Category Archives: Media Archives

Impressions of Ireland (1913)


(h/t Spirit of Vatican II: In Newman’s Wake: Ernesto Buonaiuti and the Development of Doctrine)

Animosities In A Vacuum

by Brendan Clifford,
Church and State; Third Quarter, 2008

Oxford University was appealed to by Raymond Crotty (founder of the Irish Sovereignty Movement) to take Ireland in hand intellectually, because the Irish were unable to think for themselves. It has now published a volume on Ireland as part of its Oxford History Of Modern Europe. But, alas, it farmed out the work of writing it to a Stickie academic, who was a political adviser to David Trimble during the years when Trimble was leading the Ulster Unionist Party to disaster, and who has now joined his leader in the House of Lords.
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The Jesuits In America: Life Magazine, October 11th, 1954

Click here to read (for an index of the priests mentioned see: Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit)

Click here to read the inaugural issue of America magazine, April 17th, 1909

1641: Some Context


by Pat Muldowney,
Church and State; First Quarter, 2011

Historic massacres have been in the news recently. Large numbers of British Protestant settlers were killed in horrific circumstances by hordes of rebellious natives in a frenzy of religious hatred. This despite the fact that the settlers, whatever their faults, were bringing civic values, industry, modernity and progress to an antiquated country mired in backwardness and superstition.

In the ensuing chaos, order was finally restored by a determined military campaign in which the Irish Brigadier- General John Nicholson played a leading part, but at the cost of his own life.
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1641: The Massacre Propaganda

by Brendan Clifford,
Church and State; First Quarter, 2011

Almost fifty years ago I spent a month in isolation in a remote and English part of England, called Winchester, with nothing to do and nothing to read except a volume of Edmund Spenser’s Poems that somehow came to hand. I read it because it was there, and nothing else was there. And so I read about the Fairy Queen, who never actually appears in that never-ending poem with her name to it as far as I recall, and about Knights and Ladies and Chivalry and the Blatant Beast and other strange creatures that lurk in the undergrowth of the English mind. And I got to know about Colin Clout’s Homecoming to Buttevant, which had been cleared of the Irish so that Greek Nymphs and Shepherds might play in it, and Greek goddesses along with them, but no gods that I recall. And then I was released from captivity and promptly forgot about Spenser, except to wonder occasionally how that bizarre poem, afflicted with uncoordinated gigantism, remained in print.

For remain in print it did. And Senator Harris has fallen down on the task he has set himself, because I have not heard yet that he has hailed it as the great Irish poem to whose influence we should all submit ourselves in order to be re-created and saved.
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Vatican II and the Crisis of Confusion in American Catholicism

Donald J. Thorman: “It seems to me that if labels are useful, the one I’d have to pin on today’s laity: The Uncertain Catholic. The characteristic note of today’s American Catholic is confusion, indecision; we are treading water, waiting, wondering what is going to happen next. This is the age of the question mark. We no longer feel certain we have all the answers to all of men’s problems. We are no longer certain if we know all the right questions.” (America, Jan. 14, 1967, p.39)

Celledoor Miscellany has reposted these historic articles from back issues of Life magazine, which I highly commend to your attention. They give a vivid insight into the collapse of the ecclesiastical ancien régime following the Second Vatican Council and the internal turmoil facing the Church in the United States. Overall they make for very depressing reading.

I recently happened upon a succinct but comprehensive little booklet, concerning the same theme, entitled Keeping Your Balance in the Modern Church by Fr. Hugh J. O’Connell, C.SS.R., PhD. It was published in 1968 by Liguorian Pamphlets and bears the imprimatur of the Archbishop of St Louis, John J. Carberry. (Interestingly my pamphlet is also signed in pen by the conservative Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin.) It is a must read for any Catholic who has ever asked himself: ‘How did everything that was so good get so bad?’ While Fr. O’Connell’s pamphlet is largely specific to the American situation, it seems to me that strong parallels existed between all the churches of the English-speaking countries. All these local churches were dominated by Irish immigrants or their descendants in countries which had remained unconquered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and where there existed no serious prospect of a communist takeover. None of these characteristics hold true for the countries of the Rhine basin, whose prelates led the push for change in the Church at the Second Vatican Council. Furthermore all the English-speaking local churches were known to have exhibited comparatively less enthusiasm for the pre-conciliar ressourcement and liturgical movements while (or perhaps because) they were still able to boast of high levels of Mass attendance, vocations, popular catechetical knowledge and devotional practice.

Fr. O’Connell contends that the American Catholic Church was caught off guard by the Second Vatican Council:

The Church in North America — laity, priests, nuns and even bishops — was almost completely unprepared for the way things turned out at Vatican Council II. This was the result of a number of factors.

1) Americans had remained relatively untouched by World War II. They experienced little of the ferment and unrest, the need to reassert the value of the individual person, which in Europe flowed from the struggle against Nazism and Fascism.

2) Americans, including theologians and bishops, had little or no acquaintance with the new personalist and existentialist philosophy. This had been developed in Europe, chiefly outside the church. Introduced by certain European theologians, this philosophy exerted a powerful influence on the deliberations of Vatican II and on Catholic life and teaching since the Council.

3) American Catholics were for the most part unaware of the writings of Protestant theologians, both orthodox and liberal. The ecumenical temper of the times brought these ideas to the attention of Catholic theologians, particularly in Germany, France and Holland.

Fr. O’Connell believes that the breakdown of theological censorship has facilitated doctrinal dissent and spread confusion among ordinary lay Catholics:

A good many of the religious problems of the average Catholic laymen, priests and nuns, who make no claim to be specialists or scholars, stem from the new air of freedom of theological thought and discussion resulting from Vatican II.

[…] The great danger, as every reasonable man must recognize, is that freedom brings with it the possibility that it will be abused. In the days before Vatican II, there was actually a very considerable amount of theological speculation and innovation; there were battles quite as heated as those going on today. The only difference was that such ideas were quietly presented in theological journals, and were subjected by experts to analysis and investigation, to weighing of reasons pro and con, to a more or less general acceptance or rejection by qualified theologians before they ever came to public attention.

Moreover, among Catholics the shock of new religious ideas on the minds of those who were not experts was cushioned by the censorship of books and articles and by the index of prohibited books. Before a book treating on religion could be published by a Catholic, it had to be submitted for censorship in order to obtain an imprimatur. If the book was considered to contain opinions contrary to Catholic doctrine, to the decrees of the Holy See, or even too wild and revolutionary, permission to print would be denied. To the liberal, who claimed the right to make up his own mind about religious truth, such censorship was intolerable. To the person who felt no competence to judge between truth and error in complex religious questions, it was a comfort.

Fr. O’Connell is convinced that the actual documents of the Second Vatican Council are capable of an orthodox interpretation, though a tinge of regret for their formulation is easily discernible. He likens the conciliar Fathers’ critical adoption of personalism to St. Augustine’s critical use of Plato or St. Thomas Aquinas’ blending of Aristotelian philosophy with Christian revelation.

Then came Vatican II. We have described how the North European group of bishops, headed by Germany and France, exerted a dominant influence in the Council. Moreover, their theologians wrote the revised versions of the more important schemas which served as basis of discussion in the Council. As a result, these schemas reflected a strong tone of personalism.

Of course, as was mentioned before, these documents were debated by bishops of every caste of mind. Some of the schemas were sent back for correction four or five times. The final version blended both the new personalism and the traditional acceptance of objective truth.

The Rise and Fall of the Catholic Church in Ireland

The following is an editorial from Church and State magazine (the organ of the old Campaign to Seperate Church and State), January, 2010:

The Age Of My Craven Deference Is Finally Over.” That was the headline on Professor Ronan Fanning’s article on the Murphy Report (Sun. Independent, 6 Dec.). Well, it was almost the headline. Fanning used the collective “our” rather than the personal “my”. But in the case of the Professor of Modern History at the chief College of the National University the personal and the collective merge. The Professor (singular) determines in great part what characterised the plurality of those who went through the educational system to its highest level.

It became well known to us long ago that the paid intelligentsia of the state were craven in their attitude towards the Church. They were sceptics in private but were cynically respectful in public, because they were craven.
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Anonymous Seminarians Criticise Maynooth

click above to expand and read in full (pdf)

The above article was published in the current Catholic Voice weekly newspaper. I have tippexed out some names.

Architecture and the Liturgy: A Frightening Insight into Post-Conciliar Iconoclasm

Note: This pamphlet was published in 1967 and is posted here for historical reasons only. Readers disposed to high blood pressure are advised to refrain from reading it.

The Roots of Liberal Theology

This essay was written by Rev. Thomas Slater, S.J. and published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, January, 1907.

One who has been brought up in the old system of theology, and whose reading has for the most part been confined to its accredited exponents, is puzzled and distressed when he opens a volume of the new liberal theology. He had been taught that theology is a deductive science, and that in the drawing out of theological conclusions from the divinely revealed premises, great weight must be given to the authority of the Church, to whose safe keeping the deposit of religious truth was entrusted by God.

The new liberal theology shows scant courtesy to tradition, it criticises the teaching Church, and it appeals for its warrant in so doing to scientific convictions, to religious consciousness, and religious experience. It proclaims aloud that the human mind is necessarily progressive, that to live is to move, while the theologians stagnate in the ever recurring round of barren logical deductions from the same worn out formulas. Those formulas did well enough for the time when they were framed, they satisfied a want of the human mind, but a new age like ours must re-interpret for itself in language that it can understand the ever-living truths of religion. The old apologetic, with its elaborate proofs from miracles and prophecies, was framed on wrong lines, more calculated to produce a religious sceptic than a believing Christian. Religion is not so much a matter of the intellect, nor is it susceptible of demonstration, it belongs rather to the affective part of our nature, to the feelings and to the will. Hence the new interest in mysticism which we see manifested on all sides.

These are some of the characteristics of the new liberal theology, whose main object is to re-interpret Christian truth in the light and for the needs of the present day. In the books and magazine articles where liberal Catholics give expression to these views there is no attempt made to establish them, or even to indicate clearly the grounds on which they rest. The effect produced on the reader is one of uneasiness and bewilderment. The truth is, that the hidden principles on which those views rest are antagonistic to Catholic truth. They are drawn directly or indirectly from a new science which in its principles and in their application is subversive of Catholic doctrine. This new science has received various names, but in England it is commonly called the Science of Religion or Religions.

I propose in this paper to sketch in outline the main features of this new science, and then we shall be better able to form a correct estimate of Catholic liberal theology. We shall be able to view it in its native surroundings, in its environment, and thus we shall be able to form a better judgment concerning its nature and tendencies.
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1937 – The Year in Review

From the Irish Catholic Bulletin, January, 1938:


by Fear Faire

Seldom did we survey the world, at the turn of the year, in more critical circumstances than now; and only twice before did the affairs of our own country stand at so vital a turning point. The world to-day shivers in the shadow of a threat as dark as that which hung over it in the last months before the World War broke in 1914. Ireland, on the other hand, stands a new stage in her national progress; and we recall the New Year of 1919, and that of 1922.

At the New Year of 1919, Ireland was fresh from the General Election which authorised her leaders to set up Dáil Éireann and declare the nation’s independence. At the New Year of 1922, the Treaty which had been signed under an infamous threat of devastating war on civilians awaited approval or rejection, and Ireland was about to be condemned to the years of strife and decay which the approval, a few days later, drew down.

To-day, the Declaration of Independence of 1920 has been renewed, ratified by the electorate, and carried into effect, and an Independent Sovereign State came into being in the last days of 1937, while the New Year sees the nation embarked on the task of the recovery of the still-occupied Six Countries.

Truly, this is a momentous stage in Irish and world history. We will consider world affairs first.
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The Purpose of Catholic Action

From the Irish Independent, October 25th, 1937:


Marriage Not Slavery

“Ireland is very favourably situated from many points of view. There is no limit to the full unfettered Catholic life, but there are certain fields far from perfection,” said Most Rev. Dr. Browne, Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh, lecturing on “The Purpose of Catholic Action,” under the auspices of the Aquinas Study Circle at the Dominican Convent, Taylor’s Hill, Galway, yesterday.

The first thing confronting the boy or girl leaving school was to earn a livelihood that would give him or her a sufficient wage and security against sickness or unemployment.

“It is a fact that under present conditions a great number of people are deprived of security and sufficiency. It is this that makes the question so perplexing. These boys and girls are often told that socialism is the only thing that will give them sufficiency and security, and we Catholics must show them that Socialism is not the remedy but only makes matters worse.
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A Study of Catholic Action

From the Irish Press, September 20th, 1958:

by Rev. Kevin Smith, S.J.

“CATHOLIC ACTION” at once reminds us older folk of a famous flare-up between the late Pope Pius XI and Mussolini in 1931, only two years after the signing of the Lateran Pacts which ended the long cold war between the Vatican and the Italian State.

In one of the most vigorous of his encyclicals, Non Abbiamo Bisogno, Pius XI denounced the campaign launched by the Fascists against the Catholic youth organisations of the Italian Catholic Action.The breach between Fascism and Catholicism, thus revealed to a startled world, was all the more astonishing because the Concordat of 1929 had established “Catholic Action” as a legitimate function of Catholic life. What had Catholic Action done in two years to provoke the hostility of the Dictator?

There was certainly nothing objectionable in the definition of “Catholic Action” laid down in the Concordat. The definition comprised four points: a form of lay apostolate: under the direction of the Hierarchy: above and outside party politics: intent only on the discussion and propaganda of Catholic principles.
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Bishop Lucey on the Responsibilities of Citizenship

From the Irish Press, March 4th, 1957:


Responsibilities of Citizenship

Dealing with the responsibilities of Christian Citizenship, Most Rev. Dr. Lucey, Bishop of Cork, said the first duty of those in authority was to show themselves good citizens.

“How far short of their duty in this respect public representatives fall if, for instance, they fail themselves to pay the tax or rates they help to levy on others.

And what must be thought of those in public life who, instead of upholding the authority of the established Government, use their position to voice encouragement of those actively undermining it by arming men and sending them to make war and take human life on their own authority?”
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Catholicism Growing Strong in Europe

From the Irish Independent, October 28th, 1959:


Catholicism Growing Strong in Europe – PRIEST LECTURER

“The Catholic spirit is stirring powerfully in Europe to-day,” Rev. Dr. Michael Carroll, C.S.Sp., told members of the Catholic Association for International Relations at their inaugural meeting in the Gresham Hotel.

Speaking on “How Catholic Is Western Europe,” he said that the trend was especially evident in the European Press.

The position of the Catholic Church in the world, however, was that the Catholics were in a minority — they numbered barely one-fifth of the human race.

Of the great religions, Islam’s gains in the last 30 years had been the most dominant and bewildering statistical fact of this century.

Islam was on the march, and in Africa they were making converts in the proportion of two to one as compared with Catholicism.
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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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Persecution of the Church in Mexico

[for some background on this topic]

From the Irish Independent, March 6th, 1933:

by Dr. Frank O’Reilly, K.C.S.G., Secretary of the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland

The voice of the Catholics of the Republic of Mexico is overwhelmed in the babel of international controversy on debt-cancellation, trade restrictions, and disarmament.

Only the voice of the Father of Christendom is heard pleading their cause. And even his voice in a world which boasts its worship of liberty, is, as far as it is possible, silenced, to the benefit of a great tyranny.

Mexico is no longer in the news. The world has, it would seem, settled down comfortably to regard the Mexican terror as a normality — as something, at least, which has lost its news value. The duty of Catholics, in the circumstances, is plain. The fact of the persecution of our brothers in Mexico must not be taken as merely a fait accompli. Here is a wrong to be righted.
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The Maynooth Mission to China

From the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, May, 1920:


It is now a little over three years since it was first announced in the Press of this country that the Irish Bishops, at their general meeting at Maynooth, had given their blessing and approval to a scheme which was laid before them of founding an Irish National Mission to China.

At that time the promoters of the project were five priests in Ireland and two in China. The first year and a half was spent in preaching throughout the country the needs of the Missions in China, and putting before the people of Ireland from the pulpit and through the press the appalling lack of priests in that vast region. In February 1918, the founders of the Mission were enabled to open the National Missionary College at St. Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Galway. In April of the same year the first priests of the Mission were ordained at Maynooth College, and in June of last year St. Columban’s celebrated the first Ordinations within its own walls.
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Germany, Poland and Danzig

From the Irish Catholic Bulletin , June, 1938:


Where is that city of Danzig? A glance at the map shows that East Prussia is separated from the rest of Germany by a strip of land less than fifty miles wide. This is the famous Polish Corridor, a strip of land joining the inland state of Poland to the Baltic Sea. Between East Prussia and the Corridor the river Vistula flows with the city of Danzig lying across the river at its mouth. The city is the river port.

Now Danzig, as nobody denies, is overwhelmingly a German city. Its population, history, culture and language are German. However, the river Vistula in all except the few miles which run through Danzig is Polish, and the natural part of Danzig as a trading city is to serve the basin of the Vistula; that is, to serve as the trading centre for Poland. We have therefore a German city with a Polish trade.

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The Fold Magazine – now online

The Fold, the diocesan magazine of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, have put their entire scanned archive from the 1950s online. I’d encourage you to take a read.

Rev. Dr. Ryan on the Church and the Spanish Civil War

From the Irish Press, Tuesday, 20th October, 1936:

Noted Catholic Scholar on “Spain”




Basques and Moors

“If the people of Spain hadn’t risen against such atrocities they would not have been the valiant sons of Spain that they are but despicable cowards,” declared Very Rev. Dr. A. H. Ryan, Professor of Scholastic Philosophy, Queen’s University, Belfast, in an address on “Spain” in St. Mary’s Hall, Belfast, last night.

Over 200 people attended, among them the Bishop of Down and Connor, Most Rev. Dr. Mageean. Mr. Raymond Burke presided. Dr. Ryan said that the deplorable events in Spain since the outbreak of the civil war had produced most extraordinary reactions in many places and especially in Ireland.

The fact that the Catholic Church had suffered had produced the usual type of exultation in those bigoted circles that could not see that the Catholic Church was fighting the battle, not alone of Catholicism, but of every religion.

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