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From: Church & State: Articles
Date: April, 2018
By: Editorial

Quo Vadis?

EditorialrnrnrnrnQuo Vadis?rn"What happened to the separation of Church & State?"—Vincent Twomey asked that question in connection with ex-President McAleese's Vatican offensive in her campaign to take over or destroy the Roman Catholic Church, or destroy it by taking it over.rnIt is a fair question since her Presidential status is made use of by the ex-President in her Vatican offensive.rnWhen she was President it so happened that she was also a Catholic? Isn't that how it was under the Daniel O'Connell rule that he took his religion from Rome but his politics from home. And she was a President for all the people, wasn't she? That was at least an obligatory thing to say.rnrnBut, when she ceased to be President, she set about making another career—as a Roman Catholic, within the Roman Catholic Church.rnHer first step was to restore herself, in no uncertain terms, to the status of a public Catholic of strong nationalist vintage. She did this by comparing the position of Catholics in Northern Ireland with that of Jews in Nazi Germany—and blaming it on the Ulster Protestants.rnThe position of Catholics under Northern Ireland arrangements was certainly deplorable. They were deprived of political life, in the sense that they could play no part in the public life of the state. Politics is the business of governing a state. Catholics were undoubtedly excluded from that business in the North.rnBut it was not the Ulster Protestants who excluded them. And it was not done by a renewed Penal Law. rnIt was done by the British administration of the state—the UK state—the only state there ever was in the region.rnrnLord Bew's Northern Ireland State was a propagandist deception of a British ideologist. The state was always the British state. Political authority was always British. The Six County electorate did not refuse to vote for the Tory, Labour and Liberal parties of the state. Those parties refused from the start to participate in the Northern Ireland system that they set up in 1921.rnIf McAleese had attributed responsibility for the politically airless condition in which Catholics were held in Northern Ireland, one could treat her "Holocaust" comparison as a minor exaggeration not worth quibbling over. But she didn't. She would have offended the powerful if she had done that. She preferred to demonstrate her renewed Catholic zeal by blaming the Protestants—who had not asked for the Northern Ireland system, had said they did not want it when it was first proposed, and had only agreed under duress to operate it as the means by which they could remain "connected" with Britain, though excluded from its political life equally with the Catholics.rnrnAnd was most damaged by being excluded from British political life? The excluded British of course! Jeffrey Donaldson, on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, tries to put a brave face on it. But everybody knows that Ulster Unionism became shabby under the devolution of 1920, when its only possible political activity was counting heads. It was a Party without a purpose, wanting only to stand still. And, by standing still, it subjected itself to erosion, under a well-known law of nature.rnThe Catholic community, not desiring to be British, made its own politics under undemocratic British government, fought a war to a stalemate, and ended it under an advantageous compromise.rnHowever, the flourishing of Sinn Fein has nothing to do with McAleese. Her progress has essentially been of a token Northern Catholic who could serve a purpose.rnrnWhen all of that was over and done with, and she set about becoming something by her own efforts, she became a Roman Catholic canon lawyer, and set about altering the Church so that it would better accord with her own personal concerns.rnrnAnd now her purpose seems to be to destroy it as what it always was, and remake it, using the force of advanced anti-male feminism, into a matriarchy.rnrnShe represents it as having been throughout its existence a male-chauvinist dictatorship, hateful to women. And yet one knows from experience that, in the populace, it was women much more than men who sustained it.rnrnAn occasional man might become abnormally holy, but it was women who took a dimension of Catholicism into the normality of life. (Under the new rules of understanding, this means that women were so comprehensively oppressed that they did not know they were oppressed at all and were got to love their oppressor.)rnrnMcAleese's champion in the Irish Independent, Colette Browne, tweets that the Catholic Church was progressive—1800 years ago.rnWho knows what it was 1800 years ago? Maybe it consisted in some places of groups of Bohemian drop-outs from society. And it is obvious that the last thing Mary McAleese wants to be is a drop-out from society.rnIn Ireland it seems to have taken the form of hermitages in the early Egyptian mode, letting society be and being let by society; copying manuscripts; and voyaging into unknown places to spread the message. Not quite McAleese.rnrnThe Church that impressed itself on Europe—the Church that became Europe—began much latter: more than a century after Colette Browne's 1800 years. It was absorbed into the Roman Empire by a Roman Emperor and gained durable structure from the structure of the Empire. And, when the Empire declined, it lived a shadow life as the Roman Church under a Pope.rnrnIt humanised Christianity in the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance, and warded off an attempt by the Protestant Reformation to de-humanise it again.rnrnVincent Twomey suggests that McAleese and her enthusiasts do not understand the action of the symbolic and the sacred set in motion by the Church. That seems indisputable. They just dole out vulgar abuse of the kind that was strong in the anti-clericalism of Dublin pubs in the 1960s.rnrnThis publication was a daring venture when it was launched in 1973. Its purpose was to replace the Church/State melange of popular culture with distinct ideas of what might be considered the proper sphere of each.rnrnWe made it clear that it was not our aim to dissolve the Church. It was not lack of daring that held us back, but the knowledge that the Church expressed something in human life that lay beyond the reach of the State.rnrnThe Church did not appreciate what were doing. Very much not. It wanted to preserve the melange. Our early victories were very painful to it—the first being about the siting of a statue in the grounds of Cork Regional Hospital.rnIt would have been wiser to encourage us. Or to take the matter in hand itself, and to publish the historical material that we were publishing instead of trying to stifle it.rnAnd now we seem to be the last defenders of the Church—which hardly dares to defend itself!rnrnGreece failed to become Europe. Indeed it never even became Greece. It consisted of many idyllic worlds of gods and goddesses and priestesses, each absorbed in itself. Europe begins with Rome, and consolidates itself as Roman Christianity. It dabbled with Greek goddesses and priestesses in the Renaissance a thousand years later, but never seriously contemplated reverting to that world, having incorporated enough of it to be going on with.

Quo Vadis? Editorial
Protestants on Sectarianism during the War of Independence. Jack Lane: questions forBishop Colton
Puritanism Old And New. Brendan Clifford
Vox Pat: Davos; Rebel Cork's Orange Lodges; Prince Albert!; Poles And The Holocaust; The Immaculate Conception Murders; Bermuda Backtracks; James Kelman; Penal Laws Once More! 36 Counties!; Billy Graham; Nun At The Pictures; Democracy; Divine Right; WW2 Diplomacy; 1944-Neutral Ireland; Guth na hÉireann? A Big Claim! Pre-Independence Cork; Ash Wednesday. Pat Maloney
Indian Treaties, and the Expulsion of the Cherokees: "A New Thing Under the Sun". John Minahane (Part 14)
A Grieve Observed. Stephen Richards (Part 1)
Solzhenitsyn's Two Centuries Together -A Polish Prologue, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Alexander Dugin And The Russian Question. Part 9. Peter Brooke
What Went Into The making Of Belgium? Eamon Dyas
Daniel O'Connell (Part 5) Jules Gondon's Biography. 1847. Cathy Winch (First English Translation)