Roger Pulvers’ March 15 Counterpoint article, “Now that the Celtic tiger’s turned tail, whither the Emerald Isle,” leaves me, as one who is part English and part Irish, with mixed feelings of shame and satisfaction. I cannot but feel shame at the way the English for so long kept the Irish in misery until the establishment of the Irish Free State.
But I feel a measure of satisfaction at the way the church championed the cause of Catholic Ireland against Protestant England during those centuries of misery — in much the same way as the church championed the cause of Catholic Poland against Soviet Russia in more recent years.
On the other hand, Pulvers sees the control of the Catholic Church in Ireland only in terms of “unrelenting suppression,” strangely parallel with the centuries of British oppression. Now he rejoices in the present slackening of “the powerful grip of the church on the Irish soul” with the admission of “liberal values” that have come to “take hold in virtually all layers of society.”
What he overlooks is the extent to which these liberal values, no doubt including sexual permissiveness, are contributing to the demoralizing of the Irish soul, among the laity and the clergy. What with my English father and my Irish mother, it is this present situation — which I also observed in Ireland on a visit there last summer — that makes me hang my head in shame.
All the same, I cannot but agree with Pulvers in recognizing that the strengths of Ireland still lie in the richness of her culture, the beauty of her countryside and the irrepressible friendliness of her people.
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