Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Saracen or sacristan?

The story is told of Pio Nono entertaining a visiting grandee at the Vatican.

While on their knees in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the pope’s private chapel, they could not help but notice a person who, emerging from the shadows and strolling casually from one side of the chapel to the other, gave only the briefest and most perfunctory nod in the direction of the exposed Sacrament. Whereat the holy pope said to his guest, “That’s either a saracen, or a sacristan!”

This story was related orally to Melancholicus several years ago, so he has no idea of its source, but it was brought rather forcefully to mind after Mass on Trinity Sunday. Immediately after the celebrant had left the sanctuary, and as the singing of Salve Regina was still in progress, the sacristan suddenly appeared and began dashing about the sanctuary like a thing possessed, whipping the missal and altar cards off the altar, snatching the cruets with graceless haste, and with heavy footfalls stomping back into the sacristy without even a nod to the tabernacle. This behaviour was unseemly, unedifying and—especially for the members of the schola—most distracting.

The sacristan in this particular parish is a woman somewhere, Melancholicus guesses, between sixty and seventy years of age. Once she had started her squawking and flapping, she made no effort to be quiet so as not to disturb the still-singing schola or the members of the congregation praying privately in their pews. It is no secret that she strongly disapproves of the Traditional Latin Mass being offered on what she evidently regards as her territory, and her outrageous behaviour was no less than a wilful display of hostility for the benefit of those of us attached to the ancient liturgy. Her irritation was palpable. Melancholicus and his companion in the choir loft looked at one another in disbelief.

After the recessional had ended Melancholicus knelt to make his thanksgiving for the Mass, but prayer was impossible, for now the termagant was darting about the nave like a blue-arsed fly, collecting all the red Mass books in a frenzied rush. When she had finally finished driving forth the few remaining faithful, she vanished back into the sacristy and within a few moments the church was full of piped music. She had put a CD on the sacristy stereo—some cleansing new age tune to wash away the taint of all that Tridentine gobbledygook.

Melancholicus does not know the name of the piece that was played, but under the circumstances we can title it A Sacristan’s Revenge.

Or should that instead be A Saracen’s Revenge, perhaps?

Friday, June 05, 2009

The bishops on the European elections

Ah, the bishops! Where would we be without their magisterial guidance?

Last Sunday the Irish bishops’ conference put out a press release on voting in the European elections. The local elections get only a passing mention, but the bishops are keen that we all get us out today to elect the next batch of MEPs. Melancholicus shall not reproduce the text in full, since much of it is written in the lorem ipsum of management-style boilerplate—although, unlike last year’s pastoral on the Lisbon Referendum, the bishops don’t actually go as far as instructing us how we must vote. Helpfully, however, the bishops have summarized the whole in two basic points:
  • To vote is a concrete way of fulfilling the Gospel challenge to serve our neighbour

  • MEPs should promote respect for freedom of religion and religious expression as a fundamental right and a defining value of the Union

With all due respect to our fathers in God, both of these are problematic. First of all, the notion that we “fulfil the Gospel challenge to serve our neighbour” (what lovely newchurch newspeak!) by casting a ballot. Does such necessarily follow? In 1932, 37% of the German electorate cast a ballot for the NSDAP. Look how that turned out. I humbly suggest we can “fulfil the Gospel challenge” perfectly legitimately by, when the occasion merits it, abstaining from casting a vote. Abstention is certainly preferable in cases where the only choice is between two equally impious alternatives. In such instances, a non-vote is itself a sort of vote. Not voting should not be seen as a ‘failure’ to vote, and certainly not as a “failure to serve ourselves, our neighbour and our children”, as the bishops have the temerity to describe it.

To be fair, the bishops are probably influenced in their attitude by the existence of non-democratic forms of government in certain countries where the struggle for the establishment of democracy is literally a matter of life and death. In such places courageous souls risk life and limb in order to win for their people the privilege of voting. If one chooses not to exercise the privilege one enjoys, the fact that the same privilege may be denied to others does not make one’s choice worthy of blame. No-one should be forced to vote; the beauty of democracy is that one can vote for any particular candidate—or indeed for none of them, if one prefers. The choice is up to the enfranchised individual, and it will not do for the bishops to imply that there is always a moral obligation to vote in every election or plebiscite or whatever.

Then the bishops address the subject of freedom of religion. This is what they say:

The newly elected MEPs will need the political competence and skills necessary to deal with the above mentioned challenges. They will need the qualities of mind and heart to work in the multi-cultural, multi-lingual and politically diversified environment of the EU and its institutions.

This includes giving full recognition to the contribution of Christianity to the construction and values of the European Union and to the importance of religious faith in the lives of its citizens.

MEPs should promote respect for freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression as a fundamental right and a defining value of the Union. They should hold strong convictions on promoting respect for human dignity, upholding the right to life and the rights of the family. They should be committed to shaping a political order that provides justice to everyone, especially the poorest.

There is nothing worthy of condemnation here, but the loose language employed robs the text of any power it might otherwise have had. What, precisely, does it mean to give “full recognition to the contribution of Christianity to the construction and values of the European Union”? We might be talking about history here, and nothing more. There is not even the slightest suggestion that the EU bind itself in its workings to the moral principles of Christianity. Furthermore, what of “the importance of religious faith”? What “religious faith” would that be, then? The Catholic faith? If so, why not say so clearly? Or perhaps their Lordships mean the whole babel of religions taken as a totality? It is hard to see how in practice such could be even remotely workable, unless their Lordships have in mind not particular religions with particular beliefs and a particular praxis, but a vague, secular religiosity of the kind practiced by His Eminence Tony Blair.

And as for freedom of religion—a noble idea in itself—let us see, by the addition of just a few words, how the current trend of the EU will implement the bishops’ call in practice:

MEPs should promote respect for freedom of [the Islamic] religion and freedom of [Islamic] religious expression as a fundamental right [for Muslims] and a defining value of the Union. They should hold strong convictions on promoting respect for human dignity [of Muslims], upholding the right to life and the rights of the [Islamic] family. They should be committed to shaping an [Islamic] political order that provides [sharia] justice to everyone, especially the poorest [Muslim immigrants].

Can it be denied that they’re doing this already?

H/T to Seen and Unseen.

Election day!

Today, June 5, elections shall be held in the Republic of Ireland, giving the electorate an opportunity to chastise the ensconced oligarchy for its negligence, its corruption and its misrule.

Last Saturday’s episode of The Emergency on Newstalk 106 featured a sketch about door-to-door canvassing for elections in Germany in 1949, shortly after World War II. Two canvassers introduce themselves as members of the Nazi party and ask the incredulous householder if he would consider giving his vote to the Nazis. The householder is aghast and tells them “No! ... Impossible! ... you destroyed the country!” The comparison in our own time and place with Fianna Fáil (which is what the sketch writers were aiming at) was immediate, obvious, and not a little amusing in a bitter-sweet kind of way.

Today’s elections come in three varieties:

  1. There shall be a by-election to fill Dáil seats left vacant by the repose of two TDs, namely

    • Seamus Brennan (†9 July 2008)
    • Tony Gregory (†2 January 2009)

    These elections concern the Dublin South and Dublin Central constituencies respectively, and as such Melancholicus (who lives in Dublin North-West) has no vote in either of them. Here are the contenders in each:

    • Dublin South:

      Shay Brennan (son of the late Seamus Brennan)
      George Lee (former RTÉ economic analyst turned FG candidate)
      Alex White
      Shaun Tracey
      Elizabeth Davidson
      Noel O’Gara
      Frank O’Gorman
      Ross O’Mullane

      George Lee is the hot favourite to win here.

    • Dublin Central:

      Maurice Ahern (Bertie’s other brother)
      Paschal Donohue
      Ivana Bacik (good grief!)
      Christy Burke
      David Geary
      Maureen O’Sullivan (the Gregory candidate)
      Paul O’Loughlin
      Malachy Steenson
      Pat Talbot

      The late Tony Gregory’s seat will probably go to Independent Maureen O’Sullivan, billed as “the Gregory candidate”, or else to Christy Burke of Sinn Féin. Paul O’Loughlin (Christian Solidarity), who has stood for Dáil elections in this constituency on previous occasions, can be confident of his usual 200 or so votes. Even the Nazis, in their first serious electoral outing in 1928, while winning a derisive 2% of the overall vote, did better than Christian Solidarity ever did or will. Malachy Steenson (Workers’ Party) and Pat Talbot (Immigration Control Platform) have no chance.

      It is safe to say that neither of the government parties (FF and Green) will win a seat in either constituency, although the young and untried Shay Brennan may well benefit from the dynastic nature of Irish politics.

  2. Then there are the elections for the European parliament. For this purpose Ireland is divided into four constituencies: Dublin, East, North West and South. Three seats are up for grabs in each. Melancholicus shall here confine his attention only to Dublin, since this is where he shall be voting. The candidates are as follows:

    Eoin Ryan (outgoing MEP)
    Eibhlin Byrne
    Gay Mitchell (outgoing MEP)
    Proinsias de Rossa (outgoing MEP)
    Mary Lou McDonald (outgoing MEP)
    Deirdre de Burca
    Patricia McKenna
    Caroline Simons
    Joe Higgins
    Emmanuel Sweeney

    This is a tough one to call. The fact that only three seats are available means at least one of the sitting MEPs will lose his/her seat. Melancholicus was briefly tempted to cast his vote for Mary Lou, if only to force Eoin Ryan out, but also toyed with the idea of sending Joe Higgins off to Brussels out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Regular readers of Infelix Ego know this writer’s opinion of Socialism, but politics aside, Mr. Higgins is in many respects an admirable man. In the end, however, Melancholicus shall be responsible and vote instead for Caroline Simons as the candidate most fully representing his attitude to the EU.

  3. Finally there are the local elections to city and county councils throughout the country. Attention here will be confined to your blogger’s home ward of Artane-Whitehall. Here be the list:

    Sean Paul Mahon (outgoing councillor)
    Julia Carmichael (outgoing councillor)
    Declan Flanagan (outgoing councillor)
    Noel Rock
    Paddy Bourke (outgoing councillor)
    Andrew Montague (outgoing councillor)
    Sinead Seery
    Larry O’Toole (outgoing councillor)
    Denise Mitchell
    Martin O’Sullivan
    Anna Harvey

    A motley crew, and no mistake. There are only 5 seats available in this ward, which means at least one of the sitting councillors will lose a seat. Melancholicus is not even going to attempt to guess who will win here, for he is trying to decide how he shall vote on this one. Fianna Fáil do not deserve to retain their seats. However, he is loath to vote Fine Gael despite coming from a long line of blueshirts, and voting Labour is absolutely out of the question. Perhaps one or other of the two independents — but Melancholicus knows neither of them, and he never casts a vote for someone he knows nothing about. The only alternative is to cast a spoiled vote. He has never spoiled a vote before, but there is a first time for everything. A spoiled vote at least registers a protest, and hence is better than boycotting the polling station altogether.

The main problem with such elections is that there are almost no credible alternatives to the grasping, venal party currently in government. This is not a general election, but a catastrophic defeat for Fianna Fáil in the local elections may precipitate a general election, in which the main government party has no assurance of success. Fianna Fáil do not deserve a majority in the Dáil, or even a share in coalition government, but what other alternative have we? Any coalition not involving Fianna Fáil must of necessity involve the Labour party. Labour has always been on the left, but since its absorption of Democratic Left in 1999 it has swung even further leftwards. Any coalition in which Labour has a share will forge ahead with ‘multicultural’ fascism, political correctness and social engineering. Expect such a government to produce a raft of ‘progressive’ legislation. The consequences for the defence of human life, marriage, the family, education and even religious freedom could be severe.

There is no conservative party, socially speaking, in Ireland—not even Fianna Fáil, although the track record of the latter is generally better than that of other parties. But we can’t keep voting Fianna Fáil forever. No party should be kept in power longer than three terms; Fianna Fáil have already proved themselves incapable of keeping their hands clean.

But what alternative? It is maddening.

Geert Wilders and the BBC

Don’t you just love the partiality of the BBC! Don’t you just love the way al-Beeb views very social, political, historical or cultural matter through such a red-tinted lens that anyone even slightly on the wrong side of the centre line is blasted as “far right”, as though the Dutch Freedom Party were the quintessence of fascism, akin to the Nazis?

Well, the Freedom Party appear to be showing strongly in the European elections, strongly enough to claim at least four seats in the European parliament.

This has sent al-Beeb into conniptions. Count the number of times the expressions “right wing” and “far right” appear in the following story.

When does the BBC ever use the terms “left wing” or “far left”? Answer: it doesn’t. This because that organisation is slanted so far to the left that to be “left wing” is to be positively centre, which is where al-Beeb fondly imagines itself to be.

Dutch far right in poll triumph

The party of the right-wing Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, has come second in the country's elections for the European Parliament, partial results indicate.

Mr Wilders, who is facing prosecution over anti-Islamic statements [interesting that no-one ever faces prosecution over anti-Christian statements], said his Freedom Party (PVV) would get four of the 25 Dutch seats in the parliament.

With more than 92% of votes counted, the ruling Christian Democrats are top.

Voters are now going to the polls in the Czech Republic and the Republic of Ireland. The UK voted on Thursday.

Dutch and British voters were the first to go to the polls to elect the EU's most powerful legislative body.

Some 375 million people in 27 member states are eligible to vote. Most will cast their ballots over the weekend.

Partial results released on Friday showed Mr Wilders' PVV was on course to win 16.9% of the votes in the Netherlands. The PVV currently has no seats in the European Parliament [looks like this is about to change—unless the EU decides to refuse acknowledgement of democratic results it doesn’t like, which is not beyond the bounds of possibility].

Mr Wilders was refused entry to the UK in February on the grounds that he had sought to incite hatred with a film he made last year that equated Islam with violence and likened the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf [one cannot even debate this subject without drawing down on oneself the hysterical fury of the multiculturalists, never mind the far more dangerous psychopathic fury of the islams, but one can trash the Bible with as much vilification as one likes without the slightest consequence].

EU officials concerned

Voters are deciding who gets the 736 seats up for grabs under various forms of proportional representation.

The European Commission has asked for an explanation from Dutch officials, who broke EU rules by releasing partial results early. Results are not supposed to be announced until polls close across Europe on Sunday night [perhaps the real explanation they’re looking for is why the Dutch electorate have dared to deliver such an unpalatable result. Re-education, anyone?].

In the UK, elections were also held in some areas for local councils.

The results of both UK polls are keenly awaited to see how they might affect the national political scene, following weeks of turmoil over MPs' expenses claims.

Latvia, Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia vote on Saturday, while the Czech Republic and Italy vote over Friday and Saturday, and Saturday and Sunday respectively. People in the remaining 18 member states will vote on Sunday.

In Ireland, the vote is seen as a key test ahead of a second referendum on the EU's controversial Lisbon Treaty, expected in October.

The Irish government, stung by the voters' rejection of Lisbon last year, is opposed by Declan Ganley's Libertas. The millionaire entrepreneur, who helped fuel anti-Lisbon sentiment in Ireland, hopes to win one of the 12 Irish seats.

Coalition ally hit

The anti-immigration Dutch Freedom Party MEPs will be headed by Barry Madlener and Mr Wilders will remain an MP in The Hague, Radio Netherlands reports.

The partial results in the Netherlands also showed gains for two staunchly pro-EU parties - the social-liberal D66 and Green Left. Each is on course to send three MEPs to Brussels.

The Christian Democrats' governing coalition partner, the Labour Party (PvdA), was the biggest loser - its share of the Dutch vote fell nearly 10% percentage points to about 14%.

"We dare to talk about sensitive subjects like Islamisation and we use plain and simple words that the voter can understand," Mr Wilders has said in the past.

The controversial politician is facing prosecution in the Netherlands for making anti-Islamic statements, following a court ruling in January [once again, would Mr. Wilders be facing prosecution if he had made anti-Christian statements? Rhetorical question...].

Polls show that Euroscepticism among Dutch voters has increased since the last European elections, with EU enlargement and integration the most unpopular issues.

Across Europe, far-right [there we go again!] parties are hoping to win at least 15 seats. However, the centre-right European People's Party bloc is expected to remain the main force, followed by the European Socialists.

Geert Wilders is now unmasked as a known agent of Goldstein, and he must be stopped before he spreads thoughtcrime throughout the European Union!

What is heartening, however, is that the Dutch at long last seem to be waking up and recognizing the reality around them. This is a country Melancholicus had long given up for lost, but the Islamic infiltration of Europe has now reached such a pitch that even the liberal, left-leaning Dutch have started to notice. Why are so many Dutch people casting their vote for the “right-wing” Geert Wilders and his “far right” Freedom Party? Because they are afraid. They see their liberal, tolerant, easy-going society and culture being filched from them little by little, and supplanted with a replacement which is anything but liberal, tolerant and easy-going, abetted by the Dutch government and by the EU.

Just ask the good people of Rotterdam.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ordination day

Iam non dicam vos servos sed amicos meos, quia servus nescit quid faciat dominus ejus. Alleluia. Vos autem dixi amicos, quia omnia quaecumque audivi a patre meo nota feci vobis. Alleluia.

Last Saturday, the vigil of the feast of Pentecost, Melancholicus’ former classmates were ordained to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Owing to personal circumstances, Melancholicus was unable either to be there or to assist at the First Masses of his friends. He has not yet received any photographs of the happy event but hopes to remedy this defect before long.

In the meantime he earnestly solicits the prayers of his readers for the new priests as they begin their priestly ministry:

Fr. Brian Austin FSSP
Fr. Matthew Goddard FSSP
Fr. Michael Stinson FSSP

While we wait for the ordination pictures, here are a couple of shots from Father Austin’s First Mass, celebrated on Pentecost Sunday at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, Nebraska (see the rest of them here):

Ad multos annos.

Fr. Goddard will celebrate his first solemn Mass in his English homeland at 11am on 6 June (Saturday) in St. James’ church, Spanish Place, London. British readers of Infelix Ego in London and the south-east are encouraged to attend. Tell Fr. Goddard afterwards that Melancholicus sent you. He’ll be amused.

Render unto Caesar... and only unto Caesar

Melancholicus received the following by e-mail, and thinks it worth sharing with his readers:

This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee, by school Principal, Jody McLeod:

"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem, to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it "an alternate lifestyle", and if someone is offended, that's OK.

I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity, by dispensing condoms and calling it, "safe sex". If someone is offended, that's OK.

I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a "viable means of birth control". If someone is offended, no problem...

I can designate a school day as "Earth Day" and involve students in activities to worship religiously and praise the goddess "Mother Earth" and call it "ecology..."

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depicts people with strong, traditional Christian convictions as "simple minded" and "ignorant" and call it "enlightenment...."

However, if anyone uses this facility to honor GOD and to ask HIM to Bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, then Federal Case Law is violated.

This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone, except GOD and HIS Commandments.

Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules with which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical... I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.

For this reason, I shall "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's", and refrain from praying at this time.

"However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank GOD and ask HIM, in the name of JESUS, to Bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law — yet."

One by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another and began to pray.

They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand and they prayed in the Announcer's Box!

The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America — the Seat of "Justice" in the "one nation, under GOD."

Somehow Kingston, Tennessee, remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion. Praise GOD that HIS remnant remains!

JESUS said, "If you are ashamed of me before men, then I will be ashamed of you before My Father."

No comment necessary, except to say Ms. McLeod is a brave woman. Someone could have denounced her to the Gestapo.

Or worse, to the ACLU.

The witness of a true hero of charity

Let us not fool ourselves with the notion that the horrendous abuse inflicted on innocents in industrial schools and suchlike institutions is a post-conciliar phenomenon. Grave sin is a feature of fallen human nature generally, not of post-conciliar theology alone.

There is a tendency among some Traditional Catholics to imagine that, because we have access to the old Latin Mass, we are somehow immune from such turpitude. The Ryan Report, as well as more recent experience, should be sufficient to disabuse us of that precious notion.

Fr Flanagan reading to some of the boys in his careAlarm bells were sounded as long ago as the 1940s — long before the Novus Ordo was imposed on these shores — by no less a figure than Father Edward Flanagan, of “Boys’ Town” fame, who in 1946 condemned Ireland’s reform schools as “a disgrace to the nation”. It is much to be regretted that his judgement went unheeded. If a thoroughgoing reform of these institutions had been undertaken and pursued by ecclesiastical authorities at the time, how much suffering and abuse might have been averted, how much scandal need never have been given! But, alas, Fr. Flanagan’s timely warnings were not only ignored; he was attacked and ridiculed for daring to upset the status quo.

This story courtesy of Irish Central. Melancholicus has added his own remarks in red.

H/T to Dennis K. for the link.

Boys Town founder Fr. Flanagan warned Irish Church about abuse

By JOHN FAY, IrishCentral.Com Staff Writer

Father Edward Flanagan, founder of "Boys Town" made famous by the Spencer Tracy movie, was a lone voice in condemning Ireland's industrial schools back in the 1940s –and he was viciously castigated by church and government for doing so.

Fr. Flanagan, from Co. Roscommon, left Ireland in 1904 and was ordained a priest eight years later. In 1917 he was living and working in Omaha, Nebraska, when he hit upon the idea of a "boys town," which offered education and a home for the poor and wayward boys of Omaha.

However, demand for the service was so great that he soon had to find bigger premises. Boys Town, built on a farm 10 miles from Omaha, was the result.

The center was open to all. There were no fences to stop the boys from leaving. Fr. Flanagan said he was "not building a prison". "This is a home," he said. "You do not wall in members of your own family." [this saintly man's attitude was in striking contrast to that of the Irish reformatories]

Boys Town eventually became so well-known - and so well-respected - that Hollywood and the U.S. President came calling. Spencer Tracey and Mickey Rooney starred in the 1938 movie "Boys Town," and it made a national hero out of Fr. Flanagan [Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven - Mt. 5:16]. He was internationally renowned as “the world's most foremost expert on boys' training and youth care."

When World War II ended in 1945, President Harry S. Truman asked Fr. Flanagan to tour Asia and Europe, to see what could be done for the homeless and neglected children in those regions.

Fr. Flanagan decided to return to the land of his birth in 1946 to visit his family, and also to visit the "so-called training schools" run by the Christian Brothers to see if they were "a success or failure" [Fr. Flanagan thus approached these institutions with an open mind].

The success of the film "Boys Town," meant Fr. Flanagan was treated like a celebrity on his arrival. His visit was noted by the The Irish Independent, which said that Fr. Flanagan had succeeded "against overwhelming odds", spurred on by the "simple slogan that 'There is no such thing as a bad boy'." [whereas the approach of the Irish institutions seems to have been the opposite, given the casual brutality whereto the inmates of these institutions were subjected. The institutions have since been compared to the camps in occupied Europe during the last war, and the behaviour of the religious who ran them has been likened to that of the SS. Sadly, there is not too much exaggeration in that comparison]

But Fr. Flanagan was unhappy with what he found in Ireland. He was dismayed at the state of Ireland's reform schools and blasted them as "a scandal, un-Christlike, and wrong." [that's very strong language for 1946. Fr. Flanagan was clearly disturbed by what he found] And he said the Christian Brothers, founded by Edmund Rice, had lost its way [a telling remark, the truth of which has since been borne out times without number].

Speaking to a large audience at a public lecture in Cork's Savoy Cinema he said, "You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment [with this description he has forthrightly identified the true ethos of these reform schools]. You can do something about it." He called Ireland's penal institutions "a disgrace to the nation," and later said "I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child's character." [a man who knew what he was talking about speaking straight from the heart]

However, his words fell on stony ground. He wasn't simply ignored. He was taken to pieces by the Irish establishment. The then-Minister for Justice Gerald Boland said in the Dáil that he was "not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them." [the same incredulous obtusity that was to characterize the response of our superiors, both civil and ecclesiastical, from that day to this. There was not so much as the proposal of an official inquiry, never mind the promise of one. Did they not think that Fr. Flanagan, a man of international renown with a proven track record in childcare, might not have something important to say on the matter? It truly beggars belief]

Fr. Flanagan was a devout Catholic, a man who Catholics and non-Catholics world-wide had deemed a hero. He was the Mother Theresa of his day.

Despite that, the Irish Church and the Irish authorities felt comfortable ignoring Fr. Flanagan, ignoring the fact that he was considered to be an expert in the matter of providing for the education and upbringing of boys who were otherwise considered to be "lost causes."

When he arrived back in America Fr. Flanagan said: "What you need over there is to have someone shake you loose from your smugness and satisfaction and set an example by punishing those who are guilty of cruelty, ignorance and neglect of their duties in high places . . . I wonder what God's judgment will be with reference to those who hold the deposit of faith and who fail in their God-given stewardship of little children." [But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea - Mt. 18:6]

Again, his efforts fell on stony ground.

What was it about the Irish Church and the Irish authorities that made them so insular that they felt comfortable dismissing someone of Fr. Flanagan's stature? Despite the fact that Fr. Flanagan was a popular hero to many Irish people, his words had no sway with those in authority, whether in the government or the Church [they may now rue that they did not listen. But it is now too late for such regrets - the damage has been done, and what unspeakable damage it is!].

And, once those who endorsed the industrial school model survived Fr. Flanagan's broadsides, they must have known that no one would challenge them again. They were right, for 50 years anyway [they could get away with it for a time, only for a time; the truth will always come out in the end].

Not since the penal times has the Catholic Church been so threatened in Ireland. Only this time the damage is all self-inflicted and not imposed by an outside force. Unless strong Catholic characters arise from the wreckage we have now, the Church in Ireland is doomed [unless we are as blind and obtuse as the late Minister Boland, we must concur with the writer's assessment].

Indeed. Is the Church in Ireland built upon rock or upon sand? In the light of the number of millstones—far too many millstones!—we might perforce conclude the latter. But such an institution surely deserves to wither. Without heroic penitence and true charity there is no hope for it, not now, not ever.