Claim: "The Church Never Helped The Irish"

I hear this claim a lot from many apostate Irish Catholics, a lot of whom seriously hate the Catholic Church.

They claim that “The Church never did anything for the Ireland when they were under the British or during the Famine.”

I was wondering if anyone here could suggest how to respond to / address these arguments from a Catholic perspective?

Subscribing to hear some opinions. I 'm curious about this myself.

I’ve heard this to be a complaint of a few immigration-era Italian Catholics too, who felt that the poverty of southern Italy (where most of them came from) was due to the Church. Though I think they were more anti-*clerical *than anti-Catholic. While I’ve heard the claim though, I’ve never heard the actual *reasons *(with subsequent examples) for it.

We could also complain that the Church did nothing to stop the drought in the Midwest during the summer of 2012, or to keep hurricane Sandy from damaging the east coast or to keep Obama from winning the election.:smiley: It is just as absurd, as the claim that the Church did nothing to help the Irish or the Italians.

I’m sure all the Irish people in heaven would disagree!

These apostate Catholics claim that the Catholic Church in Ireland didn’t do anything to help the people starving because of the famine, not that the Church itself was responsible was responsible for the famine. They also claim that the Church, or popes, “didn’t do anything” to help the Catholic Irish during the centuries of brutal Protestant British domination of Ireland. That’s basically their argument. I was wondering if someone on here could help provide evidence to the contrary of these claims or put things in their proper historical context.

I’ve tried to locate information regarding this subject but can’t find much so I’d greatly appreciate if anyone could help me formulate a logical, apologetical response to these arguments.

The biggest problem was that these things were happening when the Church’s temporal power was in serious decline. It could no longer influence kings the way it had before, and it had no army of its own.

WJL, I remember going over this topic with you and others about a year ago in this thread, beginning around the third page of the thread (and following). Since that time, I haven’t come across anything new to add to what I presented back then, so I’ll just reiterate some of my points (which I think are still relevant).

A criticism that the Catholic Church never did anything for the Irish when they were under British rule is not a valid argument unless one first tries to make a case for it by…

  1. Explaining in specific terms what the Vatican was morally obligated to do.
  2. Demonstrating that Vatican had the resources at hand to actually meet this moral obligation.
  3. Provide credible documentation that shows that the Vatican intentionally denied assisting the Irish despite having the knowledge and resources to do otherwise.

Notice that in speaking about the Catholic Church, I am specifically referring to the Vatican, which is what I suspect to be the target of the criticisms at hand. After all, there were many member of the Catholic Church in Ireland itself who did a lot of things to assist the Irish, so a condemnation of the Catholic Church as a whole is obviously without merit.

In terms of the Potato Famine, here is a cut & paste of what I presented in Post #46 of the previously mentioned thread:

…before someone can make a moral judgement concerning whether or not the Vatican failed the Irish people in the above mentioned events, one must first have the actual facts as they pertained to them. For example, what did the Vatican actually know, what was the Vatican capable of doing, and what did the Vatican then choose to do (and why)? There doesn’t seem to be much historical information concerning the Vatican’s response to the Potato Famine, but lack of records does not necessarily equate with a lack of response.

We do know that, as a whole, there was a Catholic Church response (for example, records show that many American Catholics organized relief efforts for the Irish, and, as a result, charitable assistance was given). So whereas someone may be able to criticize the Vatican’s performance (but only if the actual facts are known and examined), there is no room to criticize the Catholic Church as a whole.

Simply put, when people make such vague accusations, a good response is to ask them exactly what they think the Church should have done, and then take it from there. In many cases, the criticism against the Church will be lacking in merit, and therefore the argument is refuted.

In cases of valid criticisms against the Church, ask them to state exactly what they think such criticisms prove. That at times in history the Church sometimes made poor political and economic decisions? Generally speaking, Catholics do not deny this. But, so what? The Church is both a spiritual and a political entity, and all political entities sometimes make poor political and economic decisions.

But if someone says that such criticisms demonstrate that the Catholic Church as a whole does not have any legitimacy as a spiritual entity then they are wrong. If anyone states otherwise, let them present a specific case for it here on CAF and I (and I’m sure many others) will defend the Church against such a notion.

One last quick comment…
The accusation that “The Church never helped the Irish” would include a condemnation of St. Patrick himself, as well as the hundreds of other Celtic saints. I doubt if many Irish (who are upset over problems in the Church) would be willing to go that far.

CaptFun responds in Green

Claim: “The Church Never Helped The Irish”

Guiding us (I’m “Irish Catholic” by descent) on a path to eternal life isn’t enough for some people?! :confused:

I’m speaking of the REAL Catholic Church of course, not the worst priests or nuns or laypeople you’ve ever experienced - who for some reason trumpet their Catholicness while giving scandal.

In defending the Church I find no need to burden myself with defending the mortal sins committed by some Catholics (ARE they still Catholic when they mortally sin (and remain in that state)? Or are they ex-Catholic, like the complainants, at that point)? This will offend the Church haters - but so will “anyone defending her”, possibly, so … :shrug:

When I hear that complaint … my first impression is that these folks would possibly desire Jesus’ Kingdom to BE of this world. Instead of what HE told us.

Would they rather have the bark of Peter < (that’s** a boat** for some of you :smiley: ) become Battlestar Gallactica and have chased the Tudor Dynasty out of Buckingham Palace and into hiding like Robin of Locksley in Sherwood Forest? :wink:

Cool movie scene I suppose – but Jesus, who sailed in the original Peter’s Bark – never had them launch it into the Mediterranean to go sink Roman Galleys back when the Emperors of Rome thought they were gods – and their evils quite in excess of Britain’s.

That darn Jesus and His " … love your enemies," and “turn the other cheek,” and “blessed are the meek and humble …”. What a crashing disappointment to those who see what the Church COULD be if they took His " … sell your cloak and buy a sword" counsel and turned it into an*** offensive Crusade*** more often. Coveting goods like the Royal Crowns (of this world). In some ways (I’m saying) - their problem is as often with the FOUNDER of the Church; as it is with the Church that follows its founder!

I hear this claim a lot from many apostate Irish Catholics, a lot of whom seriously hate the Catholic Church.

Apostate = no longer true, fallen away, or anti-Catholic. Irish = ethnicity. Catholic = in this case former Catholic, baptized but at odds with the Church.

SATAN seriously hates the Catholic Church (the real Church). Jesus hates the hypocrisy and sin in it. It is important to make those distinctions.

Is their criticism of the Church with an eye to making the Church better? Or is it (as if often is) to justifying their leaving the Church (often to sin at will without guilt). In other words, would some Irish Joan of Arc in the 1800s have saved their faith in the Church today? Made the Eucharist*** more ***beneficial?

They claim that “The Church never did anything for the Ireland when they were under the British or during the Famine.”

Their complaint at closer glance, accuses the Church (of a “conquered country”) of sins of OMISSION it would seem.

Jesus DID scold the Pharisees and Scribes for "not caring for the vineyard’ (omission) in some of his parables. So … let’s concede that the Irish Church of whatever time it is they have the complaint about … was quite human and made human mistakes. AND there might have been hypocrisy in leadership here and there. Which there still IS … in our Church today (throughout the world) and really, THAT is more relevant.

It would be interesting to get past these “pat answer” complaints (which I think get parroted without much real thought by the complainers) … and wonder what they were expecting?

With most Catholics starving, even them sharing their meager goods may not have stopped the exodus to America. *< Which turned out to be very GOOD for succeeding generations of Irish ex-patriots’ children. Like me! *

Did they desire the Church to be more like the Salvation Army? The Soviet Union? Well, laypeople can take up collections and share. And probably did.

I was wondering if anyone here could suggest how to respond to / address these arguments from a Catholic perspective?

Some of these I did above. I might remark that Jesus had little patience with those who criticized “people of the past” for their sins - while committing similar sins or worse in the present. I refer to his scolding the Pharisees for their claim “If WE had been alive in the time of the prophets, we would not have put them to death like our fathers did …” all the while plotting to kill Jesus (do evil in the present).

It’s as old as Adam and Eve breaking the first covenant. And deciding on a “cafeteria pre-Catholicism” by doing what they wanted – instead of following authority.

The Church which Peter compares to Noah’s Ark … is not usually a battleship looking for earthly kingdoms, or forced conversions. It braves the storms of this world, invites others aboard to share its good news of (eventual) salvation (through trials however); and is not about ethnicities and patriotic loyalties that justify class warfare, revenge, envy, anger and licentiousness < (justified sins because of X, yadda yadda).

The Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ has a promise that " … the gates of hell will not prevail against IT"! IT will deliver salvation and was founded by Jesus at the cost of His own life and blood to DO just that.

(continued in later post - in Green :wink: )

I was wondering if anyone here could suggest how to respond to / address these arguments from a Catholic perspective?

**CaptFun continues his response
**

It is good to note that as an Irish AMERICAN Catholic … the faith was a strength of those who fled to this “free” but still inhospitable and challenging country (the US … or pre-US as the case may have been). And a great solace. Like the Hebrews that came through a heroic exodus to see their children inherit a land of milk and honey – the faith of the Irish immigrants was the bulwark of their families and a strength to America.

Selectively we can always find Catholic sinners (there are a lot of Catholics … and even a small percentage of scandalous ones can raise quite a memorable stink). That is true of the clergy as well. But when one looks at the GOOD instead, it is more inspirational and hopeful and more inclining toward eternal salvation than some temporary political victory that really, must pass eventually anyhow.

**WHILE I have “argued” the points **somewhat. We need NOT argue every point against the Church’s critics. **HONEST criticism aimed at improving the Church is more than welcome - if its sincere - **and followed by action instead of fruitless cynicism which is “a cure worse than the disease” in many cases.

The Irish Church of persecuted times might be compared with the early Church under Rome. That did not preach armed revolution against Caesar … but wearing armor against Satan. One could ruminate that Peter and Paul did not crusade against (then legal) slavery in their time … preached a love relationship in the Lord between slave and master (more like employer and employee where it was followed) that led to heaven . Where even the slave masters would have to give an account of THEIR stewardship.

Joan of Arc and David and Moses led troops to battle … but more often the Catholic Church did not go on military crusades. Sometimes Catholic leaders made treaties seeking peace. Often such treaties were with evil people. Otherwise … why do you NEED a treaty.

A Pope once turned away Attila the Hun from sacking Rome. Since Attila was a murderer and aggressor, why did the Pope seek a treaty? :shrug: But in that case the result was wonderful. The Huns peacefully went elsewhere!

Pius XII made a “concordat with Hitler”. Or tried to … Hitler of course broke his promises (mostly these were: not to persecute the Church or interfere with her – and certainly not to co-opt the Church, which he later tried to do).

Some think** that **was like the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact where Hitler and Stalin agreed to divide Poland and start World War II or something!

Far from that … but who reads treaties really. It’s easier to criticize the Church. Especially since the Church reminds people about sin. Which sometimes annoys people who have a favorite one they don’t feel like giving up. And that darn Church obligates one to go to Church on Sunday and stuff! Even if they don’t come with soldiers – to make you do it. :sad_yes:

Good luck in defending the Church WJL :thumbsup: … hope you invite those friends back. Hostility is actually better than lukewarmness. They have the Church on their mind. Maybe they know what she should be. You might be the catalyst for their reversion. And/or you will learn something too and help the Church get better! Thanks for the thread!

I enjoyed your insightful post Eric. :thumbsup:

Thanks, CaptFun. I likewise appreciated reading your contributions to the discussion, especially the following comment:

Thanks very much for the responses, everyone.

Here is an example of the typical arguments I often hear from many lapsed Irish:

"We had our own form of Celtic Christianity here. It was Irish monks that converted the Picts, Northern Anglo-Saxons and Germans to Christianity. The Normans were more Catholic than the Irish. Orders like the Cistercians and Franciscans were mostly Norman at first and eventually replaced the Old Irish monastic system.

The Irish were the original Scots. Scotia was the original name for Ireland, and it was Irish invaders that conquered the land of the Picts and established the Kingdom of Scots which by the 12th century came under Lowland Anglo-Norman control. Ireland was known as Scotia Major and Scotland was Scotia Minor. In the 16th century the now mainly English speaking Scots appealed to the Pope to claim the rights to name Scotia. The Pope sided with Anglo-Norman Lowlanders and handed all the Irish monastries in Europe over to the Lowland thieves. In 1560 the “Scots” repaid the Papacy by becoming Presbyterian!

The Catholic Church supported Daniel O’Connell’s movement for Catholic Emancipation, but did very little to support his movement to repeal the Act of Union. If the Irish had their own parliament the Great Famine would be less likely.

The Catholic Church also discouraged the Irish language in Ulster because Gaelic speaking Presbyterian ministers were coming over from Scotland to comvert the native Irish, this was despite the fact that fact that it was Irish speaking monks from the Glens of Antrim that saved the Catholic religion from extinction in the Scottish Highlands shortly after the Reformation.

The Jesuits were particularly West British and encouraged Anglisation of the middle classes so they could become British officers and civil servants. I’m a Catholic but you have to admit the Irish should have been treated a lot better by the Church given their loyalty to the Faith."

Any input on how to address these particular arguments would be much appreciated.

Even though I have Irish heritage, I don’t know all the nuances of Irish history that are being referenced here, so I do not know the truth of the statements in question. But then again, I don’t see how it even matters. Consider the main points this person made:

"We had our own form of Celtic Christianity here. It was Irish monks that converted the Picts, Northern Anglo-Saxons and Germans to Christianity. The Normans were more Catholic than the Irish. Orders like the Cistercians and Franciscans were mostly Norman at first and eventually replaced the Old Irish monastic system.

And what exactly does this prove? Are they suggesting that the original Celtic Christians were not Catholic? Despite the difference in Celtic Christian spirituality with other areas of Europe, the Celtic Christians were, indeed, Catholic. I explained this in detail in the previous thread, The Claim that St. Patrick and the Celtic Church Weren’t Catholic. Simply put, differences in discipline and liturgical styles are found through the Catholic Church, and this has been the way of things throughout history. Such differences, therefore, do not demonstrate that the Irish Celtic Church was not Catholic, anymore than the differences between my own parish and those in Italy demonstrate that my parish is not Catholic. My parish is under the patronage of St. Patrick, and it is just as Catholic as he was.

I’m a Catholic but you have to admit the Irish should have been treated a lot better by the Church given their loyalty to the Faith.

First of all, the term, “the Church” includes all the Irish clergy, religious and laypeople themselves. So were Irish Catholics negligent in treating the Irish? As I have stated before, there is no basis here for criticizing the Church as a whole. For example, there were Irish clergy and religious who died fighting the English. On a broader scale, there were American Catholics who raised emergency funds to assist Ireland during the Potato Famine. There were plenty of Catholics who stood with the Irish in their time of need (Irish and otherwise) so someone who says that the Church as a whole was negligent dishonors their memory and sacrifice.

Secondly, for the sake of argument, let us say that the criticism “the Irish should have been treated a lot better by the Church” is true. What does such a notion actually justify on behalf of those making this claim? I have not yet seen the completed argument that these people are making, so I’ll need you to fill in the blanks on their behalf (or invite them to come to CAF and present their case). In other words, “Because the Church could have treated the Irish a whole lot better, this means that the Church _______” or, “…this means that I _______.”

You mentioned before that they are “apostate Irish Catholics” but I’m not sure what that means in this context. An apostate (using the Catechism’s definition) is someone who completely rejects the Christian Faith, but such people would not still be calling themselves Catholic. Do you mean that they are now non-practicing Catholics? Therefore, are they saying that because the Church could have treated the Irish a whole lot better then they don’t have to attend Mass anymore or practice their Catholicism?

If so, where is the logic in that? Even if certain members of the Church did not treat the Irish properly, does this mean that the Baptisms the Irish received are suddenly invalid? Does this mean that the Eucharist is no longer the Body and Blood of Christ? Does this mean that our Bibles are no longer authentic representations of the words of Scripture preserved and passed down by the Church from generation to generation? Does this mean that the pope is no longer the visible head of Christ’s Church on earth? Does this mean that parents are no longer morally obligated to properly catechize their children? Does this mean that marriage is no longer a sacrament? Does this mean that they no longer need to have recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the absoultion of mortal sin? Does this mean that they are no longer obligated to observe the Precepts of the Church?

I wonder what people wanted the Church to do?

God knows we never want another Thirty-Years War again.

Generally, these people are often Irish Republicans who believe that the Catholic Church, or rather the Papacy (in addition to the Irish clergy itself), has, throughout history, somehow “wronged” the Irish people by and allegedly “supported British rule in Ireland for centuries,” “didn’t believe the Irish could rule themselves,” and “didn’t want Ireland to be independent” so–according to them–the Irish people should reject the Catholic Church and become secular or another religion.

You mentioned before that they are “apostate Irish Catholics” but I’m not sure what that means in this context. An apostate (using the Catechism’s definition) is someone who completely rejects the Christian Faith, but such people would not still be calling themselves Catholic. Do you mean that they are now non-practicing Catholics?

I should have been clearer. Most of these types I encounter online or in person fall into two categories: the first are either complete apostates (i.e. they reject the Christian Faith altogether) that are typically completely ignorant of the teachings of the Faith; the second, and less common, are lapsed, apathetic, or unorthodox/heterodox “cultural Catholics” who don’t take the Faith seriously and are generally ignorant regarding it.

Therefore, are they saying that because the Church could have treated the Irish a whole lot better then they don’t have to attend Mass anymore or practice their Catholicism?

Yes, that’s pretty much it. They seem to feel (from a nationalistic point-of-view) that “the Church” (meaning either the Papacy or the Irish clergy itself) betrayed the Irish people at certain points throughout history. Typically, they cite the Laudabiliter of Pope Adrian IV, giving Henry II dominion over Ireland and sparking the conflict between Ireland and Britain, followed by claims that “the Church” didn’t help or didn’t want to help the Irish Catholics overthrow their harsh Protestant overlords when it was under British rule.

However, I do know that following the excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570, Pope Pius V had ruled that Irish Catholics did not owe allegiance to Protestant England. Pope Gregory XIII actually backed the Irish war effort during the Second Desmond Rebellion (1579-1583) with Papal money and troops. It was planned that King Philip of Spain would take over the monarchy of Ireland, though. On October 10, 1580, 600 Papal troops commanded by Sebastiano di San Giuseppe, along with a number of Irish rebels, were defeated by the English after a three-day siege against their fort at Dún an Óir. Arthur Grey de Wilton ordered the massacre of the invasion forces, sparing only the commanders. The Papal troops and Irish rebels were beheaded and their bodies thrown into the sea. This event was known as the Siege of Smerwick. If I were to immediately mention this to them, however, they would then assert that the Church didn’t care about aiding the Irish only until after the Reformation but, only briefly and then stopped caring about it afterwards.

I haven’t mentioned these facts to the people whom I’m debating yet because I want to also address a few of the particular claims made in the last quote I posted along with it. For example, the claim that “in the 16th century, the Pope sided with Anglo-Norman Lowlanders and handed all the Irish monastries in Europe over to the Lowlanders” and that "the Catholic Church [either the Vatican or the Irish clergy itself] did very little to support the movement to repeal the Act of Union [with Britain] in the 19th century."

This person also alleges that "the Jesuits were particularly West British * and encouraged Anglicisation of the [Irish] middle classes so they could become British officers and civil servants." This is seen by many modern Irish republicans and nationalists as a betrayal of the Catholic Irish people and their Gaelic culture, as well as “favouritism” towards Protestant Britain (evidently because it was a more powerful and influential nation), and thus is seen as an attack on their Irish nationhood and national identity. Thus, they assert that the Irish people should, therefore, have no allegiance or loyalty to the Catholic Church for these reasons.*

Thanks for the additional input. Their position is not a rational one, and I say this for the following reasons:

1) From a spiritual and cultural perspective, the Irish have greatly benefited from the Catholic Church ever since the first Christian missionaries, including St. Patrick, arrived there. Moreover, many Irish clergy and religious certainly believed in Irish independence and died fighting the English for this very cause. As I have repeatedly stated, there is no logical reason for them to denounce the Catholic Church as a whole.

2) Their stance is a political / social one, but not a doctrinal one. For example, we are examining the mindset of modern-day Irish who were born and raised Catholic, and instructed in the Faith. They were taught, among other things, that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, and that Christ stated that unless we eat his Body and drink his Blood, we have no life within us. Even if certain Catholic officials did not support the Irish at certain times in the past (before any of these modern-day Irish were even born), then what is the logical basis for them suddenly deciding to “become secular or start another religion”? Did the Eucharist suddenly stop being the Eucharist? In becoming secular or creating another religion, they turn their backs on the Eucharist and many other things as well. The validity of the sacraments do not depend on the Vatican treating everyone the way they want to be treated.

3) The Vatican does not have a moral obligation to agree with people who believe that they ought to be independent.

I should have been clearer. Most of these types I encounter online or in person fall into two categories: the first are either complete apostates (i.e. they reject the Christian Faith altogether) that are typically completely ignorant of the teachings of the Faith; the second, and less common, are lapsed, apathetic, or unorthodox/heterodox “cultural Catholics” who don’t take the Faith seriously and are generally ignorant regarding it.

Thanks for the clarification. If these are Catholics who are ignorant of their Catholic Faith, then deciding to reject Catholicism would be, by definition, an uninformed decision. Once again, this shows that their position is not a rational one.

Yes, that’s pretty much it. They seem to feel (from a nationalistic point-of-view) that “the Church” (meaning either the Papacy or the Irish clergy itself) betrayed the Irish people at certain points throughout history. Typically, they cite the Laudabiliter of Pope Adrian IV, giving Henry II dominion over Ireland and sparking the conflict between Ireland and Britain…

I remember that we (and others) went over a good bit of this historical stuff in the previous thread. They are citing things that happened centuries before any of them were born. Even if all these criticisms are historically accurate, none of them is an argument against the legitimacy of Catholic Church as a spiritual entity. The primary function of the Church is to preach the Gospel and provide the sacraments to the people, which is what the Irish got. If the Church made poor political and economical decisions along the way, then so what? Catholics are supposed to follow the Church because the Church was founded by Christ, and Christ is the Head of the Church. We are not Catholic because the Church has somehow earned our support and admiration, and lived up to our expectations.

In light of all that I’ve stated, the people you’ve been debating with have not provided a logical argument for rejecting the Catholic Faith. Naturally, trying to appeal to irrational people from a rational basis is often a waste of time. Given the time span between your initial thread and this one, you’ve invested over a year in dealing with these people and it does not look like they are willing to listen to reason. It sounds like they just don’t want to go to Mass anymore and are looking for a reason to justify it. With many people, any excuse will do, even lame ones. I applaud your noble intentions and the time you’ve invested into this, but at this point it seems like a case of “casting ones pearls before swine.”

Thank you very much, Eric, for your tremendous amount of help. The individuals I’m debating now are not the same ones as I was debating before (from the previous thread). I essentially proved the point I was trying to make to them that the Celtic Church was Catholic and not some kind of separate non-Catholic church. Now, I’m debating a different set of individuals in the comments on an article on an Irish news website. I understand how to respond to these types of people a lot better now when I hear these criticisms of and accusations regarding the Church, particularly the difference between the differences between the Church’s spiritual and political roles.

I have one further question, though. How would you respond to the accusation that “the Church” (referring to either, or both, the Papacy or the Irish clergy) after the 1600s generally didn’t support either Irish Home Rule or Irish independence but, rather supported its continued union with Britain. I’m not particularly sure if this claim is accurate or not, which is why I ask. For example, it is alleged that “the Church did little to support Daniel O’Connell’s movement to repeal the Act of Union” as well as that “during the Irish War of Independence (1919-21) the Irish Republic hoped for recognition from the Holy See, which was not forthcoming. A memorandum from envoy Sean T O’Kelly to Pope Benedict XV made the case for Vatican recognition of the Republic.” These anti-Catholic “Irish Nationalists” thus claim that the Church is “anti-Irish” because Pope Benedict XV didn’t recognize the Irish Republic through 1919-21.

I’d just like to get some feedback on these claims for future reference, when these arguments or similar ones are bound to come up again somewhere else.

What a fatuous standpoint - you should give it what it deserves, laughter.

It only works as long as you imagine the Church to be some external entity, a “foreign bogeyman” that had the ability to help, and didn’t.

Churches of any denomination in Ireland were never a foreign bogeyman. They mostly were Irish people, and they mostly will have helped each other and themselves as much as they could, and any wrong churches did within Ireland, misguided as you like will have largely been done by Irish people to Irish people.

Besides which, even if “they” is a they that has done nothing else, if “they” lead many Christians in our lives of faith (and all of those before us who held that faith so dear) and help organise a little charity work for the hungry/homeless/sick etc. “they” are doing their job.

(on a level as silly as these people are being, it may even be that the church stopped the practice of human sacrifice, and if it stopped even a handful of those every year back then, the number of descendants of such a number of people now could well be mindbogglingly huge) :smiley:

I’m glad to help.

…I understand how to respond to these types of people a lot better now when I hear these criticisms of and accusations regarding the Church, particularly the difference between the differences between the Church’s spiritual and political roles.

I have one further question, though. How would you respond to the accusation that “the Church” (referring to either, or both, the Papacy or the Irish clergy) after the 1600s generally didn’t support either Irish Home Rule or Irish independence but, rather supported its continued union with Britain…

I’m not familiar with these historical issues, but I would go with the approach you just mentioned. In other words, they are bring up socio-political issues, not spiritual ones. The question at hand is whether or not the Vatican had a moral obligation to support the Irish in the manner that the Irish desired. The people you’re debating with have not made a case for this. And even if they make a case for this, they then also have to demonstrate the culpability of the Vatican (in other words, even if one has a moral obligation to act in a certain way, culpability has to also take into account one’s knowledge and resources). And even if they manage to provide a rational argument along these various lines, this would still not give a logical excuse for abandoning the Catholic Faith.

Everyone (including Catholics) admits that the Church has made mistakes in the past as a socio-political entity, but that does not mean that the Church is not a valid spiritual entity. The Church’s legitimacy in terms of its spiritual role stems from the Four Marks of the Church, meaning that the Church is one, holy, catholic (i.e., universal) & apostolic. How certain Church officials treated certain Irish people at certain times in history is not reflected in any of the Four Marks of the Church. Unless the people you’re debating with can demonstrate that the Church does not possess one or more of these four marks, then they have no rational basis for abandoning their Catholic Faith. They should look upon any errors that the Vatican made when dealing with the Irish as a test of faith, trust in the power of Christ as the Head of the Church, and move on.

As a side note on the Four Marks (in case this comes up) the Catholic Church is indisputably holy because the Head of the Church is Christ himself. The finite sinful nature of the members of the Body of the Church does not outweigh the infinite holy nature of the Head.

**Generalization ! ** there were many champions for the Irish people especially the northern Irish ones, Father Joe Mc’Veigh didn’t shrink from telling politicians, police,UDR, British soldiers many of whom harassed people at road blocks what he thought of them.
He also highlighted it in newspapers, which the authorities hated, pen was definitely mightier than the sword for Fr Joe.

There are others if I can call them to mind…

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