|The desecration of the graveyard and Church at Our Lady of the Assumption in Pilltown Co.Kilkenny earlier this year|
Ireland is no longer a Catholic country.
In the homes of many you will find mere keepsakes and remnants, small sentimental tokens of a Catholic past, often in the form of a statue or a sacred picture, perhaps the semi-cultural, semi religious emblem of St. Brigid's Cross. People will have their funerals in the churches that they walked past every day of their lives with no thought to as much as light a candle, let alone attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They will use the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation as a rite of passage, not with the goal of being Catholic in mind, but in the social sense of going from little school to big school. Mortal sinners? Most of them. Receiving the Eucharist on the annual occasion they attend Mass? Well the priest has never said otherwise so why not. I'm a good person...I've a personal relationship with God etc...
We have become accustomed to all of this. The ageing liberal priesthood have thrown in the towel on ever reclaiming what they and their child abusing colleagues lost when they decided to abandon the true faith in favour of a watered down Catholicism as a means of an olive branch that would ideally appease those of the rising secularism who would spare them, choosing then to not criticise these delicate little priests who are not clad in cassocks and turning their back in the congregation like that mean old Church that, as my local Parish Priest always tells us, focused too much on hell. No no, the clergy of today pose no threat to atheism, Islam, Satanism or any other religion. So, if they could just be left alone to have their Taize and liturgical dances then that would be splendid.
|To think that atheists do not like this man when he does so much of their bidding|
Unfortunately for the Association of Catholic Priests and others who have a passing interest in Christ, there are still those out there who absolutely and irrefutably recognise that Catholicism is the One True Faith, despite their refusal to believe it. This is why ISIS have chosen to declare war, not on Hindus or on some obscure branch of pious snake handlers, but on those that they called 'the Roman Christians'. It is also why the phenomenon of modern semi-educated white Western affluent organised irreligious (also known as the 'New Atheists') decide to forego intellectual battles with the theological concepts put forth by the great philosophers of the Catholic faith ('Theology isn't even real anyways!' - Richard Dawkins) and generally choose the pursuit of petty causes designed to annoy, rather than disprove, those who believe in Christ.
Now we can only guess who climbed Ireland's highest mountain in order to cut down a cross erected there in 1976. The cross at Carrauntoohill was cut down with an angle grinder. The possibility of it being mindless vandals would obviously fit in with some of the crimes against religious symbols and buildings that have been spiralling out of control in Enda Kenny's Ireland, which is beginning to reflect something like the wild west when it comes to crime and violence.
Some of these attacks can be be put down to criminals looking to steal gold or other valuables for scrap or for resale, but the more common kind seems to be of maliciousness towards the faith itself. Take for instance during the summer when a Church in Limerick was attacked, not for theft, but with paint thrown all over it. There was also the case of paintings of Our Lord's Passion having faces skilfully redrawn over it in Belfast. At the beginning of the year, there was the quite frankly Satanic desecration of a graveyard and with it depictions of the Crucifixion in Kilkenny.
|The Church of Our Lady attacked in Limerick, July 2014|
Throwing eggs at a Church would be mindless. Tweeting 'Catholics are such bigots' is fairly mindless too. But climbing Ireland's highest mountain with an angle grinder? Desecrating a graveyard? That is pure spiteful intent, by someone trying to make headlines.
For some reason, the media chose not to take into context the area and the possibility that a certain minority might have a score to settle. It was earlier this year that Kerry County Council were involved in a controversy that made the blood of keyboard warrior atheists the world over boil. Forget ISIS, forget ebola, forget even what happens between the IDF and citizens of Gaza. Nothing creates a sense of outrage in a practising New Atheist than the idea of someone in a country founded on Catholic principles seeking to express that faith in a dignified manner. They seek to insinuate that every Catholic is actually a Westboro Baptist Member deep down, with ugliness and greed always hidden behind their charitable acts, hence the futile pursuit of Mother Teresa by Christopher Hitchens whilst he was alive. And so it is that they want to pretend that a crucifix being put up in the chamber means that they are being persecuted.
|Hitchens. Hates elderly ladies who helps poor. Consumer of products of big companies that addict and poison millions|
These people must have no problems, no difficulties or duties in their lives to devote their time to such nonsense with a straight face. There is simply no realistic concept of what is and is not disproportionate. Their focus generally is on removing and opposing Catholicism in the pettiest of scenarios and of rarely engaging with Catholics in debate or discussion, one would assume out of a mixture of contempt and ineptitude, depending on the individual. So did an atheist climb Carrauntoohill and cut down the cross? Well according to Irish Independent today, the first group to comment upon it were Atheist Ireland, the same people who regard themselves as modern Martin Luther Kings for their opposition to the County Council Cross:
Atheist Ireland said it has no objection to a cross on Carrauntoohil if it is privately owned property and has gone through the appropriate planning process.
However, if it is a public space it should not be there as it is a symbol that does not represent the whole community, it argued. A spokesman for the group, Peter Hinchliffe, said it condemned the vandalism of the cross that was cut from its base last weekend. Gardai are treating the incident as an act of criminal damage.
The group is already in dispute with Kerry County Council over the erection of a crucifix in the council chamber. Mr Hinchliffe said the group is due to meet the council again in December to discuss the matter but is prepared to contest it in court if necessary.
Condemned it but said it should not have been there in the first place...and should not be put up again? How noble. Now, before anyone cries foul, I am not suggesting that Atheist Ireland or anyone affiliated with that group, cut it down, but the statement of 'condemnation' certainly sounds like a tacit show of approval for it being done. Which is my issue with the statement, why even speak out regarding a matter which does not concern them? A cross atop a remote part of a mountain which is probably seen by (at best) a couple dozen people each day? I mean if a Catholic attacked a Pagan dolmen, I certainly would not oppose one being re-erected afterwards, unless I was deeply opposed and troubled by it being present there in the first place. But perhaps that is just my logic.
And such are the victories that the New Atheists of Europe and the United States achieve, the lofty ambitions of busy body totalitarians with debased pop culture views on matters of serious existential contention. They sue bakers who will not bake cakes for gay marriage, they demand that schools founded by the Catholic Church be handed over to the state and they revise the history of Easter 1916 to cleanse it of its inherent Catholicity, even in men like James Connolly. This is the same atheism which decried those who desecrated the infamous Piss Christ 'art' of a few years back, obviously incapable of comprehending the difference between positive declarations of faith and mere antagonistic negation, as both that piece of 'art' and this attack are.
|'In the name of God' Pity for the modern pagans and irreligious that their ilk were busy elsewhere on Easter Morning 1916|
When I see people honour our Pagan past, be it in the poetry of Yeats, those who gather at Newgrange every year for the Winter Solstice or in the large Cuchulainn statue that adorns the roundabout near the Curragh Defence Forces, the last thing that I think of is desecrating it or feeling that I am some sort of victim for being present when others express their beliefs. I do not ask for the gigantic Masonic obelisk in the Phoenix Park to be removed because it is in opposition to my beliefs nor do I want the planets, days of the week or months renamed because my feelings get hurt every time I am subjected to the shock horror of others having different perspectives than I have. And I certainly would not have the gall to demand that there should be a planning process if people wanted to re-create something that was so sinisterly vandalised.
What we are witnessing, is an unspoken conspiracy of anti-Catholicism under the pathetic (yes pathetic) guise of political correctness. Renaming the Year of Our Lord as the beginning of a supposedly 'Common Era' (though what the world had in common with the spread of Islam, the destruction of parts of the Americas and the descent into genocide throughout Europe in the 20th Century is beyond me) is one such broad attack. Alan Shatter ignoring this spate of anti-Church attacks, as well as other problems such as rampant drug crime, to suggest that the Seal of Confession is the main reason for crime in Ireland is the more common kind. His decision to order a crib be removed from the Department of Defence in Newbridge just shows the contempt that this man has for Catholics, a hatred more profound than his love for his own religion. Such hatred is beginning to get out of control in Ireland and it is high time that people started addressing it before more properties are vandalised in such a manner. Insincere condemnations are not suited to properly addressing such acts of aggression.
|Alan Shatter, not a fan of the baby Jesus|
And so we come to the crux of the matter. Which is that anyone who climbs a mountain to do such a thing, or any other coordinated assault on an easy target of the Catholic faith, merely portrays their own insecurities about their supposed beliefs. They are not only intolerant of the beliefs of others, they are deeply unsure of what it is that they themselves actually hold to be true, if anything at all. Otherwise, they would have better things to do than climb a mountain with an angle grinder just to annoy people. Perhaps this attack can be a wake up call, regardless of whether or not it was an atheist or an incredibly stupid would be thief who committed it, to those who base their atheism around attacking the beliefs of others rather than supporting the beliefs of themselves.
Would Frederick Nietzsche have climbed a mountain to cut a cross down? Well as I said we have no proof that it even was an atheist who did it, but we do know about the statement from Atheist Ireland. And I am fairly sure that Nietzsche would have been more concerned with the psychological and cultural preconceptions for erecting a crucifix in the first place rather than rambling on about planning permission.
I know that many atheists spend a lot of their day searching the hashtag #atheism on Twitter and often do not take kindly to those who disagree with their beliefs, or lack thereof. So on the off chance that you are an atheist from this perspective, perhaps you should re-assess what it is that threatens you about Catholic culture. Because this is simply not a practising Catholic country any more, just as it is no longer a practising Celtic Pagan one any more. I think that those atheists who despise Catholicism (and Catholicism only) as well as those clerics who pretend that we live in some post-Vatican II utopia both need to take a look at the reality of Ireland as it is. Since there is little chance of converting either of those camps, one would hope this type of event can at least be the beginning of some human decency when it comes to dealing with one another on matters of faith. I will continue to remain not offended by those beliefs I consider objectively untrue regardless of their public expressions, perhaps atheists should learn to do the same. And if not, why? In a materialist and relativist universe they have no moral imperative to worship at the altar of being perpetually offended.
For the record, I do not judge those who have no faith. Faith is a supernatural gift from God. It is between a person and God as to whether or not they have lived a good life. The Church has her systems and guidelines in place regarding communion so as to guide people towards best practice for living a good life, but ultimately God is our only judge. My favourite saints were all of the mystical kind, pursuing humility, inner searching and small acts of charity. Although being an apostate is never excusable, the decision of many in Ireland to walk away from a religion that was poorly grounded in them from youth (not to be patronising to anyone's intelligence) and which became associated with weak willed priests as well as well as child abusers, is from a human perspective understandable. But those of us who believe in the Catholic Church recognise that the Church's rules when followed are nothing but charity and peace, even when difficult. This is something that Diarmuid Martin should focus on instead of constantly apologising for the past and bashing faithful Catholics who criticise the post council Church.
Perhaps the religious amongst us can take heart that at least some people out there still regard the Church, in her sickly state, with some seriousness. And who knows, it might even awaken some faith in one or two out there who have fallen asleep regarding the eternal fate of their souls. For as Our Lord said:
Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake