Anti-Irish upsurge predicted in Britain over Pope’s poaching

Rathfriland farmer’s son Francis Campbell, (seen above giving British diplomatic uniform a rare outing), until recently British ambassador to the Holy See,  is one of the latest to appear in WikiLeaks, warning of possible serious consequences of the Pope’s clumsy offer to receive dissident Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church.

Campbell told Noyes ( a US diplomat) “Anglican-Vatican relations were facing their worst crisis in 150 years as a result of the pope’s decision”, a cable sent to Washington shortly afterwards revealed.

Campbell said: “The crisis is worrisome for England’s small, mostly Irish-origin, Catholic minority. There is still latent anti-Catholicism in some parts of England and it may not take much to set it off.” He warned: “The outcome could be discrimination or in isolated cases, even violence, against this minority.”

 A fascinating read which on the face of it seems improbable these days, bearing in mind that there was no love lost between the quite small number of Anglo-Catholics involved and their fellow Anglican militant evangelicals who would be inclined to say good riddance. Who else among the largely secular English even notices the schism? It would be interesting to know on what Campbell based this conclusion. Or was he trying to scare the Vatican off by invoking the chill atmosphere of 70s Britain against the immigrant Irish at the height of the Troubles?

On the other hand, this one at the height of the child abuse upheaval within the Irish hierarchy comes as no surprise and covers familiar ground.

The Vatican believes the Irish government failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations.

Much of the Irish public views the Vatican protests as pettily procedural and failing to confront the real issue of horrific abuse and cover-up by Church officials.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London