The Dublin actor, Gabriel Byrne, who trained in a seminary for five years where he was sexually abused, has said the Catholic Church is a “force for evil” that once drew inspiration from Hitler’s Nazis.
The 62-year-old actor told the Irish Independent he remains unrepentant on his views of organized religion and added that his unhappy memories of a strict religious upbringing led him to the decision to not raise his two children as Catholics.
The former Irish Ambassador for Culture was recently criticized after slamming the Irish government’s yearlong tourism initiative as “a scam” aimed at gullible Americans. He later apologized saying “scam” may have been too “strong a word.”
In the “no-holds-barred interview” with the Irish Independent’s Woman, Byrne recalled being sent to an English seminary at the age of 11 to study to be a Catholic priest.
He said, “It was part of the culture. It was a very religious, oppressive society, though we didn't see it as oppression at the time.
"I remember walking with my mother along a narrow pathway and she was holding on to a pram and two priests came along the footpath and she had to wheel the pram into the road to allow them to walk by.
"The Jesuits have that expression: 'Give us a child until he is seven and he will be ours for life.' That was why the Catholic Church and the Nazi party fed off each other.
"After the rally at Nuremberg, the pope said: 'We need to be doing something similar and we have the theatre for it with St Peter's.' So that was when he started coming out on the balcony to address the crowds.
"And the Nazis, meanwhile, were learning from the Jesuits and making sure they got the child by seven in order to have them for life. The Hitler Youth.
"De Valera signed the book of condolence when Hitler died. There was a sneaking regard among many Irish people for Germany and Hitler. England's pain was Ireland's gain."
Now based in New York, the veteran actor said he feels grateful to have escaped from the Catholic Church and the hold he believes it still holds over Ireland.
He said, "They have way too much hold on this country. It's a very corrupt and nefarious institution. The nuns were vicious because you have all these women living together in denial of love. They turned inward on themselves, became twisted creatures."
"I think if you are lucky you eventually come to a place where you are able to question these things.
"I read a lot on the subject and had many conversations and I have come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is a force for evil.
"How can you enslave women? How can you deny men who are supposed to be serving you the comfort of marriage? How can they deny sending condoms to Africa? How can they deny women becoming priests? It's an anti-woman and anti-love church."
Byrne stars in the upcoming movie “All Things to All Men” alongside Rufus Sewell. The crime thriller will be released in the UK on April 5, 2013.
Here’s the trailer to his upcoming movie “All Things to All Men”: