Wednesday, 21 October 2009

'Republicans have done Nelson a disservice'

In his weekly column in the News Letter today, N R Greer commented on the recent attacks by Sinn Fein on some of my personal religious beliefs.  He wrote:
Republicans have done Nelson a disservice
Attending an occasional mass, or sitting in the odd mosque during prayers, does not worry me in the slightest but I also absolutely respect the position of DUP MLA and Culture Minister Nelson McCausland not to attend a Roman Catholic service.  To me this is the essence of civil and religious liberty.  If that is what Nelson believes, then fine.  So what?
He is not seeking to deliberately offend Roman Catholics nor their church; he is not stopping anyone from attending the church they want to go to.
Had Sinn Fein not made an issue about the minister's sincerely held religious beliefs no one would have known and no one would have been offended.  By stirring the pot the republicans have ensured lots of people have been offended and the executive has faced yet another petty squabble.
Nelson McCauslad's stance seems to me less offensive than would-be SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie's public remarks regarding Protestant loyal orders.


  1. All our churches deserve respect. The Catholic ban was wrong, the Catholic demand for children of mixed marraiges to be reared Catholic was wrong, and for a Catholic to boycott or hold any Protestant denomination as inferior is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    While of a republican background myself, we always respected our Protestant neighbours, and made a point of supporting social functions of their community in Banagher.

    I think your attitude towards Catholicism is also wrong, as is the OO's position. Political protestantism is poor Christianity...

  2. Tomas - you state that members of your community 'have always respected our Protestant neighbours, and made a point of supporting social functions of their community in Banagher.' I assume that this is Banagher in county Offaly and I am glad to hear that social relations between Protestants and Roman Catholics are good. That is how it should be everywhere but that does not require us to ignore the doctrinal differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

    I would also say that relations in county Offaly have not always been so good and would point to the notorious incident on 30 July 1921 when the IRA murdered two innocent Protestants at Coolacrease. This incident and many like it in the South led to the exodus of thousands of Protestant. Indeed about 10,000 Protestants left the South between 1920 and 1924.

  3. Actually the "Catholic ban" that supposedly precluded Irish ministers from attending Douglas Hyde's funeral did not actually exist. Canon 1258, paragraph 2, of the 1917 Code of Canon Law expressely permitted “passive or merely material presence” at “the funerals, weddings, and similar solemnities of non-Catholics”. As often the case, conventions were considerably stricter at the time in Ireland because it was felt (especially after the Great Evangelical Crusade) that Protestant ministers would use funeral or marriage services to proslytize Catholics, or otherwise direct anti-Catholic sermons, a not entirely unfounded suspicion given the contemporary political situation.

    I read a book claiming that in the days before Henry Cooke there was instances where some Presbyterian families asked Catholic priests to baptize their children because there was none of their ministers about the local area to do it.