The Brandsma Review on modern Ireland
The Brandsma Review is a bimonthly Irish Catholic periodical that has been running since 1992. Peadar Laighléis, president of the Latin Mass Society of Ireland, took over as editor of the publication from Nick Lowry at the beginning of this year. The March-April edition should be out at the end of this month and can be purchased in Veritas on Lower Abbey Street in Dublin. The Review is always a stimulating read and is one of the few organs in Irish society articulating an orthodox Catholic perspective on all important aspects of social life. It needs and deserves the support of every Irish Catholic interested in a renewal of the faith in Ireland.
Peadar sketched an outline of his editorial policy in this year’s January-February issue:
Like most Brandsma Review readers, I am sad to see Nick Lowry’s retirement, but whatever gifts Nick has, eternal youth is not one. As a result, the BR must either replace him or fold. I know Nick’s last editorial (as editor — he is not about to vanish from the Review) enumerated how far the situation in Ireland deteriorated since the first Brandsma in June-July 1992. It is because the situation has got worse that this magazine has to keep going.
I have been a reader of the Review since its first issue and a contributor since the fourth. I have been involved in the editorial team since 1997. This is the experience I am bringing to the BR. My editorial policy is very simply summarised in the masthead “Pro Vita, Pro Ecclesia Dei et Pro Hibernia”.
“Pro Vita” speaks for itself. One of the catalysts to establish the Review was the X-Case. Since then the situation in Ireland regarding abortion has been precarious and I have no idea whose intercession is responsible for preserving the island from this evil, but I do not ascribe it to any human force. Meanwhile, one is obliged to be vigilant on the other end of human life as momentum behind euthanasia and assisted suicide gathers.
“Pro Ecclesia Dei” has general and specific meanings. Simply, it means “for the Church of God” to which this Review is committed, notwithstanding criticism of clergy and religious of all levels within our Church. The legend also refers to Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, which called on bishops to apply generously the provisions of the 1984 indult in relation to the 1962 liturgical books. Summorum Pontificum has superseded this and the situation of the extraordinary form has improved dramatically since 1992, even if there is much work to be done. The BR totally supports the wider Benedictine liturgical and theological reform and this will be represented in the Review’s pages.
“Pro Hibernia” is the most contentious arm of the Review’s masthead. Very little about contemporary Ireland seems to justify robust patriotism, but that does not eliminate the need for a strong sense of who and what we are. Much material has been written on the media’s hostility to the Church. If this feeds on considerable internal anti-Catholicism, one source among the Irish intelligentsia is a sense of shame of being Irish. Media hibernophobia shows up in other ways too. Just as the post-conciliar crisis served to undermine the sense of Catholic identity worldwide, the reaction of the Irish government to the Northern Irish troubles served to undermine the sense of national identity in Ireland. I agree with the analysis that teaching of history in independent Ireland between 1922 and 1970 left much to be desired. I can accept that there were flaws in pre-conciliar catechetics. However, since the 1970s, Catholic Irish children have come out of school with little to no knowledge of the faith and a similar deficit in regard to their own culture. For the majority, this is no defence against consumerism and globalisation. For a minority, it serves an entry point to extremism in either direction. This is not unique to Ireland, but I believe it to be worse here than elsewhere on either side of the Atlantic. It is hard to know if there is a solution to this, but that does not preclude seeking one.