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Do we overstate the Catholic Church's power in 20th Century Ireland?


Niall996

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What has inspired this thread is the rather gruelling experience of hosting a gang of relatives last weekend, several of whom are quite elderly. And pretty devout Catholics. I had to find a Catholic church here in Cape Town and find out the times etc. Getting mass last Sunday was a big must. I dropped the older crew off, went for a coffee and a read of the papers and collected them afterwards and the chat was all about how lovely the priest had been and all the usual.

They ranged in age from about sixty five to seventy five, so the years they would have grown up would have been between from about 1938 onwards. Right through the supposedly grim years of Catholic oppression we hear so much about. Not too long after independence.

So the conversation drifted into past times over a Sunday 'braai' and what was patently clear was that none of them had any negative memories of Catholicism. They believe in it. They have a pretty resolute affection for the church, the pope, the Vatican, the rituals, the teachings (insofar as they were aware of them), the symbolism, you name it.

It made me wonder if the narrative about a nation under some despotic religious regime (a view I have tended to hold) is a bit of load of baloney. The fact is that the Irish fully embraced the church. And the vast majority were enthusiastic believers and participants. The Church only has as much power as the people entrusted to it. They could have walked away at any time. They could have told any random parish priest where to get off at any time they wished. But they didn't because they were the church. The church was them. And none of them have become less Catholic or less loyal following seventy years of human, social and scientific development.

DeValera stooping to kiss the ring of an Archbishop was what most of the country would have happily done. To the vast majority, it was the right thing to do. He was just a politician. The Archbishop was Gods representative. Of course he should stoop and show reverence to God on behalf of the nation.

Of course they all detest the revelations of child sexual abuse or thuggery, orphanages etc, (but not your regular corporal punishment which was a fact of life whether the teachers were priests, nuns or lay teachers - I received a few lashes of the leather myself).

When we discussed the issues of social morality, the attitudes towards per marital sex, unwanted pregnancies outside marriage etc, the sense I got from my small focus group was that these were the prevailing morals of the time. And to an extent still are. IT was a collective morality based ideology of its time. Not driven forcibly by a remote fascist regime but a belief system embraced and endorsed by the people themselves, and merely enforced by their willingly acknowledge church representatives.

In short, the church was Catholic, the people were Catholic and everyone was pretty much one and the same, poachers and gamekeepers, and it was just the era that it was. And probably not much different to any other parts of Europe, especially tight rural community based regions.

The impression given sometimes is that the Catholic Church somehow took over the country, ran the government and ruled an oppressed people with a rod of iron. If that had been the case, surely there would have been a mass exodus from the church, widespread rejection and animosity and Pope JP2's visit to the Phoenix Park would have been an event notable for the absence of attendees if not mass protests and derision. But it wasn't. Explain that?

For the record I'm an atheist albeit Catholic born and reared.
 

Dame_Enda

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Were these relatives male? Men didn't suffer as much as women under the Old Regime (unless they were gay of course).

I am a 33 yr old male and I don't think it's overstated, given what has come out from the Ryan/Murphy reports and the Magdalene Launderies. The Gardai in the olden days seem to have acted like some sort of religious police for Catholicism. Girls/women who escaped the launderies were brought back there. Women who were rape victims or were considered as likely to lead men "astray" were locked up there too.
 

FrankSpeaks

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There is a shower of TD's afraid of their sh1t of being excommunicated so I say they still wield power.
 

Niall996

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Were these relatives male? Men didn't suffer as much as women under the Old Regime (unless they were gay of course).

I am a 33 yr old male and I don't think it's overstated, given what has come out from the Ryan/Murphy reports and the Magdalene Launderies.
Two couples and a widow as it happens.
 
D

Deleted member 17573

Ah now, don't puncture the bubble of victimhood that surrounds so many on this site. If you go introducing facts then whatever will everyone have to whinge about?...
Of course these people were victims, albeit apparently willing ones. They were victims of unrelelenting brainwashing, with any counter views being careful controlled by a State apparatus that was itself in thrall to the same oppressor. The whinge will continue.
 

Niall996

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Were these relatives male? Men didn't suffer as much as women under the Old Regime (unless they were gay of course).

I am a 33 yr old male and I don't think it's overstated, given what has come out from the Ryan/Murphy reports and the Magdalene Launderies. The Gardai in the olden days seem to have acted like some sort of religious police for Catholicism.
The thing about all those revelations is that they were in fact, revelations. I don't know the statistics of how many children were in abusive homes or workhouses, or if there is some way of understanding what percentage of the population encountered the dark side.
 

EvotingMachine0197

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Explain that? The Milgram Experiment.

Milgram experiment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

People were, and some still are, intellectually subservient to the CC. They accepted all the rules and directives of the church without question. And even if they wanted to walk away they couldn't because of fear of being ostracised or being gossiped about.

The entire structure was and is repulsive.
 
Joined
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Of course these people were victims, albeit apparently willing ones. They were victims of unrelelenting brainwashing, with any counter views being careful controlled by a State apparatus that was itself in thrall to the same oppressor. The whinge will continue.
Just an utter insult to every generation of Irish people since the 5th century - chatacterizing them as unthinking, pliable morons brainwashed by some outside 'power' of evil, malevolent geniuses. Complete horsecrap. But very in keeping with the smug 'we're oh so clever because we got a 2:1 Arts degree" middle class liberal attitudes prevalent in mediocre, 'modern', self-obsessed corners of your island.
 

vision

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Just an utter insult to every generation of Irish people since the 5th century - chatacterizing them as unthinking, pliable morons brainwashed by some outside 'power' of evil, malevolent geniuses. Complete horsecrap. But very in keeping with the smug 'we're oh so clever because we got a 2:1 Arts degree" middle class liberal attitudes prevalent in mediocre, 'modern', self-obsessed corners of your island.
That is so spot on, oh and I have a number of degrees but not in art!
 
D

Deleted member 17573

Just an utter insult to every generation of Irish people since the 5th century - chatacterizing them as unthinking, pliable morons brainwashed by some outside 'power' of evil, malevolent geniuses. Complete horsecrap. But very in keeping with the smug 'we're oh so clever because we got a 2:1 Arts degree" middle class liberal attitudes prevalent in mediocre, 'modern', self-obsessed corners of your island.
I am not characterizing them as morons, I am saying they were victims of brainwashing reinforced by church/state control of every detail of their lives.
 

GDPR

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Of course these people were victims, albeit apparently willing ones. They were victims of unrelelenting brainwashing, with any counter views being careful controlled by a State apparatus that was itself in thrall to the same oppressor. The whinge will continue.
All upbringings are effectively brainwashing. Look at the little proddy children and the little taigs in the six counties. Their attitudes were taught to them by their parents, handed down from generation to generation. Even emigrants hand down these beliefs and attitudes to their children and they do the same, even in a foreign country, though fortunately the attitudes may not be enforced by the local environment.

And the brainwashing you received in a Catholic childhood mustn't have been all that intense. Look how you have rejected all what you now think is baloney.

And you'll brainwash your children that atheism is OK but the Catholic Church is not, won't you?
 
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I am not characterizing them as morons, I am saying they were victims of brainwashing reinforced by church/state control of every detail of their lives.
They weren't brainwashed, they were quite willing to die for their faith, and refused to give in, even when the entire apparatus of political and military power (the strongest military power in the world) was ranged against them. They freely chose their faith, as do I. And they were the Church, the priests and nuns were the sons and daughters of Irish people.
 

mr. jings

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And the brainwashing you received in a Catholic childhood mustn't have been all that intense. Look how you have rejected all what you now think is baloney.
Been thinking about that lately. It looks like I can't get the little fella into a non denom school, so it looks like a Catholic one is on the cards. Still pretty sure I don't want him exposed to religious instruction all the same.
 

Cruimh

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Just an utter insult to every generation of Irish people since the 5th century - chatacterizing them as unthinking, pliable morons brainwashed by some outside 'power' of evil, malevolent geniuses. Complete horsecrap. But very in keeping with the smug 'we're oh so clever because we got a 2:1 Arts degree" middle class liberal attitudes prevalent in mediocre, 'modern', self-obsessed corners of your island.
You are studying to be a lawyer, so far too clever to have been brainwashed ......

"Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man".
 

GDPR

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Been thinking about that lately. It looks like I can't get the little fella into a non denom school, so it looks like a Catholic one is on the cards. Still pretty sure I don't want him exposed to religious instruction all the same.
Religious instruction in childhood did not stop you from changing your mind about it later, did it? And you are free to do so. Afaik there isn't any thought police or religious police in Ireland.
 
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