The leaders of four top Irish American organizations have come out swinging against Cardinal Timothy Dolan for his comments likening Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and saying both were perverting their religion. He made the comments in a CNN interview.

Father Sean McManus, who leads the Irish National Caucus the top Irish lobbying group on the North in Congress, was outraged at his fellow cleric.

Fr. McManus said the Cardinal’s statement, equating the IRA to ISIS was “Profoundly ignorant, totally irresponsible and lacking all credibility.

“It is sadly consistent with a man who for 40 years never opened his mouth about the oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland.

“Such a person as Cardinal Dolan – who was complicit by his silence in British torture of political prisoners, anti-Catholic discrimination, British murder gangs and the wholesale denial of human rights – has now no moral authority to comment on the struggle of an oppressed people.

“He forfeited that right by his complicity and collusion. His Johnny-come-lately and cowardly outburst only further deepens his own complicity, and further abuses his spiritual power.”

Brendan Moore, President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), America's largest Irish Catholic organization, stated Cardinal Dolan was plain wrong to make the analogy.

“The fact is that unlike ISIS, the Irish Republican Army never used religion to justify its resistance to Loyalist sectarianism and/or British misrule. Cardinal Dolan's statement (“everything they were doing was a perversion of everything the Church stood for”) appears to be contradicted by the heroic utterances and activities of many Catholic priests, among them Alex Reid, Des Wilson, Raymond Murray, and Denis Faul.

"Indeed, Cardinal Tomas O Faich (Thomas O'Fee) was consistently criticized in the media and elsewhere for his “excessive” closeness to militant Irish republicans.

"... One needs to wonder if The Troubles might have been avoided or diminished had those same Irish bishops spoken out to vigorously condemn long-standing institutionalized discrimination in employment and housing in the north of Ireland."

Mike Cummings a past National Board member of the Irish American Unity Conference was equally scathing. “In his defense, the Cardinal may be unfamiliar with the Irish conflict. There is no record of his voice speaking out against the discrimination against Catholics in jobs, housing and voting or in favor of the MacBride Fair Employment Principles; or in support of the Hunger Strikers; in protest of the murders of attorneys Patrick Finucane or Rosemary Nelson or indeed the killing of nearly 1000 Catholics whose deaths have yet to be investigated or in opposition to current cases of injustice like the Craigavon 2.

".....Given the church scandals in Ireland it takes a brave man to cite the Irish Bishops for anything save incompetence, arrogance and “narcissism” to quote Taoiseach Enda Kenny.”

Paul Doris, a senior figure in Irish Northern Aid, also lashed out. “The IRA has never claimed to be fighting as Catholics for Catholics, indeed all down though Irish history, folks from all religious persuasions have fought for Irish Independence from Britain.

“With the revelations of the past few years against the Catholic Church in Ireland I believe it would be more productive if Cardinal Dolan spent more time on that instead of opining on matters which he seems to know little or nothing about.”

In his comments Cardinal Dolan compared the IRA and ISIS Saying both groups used religion to justify their violence.

Dolan’s comments were made to CNN on Tuesday (March 3). “The IRA claimed to be Catholic," he told anchor Chris Cuomo. “They were baptized. They had a Catholic identity.” But, he continued, “what they were doing was a perversion of everything the church stood for.”

Dolan said that, like the IRA, the Islamic State extremists “do not represent genuine Islamic thought” but are “a particularly perverted form of Islam.”

“The analogy (to the IRA) is somewhat accurate,” said Dolan, who will lead the St. Patrick’s Parade as Grand Marshal in New York.