Ascension Day memories of Catholic youth

There are familiar echoes in Stephen Hough’s testimony of what it was like to “turn” ( horrible word) in the Liverpool of his and Vincent Nichol’s salad days . Changed times today in the ecumenical atmosphere of the church establishments, but in Northern Ireland, have we changed enough? Nichols and former BBC chief John Birt have different memories of St Mary’s College.

Birt said: “Violence was the constant backdrop of everyday life.” The Most Rev Nichols says: “I enjoyed it…I don’t recall an atmosphere of violence. There was physical punishment but it was never gratuitous. Punishments were always given for a reason.”

Sometimes, it’s easier to forget perhaps?

Stephen Hough extracts.
“It’s hard to think of this now, but when (my grandmother) was a little girl, in the early years of the 20th century, the divide between ‘Proddy-dogs’ and ‘Papists’ in Liverpool was as clear as it is today between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land. Many families’ homes would be distinguished by a hanging portrait either of the reigning Pope or the reigning King, but my great-grandmother went a step further. She had a portrait of King William of Orange proudly hung on her wall which she requested should be buried in her coffin with her. It was. Indeed, she once turned away one of my mother’s boyfriends from the door because he was wearing green: “Not in my house!” declared the fiery Presbyterian lady. Stones were thrown on both sides by children who learned their loyalties early on in the segregated schools and social gathering places. Only Belfast and Glasgow could rival Liverpool for battle lines firmly drawn. By 1980 there was still a little of this spirit left over, but today it would be even harder to divine. Apathy and demographics are probably the main cause for the change, although the hard work of behind-the-scenes diplomacy and friendship should not be underestimated. Or Vatican II. When I was born it was still a mortal sin for a Catholic to worship in a Protestant church; now it would probably be a mortal sin to refuse to do so.”

  • Ulsters my homeland

    The Guardian states that:

    ‘John Kelly, the Isoca co-ordinator in Dublin, said: “Now that the Ryan [Laffoy] commission is finished, we call upon … Pope Benedict XVI to convene a special consistory court to fully investigate the activities of the Catholic religious orders in Ireland.’

    …but didn’t Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benny, introduce a new Canon principle called “Exclusive Competence”, which commands that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    …I can’t really see how asking Pope Benny to investigate will help!

  • Dublin voter

    “Only Belfast and Glasgow could rival Liverpool for battle lines firmly drawn. By 1980 there was still a little of this spirit left over, but today it would be even harder to divine. Apathy and demographics are probably the main cause for the change, although the hard work of behind-the-scenes diplomacy and friendship should not be underestimated.”

    See the future, sluggerers! Coming the way of Northern Ireland in our lifetime. Believe!

  • Greenflag

    BW ,

    ‘Archbishop Nichols makes the point that Irish clergy and members of religious orders will have to show “courage” in confronting sins that may have been committed decades ago – but, crucially, he acknowledges that these discoveries will “overshadow all the good that they [priests and religious] did”.’

    It was not in Archbishop’s pastoral his remit to say so but it should be added that even more courage will have to be found among the politicians of the Irish Dail and Senate who will have to decide on how to deal with this report .

    I don’t expect to hear encouraging words from the Primate of All Ireland on the need for our elected politicians to gird up their loins and do what is right by the law and revoke previous legislation which gave anonymity to these child abusers 🙁

  • Ulster is my Homeboy

    UMH:

    Come full circle, have we? Silly little boy. Now run along and go play out on the M2.

  • OC

    “Punishments were always given for a reason.”

    Undoubtably because you were asking for it.

    Growing up, I was told that in the early 1800’s that “nativist” mobs attacked RC convents and churches over rumours of debauchery, and worse.

    In retrospect, perhaps the rumours were true.

  • joeCanuck

    “Punishments were always given for a reason.”

    Lying bastard. The reason could be that the priest was hungover with a headache and was in an atrocious mood. On such a morning, everyone in the class could expect to be strapped. This would be justified, for example in science class, by asking each boy in turn the same question, well beyond the level which we had reached, then giving 3 straps on each hand for not knowing the answer. Many of those leather straps had lead inserts.
    Lying, lying bastard.

  • joeCanuck

    he acknowledges that these discoveries will “overshadow all the good that they [priests and religious] did

    This is somewhat disingenuous. The only reason that the overshadowing will occur is because the names of the guilty are not being published. This means that, by default, the many good religious people will be looked at with a little suspicion.
    The names should be published via criminal charges being laid against those where the evidence warrants it. No witch hunts will be initiated if normal just procedures are followed.