There was a not so quiet revolution in Irish America last week, one that should not go unnoticed.
Four different Irish American groups, most notably the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), America’s largest Irish Catholic group, ripped into Cardinal Timothy Dolan regarding his CNN interview comparing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
This is not your father’s Irish America!
AOH President Brendan Moore deserves great kudos for speaking out. The AOH is an organization that, in general, is deeply reverential to clergy and especially cardinals.
Moore, however, was obviously deeply upset by the Cardinal’s flippant comparison and didn’t pull his punches.
He knew that Cardinal Dolan had no earned authority on this issue, has never been known to speak out about it, and when he eventually did, he spoke in the most patronizing fashion.
Dolan’s remarks were plain wrong. A five minute study of the history of Ireland would reveal that the IRA never claimed religion as their motivation, rather theirs was a nationalist demand. A second grader would have figured that out.
Unlike his revered predecessor, Cardinal John O'Connor, who knew and understood the Northern Irish issue better than any prelate anywhere. Cardinal Dolan has no track record whatever on addressing the Northern conflict.
Moore stated: “The fact is that, unlike ISIS, the Irish Republican Army never used religion to justify its resistance to Loyalist sectarianism and/or British misrule.”
Father Sean McManus, a doughty fighter for civil rights in Northern Ireland for a generation and founder of the Irish National Caucus and originator of the MacBride Principles, was hardly holding back either.
McManus embodies the term “turbulent priest” and Dolan must have been smarting as 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.”
What was extremely interesting about the intervention of Michael Cummings, a leading figure in groups such as the Irish American Unity Conference and AOH was how he did not hesitate to put the boot in on the various clerical scandals once taboo for Irish American Catholic groups to mention.
"...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 of Irish Northern Aid was equally outspoken. “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.”
Whew, heavy stuff and certainly a new departure for many of the Irish organizations which are conservative at the core.
Cardinal Dolan and his church depends in part on large donations and support from Irish Americans and many of those Irish Americans would find his take on the Northern troubles deeply troubling. There surely is a lesson here in this.
One wonders what John “Dagger” Hughes, the great Archbishop of New York and a Tyrone native who fiercely defended the Famine Irish from prejudice and the “know nothings,” would have made of such blather by one of his successors.
Not much I’d wager.