Murdered French priest: politics or religion?

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The killing of the 84-year-old priest in Normandy, while he said Mass, is as gruesome and horrifying a killing as you can imagine. Confronted with such actions, it’d be understandable if France were to lurch to the right and say “Enough – we can’t allow this any more” and follow through ruthlessly, curtailing civil liberties, dispensing with laws of privacy,  going after the Islamic community in France and dismissing those who’d have any qualms as bleeding hearts.

That’s why Pope Francis’s reaction was outstanding.  “The world is at war because it has lost peace,” he said.  “There is a war of interest, there is a war for money, a war for natural resources, a war to dominate people. Some might think it is war of religion. It is not. All religions want peace.”  He refused to make the knee-jerk interpretation, that this is a modern form of the Crusades. He rightly identified that these kind of killings happen because there are those people and states who want to seize resources, subjugate.

It’s easy to understand why most other comments and reports ignore the Pope’s interpretation. The whole emphasis in France has been, is the state secure enough, what can we do to make people more secure, what powers do we need to stop these murderous psychopaths?

That was the line which the British state and unionist politicians took to republicans during the Troubles, and you can see why it happened. You’d have to forgive those who would respond to the priest’s death by launching an equally brutal armed response. But just as repression didn’t work here, it won’t work there.

In fact, the conflict that is born out of the Middle East has a  considerable degree of equivalence with here. In both cases it was a political clash, with the British armed forces attempting to put down what they saw as an insurrection; and that political clash was threaded with elements of revolting sectarianism on both sides.

When you hear of the horrors of the French priest’s death, you can see why those who were hurt in our Troubles find it  hard to forgive those who inflicted the pain. But somehow, to our credit, we have by  and large surmounted that primitive desire for  revenge. We have found ways, however haltingly, of working together. And that’s why it’s important that unionism and republicanism/nationalism, despite the temptation to do otherwise, must both sides engage in positive acts of reconciliation, acts that’ll help make the suffering of the past more bearable.

We’re half-way in our attempts to manage the pain inflicted on one another;  the French and Germans are only beginning.

15 Responses to Murdered French priest: politics or religion?

  1. Jim Neeson July 28, 2016 at 8:55 am #

    Excellent and enlightening article.Will the media give light to your thoughts? I doubt it!!!

  2. Scott July 28, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    Well said Jude

  3. Antaine de Brún July 28, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    Billions of dollars and pounds have been spent and continue to be spent on weapons of mass destruction. Journalists embedded with military personnel have provided us with commentary about precision bombing and collateral damage. From the comfort of living rooms we may observe mass destruction on an unprecedented scale. We have the luxury to agree or disagree with an axis of evil agenda, established, aided and abetted by some politicians and movie moguls. Manufacturers of play station war games make fortunes as blood soaks into sand in the Middle East or on streets throughout Europe.

    The term, Islamophobia is in frequent use in the media at present. We tend, however, not to hear or read about the fact that Islamic civilization pioneered important developments in science and the world is a better place now in some places, courtesy of notable scientists, mathematicians, doctors and astronomers. Many cradles of civilization, however, have been destroyed as a result of western military intervention and aggression. Men, women and children have died as a result of economic sanctions that prevented doctors access to life saving drugs and medicine. Famine remains a fact of life for many in 2016.

    We do not need a war, to end another war. The slaughter that was the Somme, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan ought to alert us to the the need for urgent diplomatic and political initiatives in order to end the current spiral into violence and destruction.

  4. Wolfe tone July 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    We analyse how irish men were duped into fighting for British imperialism 100 yrs ago. From that analysis we feel it couldn’t happen again. Alas judging from the utterances of some influential figures and others, it’s hardly a stretch to imagine Irish people joining up to fight again……this time for EU imperialism.
    Where were the great and the good of Europe when Christian unionist terrorists were murdering people for their religion?

  5. Perkin Warbeck July 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Enniskillen and Agatha Christie, Esteemed Blogmeister, will always be linked in what one is still pleased to call one’s mind.

    Reason being that at one period in one’s less than chronicle-worthy career one found oneself driving not infrequently between the Twin D’s: Dublin and Donegal. On the western outskirts of the Fermanagh capital one found oneself slowing down at a roundabout and glancing at the name of a factory adjacent to the right hand side of the road. Whose name always brought to mind the title of an Agatha Christie novel:

    -The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

    The name of the factory might well have been Ackroyd’s or something similar. At this remove one is not too sure as many of one’s little grey cells have, sadly/ happily, long since passed their sell-by date.

    On reading the details of the murder of the elderly French priest not far from the Belgian border one was reminded of the title of another novel, this time one which did not feature a Belgian detective:

    -1984 by George Orwell.

    Le pretre tragique was, of course, in his 85th year which seemed to deepen the sense of shock and outrage. While simultaneously surfacing the sense of sympathy and compassion.

    Now, as sympathy and compassion are not normally used in the same context as a priest (Catholic, in this instance) in the brand leader of the M.S.M. (Main Stream Media) on Liffeyside one looked with a certain heightened curiosity to the coverage of The Unionist Times /RTE of the murder.

    If old Dublin is characterized by its Georgian architecture, so also is newsy Dublin characterized by its Orwellian architecture.

    It might , with no little justification or difficulty for that matter, be argued that TUT is the natural safe house of first resort for such tut-tutters as Big Sister, the cult of personality, Winifred Smith in Room 101 of the Ministry of Truth, thoughtcontrol, doublethink and memory holes.

    Tuesday of last week there appeared in TUT an article which, mirabile dictu, combined nearly all of those component pieces. ut first, by way of context, a few findings from a feature on the current state of Irish journalism by Kevin Rafter which appeared in yesterday’s paper of record:

    -Trust levels among journalists are highly variable: religious leaders have the largest negative trust indicator (56 per cent little or no trust) . Interestingly, 69 % of journalists say religion is not influential, or has little influence on their work. And another 19% say religious is not relevant to their work.

    The only surprise here is that the 56 per cent figure is so low; considering the 110 per cent efforts The Unionist Times has put into tut-tutting at the RC religious leaders since old God’s time.

    Take for instance the article which appeared in Tuesday of last week: an article which contained the threes r’s: a repetition, a reiteration and a rerun of the litany of the loathsome deeds of child abuse by a former priest and Elvis-impersonator, Tony Doyle.

    Lest we forget ! Lest we forget !

    In this way has The Unionist Times, with no little help from its broadcasting wing, RTE, has succeeded in making the two p’s synonymous with each other:

    -paedophilia and priest (RC) .

    This is no mean feat considering the fact (irrefutable) that less than 3 % of priests (RC) in Ireland have been found guilty of the p-crime (making it infinitesimal in a total clerical- secular context). In the USA, the equivalent is 4%.

    Another feat of no mean achievement is how the best broadcasting company in the whole wide world has escaped any such no good mud flinging. No mud has been known to stick on the gable wall of Bush House, home of the BBC (for it is it !) and pied a terre of J. Saville, G. Glitter, C. Freud and Harris (Rolf) etc etc.

    Could be, of course, is that the architecture of that building is of a different anatomical type entirely and is in no way, erm, a Pelvis-impersonator.

    To conclude: just as 69% of folk listening to Bill eulogizing Hill were thinking of M for Monica so also, re. The Unionist Times only 69% of its readership were thinking of the p-word as they read of the horrific death of le pretre tragique.

    According to Malcolm Gladwell’s acclaimed book, The Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a given field, including the religious-flavoured political field..

    Memo to The Unionist Times: a lot done, more to do.

    • Perkin Warbeck July 29, 2016 at 10:50 am #


      Heuresement to report, Esteemed Blogmeister, mon ami, but the mystery name of the Enniskillen factory which reminded one of the Murder of Robert Ackroyd was:

      -Sir Richard Arkwright.

      One has one’s inner Hercule Poirot to thank for this.

      So, who was this mystery man? Turns out that though he was ‘a plain, almost gross, bay-cheeked, pot-bellied son of Lancashire who was of a copious free digestion’ he is universally if surprisingly recognized as ‘The Father of the Factory’.

      Surprisingly too, because although he was twice married , neither of his wives was, erm, Spinning Jenny.

      Neither was he a Buachaill on Eirne, either , even though he invented ,oops, patented the water-frame, to the benefits of which bone-weary weavers soon cottoned on, as it substituted steel cylinders for human fingers. That sort of thingy.

      One of the proto-types Doctors of Spin he spoofed his way into a Knighthood and became one of the rustproof Royalty of royalties.

      Patently, however, the Doctor of Spin, latterly of Derbyshire, , was not all he cracked himself up to be. For his claims in the patents court were hotly contested in 1781 by a whole posse of unknown inventors. The court agreed and the ‘patents’ of Sir Richard Arkwright were summarily set aside.

      Over two hundred years later, nonetheless, there is a far flung corner of Fermanagh which shall forever flaunt his famous name. Or, not. As the case may be.

      Happily, the case is now closed but, unhappily, the factory in question also seems to have been closed.

  6. Michael July 28, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    Have a look at Nelson McCauslands article today in the Bel Tel regards this.
    Nothing but cheap point scoring.
    It’s disgraceful.

    People employ this man to share his views?!
    And worse, people vote for him?!

    • billy July 28, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

      seen him..he forgot the priests killed in the ballymurphy and springhill massacres.

    • Páid July 28, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

      Michael a chara,
      the answer is simple, don’t buy papers that print the sort of views that you strongly disagree with and if enough people do that then maybe he won’t be employed for very long

      • Michael July 29, 2016 at 9:22 am #

        I havnt bought any newspaper in a long time.

    • Sherdy July 28, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

      Check up on the CV of the present editor of the BelTel, Gail Walker, and you will understand better her promotion of the likes of Nelson McCausland.

      • Michael July 29, 2016 at 9:23 am #

        I’m very aware of who the owner and editor of the Bel Tel is

  7. James hunter July 29, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    Great story jude

    • Jude Collins July 29, 2016 at 8:08 am #

      Thanks. Jim.Also grim…

  8. Martin Murray July 30, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    “When you hear of the horrors of the French priest’s death, you can see why those who were hurt in our Troubles find it hard to forgive those who inflicted the pain. But somehow, to our credit, we have by and large surmounted that primitive desire for revenge.”

    The natural human reaction is to either seek to protect ourselves with more violence or to seek revenge. The Christian response, in theory at least, is counter intuitive and is symbolised by the figure of its founder hanging on a scaffold of execution (cross). What it asks of us is to break the cycle of violence by somehow absorbing the pain and suffering directed at us, rather than perpetuate and escalate the violence through retaliation. A tall order. Something we can’t demand off others, only ourselves. From the outside this may seem like passivity, but on the inside it is just the opposite. So much so that only when we are in a situation that requires a response do we know if we have the capacity or inner strength for what it entails.