The bishop and politics


I was on the best programme aired by Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster this morning – Sunday Sequence.  The matter for discussion was Bishop Noel Trainor’s letter to Catholics last week, urging them to query candidates about their stand on abortion, gay marriage, social justice, concern for the poor and promoting peace and reconciliation. My co-panellists were Patricia McBride and Fr Tim Bartlett.

We never did get to discuss promoting peace and reconciliation, even though we were talking for forty minutes (with some of that time used up by Justice Minister David Ford, who rang up to differ with Tim Bartlett). And we didn’t really discuss promoting social justice either. We got snagged mainly on the abortion debate, which was a pity, and the wider question of whether or how far Churches should intrude into politics. It was a, how shall I say, spirited discussion; I don’t know how it sounded to the listener but it flew for me. Several points arose that have stayed with me.

1. As Tim Bartlett pointed out (in passing) twice, he was outnumbered two to one, assuming that William Crawley was a neutral chairman. I agree with Tim on that one: it’s tough to present an argument when several people are coming at you at the same time.

2. Pope Francis has recently said that the Catholic Church  (for which read ‘Catholic clergy/hierarchy) is obsessed with questions about sex and should spend more time obsessing with questions like social justice and poverty.  I couldn’t agree more – yet somehow we spent that forty minutes in which we barely touched on the social justice and concern for the poor issues. I tried to point that out at one stage but Tim told me he had talked or tried to talk about it. I’m not totally convinced he did. Maybe someone should rewind the tape and listen again.

3. Both the SDLP and Sinn Féin accept gay marriage and the SDLP is opposed to abortion and Sinn Féin is opposed to it except in particular circumstances such as when the mother’s life is at risk or she has been raped. Were Catholics to follow Bishop Trainor’s injunction, they should stop voting for either of these pro-nationalist parties and start voting for pro-unionist parties like the DUP and the TUV.

4. If we must obsess over sexual matters, why didn’t Bishop Trainor include in his letter the questions of contraception and  co-habitation?  These are surely matters where a very much greater number of Catholics ignore the teachings of the Catholic Church than those who are affected by abortion or gay marriage?

5. As Tim and the letter (William Crawley suggested Tim rather than the bishop wrote it) make clear at the end, conscience should indeed  be the ultimate guide of Catholics, but that should be an informed conscience. I’m totally in agreement  on that – although the letter seems to me intent on forming the conscience of Catholics rather than informing it.

6. The question of how far the Catholic Church or any other faith should intrude on politics is one that frankly baffles me. On the one hand, I do resent it when the Catholic Church (or any other faith) leans in and tries to push political matters in a particular direction. Tim Bartlett says they don’t, they simply enunciate Catholic principles. Which brings me to the other hand. John F Kennedy famously reassured the American people that if he were elected, he’d be parking his Catholicism at the door. I don’t quite understand that. If you have central religious beliefs, shouldn’t those pervade every area of your life, including the political? In short, I haven’t thought my way through the relations that should exist between Church and State.

7. Finally, I’m feeling reasonably proud of one point I made during the discussion, which I don’t remember having heard on the air before. It is that the Catholic Church has always been more comfortable and supportive of the SDLP than it has been of Sinn Féin.Tim denied this but I think most people know it’s true.  In fact, the Catholic Church has frequently denounced republicans in general and Sinn Féin in particular. In the end, I think the bishop’s letter was at least partially a continuation of that tradition. 


51 Responses to The bishop and politics

  1. Iolar May 25, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    In an earlier part of the broadcast, William Crawley challenged the ambivalent attitudes taken towards James McConnell’s views on the Islamic faith by some clerics and then proceeded with consummate skill, professionalism and humour to address Noel Trainor’s or was it Tim Bartlett’s letter to Catholics. If Noel Trainor wrote the letter, why did he not take part in the broadcast? The Minister for Justice was available for comment during the broadcast. Tim Bartlett’s presentation sounded agitated and it was evident that he was not listening to the valid contributions made by the other participants during the interview. It was disingenuous of him to suggest that the letter was not an attempt to influence voters. He did not deal adequately with the relationship between the charitable status enjoyed by the church and electioneering. Neither did he address your point in relation to Sinn Féin. The words, “…the brutal piety of the pulpit…”, from Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s poem ‘Tearmann’ entered my head as I listened to Tim. The electorate has delivered its verdict.

  2. Pointis May 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Hi Jude, I think you are being very kind to Fr Tim Bartlett and the Bishop. I listened to the show and the text of the letter was read on a number of occasions throughout the show. I think any listener could reasonably assume from the programme that Fr. Bartlett constructed the letter and that the letter had the sole aim of asking Catholics here not to vote for Sinn Fein, SDLP or Alliance.

    I am familiar with the political nuances which can be cleverly written into literature intended for the general public which leads the general public in a certain direction but when things turn awkward then the authors can stand back and refer to the actual wording and say “show me where it says that in the letter”.

    A bit like the 40,000 pamphlets distributed around Belfast prior to the council vote on the flying of the union flag on designated days, they didn’t specifically tell Loyalists to cause civil disorder, attempt to murder members of the PSNI, harass members of the Alliance party and firebomb their election office. But reasonable minds can deduce otherwise and I think this letter is constructed in a similarly contrived manner. “This is what a good Catholic would do, but I will leave it up to your own conscience”. Guilt trip?

    I agree with William’s point, the Catholic Church has charity status and is prohibited from canvassing prior to, or during elections, I hope someone who received the letter forwards a copy to the charities ombudsman for an adjudication as to whether it constitutes canvassing by a charitable organisation.

    Fr Bartlett came across in the programme as being forceful although I personally think talking over other guests to prevent them from speaking and reenforce your own points to be just plain rude!

    You and Patricia McBride came across as forceful but courteous. Well done, moral high ground retained!

    Others will no doubt have a different view on the programme.

    • Jude Collins May 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      Go raibh maith agat, Pointis

  3. Larry Murphy May 25, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    Got the last 15 minutes on my way Clones C.C., lively I would say. Patricia rather walked into your left hook when she started to praise the non involvement of U.S. Churches in politics. And if what I have read has any truth J.F.K. parked his Catholicism at many a door as well as that of the Oval Office.

    • Jude Collins May 25, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Oh Larry – don’t shatter my dream. The man was a walking saint…or something.

  4. paddykool May 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    Jude: I had a late night , last night so I arose only to catch the latter part of the programme. It sounded like a right old frisky bunfight at times, but I think you made a fair shape for yourself.
    By now , you’ll have a fair handle on my more than rheumy and captious view on religion…any religions, especially those based on the reliance of a creator as sarcastic and needy as the one that’s usually idolised in Ireland. Why any all-powerful, timelessly creative being would have the need of the idolatry of a bunch of hairless apes like us is way beyond my understanding…Why the same being would have the insecurity at all to need the idolatry , frankly baffles me….but anyway…..

    …But anyway….I believe the structured theatrics of a religious ceremony, no matter how off-kilter, can be a guiding help through tribal life ….births, marriages and deaths. It can certainly provide succour to many in terrifying, mind –numbing circumstances of loss and help lead people through the helpless trauma of loss and burial, but ultimately the ceremony has turned into something of a social gathering , where boys eye the girls and the girls eye the boys ….or whatever… and moral fables are told..

    That said , I can’ t believe one single word of it…If you’ll pardon the puerile little joke…. God knows, I’ve tried !! Because my mother had great faith, I would have liked to have been able to believe, but when I started asking myself all sorts of hard questions as a teenager , I came across all the conundrums that believers have to wrestle with when confronted by same. They usually begin at a point of belief and argue everything out to suit that belief. Taking that route can have you counting angels dancing on a pin-head , rather than querying their very existence.

    To my way of thinking , most people are usually born into a religious situation …where, as the Jesuits were oft quoted…”Give me the child and I’ll give you the man”. In other words, the indoctrination begins at a young age and there is romance and mystery built into the unfolding story until it is ingrained like miner’s coal. It then becomes like a club . There are rules to follow, just like a club might have a dress code or a code of behaviour.
    To put it into our present context….

    What we have now are that the conundrums of 21st century life are coming home to roost in a way they never have before for previous generations and the church is attempting another control mechanism…

    …Contraception is freely available everywhere , even at the local garage or pub. Abortion is freely available after a half hour plane flight. Co-habitation freely accepted …sex not really an option usually. Homo- sexuality is legal..
    Suicides can be buried on “hallowed” ground… Gay marriage..etc. etc.
    Purgatory and Limbo..and possibly even Hell{that might frighten the little kiddies!} have been written out of the tale for the 21st century….

    Most of all, communication has greatly improved and everyone has access to more information. If the church does not agree with any or all of these…. that should be fine . If you don’t want to stay in that club,…by the same token…. don’t. Those are the club rules and club members who begin to cherry pick them are being hypocritical to the church and to themselves.

    Why should it be an issue at all? If you don’t like it , don’t believe it and leave.

    For the Catholic Church, which is led by{mostly} sexually abstaining males, it’s a an ill-informed call to tell any woman what she should and shouldn’t do with her body. It really should be none of their business because, let’s face it , they know very little about sex or women. By the same token, any woman who has a problem with this particular rule should leave the church. They are not about to offer her any succour. They want to bend her to their “moral” will, instead.

    The truth is , the churches should keep out of secular business and concentrate on the more nebulous aspects of theological belief . They’ve enough right there to tie themselves into every kind of logical knots. As you pointed out ,the Church thinks it has greater ease with the more conservative SDLP, but let’s face it these are the same voters who now vote for Sinn Fein. The very same people! They are trying to influence the same people. It would be fair to say that there are a lot of people out there living with an easy religious hypocrisy , just as the “sainted” J.F.Kennedy graced the walls of Oirish homes alongside the Virgin Mary and the Pope but had the morality of a tomcat .

    The bottom line? Keep the religion for the church and the politics for the polling booth. As Pointis mentioned , they’re selling themselves as a registered charity. They ‘d need to keep out of politics or I’ll start behaving like that aggrieved lad who got the church poster taken down because it offended his delicate atheistic sensibilities.

  5. Jude Collins May 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    [Note: This is not me -it’s Sherdy, who for some reason can’t get on to comment. Anyone who can help him – be my guest]

    ‘That is what a good Catholic will do, but I will leave it up to your own conscience’.

    How does that statement by Tim Bartlett square with what he said to Stephen Nolan last week in answer to a question.

    He said that if any Catholic member of a political party who did not follow official Church policy on subjects like same sex marriage and abortion, he would seriously consider refusing them the sacraments.

    So if you do follow your own conscience you will be punished by the Church!

    The last paragraph of the letter giving you ‘freedom’ of conscience reminds me of these legal documents where the last paragraph is a disclaimer of all responsibility.

    As far as this morning’s discussion was concerned, Tim’s complaint that he was outnumbered (by two Catholics!) had no effect as he had at least two thirds of the speaking time, and he constantly spoke over and interrupted both of you, forcing you at one stage to ask if you might finish your sentence.

    His forceful interruptions and aggressive manner were certainly not indicative of how a clergyman should behave, but then maybe he took it as a personal slight that anyone should question his words. Total arrogance.

    Of course the letter was designed to influence people’s voting intentions, and I agree with you that most clergy acted over the years totally anti-Sinn Fein. I remember one priest refusing to officiate at a funeral because a tricolour was draped over the coffin, but yet some time later the same ‘Christian’ was happy to attend a union jack bedecked St Anne’s Cathedral for a British army ceremony.

  6. michael c May 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    As far as i’m concerned the whole escapade on the Nolan show was a set up virtually on the eve of polling to damage SF.Bartlett hammered SF several times and the stoops sent “Bishop Alban” on to make the stoops appear more in line with the real bishops.While most people could see through this,a small number of the older rural generation may have bought it.

    • ANOTHER JUDE May 25, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      That`s how I saw it, pretty desperate stuff in my opinion. Politics from home and religion from Rome as a great man said a long time ago.

  7. Pointis May 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    Fr Tim, did the image of the Catholic Church in Ireland no favours today!

    His demeanour on radio harkened back to the time when the hierarchy of the church felt they had the entitlement to tell people how to live their lives here while all the time bad things were happening to children behind closed doors and those doors remained closed to any inspection or enquiry.

    Thankfully the Catholic Church has moved on and would appear from Pope Francis’s soundings to be a much humbler church ready to acknowledge its role in past hurts caused by intransigent attitudes to change. You would not have thought it today if you had tuned in to Sunday Sequence!

  8. RJC May 25, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    It would appear that there are still a few members of the clergy who are a lagging a little bit behind the good @Pontifex #freshdoctrine

  9. Leo Flanagan May 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Anne my wife and myself were not too impressed with the brow beating the three of you gave Tim Bartlett this morning.
    Mr Crawley is certainly not impartial, certainly too partisan. More of what has become constant beeb indoctrination.

    Long before bishops letter, we already had compiled a list of questions for our local politicians we rarely see until polling time.
    1what policies have you got for women who want to stay at home to care for family?
    2 what policies have you got to protect the unborn?
    3 what policies have you got to protect traditional marriage values from new age absurdities?

    Anna Lo engaged but did not impress.
    Others called but we didn’t get the opportunity to grill them.

    So we didn’t need a homily from the bishop to have our compasses recalibrated

    Which reminds me that pope Francis and you think clerics go on about sexual issues too much.
    Not in the diocese where we live, rarely if ever in Ireland
    Cowed I suspect by political correctness or the shameful clerical abuse business.
    So the bishops letter was a timely reminder of centuries of Catholic Church teaching.
    And if the clerics speak up, it is for the little people like us who have no voice. Certainly not from nationalist politicians.
    As for this charitable status business and articulating traditional teaching, is there a hint of closing down legitimate comment?
    It goes on elsewhere in Europe and the west, why not here?
    As for the poor, observe the Vincent de Paul at work quietly and without fuss.
    Peace and reconciliation, we don’t need a sermon when we work at it day and daily.

  10. ANOTHER JUDE May 25, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    It never ceases to amaze me how the media can criticise the Catholic Church for interfering in politics and yet the Protestant Churches have always had loads of it`s ministers actively involved in politics. Some of them have been MPs. Sadly, course, Britain is one of the few countries on earth where religion and state are intertwined.

    • giordanobruno May 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Why should churches stay out of politics? Once you buy into the nonsense of religion it is only logical it should influence every aspect of your life.
      If God is real and all powerful, you can hardly complain that he wants to decide who you vote for.
      Why do adults believe this rubbish?

  11. Virginia May 26, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    Because they are adults and they choose to do so, that is how.

    • giordanobruno May 26, 2014 at 7:34 am #

      That being the case, they can hardly complain if their god, through his representatives on earth, should tell them which leaders to elect.

      • paddykool May 26, 2014 at 7:52 am #

        Gio :

        That’s the rub , that no one wants to deal with .They want to skirt around it at all costs for fear of questioning their own errant “reasoning”. If they believe that some cosmological alien creature , beyond their universe , is directing operations through his agents on earth, then they have to swallow down what logically follows. It’s not much different than the Pastor McConnell nonsense. when he and Islam got his knickers in a twist. The same happens with the fundamentalist , evangelical movement in the USA

        i agree entirely, gio….. Like I said earlier…. when you join a club , you have to abide by the rules..

        • Leo Flanagan May 26, 2014 at 10:00 am #

          No need to believe in God of agape. An individual choice.
          But when we hear this superstitious nonsense that we originated ex nihilo or by random chance or that our conscious thinking is from inanimate matter, well, I will stick with the faith of my fathers.

          • giordanobruno May 26, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

            Very droll.
            I suspect you are well aware of the vast scientific debate and research into the very slow process of evolution getting us to where we are today. None of it turning up any evidence whatsoever of a big guy with a beard sitting on a cloud.
            But regardless of that, those who believe might like to explain why they place the constitutional issue (surely trivial in spiritual terms) over the fate of all those souls terminated by abortion.Does God care about the border?

        • Pointis May 26, 2014 at 11:12 am #

          Paddykool, I would have to disagree with you on this one. It is illogical to believe that you have to agree with all the rules of any organisation to be a member!

          If that were the case no organisation would ever change!

          I believe there are Catholics including priests who believe women should be treated equally including being allowed to be priests and bishops or the Pope. There are many Catholics who believe that it is not sinful to be a homosexual in a same sex loving relationship and that a mothers life should not be put at severe risk in order to give birth to a baby with little or no viable chance of life.

          I believe that there are many members of the subscribing Presbyterian Church who do not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ and that Catholics are not the devil’s disciples.

          I believe there are members of the Orange Order who do not think that Catholics should be second class citizens and would like to see the rules of the order changed to reflect the change in times and to not discriminate against Catholics or Protestants who are married to Catholics.

          Should members of these organisations not be allowed to strive to change the direction of those organisations from within or should they do the Irish thing and split or just leave?

          Would you not agree that rule changes (which happen frequently) are brought about by those who disagree with them?

          Would you also not agree that rule changes which reflect changes in circumstances or society and which benefit members of an organisation are a good thing?

          Would it not logically follow for you that for those beneficial rule changes to occur that there must have been people within that organisation who did not agree with the previous rule?

        • giordanobruno May 26, 2014 at 11:15 am #

          If I understand the Bishop’s letter correctly it would be logical to see it as a call to vote DUP.
          Those who believe all abortion, even in the early stages, is taking a life, must therefore believe that thousands of lives have been, and will be, taken.
          Would those lives not be a bigger issue than the constitutional one, which will hopefully be resolved in time without such loss of life?
          I know Jude has expressed concerns about abortion in the past so it would be interesting to hear why that is not priority number one.

          • paddykool May 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

            As you say “ It is illogical to believe that you have to agree with all the rules of any organisation to be a member!” …
            That begs the question though, as to why you’d ever want to be a member in the first place.

            Okay , I know religion is a funny old thing , all tied up with family cohesion and a place in society; a structure for instilling a set of moral codes or commandments. The religious idea stretches back to mankind’s communal origins and tribal controls. The thing I’m asking though, is this….”Is a blind , faithful following of some very dubious ideas , any more realistic than say , a belief in Scientology , which is basically the brain-child of a science fiction writer.” It may be a moral roadmap of sorts but that’s it.

            There is really no factual or logical reason for these beliefs other than …”Faith”.. Someone has an idea and gathers followers for that idea. Why would you want to change the idea if that was what first attracted you to that particular church or idea?

            People do not actually need religion to live in a benevolent way..They can be as moral or as charitable outside it’s remit. They do not have to attempt to explain some very irrational ideas that religion presumes is our “place in the universe” ….such as the belief in a great cosmic father- figure “God” living out there somewhere in some woolly nebulous place that no-one can describe or point to .
            It’s the attempt to explain the belief system that brings people up against the hard wall of logical thought. Faith and logic are sometimes not good bed -fellows.People believe a lot of very strange irrational things.

          • Pointis May 26, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

            Paddykool, I am not questioning your atheism, I simply questioned your logic that you should not be a member of a club or organisation if you do not ascribe to every single rule of its constitution!

            You said that your position is illogical, fine!

  12. Am Ghobsmacht May 26, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Some one should reform a Gaelic speaking Celtic (Orthodox?) Church.

    A modern day church of Columba or some such type.

    An Irish religion for Irish people.

    (That’s all I’ll say on the matter, I’m not religious so it’s above my pay grade and I run the risk of being disrespectful, so I’ll opt out early on this debate)

    • paddykool May 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

      Pointis: Did I say that? I don’t think so….

      “Faith and logic are sometimes not good bed -fellows.People believe a lot of very strange irrational things.” ..

      I think I said “Why would you ever want to join a club whose ideas you didn’t really believe in” ….or words to that effect…

      • Pointis May 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

        From your previous blog

        As you say “ It is illogical to believe that you have to agree with all the rules of any organisation to be a member!” …

        • paddykool May 26, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

          Pointis : That was me quoting you directly from ..

          .” Paddykool, I would have to disagree with you on this one. It is illogical to believe that you have to agree with all the rules of any organisation to be a member!”…

          .and then making an observation …Take a look.

          • Pointis May 26, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

            Ok Paddykool, let’s just agree to disagree on this one. 😉

    • ANOTHER JUDE May 26, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

      I am a Baptised, Confirmed, Mass going believing Catholic. I have no doubt God exists, however I don`t think he is a card carrying member of any political party despite what the SDLP, DUP and others may think. I said it earlier and I`ll repeat it, `I take my politics from home and my religion from Rome`. I am totally opposed to abortion but I will always vote Sinn Féin. The idea that even one sane Catholic would vote for parties who revel in sectarian hate filled insults against the Pope is ludicrous. What would the campaign slogan be? `VOTE DUP/UUP/YUV….WE MAY GLORIFY SECTARIAN KILLERS AND URINATE AGAINST THE CHAPEL GATE BUT DO NOT SUPPORT ABORTION.`

      • giordanobruno May 27, 2014 at 7:56 am #

        Another Jude
        So to be clear, you think the priorities should be;
        1. The constitutional issue
        2.. Urinating bandsmen
        3. The killing of thousands of unborn children
        Did I miss anything?

        • RJC May 27, 2014 at 11:29 am #

          There’s no need to be facetious Gio.

          I wonder if those Catholics who refuse to vote for Sinn Féin because of their position on abortion were voting for Sinn Féin when the IRA were in active service?

          • ANOTHER JUDE May 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

            Considering EVERY political party was a supporter of violence then they probably were.

        • ANOTHER JUDE May 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

          giordanobruno, What I am saying is I do not see how I would ever vote for a political party that was openly hostile to my faith. I do not support abortion but if politicians want to do it that is up to them, I can not make them follow my code of conduct. I know I will never be in a position to kill unborn children but if others chose to do so that is a matter for them and their conscience.

          • giordanobruno May 27, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

            Another Jude
            If SF support abortion (even limited abortion) is that not hostile to your faith?
            As RJC pointed out I may have been a bit facetious in my previous comment, but I am interested in how you (or anyone opposed to abortion) can square the circle.
            How in all conscience can you allow or vote for those who would, in your belief, enable the killing of unborn children?
            If you saw someone trying to kill a child you would hardly say;
            ‘I would never kill children but if others choose to do so that is a matter for them.’
            That would seem to be washing your hands of a great wrong.

          • Pointis May 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

            Giordanobruno, do you support abortion on demand?

          • giordanobruno May 27, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

            I support the option of abortion being available yes. Certainly in the early stages, which is when most occur. I would be very concerned about late term abortion on demand but I don’t see how we could as a society force any woman to have a child against her will. The right way to deal with very late abortions (thankfully rare) is a question for which I do not pretend to have a good answer.
            However that is not the point. The question is for those who are against all abortion, why is that not the overriding voting determinant when so many innocent lives are considered to be at stake?
            After all the border issue can wait, but those unborn children would I assume be a matter of urgency.

          • Pointis May 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

            So your views on abortion go much further than Sinn Feins yet your are criticising Another Jude for voting for them!

          • giordanobruno May 28, 2014 at 7:06 am #

            As I don’t vote for SF that is not relevant. My question was how do SF voters put aside the perceived death of so many unborn children that abortion allows?
            Why is it not the main concern?
            No-one is rushing to answer.

          • Pointis May 28, 2014 at 9:14 am #

            If your views on abortion prevailed there would be many more abortions here than if Sinn Fein’s position prevailed!

            Maybe it is a human nature thing but few would take seriously your criticism of Another Jude’s position when your own views would mean a more radical position.

          • giordanobruno May 28, 2014 at 11:03 am #

            I don’t understand your logic.Since I hold a different view on abortion then obviously I would not have the problem I am highlighting.
            Perhaps you are avoiding the question.
            Those who believe abortion in all cases means the death of unborn children would surely consider that the most urgent priority in who they vote for.
            If not why not?

          • Pointis May 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

            Well some might look at it like this:-

            Here is a guy who is not concerned about the number of deaths of unborn children here, giving out to another guy because his vote may have an effect on the number of deaths of unborn children here.

            Maybe you can’t see that!

          • giordanobruno May 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

            I did try to answer your question above as best I could. I was hoping you or someone might answer mine.
            Are only SF supporters allowed to ask questions of SF supporters now?

          • Pointis May 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm #


            I appreciate you answered my question.

            I hope it never gets to the stage where only Sinn Fein supporters are allowed to ask questions critical of Sinn Fein as that would be an unhealthy place to be!

            I hope you are not going to be dissappointed by my response or feel that it is intended to patronise (it isn’t) but it is a matter of relative perspective. There are millions dying all over the world every day. No person, group or government can stop it overnight even though people want it to end. Everyone can do something to help alleviate the problem but it will only be a small measure in relation to the scale of the problem.

            The human brain is not emotionally equipped to deal with thinking constantly about the scale of preventable human deaths occurring around the world so you just have to get on with living and try to put in place longer term mechanisms to try and remedy the issue by for instance campaigning or raising money or publicity. Meanwhile you still have to deal with your own everday issues such as buying food, voting, washing your car and taking your children to school.

            I believe the exact same principles apply in relation to your question.

          • giordanobruno May 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

            Thankyou for the reply.
            I appreciate that there are millions dying around the world and we cannot fix everything. But this is an issue where voting can directly affect the policies of the local parties.
            A vote for SF,is a vote for a policy supporting limited abortion. As it happens that is not too far from my own view.
            Those who believe it results in the deaths of unborn children, or murder I suppose they might say, must surely want to change that policy as the highest priority.
            That is a local issue, which voting can change.

          • Pointis May 28, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

            Gio, you are being a little disingenuous as you know that practicalities make it a low priority as unionists will block it in any case if not by majority then by calling for cross party support so it is unlikely to be enshrined in law unless the High Court upholds a ruling against the NI Executive.

  13. GreerToronna May 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    There’s plenty of wisdom in the secular world and when it comes to elections people are well able to make up their own minds about their concerns and who and what to vote for. The Catholic Church’s preoccupation with pelvic theology is not one of those concerns; that is evident from the votes cast. It was the same in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Then the rising, pivotal, Hispanic (read Catholic) vote ignored their bishops who urged them not vote for Obama and his alleged assault on religious freedom in his health care legislation. Until there are new appealing ideas that start with the parking of this zealotry, I don’t think the Catholic Church will be influencing many elections.

  14. Larry Murphy May 27, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    ” It is illogical to believe that you have to agree with all the rules of any organisation to be a member!”

    Bishop O’Neill: So Father, do you ever have any doubts? Is your faith ever tested? Any trouble you’ve been having with beliefs or anything like that?

    Father Dougal: Well you know the way God made us, and he’s looking down at us from heaven?

    Bishop O’Neill: Yeah…

    Father Dougal: And then his son came down and saved everyone and all that?

    Bishop O’Neill: Uh huh…

    Father Dougal: And when we die, we’re all going to go to heaven?

    Bishop O’Neill: Yes. What about it?

    Father Dougal: Well that’s the part I have trouble with!

    • paddykool May 27, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      Are we finishing with a bit of light relief,Larry? I just wondered, what was the BigGuy thinking of with all this Earth business anyway? Why bother with all this wrangling on earth anyway….a bit like poking an anthill with a stick….What possessed this strange creature to torment those billions? Why didn’t he/she /it just leave us out of the mad game….cut out the middleman, so to speak and go straight to heaven……now that’s what I’d call loving benevolence….All this earthbound wrangling could have been avoided, huh……Then again, what if it’s just a load of old bollocks and fibs, like the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus…(Don’t let the kiddies see this, Jude! )…..?

      • Larry Murphy May 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm #


        I will just say that I agree with you and that it makes no sense to me at all.

        • Pointis May 28, 2014 at 7:16 am #

          An atheist love in!

          • Larry Murphy May 28, 2014 at 11:28 am #

            Bishop O’Neill:Everlasting Life? Big Demons sticking hot pokers up Your arse for all Eternity? I don’t buy it.