This chapter takes a number of priests with a public profile and examines the extent to which they are prophetic voices or complicit functionaries. Choosing the French priest-writer Jean Sulivan (1913-1980) as a comparator, Eamon Maher examines the published work of Joseph Dunn, Vincent Twomey, Mark Patrick Hederman and Brendan Hoban, before concluding that they all share the prophetic tendency of raising uncomfortable and often unpopular issues while remaining within the institution. He further argues that being so closely aligned to the Church makes it difficult, and professionally dangerous, for priests to criticise certain practices within the institution. However, while retaining a huge love of, and devotion to, the main tenets of Catholicism, these men nevertheless feel obliged to point out things that are going wrong, even when expressing such views can often involve them in conflict with their superiors at home and in Rome.
Street photography, humanism and the loss of innocence
Justin Carville draws on recent debates in relation to photography and the everyday in order to examine the role of street-photography in the cultural politics of religion as it was played out in the quotidian moments of social relations within Dublin’s urban and suburban spaces during the 1980s and 90s. The essay argues that photography was important in giving visual expression to the social contradictions within the relations between religion and the transformation of Irish social life, not through the dramatic and traumatic experiences that defined the nation’s increased secularism, but in the quiet, humdrum and sometimes monotonous routines of religious ceremonies and everyday social relations.
Louise Fuller claims that there can be no doubt that Irish Catholicism is in serious decline. The decline itself is no huge surprise: it is the extent of the implosion and the consequences this has had on Irish society that require explanation. The ‘aggressive secularism’ that is now commonplace has led to a situation where it has become extremely difficult to express a Catholic viewpoint in the public arena, a situation that is as unhealthy in its own way as the theocracy that dominated for far too long in Ireland. Major changes in how it communicates the Word of God will be necessary if the Church is to have any hope of reengaging the minds and hearts of a population that is becoming theologically illiterate and indifferent to religious observance of any type.
Tracing the transformation of Irish Catholicism through the eyes of a journalist
Patsy McGarry draws on the knowledge of the changed role of religion in Irish society that he has accumulated as religious affairs correspondent of The Irish Times through the troubled recent decades. He points out that until the Church hierarchy is prepared to acknowledge responsibility for their poor handling of the clerical abuse scandals and the pain inflicted on the survivors, there will be no healing. His treatment of the various scandals and the role of Irish bishops in trying to limit reputational damage to the Church, illustrate McGarry’s contention that the times are definitely ‘a changin’’ and they will continue to do so for some time to come in Ireland.
Catherine Maignant’s chapter deals with Tony Flannery, another Irish priest whose writings and liberal media pronouncements led to a caution from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which disqualifies him from publishing work or accepting invitations to express his views at public events without seeking prior permission from Rome. Maignant argues that Flannery has all the traits of a Christian witness, in that he is a prophet who appears to be reviled by certain forces within his own Church for daring the express unpalatable truths. Notwithstanding his censure, he has continued to write and to air his sometimes-daring opinions, all the while knowing that they could eventually lead to his excommunication.
This book engages with the spectacular disenchantment with Catholicism in Ireland over the relatively short period of four decades. It begins with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 and in particular his address to young people in Galway, where the crowd had been entertained beforehand by two of Ireland’s most celebrated clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey and Fr Michael Cleary, both of whom were engaged at the time in romantic affairs that resulted in the birth of children. It will be argued that the Pope’s visit was prompted by concern at the significant fall in vocations to priesthood and the religious life and the increasing secularism of Irish society. The book then explores the various referenda that took place during the 1980s on divorce and abortion which, although they resulted in victories for the Church, demonstrated that their hold on the Irish public was weakening. The clerical abuse scandals of the 1990s were the tipping point for an Irish public which was generally resentful of the intrusive and repressive form of Catholicism that had been the norm in Ireland since the formation of the State in the 1920s. Boasting an impressive array of contributors from various backgrounds and expertise, the essays in the book attempt to delineate the exact reasons for the progressive dismantling of the cultural legacy of Catholicism and the consequences this has had on Irish society. Among the contributors are Patricia Casey, Joe Cleary, Michael Cronin, Louise Fuller, Patsy McGarry, Vincent Twomey and Eamonn Wall.
This chapter examines the special position women hold in a discussion of minority rights. They are seen as victims who need rescuing or as sexual exotic beings. This was as true under colonialism as it is now, particularly with regard to Muslim women. The logic of “civilising” is inherent to this logic, particularly expressed around what is seen as an inferior culture. Feminists are not exempt from this attitude. I examine the politics around the veiling issue in France, and forced marriages in Britain, as examples of this trend.
This chapter looks at the theory of citizenship through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It examines the practice and definition of multi-ethnic and multicultural citizenship in both Britain and France, especially in regard to postcolonial migrants and their children.
This chapter look at the hyphen between nation and state in the term in nation-state. It theorises that the nation is ideologically and culturally constructed as opposed to the state. Minorities have to be integrated in both formations. However while they are legally part of the state and are citizens, they are excluded from the nation at many levels. Thus they live a hyphenated existence, between two formations.