Troublesome priests
Responses to clerical support for republicanism
in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
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Support for the IRA took place as far away from the limelight as possible. Nevertheless republican priests had to account for themselves often enough, to their bishop or religious superior for example, or, if they were curates, to their parish priest. This was also true for priests who publicly supported Sinn Féin. The current chapter examines the interaction between these priests and their social surroundings, ecclesiastical and lay. Bishops, religious superiors and parish priests had agendas of their own that determined their responses. It was important to the bishops not to alienate the republican camp, but they also had to respond to the criticisms of scandalised conservatives, while ensuring that lines of communication with the government in Dublin Castle remained open. Moreover, they were concerned for the Irish church’s reputation abroad, especially in the Vatican. Religious superiors wanted to avoid internal conflict within their communities, and parish priests often simply wished to keep trouble away from their church doors. How did these ecclesiastical authorities respond to the activities of republican priests? Which forms of support were acceptable to them and which were not? And how did the priests in question defend their actions to their superiors?

Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21


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