution of the warrant. All of liberal America is horrified at the Swiss burgers. Whoopie Goldberg, an Oscar-winning actress said: “It wasn’t rape, rape.” From the 1 in 4 and other campaigning children’s right’s groups here, as well as the all powerful Rape Crisis Centre—there has been not a peep.
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