Liz’s irrational tirade against the Church serves no useful purpose

In a predictable piece, Ronan Mullen argues that Liz O’Donnell’s speech last week in the Dail amounted to a liberal attack on the Church. After a fairly incoherent argument (even I am guilty of that sometimes) he concludes:

By presenting an outdated notion of a priest-ridden society, in order to exclude the Church from consultation on sensitive social issues, O’Donnell was doing us all a disservice. “Get off the stage and make it easier for us ‘liberals’ to get our point across,” would appear to be her message to the Church.

Now that would be a cosy arrangement.

I’ll nail my colours to the mast here. I am an agnostic humanist, and find the power the Catholic Church continues to have in the Irish State to be regrettable. So I agree completely with O’Donnell, perhaps she should have even been more vocal.

Have a listen
(Realplayer) to Vincent Browne last week, November 9th. Browne does a very good job taking apart the position of the priest on the show, who made laughable excuses concerning the lack of action on the part of the Church. In fact, the interview is a demonstration of Browne’s ability to bring in a guest and completely wipe the floor with him.

Father Vincent Twomey of Maynooth wrote an article in the Irish Times the day previously.

He peddles the ‘learning curve’ argument, that Vincent successfully rubbishes. Jim O’Keefe TD, Mark Hennessy, Dan Neville TD and Prof Michael Fitzgerald are on the panel also.

If you have 30 minutes to spare I suggest you listen to the start – at 8.20, and continue to the 38th minute. Vincent grabs onto the idea that the bishops insured their dioceses against claims made by people against the clergy as far back as 1987 up to 1990. From then on Vincent Twomey is on the defensive, and in a way tries to defend the indefensible. By the end this exchange occurs:

Twomey: You took up my statement about the learning curve and took it completely out of context

Browne: Ohhhh really now, explain that now

Twomey: The thing is that…

Browne: Explain…explain how this was taken out of context…

Twomey: Because, because I am trying to, I am trying to explain how…

Browne: I think you are digging a hole now but anyways, go on

Twomey: I’ll stop, I withdraw that remark.

Browne: Ok

9 Responses to “Liz’s irrational tirade against the Church serves no useful purpose”

  1. ainelivia says:

    Thanks for the VB audio Gavin. Will be giving it a listen later. Good that there are people of the calibre of VB willing to ask the difficult questions and show up the spin in the arguments.

  2. John says:

    I don’t know how anyone can stomach Vincent Browne. Just because he can ‘wipe the floor with someone’ doesn’t mean a thing, other than maybe he’s just more comfortable with the medium.

    I’ll nail my colours to the mast here. I am an agnostic humanist, and find the power the Catholic Church continues to have in the Irish State to be regrettable. So I agree completely with O’Donnell, perhaps she should have even been more vocal.

    What ‘power’ does the Church have? According to the Ferns report (and this is no revelation) all the powers of coercion lie with the state. So, any ‘power’ that the Church has is merely a reflection of the fact that a large block of voters feel the Church speaks for them with regards to certain issues. How is that any different than the power that ICTU has when speaking about certain issues?

    As a Catholic, the Church speaks for me sometimes. I often differ with leading Catholic spokesmen, including the Bishops. Yet, even when I have a serious disagreement with a leading Catholic, like Biship Kirby, I know he has the support of many Catholics in Ireland.

    The ‘power’ of the Church is waning because the Church has fewer adherents now. As the number of Catholics drops, the ‘power’ will decrease. Isn’t this how democracy works or would you rather have no special interest groups? (A utopian view, I suspect.)

  3. Peter says:

    Although up to a point I can see where you’re coming from Gavin (and all the other conspiracy theorists) however I feel John is mostly right. Perhaps in the first fifty or so years of the Republic and for a few years prior, the Catholic Church had a fairly large influence in Irish life, all aspects of Irish life, including a dominant role in political life.

    I don’t see that dominance being prevalent now, the only aspect of it which remains in any real sense is the perceived influence of the Church, due (as John points out) to the fact that there are still quite a few people out there who agree (some might say blindly) That what the Clergy say is Gospel. (Sorry couldn’t resist that !!!)

    The fact is that the days when the leading players in Irish society, be they politicians, business people etc. had to rely on a close relationship with the Catholic Church in order to further their own ends are gone.

    Yes I accept that there are those in the Church who may perceive that they have real influence or power and to that end come out with ridiculous statements, of which you have quoted many, ! But this is merely a throwback to the good old days when the Catholic Church did have a major corrupting role to play in the Republic.

  4. simon says:

    “I’ll nail my colours to the mast here. I am an agnostic humanist, and find the power the Catholic Church continues to have in the Irish State to be regrettable. ”

    Im a non god believing realist and if the power is put into good use then it is good and should not be thought as bad simply because it comes from the church. The evil should be pushed not the good.

  5. ainelivia says:

    Have now been able to listen to audio. Very interesting. There is just one thing though I’d like to disagree with the person I’m not sure who,(in this programme) who said “I’m quoting Jesus Christ directly”, or words to that effect. Quoting from the New Testament would not qualify as quoting JC, as any historian will tell us, the NT, is not the actual work of JC, it was written after the event and would not be considered a primary source.

  6. EWI says:

    The ‘power’ of the Church is waning because the Church has fewer adherents now. As the number of Catholics drops, the ‘power’ will decrease.

    John: The power of the Church has waned because of the sexual and other scandals of recent years. That’s the cause, and people abandoning the Church is the effect.

    I’m having having difficulty believing that you don’t understand this, considering how you recently stated on your blog how the influx of Catholic Polish, whom you remarked have no knowledge of the recent scandals, would bolster Church numbers again.

  7. Sarah says:

    I think what’s interesting about the interview is that Twomey is genuinely at a loss. He admits himself he is completely baffled at the failure of the bishops to respond adequately to the crisis (other than insuring the dioceses against the claims – in 1987! bastards!) Where are the bishops now? The meeja should be hounding them out of their palaces to explain themselves to us. The priests are just confused canon fodder. How about doorstepping Michael Smith and a few others. Let’s ask them about the bloody learning curve.

  8. Barry says:

    From a Canadian (and reluctantly atheist)perspective, it seems to be open season on the Church these days in Ireland. Granted, the men in black are an easy and worthy target and, given the sex scandals, such rage is understandable. But it may go too far. Those applauding Jacobins like VB, who seem to wish the total destruction of the Church in Ireland, should consider exactly what sort of country their children may have to deal with. Ireland cannot simply change Christian brands and turn as Americans have to the evangelical churches – her history precludes it. I am not a Christian and yet I have to admit the evident good that a belief in God brings to individuals, families and society at large. Who will offer Ireland guidance and consolation for the 21′st Century. The Indo? Sinn Fein?

  9. Barry says:

    How come so many of Ireland’s fearless pols opposed divorce back in the Eighties? I know the actual people have changed but it strikes me that the principle of playing to the gallery remains the same.

    As for Browne, he is a pleasure to listen to but the people he should be “wiping the floor with” are the real pros like Ahern or, even better, a genuinely dangerous person like Adams. I guess someone like Dana or a cleric are much safer prey.