Interfering where they shouldn’t
Interaction with republicans
in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
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Pulpit condemnations were part of a conversation with the flock rather than simply authoritative monologues. Priests did not operate in isolation from lay Catholics and weighed their words carefully depending on their audience. This chapter examines clerical interaction with republicans. Often the republican response to condemnation took the form of verbal criticism. The interaction included theological arguments about the legitimacy or otherwise of IRA killings. Some priests intervened actively to prevent the carrying out of IRA operations. By way of response, Volunteers sometimes resorted to intimidation of clerics. This chapter looks at instances of clerical obstruction of the IRA and its consequences, and at republican criticism of clerical condemnation. It also analyses the different theological arguments about the moral status of the guerrilla war. Finally, it looks at another important question concerning the clergy’s response: it asks whether clergy furthered or countered the allegedly sectarian nature of the guerrilla campaign.

Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21

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