Is the Catholic Church losing its power? My debate on TV3

by Michael Nugent on March 26, 2016

Is the Catholic Church losing its power? My debate with Father Peter McVerry and Prof Fainche Ryan on Tonight with Vincent Bowne on TV3, hosted by Michael Clifford this week.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nialler March 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Michael,

Interesting first video and you were articulate and had the data at your fingertips.

I’d have one caveat about your comments regarding the RCC in Sub-Saharan Africa, though, having spent quite some time there on projects for the World Bank.

I was there to provide IT support for a project which was to assess the level of support appropriate fo rural electrification projects. My closest working colleague was an accountant, who also happened to be quite the old-style Irish Catholic. As a result I often ended up as his chauffeur as he visited Irish priests to pass on messages and presents from teir friends – along with the oligatory bottle of Jameson.

Some of these evenings were memorable for good reason. Many of these priests had been marked as liberal if not radical during their time in the seminary. The Irish church had a definite policy of ridding itself of these turbulent priests and sending them on the missions.

To take one specific example: during Banda’s time in Malawi almost the only opposition to him came from the Bishops. One stinging homily (and, yes, the clergy maybe shouldn’t be involving themselves in politics) resulted in his arrest, but also the arrest of the entire IT department of their electricity utility, where it was suspected that the sermon had been photocopied for onward distribution. I was invited back to the company in an exercise designed to secure their release. There were armed police at each photocopier when I got there.

The point is that these clergy were generally quite iconoclastic and unafraid to speak out against injustice. Several had done tome having promoted whatBanda called “confusionism” – his description of multi-party politics.

The clergy in Malawi – and in other countries spoke up about issues. They spoke at personal cost. Some of these priests were as radical as you could get. Even as an atheist I could appreciate their sarcrifice – which was never precious or pious.

The other point is this: in my travels I saw a Church was was – like any major company trying to gain new territories – cogniscant of and sensitive to the social and traditional mores which had expression in that region.

When it found that the message was unacceptable it modified the message.

One priestin the Shire Valley actively distributed condoms to his female prishioners solely because there was a vital need for them in a HIV-ridden country and because he that their husbands were playing around.

In short: these priests were not the unworldly type we often see, but were ery in tune with their communities, with the needs of their communities and were prepared to ignore dogma in protecting their parishioners.

One fnal point: I was the youngest person on these projects and as an atheist they were fascinated to discuss the issues. I look forward to meting any one (well, all but the Marxist Priest) again.

I’d also add that some of them were shells. Some had paid personal costs in pursuit of their ideals. I saw a couple of 50 year old Fathers Jack, several years before his character was created.

You have my mail addy; if you want further info let me know.

2 Citizen Wolf March 26, 2016 at 10:08 pm

Well, they certainly gave you plenty of room to voice your opinions and concerns. Everyone else seemed quiet in comparison. Of course, I agreed with just about all that you said, so I’m not complaining :)

3 Nialler March 27, 2016 at 11:43 am

It was an incredibly assured performance by MN. He got a lot in and completely and definitively got the point across with precision.

It was interesting, also, to see Fr McVerry – a man who has my admiration – in such agreement.

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