What I planned to (but didn’t) say on the Nolan show this morning

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I was asked to contribute to this morning’s Nolan show on the letter issued by the north’s Catholic bishops, which highlights what they consider important questions in the upcoming Assembly election. Ten minutes ago I got a text telling me I wouldn’t be needed after all. But on the basis that you should never throw anything away ever, here are my thoughts.

The Catholic Church, like any faith or religion, has a right, even a duty to comment on moral matters. Politics is all about making choices, very often moral choices. So it makes sense for the north’s bishops to present their views alongside those of everyone else.

In the pastoral letter, the bishops include ten questions which they urge voters to ask (respectfully) of those who come seeking their vote. Since it’s reasonable to assume that those thinking of voting DUP, UUP, PUP, TUV or even Alliance will take little heed of anything the Catholic bishops may say (quite a few believe the bishops and their flock are on the high road to hell), I’m assuming that their letter is in the great majority of cases directed at Sinn Féin and SDLP voters. And that’s where I begin to feel uneasy. How uneasy? Let me count the ways.


  1. I’m very much in favour of the Catholic Church articulating its teaching. I’m also aware that the Catholic Church historically has always been  opposed to republicanism, starting with the United Irishmen of 1798, through the Young Irelanders of the 1840s and the Fenians, up to and including the Easter Rising and republicans in the conflict of our recent Troubles. On occasion bishops have even told their flock which party not to  vote for. I’m totally opposed to that kind of instruction.
  2. The bishops list ten questions to ask your candidate. This  can be viewed in two ways. One is that it provides a handy series of points to use when talking to the candidate. The other is that the questions reduce the Catholic voter to a ventriloquist’s dummy. Church teaching should be clearly laid out so people know what it is; but teaching is one thing, instruction down to the very words to use is another.
  3. There are ten questions listed. No advice is included as to what you should do with your vote if a candidate gives the right answer in five cases and the wrong one in five other cases. Are these questions weighted? For example, do the two questions (Nos. 2 ad 3) dealing with  abortion rate more highly than the last two, about the candidate’s commitment to sustainable development and an ‘inclusive political culture’ respectively?
  4. The bishops’ appeal for political parties to work for the common good “rather than on traditional constitutional issues” shows little respect for voter intelligence. True, this is a line followed by much of the media; it’s also one  I unequivocally reject. The Irish public are capable of holding two ideas in their heads at the same time – the question of Irish re-unification and independence, and the question of what are called ‘bread and butter issues’. In fact the two interweave: many people believe that it would be to the economic benefit of Ireland were reunification to take place and end duplication of services and institutions. A major and independent study from the University of British Columbia in Canada stated that re-unification would, in the short-to-medium term, bring real economic benefits to all of Ireland.
  5. The letter quotes Pope Francis to reject the notion that  ‘homosexual unions [are] in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family’. In other words, the Church is opposed to gay marriage. While I really don’t rate the right to gay marriage as an issue that demands priority, I know that many young people in Ireland feel otherwise. In which case, providing they’re not saying that ministers of religion should be compelled by law to perform the marriage ceremony, good luck to them. Gay marriage doesn’t change my understanding of my own man-woman marriage in any way. I personally think it’s an odd thing to have strong views on, but clearly others differ. They’re entitled to, regardless of Pope Francis’s thinking.


I could go on. Some points I agree with, others I don’t.  Apart from the implied need that election candidates should come up with the right answer to all ten questions (or do they?), there’s the matter of what doesn’t appear on the question list. For example, where does the candidate stand on the £100bn that the Tory government plan to spend on nuclear armaments in the coming years? While the bishops rightly call for candidates to commit to resolving the scandal of child poverty, there is nothing about poverty in general, world poverty, how  inequality in society should be tackled. And while they urge candidates to budget for a free school breakfast for children who otherwise might go hungry, they say nothing about the continuing practice in some schools of selecting pupils on academic ability.   All the research indicates that this warps the primary curriculum, creates social division largely based on class, and delivers a body-blow to the confidence of young people, a body-blow from which some never recover.


Summing up I’d say the Catholic bishops indeed should articulate Church teaching on matters relevant to the world of politics. But to boil that teaching down to ten questions, and even provide the wording for voters to use when questioning candidates, is patronizing. Don’t Catholics know Church teaching? Aren’t they capable of reading party manifestos and drawing their own conclusions?Finally, while the bishops’ letter doesn’t tell Catholics which party to vote for, they do seem to be hinting that good Catholics will follow the Catholic bishops’ historical line on republicanism.

64 Responses to What I planned to (but didn’t) say on the Nolan show this morning

  1. BYC April 28, 2016 at 9:35 am #

    I agree with you and disagree with you on point 4 Jude. You’ve established that in your opinion reunification does serve the common good. So that makes you with the Bishops. If you were pro-unity and sod the common good that’d be different. As it is you appear to be in violent agreement with the Bishops on that one.

    • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 9:52 am #

      “in your opinion reunification does serve the common good. So that makes you with the Bishops.” – I must have missed that one, BYC. The bishops have spoken in favour of Irish reunification? Woo- hooo!

  2. Iolar April 28, 2016 at 9:58 am #

    “…I’d say the Catholic bishops indeed should articulate Church teaching…”

    Fr Jack might respond,

    “That would be an ecumenical matter.”

    It was interesting that Catholic bishops were not prepared to articulate Church teaching with Mr Nolan today.

    What might Joxer say, about the word dogmatism? Do not do what I do, do what I say? Science and the Catholic Church share a chequered history, given the inauspicious treatment of Galileo Galilei in the 17th century. The church remains opposed to contraception, abortion and research using embryonic stem cells. The natural sciences continue to test theories with evidence.

    The issue of abortion is complex and debates tend to be emotional rather than rational. Current Catholic teaching on abortion remains an Irish solution to an Irish problem. A letter prior to an election will do nothing to stop Women leaving Ireland in order to terminate pregnancies. Some Women will make that journey, today.

    Most clergyMen now accept the Copernican revolution. ClergyMen once stood with their backs to congregations. The Men now face dwindling congregations yet remain elevated a few metres above reality.

  3. PJ Dorrian April 28, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    How can these people be champions of our moral well being when they don’t consider that paedophile priests should be dealt with, that bishops proclaim wives should obey their husbands, that abuse of children put in their care was not a sin.
    The primacy of life is a great idea, yet these so called followers of Christ have their churches locked when, in winter many homeless lose their lives sleeping on the street, 5 in Belfast alone this year and there was little outcry from the bishops, it would appear the modern house of God has no spare rooms in the mansions across the world, why even the pope managed to find room for 12

    • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 11:54 am #

      I hesitate to differ from a long-time reader/friend, PJD, but…I agree that the Church really should lead the way in attending to the homeless, etc. But I think you’re wrong to say they don’t believe paedophile priest should be dealt with – if anything, at the first hint of accusation, the Church moves sharply away from the accused and calls in the law. As to teaching wives obey their husbands – that’s in the Bible, true, but I don’t remember any bishop or priest daring to enunciate such nonsense in the last thirty, forty years. And abusing children in their care – that has happened, I totally agree, and a terrible scandal that it should have, but I don’t think you’ll find that abuse gets a free run now. In fact, as someone said, the safest place for children these days is within the Catholic Church, such is the Church’s hyper-sensitivity to any charge being levelled.

      • BYC April 28, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

        I’ve a devout Presbyterian friend who told me, with a straight face, all about church teaching on family relationships – how people should love, respect and listen to each other but how, in the end, the wife should defer to the husband because the Bible tells us that’s the proper order of things. Any man who tried to instruct this woman would have to be very careful to insist that she does exactly what she was planning to do anyway.

        • Twinbrook Lad April 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm #


          In the modern sense, the role of a man but more husband and/or father should be to take decisions for what he feels is best for his family and wife, based on proper reasoning and without any sense of self. Always placing his wife and family before himself, based on Church teaching. And if a wife trusts her husband to make correct decisions based on discernment then I see no reason why one partner in a marriage can make decisions. But the notion that I could order or instruct my wife to follow what I decide for any selfish reason, is sadly laughable and comes from a lack of understanding on what Church teaching currently stands for

          Sadly the interpretation of where you are coming from is in the selfish decisions made by either partner and for their own needs.
          Society needs more men to stand up and become strong fathers making correct judgements and it then follows that making a decision to follow your spouse within a marriage perfectly normal

          • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

            I like the reasonable tone, TL, but I question the idea of the man/husband making reasonable and unselfish decisions. Surely he should be making them with his wife/partner, or she should be making them with him. The idea of ‘the head of the household’ has a dinosaur time-stamp.,.

          • Twinbrook Lad April 28, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

            Agreed Jude……modern thinking in current Church teachings. Equally, if my wife were to make a decision on what she thought was best for us and our family, I would follow her lead also. Which happens all the time anyway

          • paddykool April 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

            Ho ho ho …The idea that i’m the “head of the family” and my wife should stand in my shadow and defer to my all-knowing judgement because I somehow have more cosmic knowledge due to the level of testosterone rattling through my body is not only a laughable conceit but it might get me a knife in the back if i spewed out such a mad theory . What rock are these people living under ?

          • Iolar April 28, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

            “More men to stand up…”

            In the New York Times this weekend, Julia Baird goes beyond “mansplaining,” to describe the “manologue”—a tendency for a man to wax on about a particular subject.

            Critics have talked about how we over-scrutinize(and under-research) women’s speech, often comparing it to male speech as though male speech were the norm. Baird’s and others’ work to describe and name male speech patterns and evaluate the effect of male speech patterns on listeners, tries to go a step further, disrupting the notion of male speech as normative.

            Baird covers a lot of ground in her article: a male predilection to speak more often in the midst of larger groups, especially if that group is mostly male; rewards and punishments for speaking up, with men honoured for being assertive and women shamed for being aggressive;

            It appears that people of all genders have internalized that being heard is a man’s right and a woman’s aspiration.

          • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 8:23 am #

            Well put, Iolar…Although the present Mrs C disagrees loudly…

          • Twinbrook Lad April 28, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

            Nobody mentioned anything at all about my gender or testosterone within any marriage or my own. I certainly have never nor would I ever play that card at all. It’s basic Catechism stuff as my moral code. Everyone chooses their own code

        • BYC April 29, 2016 at 8:49 am #

          I’ve just reread my comment and it sounds like I’m talking about myself. Which I’m not. I’m saying that my Presbyterian friend SAYS she does the biblical deferring thing, but knowing her as I do, I don’t think she’s the deferring sort. I am not the “this woman” I refer to. She is. Just in case the wasn’t clear…

          • Twinbrook Lad April 29, 2016 at 10:37 am #

            Thanks BYC. I knew you were referring in the generic sense and would never make points personal.

  4. Jim Neeson April 28, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    Good article Jude. The Catholic Bishops are quite wrongly trying to tell us who to vote for.
    They are by innuendo suggesting vote SDLP or if you have a minimum sense of political nous vote Alliance.But never vote for those nasty Shinners. How dare they!!!

  5. Croiteir April 28, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    1. The Church can instruct their flock who not or indeed who to vote for. Having said that it is unusual to lay out the position of the Church on a particular party or candidate and should only be done in extremis. It is all context.

    In fact it is their duty to do so although the general rule is to lay out the teaching of the Church in relation to issues so that the faithful can vote in line with Church teaching.

    2. The setting out of 10 questions is a very handy reference card and does not reduce the user to a ventriloquist dummy. There is no reason to limit yourself to these. I would view this as the minimum.

    3.the bishops answered your question. You weigh up the answers to try to ensure the greater common good comes from it.

    4. Agree completely. The constitutional question underpins the economy and the organisation of the society. It is fundamental and must be one of the priority questions. It shares this with abortion. Even excluding the fact no Catholic should even entertain considering facilitating such a montrous action no one should consider legalising the undermining of the most fundamental right that underpins all rights. The right to life of all humans. In this the bishops are clearly wrong.

    5. Well done the bishops. The attempt by western society. Or at least certain sections of it to reduce marriage to just a recognition of two people wanting to have official recognition of their sexual bonding is wrong. And to dress this as equality is plainly stupid. SSM has little or nothing to do with equality.

    • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      1. The Church can but the logic of that would be to found a Catholic political party.”so that the faithful can vote in line with Church teaching” – that really resonates with old-line Catholicism – Here’s what’s right, now do it. I’m a practising Catholic and I bridle at such an approach.
      2. If 10 questions is a minimum, how long do you think the candidate is going to stay talking to you? And why this 10? And why give the wording? Does the Church believe people are incapable of articulating a question?
      3. ‘You weigh up the answers’ – how? David Quinn on Nolan today said that the abortion issue was the most important. If he’s right, shouldn’t the bishops have made it clear that that was the case?
      4. Oops. Maybe we’re in agreement.
      5. Couldn’t agree with you less, Croiter. Does the Church believe homosexuals are somehow adding to their sin by calling their union, or being allowed to call their union, ‘marriage’? Surely it’s what people do or don’t do, not what label is put on something, that matters? Or does the C Church believe gay marriage will somehow destroy traditional marriage? I can honestly say I don’t get it. On either side, btw – why gays (and others) feel so storngly about it, why the Church appears to feel so strongly about it.

      • Croiteir April 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

        1. I do not accept that the logic is to start a Catholic political party, the point is to lay out what the bishops perceive as issues Catholic voters should be aware of and what is the Church’s position on them. That may bridle you but I welcome such direction. The Curch is a preaching and teaching institution. It is up to you to accept what is preached and taught or not.
        2. I hope the candidate will stay as long as I need to answer the questions I have. And as long as possible for any unionist canvasser. Why not the wording. It is a guide. Nothing wrong with giving that guide. As for why the bishops formulated that ten I cannot answer. You need to ask them.
        3. You need to take the whole sentence not selectively pick a few out of it.
        4. Oops
        5. The label is very important as to what the nature of marriage is. The redefinition of marriage to exclude the gender difference may broaden the meaning but to me it also makes it shallower.

        • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

          Thanks, Croiteir – you’ve clearly put some thought into this. I’m dashing off shortly but briefly:
          1. It would be logical that the Church establish a Catholic party if it wants its teaching to make headway. That then opens the possibility of a theocracy. I’ve been a teacher all my working life and I know that the root of the word ‘education’ is ‘to draw out’, not to push in. Besides, I always thought I (and millions of others) was/were the Church. Or is it only bishops? And does the interpretation of bishops constitute Church teaching?
          2. There’s a need to be realistic. No candidate will be able to give that amount of time again and again. Why don’t Catholics (i) know what the Church doctrine is; (ii) read the political manifestos; (iii) use their God-given brain and think for themselves? This is Catholicism-for-children stuff.4. Oops. 5. I don’t understand the ‘makes it shallower’ thing. I don’t believe that gays believing in marriage for them alters or threatens my marriage at all. Except as I say if the Church thinks it’ll contribute to the collapse of conventional marriage – which is collapsing already. I think it’d make more sense to look at how to make conventional marriage work better (about a third of couples are fleeing it, while gays are clamouring to get in. Shome mishtake shurely?)

          • Croiteir April 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

            1 I for one do not support a Catholic party. I strongly believe that the Church needs to keep a distance from politics. The closer the Church gets to political power the more corrupt it will become. I prefer it to be a thorn in the side of politicians.
            The Church can mean a number of things. There is the Church militant as you describe. All of us. Then there is the institutional Church of the bishops and so on. Then there is the Church as a mystical body. And if course there are other understandings and definitions.

            However I believe what we are discussing is the institutional Church being represented locally by the relevant ordinaries . It is part of their remit to advise us on the teaching of the Church. It is in fact their duty. As go whether it is dogma. I would not think all of it is..

            2. There is no reason why Catholics cannot do that just as there is no reason why Bishops should not remind them of it. That is their function. And their is also no reason to say that their teaching should be limited either physically or temporarily. Nothing wrong with a reminder.

            I cannot recall saying that SSM threatens your marriage in particular. I would not wish to personalise this discussion in that fashion and if I have I immediately apologise and hope you will allow me to recall the statement for it was wrong to personalise the discussion.

            However SSM does affect marriage. It puts a different understanding of the nature of marriage. And to my mind that is to the detriment of marriage. I also believe that this is also a reason for the fall in the numbers of people getting married. The traditional understanding of the meaning of marriage has changed.

          • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

            No offence taken I promise you, C. (Not sure about the wife…) I don’t think SSM has led to a fall in numbers getting married. That fall began decades before SSM became an issue (hate that word – ‘issue’, not SSm). I still don’t get how it could be detrimental to my marriage or anyone else’s. In some cultures polygamy is big; alas, it’s never changed marriage nearer home…

  6. cushy glen April 28, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    The Catholic Church’s opposition to republicanism/ nationalism whatever you care to call it (I prefer to see it as their opposition to the Irish people per se) goes back long before 1798, Jude.

    In 1154 Pope Adrian IV (Nicholas Breakspeare, the only English Pope) encouraged Henry II of England to invade Ireland. This was on condition that Henryallowed the Catholic Church to take over the Irish Christian Church & get rent from it. At that time the Irish church was independent of Rome.

    Henry wasn’t keen, but eventually warmed to the idea & invaded in 1170. The rest is history.

    In partnership with the Normans all vestiges of an independent nation were removed. The wonderful Irish monastic system that had inspired Europe was replaced by the continental Cistercians, Benedictines & Franciscians.

    The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been in a quiet partnership with the English ruling elite ever since. When the English withdrew in 1922 from the 26 counties the Church took over & there followed many decades of abuse equal to anything the English did. It was only when the Church was exposed for its abuse of women & children in the late 20th century that the Irish began to wake up to the deception.

    The Irish need to continue to wake up & keep this abusive church hierarchy out of their social & political life.

    • Gearoid April 28, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

      The early Irish Church possessed certain practices that differed to varying degrees from their counterparts on the continent e.g.monk’s tonsure but this did not mean that they were out of communion with Rome during this period. In fact both the Latin and Orthodox wings of Catholic Christianity were united(before the great schism in 1054) i.e. Rome was in communion with Constantinople and Irish Christians would be puzzled at your claims of “independence”. They very much seen themselves as being in union with the See of Peter as the great 6thc A.D. Leinster missionary, St Columbanus explained in a letter to St Boniface- “We Irish, though dwelling at the far ends of the earth, are all disciples of Saint Peter and Saint Paul … we are bound to the Chair of Peter, and although Rome is great and renowned, through that Chair alone is she looked on as great and illustrious among us … On account of the two Apostles of Christ, you are almost celestial, and Rome is the head of the whole world, and of the Churches.”

      • Cushy Glen April 30, 2016 at 9:20 am #

        The Celtic church paid homage to St Peter (even though there’s no evidence connecting Peter to Rome) like many other saints. But they never accepted the authority of the Pope. The Comarba of the Celtic church was not appointed by Rome & did not pay homage to him.
        The Church of Rome saw this independence as a threat to their global ambition. Adrian IV despised the Celtic church because of its different practices & its independence & sought to conquer them through the English.

  7. giordanobruno April 28, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    If you decide to worship a god you can hardly complain about being patronised by his earthly representatives.
    Religion treats us as children. That is part of the deal..

    • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 11:38 am #

      That’s the third very silly thing you’ve said about religion in the last twenty-four hours, gio. Not to say offensive.

      • giordanobruno April 28, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

        Which part is inaccurate?

  8. michael c April 28, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    People might like to know that Bernie Smith (precious life ) signed the nomination papers of McElveen the North Antrim DUP candidate.Now Bernie is a bit of a hero as far as the bishops are concerned and they have nominated her for various ultra catholic type awards over the years.Mr Mcelveen would have some very interesting views on catholicism.Have we permission to vote for him?

  9. paul April 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    “the word came from Maynooth support the Nazis
    ‘The men of cloth have failed us again;
    while the bishops blessed the Blueshirts in Dun Laoghaire
    as they sailed beneath the swatstika for Spain”

    This line from a well known song illustrates the negative things the church has done in Ireland. The men of 1916 were threatened with excommunication as were the Fenians. Magdalene Laundries, Industrial Schools and the list goes on.

    • Iolar April 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

      Haliczer’s study of sexual abuse in the confessionals of Spain puts the average age of women victims at twenty-seven.

    • Ryan April 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

      “The men of 1916 were threatened with excommunication as were the Fenians. Magdalene Laundries, Industrial Schools and the list goes on”

      I wonder if paedophile priests were threatened with excommunication? I would have thought destroying a child’s life would warrant such a measure. Or those bankers who were Catholics in the USA and Europe when they crashed the World economy in 2008? I know quite a lot about Adolf Hitler who was a Catholic, was Hitler ever threatened with excommunication? I don’t think so….

      The reality is the only one who can truly excommunicate a person is God himself, that’s my belief anyway. Excommunication has long been used as a threatening tool by the Church, in most cases wrongly. If I were Pope (what a nutty time I’d have lol) I wouldn’t excommunicate anyone. My morality is that there should be extremely few reasons to disallow any person to receive the Sacraments.

      The Church should remember: “Judge not lest ye be judged”.

  10. billy April 28, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    safest place for children these days is within the catholic church,
    just ruined a laptop there spit the mouth full of coffee all over it.
    this outfit have some neck on them acting as thought police.

    • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

      Now Billy – laptops cost money. The C Church – or rather Catholic clergy – were guilty of appalling acts – as were just about every other grouping in society (BBC, Westminster, other faiths, you name it). The fact is, the C Church has now set up a system which means that at the first hint of accusation, things go straight to the state and the accused is suspended from priestly duties. Which is good if the accusation is true; there is the possibility that some are false. But that won’t matter, because the priest’s reputation will have been shattered. Check it out, Billy – you may agree with the system now in place or have reservations, but it doesn’t make sense to say it’s not there when it is.

      • Michael April 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

        And why did the Catholic Church recently put this system in place??
        Was it to protect the abused??
        Clearly not as they could have done that decades ago and saved countless people and their families the pain and hurt caused.

        No, they were forced to set up these systems to protect their reputation as it lay in tatters after being exposed for not only the child abuse but also covering up said abuse when they moved individuals to other parishes to go on to abuse again. In cases the actual abused was pressurised into changing their story or into not reporting it at all.

        They were aware of what was going on for decades but chose to do nothing until it came under the public, journalistic and governmental scrutiny. Only then did they put systems in place. How thoughtful of them!

        Watch the Oscar winning film Spotlight to see how it happened similarily in Boston and across the US, read the associated books, read the reports that were commissioned by the Irish government and others. It was endemic. It was disgraceful.

        • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 8:31 am #

          I agree with you just about 100%. However, I think I find two things absent in criticism of Catholic clerical abuse: (i) that whatever they did in the past, the Catholic Church now has a more-than-alert system to respond to even a hint of abuse; (ii) (and this I think is very important) – the sexual abuse of children has been presented as a problem unique to celibate Catholic clergy. The figures – and daily reports these days – show that Catholic clergy abused children at roughly the same rate – or maybe even less – than other groups in society. In fact the most likely abuser is a member of your family. I wouldn’t for a moment underplay the scandal of men of God systematically ruining children’s lives in the most cruel fashion. But we shouldn’t fall for the ‘paedophile priest’ mantra, as though paedophilia resided only there.

          • Michael April 29, 2016 at 9:07 am #

            Jude……abuse happens, it shouldn’t but it does.

            What is unforgivable and what shouldn’t happen is the fact that it was known about at the highest levels FOR DECADES and covered up time and time and time again.

            The Catholic Church did nothing for decades when it knew about this abuse. As I pointed out already, it wasn’t confined to Ireland but across the globe.

            There’s evidence today that it is still happening and being covered up in less developed areas of the globe such as South America, Africa and Asia where there may not be as much scrutiny and the population don’t feel empowered enough to speak out.

            If this was any other organisation they would be roundly condemned but because of “faith” people don’t.

            Exactly the reason why religions or religious leaders should have absolutely no say in government or the running of any state.

          • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 9:52 am #

            I agree – cover-ups of abuse have been and are appalling. Of course it’s in the nature of all big institutions (and maybe small ones as well) to protect themselves and if necessary deceive outsiders (ask any teacher who’s had a general inspection). I think I disagree that religions/religious leaders should have no say in government or running of the state. I wouldn’t exclude acccountants or A O H or Orange Order or…All these are part of society and have a right to express their views. They don’t have a right to impose those views on others. Maybe it’s a historical thing – the Catholic Church has traditionally been anti-republican – but we do seem quicker to block any influence by the Catholic Church but less quick to block big business or banks or…You get the idea.

          • Michael April 29, 2016 at 10:15 am #

            Your article is about Catholic Bishops interfering with affairs of the state or rather trying to persuade their flock to do it on their behalf.
            If the article was about big business or banks trying to interfere with affairs of the state we may be talking about them, buts it not, so we arnt.

            The problem with people of “faith” interfering with affairs of the state is that they base judgments on said “faith” which is frequently not backed up by evidence and often the evidence is actually blatantly contradictory to said faith.
            Trying to impose biblical beliefs into education, for example, regarding the age of the earth, climate change, geology, chemistry etc etc happens because we allow these kind of people to seize power.

            The Catholic Church held a lot of power within Ireland and because of that abuse was able to go on for decades while people of “faith” excused them or turned a blind eye or helped with the cover up. Its still happening now on this thread. Blindly, unquestioningly following someone/something is bad on individual scale but it’s very dangerous on a national scale.

            Let’s not have people who blindly, unquestioningly follow something, especially when evidence points to the contrary, run a country.

          • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 11:23 am #

            “Its still happening now on this thread. ” – where, Michael? I see little signs on this site of people following “blindly, unquestioningly”…

        • billy April 29, 2016 at 9:55 am #

          as though paedophilia resided only there,no but its one of the reasons many joined the gang they knew they would be safe and be sent to work with kids especially in under developed countries.they already had the oul idiots here brainwashed but now with falling numbers among the young they are trying the politics game maybe to try and make themselves relevant again.

          • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 10:12 am #

            I know the view that clergy became clergy in order to abused is widespread but I frankly don’t believe it. If I were intent on abuse, I don’t know if I’d enter a system where I had to wait six or seven years before I got started. Likewise being sent to ‘underdeveloped countries’ – I think most probably went there with reasonably high ideals and then found themselves in circumstances that gave free rein to all their viler instincts. I don’t thik abusers are all that patient.

  11. Belfastdan April 28, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    Of course the church is just as entitled to its point of view as the rest of us, but no more than that. The lash of the crozier has been replaced by a gentle prod (and no I do not mean our separated brethren) and if they should acknowledge the reality that they are speaking to a rapidly diminishing group who take their lead on matters solely from the church.

    I do not agree with abortion, I am not entirely supportive of same sex marriage, but I will vote for SF, as for now they are the only option for me as a nationalist who wishes to see a UI.

    If and when that happens, and if I am still around, then I may well vote for some other party.

  12. Michael April 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    The church, any church, religious leaders or religion need to keep their noses well and truely out of politics and the “state”.

  13. Danny Kelly April 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    I wouldn’t take advice from the Catholic Church if you offered me a million quid People who believe in a fairy in the sky? This all loving God? Who created everything including evil? Catholic teaching is a nonsense as is religion in general Bless me father for I have sinned Ach sure don’t worry about it you’re in good company

    • Gearoid April 28, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

      This is a rather unthinking, childish contribution to the discussion of God and religious issues. The “fairy in the sky” epithet so beloved of militant atheists just make those who want to make an intelligent contribution yawn as it is so passé.

  14. Mark April 28, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Jude, would you agree, our faith is like our identity, something we can be fiercely proud of, without having to agree with the management?

    • Jude Collins April 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

      Total agreement, Mark. And since you mention it, I find some of the comments on religion that people are posting arrogant and dismissive. Because people believe in something you don’t isn’t grounds for going yah-sucks-boo (I know argie has said I did that with the SDLP but if I did I shouldn’t have). Measured by scientific criteria, of course religion is absurd. But that’s why it’s called faith. And when I’m at it (why do I allow these people to draw me in??), for we tiny dots clinging for a few brief years to the surface of a small rock spinning in space, surrounded by infinite galaxies and black holes and you name it, to declare definitively that what we know is as far as life/experience/understanding can go strikes me as …well, putting more belief in human wisdom than humanity has shown so far…

      • giordanobruno April 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

        Jude Believe whatever you want, but if it is not rational you can expect people to point that out.
        As long as the religious keep pushing their beliefs into secular society then the rest of us are entitled to comment on it.
        I’m sorry if that seems rude, but in your words:
        “Measured by scientific criteria, of course religion is absurd. But that’s why it’s called faith.”
        That is almost exactly what I said the other day.
        By the way the economic study you mention was not independent as you should remember. It was commissioned by friends of Sinn Fein.

        • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 8:33 am #

          “That is almost exactly what I said the other day” – a darlin’ word, almost. Re the UBC research – I wasn’t aware of that. Can you point me to the link that’ll show that?

          • giordanobruno April 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

            You mean a link like you did not provide?
            It was pretty thoroughly examined over on slugger at the time.
            It is quite long so I’ve copied the most relevant part for you.

            “According to an on-line listing for Knights of the Red Branch, Inc. the registered agent for the organisation is Ciaran Scally and the business address is in Oakland, California.

            Ciaran Scally made the news in 1999, when he convinced Oakland City Council to name a previously un-named “50-yard stretch of roadway” [going nowhere? – Ed] “Gerry Adams Way”. The SF Gate report tells us that Ciaran Scally “emigrated here from Northern Ireland 15 years ago” [1984]. According to the report

            Scally, an electrician by trade, also felt as if he has some say because he is developing a plot of land just across the street that would be named for Adams.

            The Sinn Féin president visited Oakland in 2002 for an unveiling of the street sign.

            Ciaran Scally is listed on CorporationWiki as being associated with two companies, according to public records – Scally Electric Inc. and Rathlin Properties LLC.

            It’s Ciaran Scally’s property development business, Rathlin Properties LLC, that shares the same business address as the Knights of the Red Branch, Inc.

            Ciaran Scally, of Scally Electric Inc, Piedmont California, appears in the list of donors to Friends of Sinn Féin that the Irish Times compiled [xlsx file]. Between 1997 and 2011 over $14,000 was donated in his name. Included in that is around $7000 in various amounts in just one month, April 2003.”

            And the link:

      • Sherdy April 28, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

        Jude, I wouldn’t be too severe with those you consider ‘arrogant and dismissive’.
        It is just possible some may have started out as faithful church members, but have had the love and faith knocked out of them.

      • paul April 28, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

        despite my previous post I am a catholic , who truly beleives in a merciful God. I feel that ‘the management’ of the Catholic faith falls far short of Jesus teachings just like most religions do. I just feel that the church in many instances selectively condemns things for its own survival. The church for the most part IMHO has not been friendly to the quest for Irish freedom. and I have an issue with that

        • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 8:25 am #

          I’m in pretty well total agreement, Paul. There are some individual priests who have been sympathetic to Irish movements for independence, but the emphasis has always been, by the church, that the taigs should stop right now and go home.

          • paul April 29, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

            Sin e Jude

      • Mark April 28, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

        It was a question I kinda knew the answer would be in the affirmative Jude, agree absolutely with the analysis on faith, God’s an odd sort, full of anomaly but, I’d rather ifhe ran his own show than most of those gobshites he’s left oversight to in the past many thousands of decades.
        Mind you, the present chief commissioner is a better sort than any I’ve read of previously, problem is, he does not comment on the occupation of our Nation, I was re-reading the Proclamation last week, the key paragraph is the penultimate one, the church management disagreed with the whole thing, much too equal.

      • Argenta April 28, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

        Thanks for the belated acknowledgement of my viewpoint as expressed in the April 25th postings.It’s good to note that your “considered judgement ” evolved into something a little more tolerant of other folks opinions!

        • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 8:21 am #

          Fadhb, argie – I still think the SDLP offer nothing that SF don’t offer, and therefore (technically and if I were in kicking form) there might be some truth in the notion that they occupy a space that might better be occupied by other political entities…:)

  15. Perkin Warbeck April 28, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    Was that eleventh hour phone call, Esteemed Blogmeister, the Nolan Show’s way of marking the 1916 commemoration thingy? A sort of a re-enactment of the Eoin McNeill-style countermanding deal going down?

    Or, erm, not?

    And if not, as the contemporary phrase has it, ‘what part of Nolan does one not understand?’.

    But to hop-step to your clinically precise autopsy report, and if one may, to jump to bulletpoint Number 4. It has a more than timely relevance to what is going down going forward Down Here south of the Black Sow’s Dyke.

    In a Primate of Ireland sense rather than a Primate of All-Ireland one if you will. Or, for the sporty types, a League of Ireland way rather than an Irish League one.

    -The Irish public are capable of holding two ideas in their heads at the same time – the question of Irish re-unification and independence, and the question of what are called ‘bread and butter issues’.

    Right now here in the Free Southern Stateen we are on the verge of coming to the endgame of a General Election, or not. A campaign conducted almost entirely on ‘bread and butter’ issues, or even, ‘bread and water’ issues. To raise an issue to do with the vision thingy, as it were, would be to invite a ‘let them eat cake’ response in the happy go unlucky tradition of slapstick.

    Not so much a custard pie in the puss but more along the lines of a ‘Black Forest’ flung with full force in the physog. Less frog, more hun.

    The Maire-Antoinettes of the media, of both genders, saw to that. As the painful campaign was conducted simultaneously with SF in one corner and SF in the other (Sinn Fein, and Sherwood Foresters, respectively) the ‘Black Forest’ element was introduced to the menu whenever a Shinner was in the studio. By implication, of course, rather than by explanation.

    The Shinners thought better of speaking on topics other than ‘buttered bread and water’ ones; or, to put it another way, they kept their cake holes shut. While several layers of chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched with whipped cream and decorated with cherries are indubitably delish , too much of a good thing can be , well, not go good.

    It tends to make things too easy for the kowtow-learners of the media to link the Shinners with the goose-stepping Black Foresters against whom the Sherwood Foresters, so gallantly and so valiantly fought, but alas so talently, not. (c.f., the Mount Street Bridge suicide pommers).

    As for having a go at the Bishops , EB, sorry, but, woe is one, one must pass on that one. Rather a crowded market, that . Down here in DOBland things are ordered differently. Queues of an unfeasible length, stretching for blocks from the main doors of The Unionist Times and RTE and other outposts of snortodoxy, form every morning at an unchristian and indeed unearthly hour to have a pot shot at the Men in Frocks.

    For the Laissez Faire attitude of the Bishops towards the Conor Crozier O ‘Brien line on the Vision Thingy? Well, no.

    Solely to do with the Bishops’ Aisy There take on gay wedlock and other kindred issues which have made us such a laughing stock of the liberal livestock who moo and bray and squawk into microphones. All the way from frigid to less frigid time zones quite unknown to that of St. Bridget with the Rigid View.

    Try to jump that queue, longer even than a Lenten litany plus trimmings, and you are full sure to get a plump lump on the back of the skull. From the stone in the stocking tirade of the Nurse Cadden Brigade.

    No use neither trying to contact the Talk to Joe friendly phone-in show: exorbitant Roman charges, don’t you know.

    Odds are, the airwaves will be already hogged by the moan-in tones of Colm ‘Gollum’ O Gorman, of Amnesty Ireland. Whose friendly, nay, sympathetic sobriquet was bestowed upon him by his phalanxes of devotees and other Tolka-side Tolkiens on account of his habit of making ‘ a horrible swallowing sound in his throat’ . Perfectly understandable, given the horrors he has endured at the hands of the ‘Men in Frocks’.

    There is a Dublin public house , reverentially called ‘The Confession Box’ , located on Marlborough Street contagious to the venue where the ‘Men in Frocks’ are known to congregate on special occasions: the Pro-Cathedral.

    If some sinner happens to manage the unthinkable and jump the above-mentioned queues he is liable to be nabbed by the Nabobs of Normal Thought. The punishment is appropriately severe: sentenced to kneel down and confess in the real confession box, the one on Capel Street, the globally acclaimed one, known as, erm, the Panti Bliss Bar.

    There, a seated Archbishop of unimpeachable moral authority and resplendent in an even more flamboyant, peach-coloured frock, will, with knuckled fist to the chin, incline his ear to the grid or lattice, separating him from the kneeling sinner.

    Bless one, EB, but one is out of here, pronto: his Penance being always mightier than even (gulp) the swordfish on Friday

  16. ben madigan April 28, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

    Has no one in the catholic clergy ever heard that the French and US republics are based on separation of Church and State.
    The 1867 Fenian proclamation articulated it very clearly
    “We declare, also, in favour of absolute liberty of conscience, and complete separation of Church and State”. which is probably what annoyed the CC so much about Fenianism (and maybe also various Protestant Unionist groupings).

    150-odd years later, it’s time for the CC (and all other religion-based parties -DUP I’m looking at you and the Free Presbyterians) to learn this lesson-

    I sincerely hope all voters will vote for the party that best reflects their own political views, not their religious views and not what others tell them to vote for because they want to maintain a power-base in today’s society.

    • Michael April 28, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

      Completely agree BM.
      I you want to believe in religion that’s down to yourself but don’t impose your religious beliefs on others through government.
      Church and State MUST be 2 separate entities.

      Have we really learnt nothing down through years?!

      • Jude Collins April 29, 2016 at 8:35 am #

        I agree, Michael – nobody should try to impose their beliefs on others, whether religious or secular or atheist. I think people with different beliefs (everybody believes in something) should show tolerance and acceptance of difference. As the Jesuit ( 😉 ) poet Gerald Manley Hopkins said ‘Glory be to God for dappled things’…

  17. Ryan April 28, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

    Ahh, the Catholic Church, its been run for centuries by very slippery individuals and still is. They are as crafty and astute as any politician when weighting up who to support and who to condemn when it comes to social/political issues, hence why they mostly opposed Republicanism for so long because that was the easy option but I know for a fact most Priests supported Irish Republicanism regardless of what their Bishops said and were more devout Republicans than many an IRA man was.

    I use to always think that the selection of Popes was done on the basis of how Holy a Cardinal was and how devoted to his flock he was all his life but that certainly wasn’t the selection process for most Popes, especially in eras like 15th Century Italy where powerful banking Italian families had family members elected as Popes. There was one case, I believe it was Pope Alexander, who even fathered a daughter who later went on to become a powerful and wealthy woman. I’m sure that wasn’t an isolated incident. There has been numerous occasions when the Church hasn’t practiced what it preached, that also goes for all religions.

    Does the Catholic Church, or any religious group, have a right to voice their opinion on society? Of course they do, especially if they have over a billion followers worldwide. I’m a Catholic, in the community (or sectarian) and religious sense. I would listen to what the Catholic Church says, as I would do to anyone but God gave me my own brain and free will, so I will weigh up the options and make my own judgement.

    There are some arrogant and dismissive comments on this blog from people towards the Catholic Church but the double standards is if those comments were directed towards Islam or Judaism then buzzwords like “Islamophobia”, “anti-Semite” or even “Racist” would be the first words out of some of those same people who are now bashing the Catholic Church. We don’t often get this kind of thing on Judes blog but its common elsewhere. Its something you continually see in society today: some people can be criticized (like Christians) but others cant (Like Jews) and buzzwords are used to intimidate people into silence, the most popular is the ever dreaded “racist”, especially when it comes to immigration. It reminds me of the book by Eric Berne called “Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships”. Society plays this big game of “Lets Pretend”, lets pretend we all respect each other, lets pretend we all hate this brand of politics but love this brand, etc. Lets pretend everyone is equal and everyone’s views are taken into account. The reality is few people are equal in our society and no, not everyone’s views are taken on board and considered, only the views that are deemed “acceptable”…..whatever that means……