Friday, November 4, 2011

The Hydra-Headedness of Anti-Catholicism

So the government has closed our embassy to the Holy See, but refused to admit that it was a political decision, or a gesture of hostility. This goes with the general "hit and run" spirit in which the modern Irish Kulturkampf has been conducted. Enda Kenny stands up in the Dáil and criticizes the Church for interfering in the State's affairs; and, after these outspoken words, suddenly becomes bashful and decides that the accusation refers to no particular incident.

The push against the Church in this country is blurry, all-surrounding, mist-like. Critics switch from one accusation to another with bewildering speed. The Church is irrelevant and shouldn't exist. The Church is a crony of capitalism. The Church is a bunch of irrelevant old hippies that don't understand hard-headed science/economics/Realpolitik. The Church is hypocritical for preaching charity (despite being the biggest charitable organisation in the world) and not selling off the artistic treasures of the Vatican and giving the money to Oxfam. The Church isn't hypocritical enough, insisting on preserving the deposit of faith even when it clashes with the last market surveys.

A very intelligent and fair-minded person, of a liberal persusaion, recently asked me what I was reading. I answered that I was reading a book about Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. She said, "Didn't the Vatican hide a load of Nazis after World War II?". I answered, "Some Catholics helped Nazis escape. The Church also saved thousands of Jews in World War II." She said, "Really? I didn't know that. Cool."

The exchange seemed all too typical of the vague, opportunistic, insubstantial hostility that has closed in around the Irish Catholic Church in our time.

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