Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2021

The Unionist Dimension

  The Unionist Dimension              Gerry OShea A hundred years ago, the unionists in Northern Ireland saw themselves in a very hostile environment.  They felt hemmed in, surrounded by a clear majority of nationalists on the island, all of whom aspired to some kind of united country ruled from Dublin. So, their top leader, Edward Carson, made no bones about the reasoning behind the sectarian partitioning of the country which involved lopping off six counties from the thirty-two in the whole island “in order to achieve a decisive Protestant majority in which unionist power would be guaranteed in perpetuity.” They feared Catholic domination at a time when the Catholic- Protestant divide still impacted political divisions in Europe, hearkening back to the religious wars of previous centuries. The Roman church was in its pomp, passing a decree of infallibility in 1870 that claimed the pope could never be wrong in matters of faith and morals because he alone was unerringly guided by

The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church

  Ordination of Women In May 1994 Pope John Paul 11 issued an apostolic letter whose goal was to end for all time any discussion in the Catholic church about ordaining women to the priesthood. The solemn declaration has a ponderous Latin title Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which marks it as a pronouncement of the highest order. The papal message deals with “the reservation of priestly ordination for men only.” John Paul leaves no doubt about his message:   “In order that all doubt be removed about a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution, I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be held definitively by all the Church’s faithful.” So, that is it – the matter is now verboten. The highest authority has spoken categorically on the subject. The many women who feel called by the Spirit to serve as priests must be delusional because Rome has spoken in unambiguous

Perspectives on Immigration

  Perspectives on Immigration The Know-Nothings were a powerful, semi-secret nativist movement in mid-19 th century America. Their members were instructed that if questioned about their beliefs their standard reply should be “I know nothing” – an early version of what Seamus Heaney wrote in his poem about the numbing secrecy in his home place during the Troubles “Whatever you Say, Say Nothing.” The movement condemned the arrival in America of hundreds of thousands of Irish Catholics, fleeing the awful famines in Ireland in the middle of the century. Many came to America hungry and with no possessions, the detritus of a beaten people. The Know-Nothings believed that this mass exodus of refugees from Ireland joined by a fair number of German Catholics indicated that Rome had designs on their homeland. They demanded new laws to keep the Catholics out and to mandate that new arrivals should wait twenty-five years before being eligible for citizenship and the right to vote. Texas

Irish Partition - Past and Present

  Irish Partition – Past and Present             Gerry OShea Joseph Plunkett, the poet and youngest leader of the Easter 1916 Rebellion, often bemoaned Ireland’s total economic and cultural domination by Britain. He argued that his country should also affirm its many ties to continental Europe where, over the centuries, Irish people living there made distinguished religious and literary contributions. A mere fifty-seven years after his execution in Kilmainham jail, Ireland joined what is now called the European Union (EU), and today that powerful body stands with the Irish government as Prime Minister Johnson tries to wiggle out of the controversial Irish protocol, a central part of the Brexit negotiations. David Lloyd George, the British prime minister a century ago, assured the unionists then that he would not implement the Third Home Rule Bill which passed the House of Commons in 1912. That Westminster Act granted a parliament in Dublin for the whole island, the long-sought go

Clericalism in the Catholic Church

  Clericalism in the Catholic Church            Gerry OShea Consider the following imaginary meeting arranged to discuss the demeaning treatment of women in the Catholic church. In attendance are five mothers from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds who meet just two requirements for inclusion: they must identify as Catholics and they must all have at least one daughter. Also in the room, representing the church, are five members of the hierarchy. The gathering takes place in New York, so Cardinal Dolan has summoned other bishops with strong credentials in theology to make sure that the Vatican perspective is fully represented. The women explain their grievances, focusing especially on the fact that, because of their sex, they are prohibited from any jurisdictional involvement in their church. They stress that there are no similar restrictions on them from assuming leadership roles in any other area of their lives.   One of the prelates with a string of degrees from