Two sides to every story?

an excellent article in the Scotsman that has considerable relevence to Northern Ireland.

Catholic dogma and Protestant guilt won’t heal sectarian divide

Statistics prompt a rethink on religious aggravation.

DUNCAN HAMILTON
AFTER a week in which Rangers have knocked Celtic out of the CIS Cup and narrowed the gap at the top of the Premiership to just one point, I shouldn’t have been surprised that my wife was sore.

A Catholic from Cork who has grown accustomed to the dominance of a Martin O’Neill-inspired Celtic was never to going to allow me, a son of the Manse, to enjoy the moment. “Ah,” she said on my return from the pub, “it’s the Happy Hun.”

On reflection, I should have reported her to the police. After all, it appears the latest figures show Catholics twice as likely to suffer from sectarian abuse as Protestants in Scotland, although a week in the Hamilton household might alter those figures beyond recognition!

THE serious point is that these Crown Office statistics show that of the 450 people charged with the new offence of religious aggravation, 63 per cent have been Catholics, as opposed to 29 per cent being Protestant. Those figures have stimulated a fresh debate on what to do about combating sectarian behaviour.First into the field has been the Bishop of Motherwell who condemns the marching season of the Orange Order for much of the violence. In fact, the report relates only 15 per cent of offences to this source. That is bad enough, but it is quite disingenuous for the Catholic Church to attempt to hijack this complex issue and provide simplistic solutions.

With respect, there appears to be something contradictory at the heart of the Catholic position. On the one hand, the issue of Catholic schooling is simply not up for discussion – the right of the Catholic Church to provide faith-based schooling predicated on the morality and teaching of the Catholic Church is apparently absolute. I actually don’t have a problem with Catholic schools – in fact I wouldn’t be at all opposed to my own children attending such a school, if it was the best local option.

But it is hard to sustain that insistence on the preservation of the Catholic tradition on the one hand with a total insistence on the diminution of a Protestant tradition on the other. I share the majority view that the Orange Order and the marching season are odd, dysfunctional and profoundly unhelpful, but that doesn’t mean I would seek a ban or to restrict the rights of those who embrace that tradition.

The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church cannot campaign so relentlessly for the continuation of separate, distinct Catholic schooling and then throw up its hands in horror when that insistence helps to foster an impression of a divided community. Many Catholic schools offer educational excellence, vocationally driven staff and the guarantee of an element of Christian morality which is hugely attractive to parents. But if the very reason why Catholic schools are attractive is because they are different, it simply is not possible to ignore that deliberate, institutionalised diversity when we come to consider the tribal sectarianism in the West of Scotland.

The Catholic Church is in danger of displaying a paranoia on this issue. A spokesman for the Church responded to this latest report by saying: “Sadly, a situation exists in Scotland where constant attacks on Catholic schools by otherwise respectable commentators are given widespread media attention, and this has created a climate in which others consider anti-catholicism acceptable.”

I don’t attack Catholic schools and I despise and condemn anti-Catholicism. But I reserve the right to ask the Catholic Church to look afresh at the aggressive promotion of a Catholic agenda through schooling, and indeed many other aspects of public policy, and ask whether the pursuit of that particular dogmatic world view contributes to a more tolerant, more inclusive, more Christian world.

  • Henry94

    It’s only an execellent article if you are willing to swallow the lie that Orange marches can be compared to Catholic schools. We have seen at first hand the consequences of that particular comparision.

  • Davros

    Henry – as an aside, can I ask if you know the answers to the questions I posed on the GAA Thread ?

    It’s only an execellent article if you are willing to swallow the lie that Orange marches can be compared to Catholic schools.

    Bishop Devine has to a great extent conceded that they can be compared Henry.

  • willowfield

    Henry94

    It’s not actual schools being compared to actual marches. It’s Roman Catholic separatism being compared to Protestant separatism. The schools and marches are merely manifestations of the respective separatisms.

  • Tom Griffin

    it simply is not possible to ignore that deliberate, institutionalised diversity when we come to consider the tribal sectarianism in the West of Scotland.

    That simply does not ring true. There are 2,000 Catholic schools in England, yet ‘tribal sectarianism’ is hardly an issue except for a few pockets like Liverpool.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    Do you mean these questions?

    a) is a decade of the Rosary still said ?
    b) do the GAA still lay a wreath ?

  • Davros

    Yes Henry. I’m looking at the various commemorative ceremonies. Jarman was published 1997, I was wondering if things have changed ? I would also be interested to know if the other two commemorations
    (Workers Party and RSF ) are similar ?

    not to poop-stir, out of interest.

    Cheers.

  • Henry94

    willowfield

    It’s not actual schools being compared to actual marches. It’s Roman Catholic separatism being compared to Protestant separatism. The schools and marches are merely manifestations of the respective separatisms.

    Nobody objects to Orange marches in Orange areas. What part of separatism do they not understand? But of course your point is nonsense. Orangeism is not a religion and the vast majority of Protestants are deeply ashamed of it.

  • Davros

    Nobody objects to Orange marches in Orange areas.

    What is an “Orange Area” ? It’s not that long ago there was an almighty stink because the UDA tried to delineate “Orange Areas”…

    Is everywhere either ‘Orange’ or ‘Green’ ?

    Are there neutral areas ? After all, nationalist parades and events no longer confine themselves to
    nationalist areas …hence the Fuss about the City Centre.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    An Orange area is one which welcomes Orange marches.

  • Davros

    and the rest is green Henry ?

    Orange Arches are relatively rare these days 🙂

  • willowfield

    Henry94

    Nobody objects to Orange marches in Orange areas. What part of separatism do they not understand? But of course your point is nonsense. Orangeism is not a religion and the vast majority of Protestants are deeply ashamed of it.

    Maybe exclusivism would be a better term than separatism, then?

    Orangeism isn’t a religion, no, but it is an example of manifestation of Protestant separatism, is it not?

  • willowfield

    You’re not really dealing with the issue, Henry, which is religious “exclusivism”/”separatism”/call-it-what-you-will.

  • Henry94

    There isn’t one issue willowfiels. There are two issues being con-fused.

    There is the issue of allowing private schools as opposed to a state monopoly in education and within that there is the issue of allowing a Church to run a school.

    Then there is the other issue of the right march and the responsibilities that come with it.

    To link the two leads to the absurdist position of Catholic communities being expected to put up with the vile malevolence of an Orange marches as a quid pro quo for sending their children to the school of their choice.

    It is a position impossible to sustain either morally or intellectually.

  • Davros

    Henry, you are twisting the debate to avoid the issues raised in the article 🙂

  • ulsterman

    the basic question is one of human rights. As British citizens we have the lawful right to walk the Queens Highway.

    The people of the Falls like her picture on their dole money. Similiarly we have the right to march where we like in our British Nation.

    God Save The Queen.

  • maca

    UM
    “Similiarly we have the right to march where we like in our British Nation”

    Well, technically you don’t.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    This is the main point of the article

    But it is hard to sustain that insistence on the preservation of the Catholic tradition on the one hand with a total insistence on the diminution of a Protestant tradition on the other. I share the majority view that the Orange Order and the marching season are odd, dysfunctional and profoundly unhelpful, but that doesn’t mean I would seek a ban or to restrict the rights of those who embrace that tradition.

    The implication here is that Orange Marches (odd, dysfunctional and profoundly unhelpful) are the same as Catholic schooling.

    You can compare an Orange march to an AOH march or a republican commemeration and the same rules should be applied to the all.

    But education is a whole other debate. If we have it on the basis of establishing principles we might get somewhere but if it’s just about closing down “Roman Catholic” schools then we won’t.

    Should the state have a monopoly in education?

    That is the first question.

    If not then who should be allowed run schools and on what basis?

    I would give a resounding no to the first question and I would like to hear views on the second.

  • Davros

    Sorry Henry, I disagree with your reading.