17Oct Seán Ó Conaill: Salvation and Social Media

From Sean Ó Conaill:

Salvation and Social Media

For the earliest Christians the story of Jesus was ‘salvational’ – and not just as a promise of life after death. For Jews whose land was occupied by an often brutal foreign power the story of Jesus’s resurrection was proof that Rome’s power lay at the mercy of the God of Israel – and history proved them right.

In their own lifetime many of ‘the poorest in spirit’ had become convinced that they had never been deserted by a transcendent power that knew them individually – and the world’s greatest empire had been proven a hopeless judge.

In our own time, following the rise and fall of the prestige of Christian churches (over twenty centuries) a new global empire has arisen: the empire of global electronic media. Its favourites are no longer the military heroes of the ancient world but the ‘silicon’ heroes of the Internet, and anyone else who can ‘influence’ its markets. Everywhere the teenagers of today can look for proof of their own significance on screens they need never darken.

The power of ‘social media’ lies in the simplest of assumptions – that our value and importance as individuals lies at the mercy of the judgement of others. Disappointment and elation – obscurity or recognition – honour and shame – are in power of a handheld device that will tell us at a glance where we stand.

That many of the young are mentally distressed and disturbed as a consequence is now well established. To believe in the Internet – or in media generally – as the arbiter of one’s own worth – is, for millions, to become poor in spirit all over again. It is also to be in danger of entrapment in cults or conspiracy theories, completely isolated from reality and the real world.

An Irish Catholic Church that has fallen from high social prestige to social disgrace in little over a generation has so far adjusted poorly to this situation. Clergy whose vocations began before ‘the fall’ were themselves adolescents when it was their own corporation that was Ireland’s power broker of both honour and shame. Resentment and even anger (much of it justified) can be their default reaction to the reversal of fortunes they have experienced.

There is another option – to look again at that human tendency to see ‘honour’ as truly in the gift of other humans – and to identify that as the driving force of all ascent to social superiority, in all eras – and as the ‘worldliness’ that Jesus came to conquer. If the Gospel story was not a revelation of that mistake – of the fallibility of human judgement – even when all are in agreement – what was it?

Is not that mistake – the seeking of honour in the adulation of others – the root of all tyranny in all eras? Was not that the mistake of the sons of Zebedee also, and the root of all conflict?

Why should we not see the disgracing of the Irish church – at the hands of a secularising media – as deliverance in disguise – especially from the mistake of supposing that when the church was itself the great social arbiter of honour and shame it was where Our Father wanted us to be?  Was it not to protect its social eminence, its ‘reputation’, that the clerical institution failed to be truly Christian in its protection of Catholic children?

Has not their own ‘humiliation by media’ been in truth a later stage of the ‘formation’ of Catholic clergy for the world of now?

Certainly there must be many Irish teenagers ready for saving from the mistake of believing their dignity is decided by the Internet – so intensely controlled merely by ‘the market’. Who is now ready for the rescuing?  Is that not a calling for all of us?

14 Responses

  1. Kevin Walters

    Salvation and Social Media:

    The Cross a symbol of Jesus Christ for us Christians, is far more than a symbol of ‘love’ as it symbolizes His Love given in obedience to His and our Fathers Will, in the serving of the Truth. The serving of the Truth is Love, and to know Jesus Christ, this must be truly understood. A holy Church is a humble Church and by definition a Holy Priesthood is a humble Priesthood.

    Image lies at the root of many problems within the Church today, as it could be said that ‘Image’ reigns supreme on the ‘Worldly’ plain, as it ‘creates the power to award both honour and shame’. Clericalism the vehicle that carried our Christian endeavours throughout the ages, has managed, assisted by a ‘Worldly Faithful,’ to maintain an ‘Image’ of Holiness/goodness, before mankind. This Image of Goodness (Only God is good) has now been shattered. So now how can the leadership and all of us, embrace this shattered Image?

    The credibility of the Priesthood to-day can only be resolved by an onward manifestation of priestly transparency. A possible way forward
    James 5:6 “tell your sins to one and other”…
    As in reveal your selves (Confessing) to one and other in brotherly love, led by the bishop been ‘open’, in unity, with all his priests (Annually) as truth is the mortar that holds His house together. In this way accountability for anything that might bring the Church into disrepute, is shared/confronted, while creating Unity of Purpose. In this scenario individual Confession to a fellow priest should only be administered in an emergency (near death). As the ‘true intent’ to confess annually (Openly) would form the basis of an ‘Act of Perfect Contrition’ (Forgiveness at that moment in Time) as
    “God will not despise a broken spirit and contrite heart”
    I believe that the Shepherd leader for a new invigorated Church will be a humble one, with the capacity to discern and direct the potential in others, leading them also to become (Working) Shepherds, who together hold each other responsible for their combined actions, underpinned by total honesty, the serving of the Truth in all situations would be the binding mortar holding these new emerging structures together.

    The essence of Love is Truth, we all fall short in the actions of Love, but no man or woman can excuse dishonest before their brothers and sisters who would serve the Truth, for to do so would be an attempt to destroy the mortar (Humility) of that unity.

    It is said you cannot be what you do not see/envisage, we need to see our Shepherds holding the bright lamp of Truth high above their own vulnerabilities, teachings us by example, in humility, how we are also to be made holy (Sanctified) as in
    “Sanctify them in the Truth; thy Word is Truth as thou didst send me into the world so I have sent them into the world and for their sake I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in truth”.

    It could be said, that for true emotional inter-dependence to come about with others, we need to show/tell our vulnerability, for when we do so, it confers authenticity, a place from where we can truly share the sacrificial communal meal and our life with others.

    “But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him.”

    So, in our present shameful situation, is God preparing the birth (Building up) of a Church that will be truthful with herself. A Church that proceeds and leads in humility, ‘openly’ acknowledging her failings before God and all of her children.
    As a humble heart (Church) will never cover its tracks or hide its shortcomings, and in doing so confers authenticity, as it walks in its own vulnerability /weakness/brokenness in trust/faith before God and mankind. It is a heart (Church) to be trusted, as it ‘dispels’ darkness within its own ego/self, in serving God (Truth) first, before any other.

    “God will not despise a broken spirit and contrite heart” and neither will the faithful. The leadership has nothing to fear, no matter how compromised, as the cleansing grace of humility (Full ‘open’ acknowledgement of past failings/sins) is the communal bond of love that holds His flock together.

    The True Divine Mercy Image/message, one of Broken Man given by Our Lord Himself, is a missionary call that offers the Church the means to embrace all her children no matter what their state of being, who are ‘willing’ to ‘openly’ embrace the Wedding (Bonding) garment of humility. The one and only state from where the ongoing transforming action of The Holy Spirit can take place.

    While we evangelize through the action of Humility, a disarming action in its honesty, that embraces all in its simplicity, as we encounter our brothers and sisters who stand and seek direction at the Crossroads (Difficulties) of life.

    Please consider continuing via the link
    https://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2017/10/15-october-28th-sunday-in-ot/#comment-91945

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Ger Hopkins

    Salvation and Social Media:

    I would be surprised, Sean, if anyone disagreed with what you say about how social media takes the huge social pressures that teenagers have always known and ramps them up on an industrial scale. The difficulties are magnified, the harmful behaviours can be indulged in more efficiently and inflicted on a bigger audience. God help them.

    The hard thing is knowing what to do about it. Having addressed the problem how do you translate that in to action? Is there something that could be said in a Homily? Is there something a Parish Council could do that would make a difference? I doubt it. Where they exist, how can youth groups help?

    I don’t know of any successful efforts to impose top down visions or improvements on online communities. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok all came about as evolutions of some very small scale effort that was found to work, almost by accident, and was then grown in to something huge and successful. The number of failures is countless. Successful efforts are precious and rare. Evolution in action.

    I’d point you then towards the numbers of young Irish people who are finding in the Catholic Church a community and set of values that is an alternative to those they find oppressive in the culture. They are naturally doing this online because that’s where they spend their time. Rather than having to come up with a way to deal with each online horror from first principles they have pre-tested and sophisticated arguments to call on and a whole set of values in to which they fit. All of those values founded, in an immediately obvious way, on how special each of us is. (And, as well, a whole world of images and emotionally powerful Rites that have evolved since the counter reformation to appeal to the uneducated, and are now a perfect fit for Instagram.)

    I’m not trying to present this as a slam dunk or the only answer to your question, Sean. It’s one place where success is bubbling up. But it deserves encouragement.

    The youth groups may be a good answer too, in my opinion. Principally because they don’t involve offering or imposing any kind of solution. Maybe a prayer to start but no religious instruction – ‘just’ a space to hang out where friendships can grow and support can be given almost inadvertently. (And they need a new name – ‘youth group’ is weighed down with trendy seventies baggage.)

  3. Sean O'Conaill

    Salvation and Social Media:

    #2 “Is there something that could be said in a Homily? Is there something a Parish Council could do that would make a difference? I doubt it. Where they exist, how can youth groups help?”

    Why do you ‘doubt it’, Ger – when the Holy Spirit is the ‘advocate for the defence’ and always ‘on call’ to everyone, anytime?

    The inevitable result of adversity on the Internet, directed against oneself, is a tendency to collaborate – in the sense of feeling that, ‘yes indeed I must be guilty as charged, useless, ugly, not fit to be here’. This is when the ‘social network’ can become the ‘social torture chamber and prison’ – for anyone.

    Our problem for decades has been that while we have told ten-or-eleven-year-olds at Confirmation that they are ‘temples’ of the Holy Spirit we have then effectively reneged on this assurance by forgetting all about it in the context of adolescent challenges – when bullying was always an adolescent issue long before the Internet.

    The fact that in my experience homilies never adverted to the importance of prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit in all such circumstances – in the decades after Vatican II – has been a feature of our ‘spiritual poverty’ – and an untapped source of ‘relevance’ even now.

    The instruction to ‘turn the other cheek’ can only make sense if – in the moment of unjust insult – we can recall that we are under the judgement and protection of a power that is greater than all unjust shaming. That is surely what prayer is for, and why it should precede any ‘log on’ these days, given the unpredictability of what faces us.

    My own recourse is now a reflex – just twenty-seven words, beginning ‘O my Jesus…’ On this moderated forum the Holy Spirit does not need to leap into action, but there are other places and situations…

  4. Ger Hopkins

    Salvation and Social Media:

    You couldn’t be more right, Sean, when you identify the gifts of the Holy Spirit as offering a protection and source of strength against the difficulties faced by teenagers.
    But as for getting that message across…
    In my experience of Irish teenagers if they were listening to a conversation that involved the Holy Spirit most of your work would be done. The language itself is a barrier. The more you try to explain about the Holy Spirit the higher the barrier becomes.
    These are teenagers who live in a culture where God raping Our Lady is a joke to see in the New Year and if you don’t want to pay for more jokes like that you get sent to prison. Many in the Irish Church itself seem to exhibit
    “The inevitable result of adversity on [all forms of media], directed against oneself,… a tendency to collaborate – in the sense of feeling that, ‘yes indeed I must be guilty as charged, useless, ugly, not fit to be here’.”

    I really like your idea of saying the Fatima Prayer before venturing online. It seems really appropriate. On a slightly different tack what about the prayer to St Michael or prayers to Mary as Mother and Protector? When I read what you were saying something clicked. I see a lot of prayers being posted on Twitter, Telegram, Tiktok etc. and I did wonder why. Was it intended to be educational or to mark out a space? But now I see that some part of it must be the same as you describe here. Invoking the sentiment and support of these prayers against the slings and arrows met with online.

    Do you say the Fatima Prayer before opening the Irish Times? I think I’d need a whole Novena.

  5. Sean O'Conaill

    Salvation and Social Media:

    #4 As here we find RTÉ indispensable – e.g. for televised Sunday Mass and national news – and assume this is so for many people – we took the RTÉ apology for that particular sketch (also published in the Irish Times) seriously – and so I pay to use the RTÉ player here in NI without complaint.

    Again, Ger, the Irish Times publishes important articles relating to the faith formation issue that I do not find elsewhere – articles by Catholic believers that are positive towards faith but critical of a school-centred faith formation system that is simply not functioning as it should because of long decades of ‘walking apart’ – as the ACP has candidly admitted. e.g.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/sacramental-preparation-for-children-falls-far-short-1.4685051

    The head-way-below-the-parapet attitude adopted by some Irish Catholic media towards that issue is therefore a very suitable occasion for prayer also, I assure you.

    If the young Catholics you know are not aware of the historical reasons for the current high vogue for secularism in Ireland they will need to bone up on that to be at all convincing in any ‘new evangelisation’ among their educated peers.

    In particular they will need to know why the tide of global revelation of the abuse of Catholic children by some Catholic clergy did not begin in any ‘Catholic country’ but in the world’s most plural and secularised society – the USA, c. 1984.

    Misdirected abuse and misdirected anger are part of the challenge. Those guilty of the worst literally ‘do not know what they are doing’. (Luke 23:34) You need to let all of that go – and not expect any national medium to completely suppress residual currents of outrage against forms of Irish Catholicism in the past that were also abusive and damaging for many.

    We need the external critics also to be sure we are seeing all of our own faults. All resentment for the loss of the Irish Catholic confessional state is well past its sell-by date. Long before ‘cafeteria Catholicism’ we had an ‘Haute Cuisine Catholicism’ that pandered for centuries to imperial political and landed elites. That was the birthplace of secularism.

  6. Joe O'Leary

    Salvation and Social Media…

    Thinking of Salvation, blind Bartimaeus knew salvation when he ‘saw’ it. His Greek name is suggestive. He is an outsider like the Centurion, the Samaritan and Syrophoenician women, and the various deplorables who flocked to the Saviour. The worry of Dominus Iesus (CDF, 2000) about the ‘defective’ status of other religions in regard to salvation is misplaced. Salvation is flowing freely wherever the Spirit moves and the Logos enlightens. Paradoxically, it is because Jesus knows this that his own status as the fulness of salvation is credible.

    We can all identify with the blind man, not only individually but collectively, as we see our institutions of church, state, and academy flounder and founder in blindness. But we can always raise our voice and turn to the sources of salvation, which are near at hand.

  7. Joe O'Leary

    Salvation and Social Media…

    At last I hold in my hands a famous but unread masterpiece, Albrecht Ritschl’s Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung (Bonn, 1870-74; 2nd ed. 1882-83), 3 voll., English trans. of voll. 1 and 3, The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation, Edinburgh 1902.

    He discusses Anselm and Abelard together, and points out that Abelard’s focus on divine love as the agent of salvation, transforming sinners by bringing them alive in love, even though treated as a heresy by St Bernard, in fact was more influential than Anselm’s machinery on the medieval vision of salvation, in Bernard himself, in Peter Lombard, and in the great scholastics

    Ritschl dates the rise to prominence of Anselm (even to exclusive predominance) in Protestant theology to recent times (though I think that in the Catholic world the Council of Trent consecrated Anselmian ideas of Satisfaction). Ritschl attributes great importance to Athanasius, De Incarnatione, and sees Anselm as grounded in Athanasius.

    Why is Ritschl unread? Well, his volumes tend to be 700 pages long and in Gothic script. The copy I found in Sophia University library has a slip of paper inserted around page ten dated 1922, making me think I am the first to open the book in a century.

    The second reason he is unread it that he was eclipsed for half-a-century by Karl Barth who caricatured him as a cultural Protestant typical of the Bismarck era. He is the most important theologian between Schleiermacher and Harnack (who travelled from Berlin to Göttingen to be present at his funeral) and he defended a Lutheran take on the irreducible event of the Gospel over against the speculative theologies of Schelling, Hegel, and Baur which absorbed theology into philosophy. Barth, meanwhile, is notoriously weak on the doctrine of justification; though inspired by Luther on the Word, quoting him 200 times in the first two volumes of his Church Dogmatics, he is basically antipathetic to Luther’s central message.

    A third reason might simply be that people, even theologians, are not interested in theology and when they read Ritschl’s first sentence: ‘The Christian doctrine of justification and reconciliation, which I undertake to present, forms the center of the theological system,’ they can barely stifle a yawn.

  8. Sean O'Conaill

    Salvation and Social Media…

    Thanks, Joe. That’s useful.

    Your last sentence – should it read that ‘people, even theologians, are not interested in heavily academic expositional theology’?

    The current sci-fi epic Dune has reviewers remarking on its many biblical tropes, and if your next book was to be entitled ‘Was Jesus an Alien?‘ (a perfectly reasonable place to start) many heads would turn. Elsewhere ‘Foundation’ (Azimov) also deals with ‘first and last things’.

    It’s just terms like ‘justification’ and ‘reconciliation’ that has heads falling over. Even ‘Atonement’ can cut it nowadays as a novel and movie title.

  9. Ger Hopkins

    Salvation and Social Media:

    So you’re depending on RTE, Sean #5. God help you. I know I’m not going to hear anything scarier this Halloween.

    Pope Francis himself has insisted on a live broadcast Mass whenever possible. There’s no good 21st century reason for it but the Masses on RTE are not shown live. And I’m not clear why you still need one but there are plenty of live Mass streams on churchservices.tv and mcnmedia.tv

    At first RTE apologised to anyone who ‘might have been offended’ by their self indulgence on New Years Eve – “matters which can cause offence naturally differ from person to person, within comedy and satire in particular”. Which is like dressing up in blackface and doing an Al Jolson impression and then expressing wonderment *if* the kind of person existed who could take offence. RTE’s Editorial Standards Board then found them in breach of their own and the BAI’s standards. Leading to Dee Forbes apologising to the public for the technical failure of having been found in breach. That’s the ‘apology’ you’re talking about.

    And to repeat, here in the twenty six counties if you don’t want to pay for more of this they can put you in jail.

    I did a Google search for “catholic church” restricted to the Irish Times site this month. Here’s the first page of results.
    “godparenting has lost all spiritual significance” “baptism scene in ‘The Godfather’ henchmen whack all of his enemies”. “sexual abuse by members of the church” “shame and horror in France” “wholesale sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church” “Catholicism – is of little or no relevance” “church in [Australia] felt strange, impersonal and devoid of any warmth or familiarity” “story that pits one man against the power of the Catholic Church” “redress scheme” “the hurts that exist within the church” “Pope caught up in Spanish colonial legacy”

    They’re all what you would describe as “critical” and others would call “negative”.

    I get that there’s a distinction in Irish Times coverage. On the one hand there are the in house journalists who treat the Church with aggressive contempt and on the other there is a small community afforded access to the pages of the IT in order to discuss the Church in a more restrained but still mostly negative/critical way.

    In relation to this second group you’ve a comment above that’s not meant to be about them but I think it hits the nail on the head.
    The inevitable result of adversity on the Internet [or from anywhere else], directed against oneself, is a tendency to collaborate – in the sense of feeling that, ‘yes indeed I must be guilty as charged, useless, ugly, not fit to be here’.
    When you tell us we should be grateful for the criticism and negativity being directed at us this comment comes to mind.

    The negativity of the Irish Times is then echoed and amplified throughout the day by RTE. How do you talk to teenagers about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the teeth of that. It’s like asking someone to appreciate the finer points of chamber music in the middle of a howling gale. Very difficult for schools and religious who have experience and a structure to fall back on, and hard to believe anyone would think that families left on their own would have a better chance of being heard in the storm.

    You make a point in your main post that you’ve made before. It’s a good point and it obviously matters to you. As a Church we shouldn’t define ourselves in terms of our status in secular society. Our goal isn’t to command the respect of others.
    Clearly the Church has now lost the respected position in Irish society it once held. This has been the case for the churches in many western countries. Church members in these countries should consider if that loss of status makes them feel hard done by or resentful and should also consider the benefits. I am sure plenty has been written on these points and that you’ve read a lot of it, Sean.
    But this is quite obviously not a good characterisation of the *main* problem the Church has with secular society here in Ireland.
    We are not being treated with indifference and ignored as in other countries. We are far from being ignored. There’s nothing take it or leave it about RTE broadcasting God raping Our Lady to one of the biggest audiences of the year.
    It seems to me you are trying to shoehorn our situation in to that of other countries. And it seems quite obvious that misses the point. We here in Ireland are not worried about secular society’s good opinion of us, we’re worried because they are trying to annihilate us.

    For an advanced democracy we are almost unique in how one sided our media and cultural discussion is. It is about as unhealthy a situation as a society could be in.

    P.S. I had a passing glance at the Irish Times where it was on display recently and I actually doubled back because I couldn’t believe the front page of a newspaper could be that boring. It reads like a bunch of Health Service memos stapled together. And a lot of the time, even sentence by sentence, I find I don’t understand what the IT journalist is trying to say… because they don’t either. Anyway, paid circulation in 2008 was 120,000. Best current estimate – about 30,000.

  10. Joe O'Leary

    Salvation and Social Media…

    My next book (next month) has an even naughtier title: ‘Joysis Crisis: Rereading James Joyce, Theomasochistically,’ with a witty preface by Mark Patrick Hederman.

    Lots of theologians even write novels.

    But real theology, like real philosophy, tends to be enshrined in heavy, heady books. Education should lead people to those classics, which are lighthouses for the ages.

  11. Sean O'Conaill

    Salvation and Social Media…

    #9 Were any teenager to compile assiduously all instances of disrespect he or she had received from a few individuals, in order to go on endlessly about that, would you not advise against masochism and the nursing of grievances? Is that not essentially complicit self-harm rather than the pursuit of resilience?

    Frankly, Ger, I have had quite enough of your misrepresentation of what I write – as in the allegation that I am ‘depending’ upon RTE when it is quite clear that I sample so many media sources that I am ‘depending’ upon none of them more than on any others. Most of my time is spent processing specifically Catholic media such as La Croix, Crux, NCR, La Civilta Cattolica or this site – while we can also use YouTube here to hear Mass from our local parish church or anywhere else.

    Moreover, as the leading piece makes perfectly clear I am arguing that we should not become dependent upon any or all media for our own peace of mind – and that freedom from fear of what others think is an essential aspect of the peace we receive from faith and prayer.

    You know well that what faced St Paul was astronomically worse than whatever the Irish Times or RTE have done or could do to any of us, yet he could say:

    “For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38,39)

    If you agree with this, please stop maundering on and on about Irish media you are also telling us are on their last legs anyway.

    If you disagree, take that up with St Paul.

  12. Joe O'Leary

    I am shocked at this report from Frank Coughlan:

    Eden Heaslip was just 18 when he took his own life a month ago. Even in a breathless news cycle full of tragedy and heartache, it would be hard to read about the death of this Cavan teenager and not be touched. Or horrified.

    The pictures accompanying the story showed a handsome, smiley young man. You wouldn’t think he had a care in the world. In truth, his life was falling apart.

    His father Raymond told a local radio station that his son was beaten physically, tortured mentally.

    He got it in school and the bullies followed him into his home through social media.

    Raymond told Northern Sound FM: “They never left him alone. And that’s what ended poor Eden’s life.”

    Bullies bully because they can. The justifications for their thuggery are often just convenient excuses for glaring personal inadequacies.
    But the core reason in this case is particularly disturbing and upsetting.

    Eden was endlessly taunted for the one single thing that made him different: his bullies regarded him a ‘black Protestant bastard’.
    Imagine, in the Ireland of 2021 we are still raring little bigots. You’d wonder where they might have picked it up.

    Apples generally don’t fall far from trees. So maybe at home, or on the streets. Perhaps they sniffed it in the ether, because there is a lot of bone-headed, four green fields nationalism about. Maybe just an isolated case then. Just as, I suppose, the sectarian abuse endured by the parents of murdered Protestant Cameron Blair in Cork last year, telling them ‘to f**k off back to England’?

    Cork, of course, has never owned up to the nature of its sectarian legacy from the War of Independence, be it the Bandon Valley murders, the execution of Mary Lindsay, disappearances, house burnings and intimidation.

    The evidence is all there, even if some historians prefer to nitpick rather than acknowledge the bigger picture. Cork’s Catholic Bishop Cohalan, Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith and Erskine Childers had no problem calling it out in 1922.

    At the same time in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, Protestant townspeople endured a sustained hate campaign to drive them from their homes, an ugly situation replicated elsewhere.

    It didn’t end with independence. In 1935, Protestant bank clerks in Dunmanway, Co Cork, were given a ‘first and final warning’ to clear out. In 1938, Fianna Fáil TD Martin Corry told the Dáil he was in favour of stockpiling poison gas which an obliging wind might blow over the border. He didn’t as much as lose the party whip.

    After Bloody Sunday, in 1972, a Southern Star editorial advised that if Protestants ‘were not prepared to live in an Ireland governed by Irishmen, let them get out’. Intimidation of Protestants was reported at that time in Kinsale, Bandon, Ballydehob, Schull, Skibbereen, Rosscarbery, Ballinadee and Clonakilty.

    Bigotry has a long memory and it travels light. It turned up in Cavan a month ago. Shameful.

  13. Sean O'Conaill

    Salvation and Social Media…

    #12 Googling got me to the source of that story, Joe – in the ‘Indo’ – to which I do not have a subscription.

    It would help also to know from where you have compiled those other references to Catholic on Protestant bullying and violence in the ROI after 1921. Did you get those from Frank Coughlan’s article also?

  14. Joe O'Leary

    Salvation and Social Media…

    The article was sent to me by a correspondent without a mention of its source other than the name of the author as Frank Coughlan.

    On the theology of salvation (justification, reconciliation), I want to repeat Karl Barth’s claim that theology is the most beautiful of subjects, and Teilhard’s that it is the discipline in which the most discoveries remain to be made.

    But who has the time to read the classics of theology? It is not that they are boring. In fact Ritschl and Barth are enthralling writers (and even when they go on too long, the same is true of many famous novels), and the Fathers of the Church produced a string of gripping masterpieces that lift up one’s soul. Recently I sat in a room in the SVD seminary in Nagoya which had been furnished with the best editions of the mighty scholastics, Aquinas, Albert, Scotus, Ockham, Bonaventure, Eckhart, Cusanus, Suarez. They form an awesome phalanx, five centuries of Christian thought. But where on earth is one supposed to find the time to read them?