Old and New Reports
from Far and Wide
8 September 2012
Any Catholic of Irish descent who assumes the old country with its long, poignant history has remained true to its ancient beliefs needs to look at the shocking news being circulated in the media and online. There you can read about the public furor over the clerical abuse of minors, and how the blame for suppressing the truth runs throughout the isle and on to Rome. Now in the midst of the scandal, come the results of polls like that taken by WIN-Gallup International on Religion and Atheism. These show how the faith of the Irish is on the wane, resulting in what Mary Kenny of The Guardian calls “The End of Catholic Ireland.” Her August 8 article with that headline tells how only 47 per cent of the Irish surveyed recently described themselves as being so much as “religious.” Seven years ago it was 69 percent.
Most of the blame in the media falls on the clerical scandals, especially those of an abusive sexual nature. The facts only emerged during the past decade or so, but tracing the murky road to Rome also led last year to the closure of the Irish embassy at the Vatican. It seems the cardinal greatly responsible for the cover-ups during his time as head of the Congregation for the Faith was none other than Josef Cardinal Ratzinger. While admitting the enormity of the problem, however, Mary Kenny in her article also points to other social factors that emerged earlier in the 1960s: television, the pill — and changes in religious attitude associated with “modernization,” which Rome, she says “advanced as aggiornamento.” During the days of Vatican II, she notes, “it could be said that in the hills of Connemara they spoke of little else.”
To be sure, her words evoke memories of my own tour of the island during the late spring of 1967, when I felt myself not going modern, but, rather, traveling back in time: farmers dressed in wool trod on foot through the lovely countryside, with cows or donkeys, or horse-drawn carts. Little boys in short pants and girls in skirts with bows in their hair crowded the streets of towns. I myself detected neither TV sets nor any fallout from Vatican II. People crowded the churches daily and still abstained from meat on Fridays. When after my tour I boarded for awhile at a place called “Fatima House” in a rather dingy area of Dublin, I took note of the Jesuit church across the street: the faithful streamed in and out day and night. Long lines formed outside confessionals. Wondering if something special was going on, I asked my landlord why this was, and he in turn glared at me as though I were some kind of pagan.
“Ireland,” he said severely, “is a Catholic country.”
In retrospect I suspect he was being overly defensive, as well as suspicious of me. Given his white hair and modest abode, and the troubled history of the country, civil as well as religious, we can assume he had been through a lot. Upon learning I actually had found a temporary job — that I was not just some idle tourist, in other words, –– he softened up and actually smiled, however faintly. He also helped me find a house in a pleasant, outlying neighborhood where I could rent a room with kitchen privileges (no refrigerator, but I adjusted) at a cheaper rate.
Now 45 years later, however, it seems that the sort of religious devotion I could still detect that summer has largely faded. Even Conciliar bishops agree. Take Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin: in “Speaking Notes” dating to November, 2010, posted online, he presents his rationale for the Eucharistic Congress, the second of these for Ireland, that would in fact take place this June of 2012. Since the time of the former one, held back in 1932, he says, “Irish society has changed and Irish piety has changed. People are hesitant about any sense of triumph in the public affirmation of their faith.” For at present Ireland “is undergoing a revolution in its religious culture.” In many Dublin parishes the presence at Mass on Sunday is 5 percent, and in some cases, “even below 2 percent.” Thus he concludes:
For many in Ireland, then, the Church is an institution which has failed to live up to its mission. Many feel that they can find God without a Church. Many believe that they can be true disciples of Jesus Christ without belonging to or indeed even needing a Church.
It is in this context that the Church in Ireland proposed the theme of the 2012 Eucharistic Congress as: The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another. The aim is to recall the attention of individuals and society to the fact the fullness of our belonging to Jesus is attained through participation in the Eucharist, which builds at one and the same time communion with Christ and communion with one another.
On and on. Verbiage abounds. Any hint of doctrine is couched in the diluted lingo of the post Vatican II era. Needless to say, no distinction is made between the traditional Catholic Church and the Conciliar institution posing as such. Accordingly, key words like “communion” and “Eucharist” are repeated continually but never fully defined in any orthodox sense. Noticeably missing are old-fashioned terms like “sanctifying grace” or “Mystical Body of Christ,” much less “soul,” “sin” or “hell”. Instead we read:
The Christian alone is no Christian. The Christian belongs to a community, a Eucharistic community. In addressing the theme of the Congress it is important to note, when speaking of the Eucharist: communion with Christ and with one another, that it is communion with Christ which authenticates and correctly interprets the level of communion with one another. There is a tendency to stress the social dimensions of the Church’s life as that which defines and characterizes the Church. That is not a precise affirmation. It is the communion with Christ which determines the true nature of the communion with one another. In the Eucharist we enter into communion with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our response must also follow the same path of death and resurrection, of dying to ourselves and to the dominant values of the world, if we wish to rise to new life.
Remember that this came out over a year and a half before the opening of the recent Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. If the Archbishop hoped to accomplish a renewal in faith among the people beforehand, it would seem he did not succeed. We have already alluded to the WIN-Gallup survey. It seems it was not the only one of its kind. Even more devastating were the results of an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll that also came out before the opening of the Congress this June showing that a “majority of Catholics no longer attend weekly Mass or believe in basic doctrines like transubstantiation.” So went an editorial in Irish Times. And yes, they did use that big word that modern prelates like Diarmuid Martin tend to avoid.
According to a Times article dated June 6 and attributed to columnist Joe Humphreys, only 26 per cent of those polled said they believed bread and wine was transformed into Christ’s Body and Blood in accordance with traditional Catholic teaching. As for the significance of this, our writer quotes no priest or bishop on the current situation. No, he cites renowned atheist Richard Dawkins, who, commenting on the survey at a Dublin writers’ conference said: “If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics.”
Unlike Dawkins, we cannot gloat over this and the fact that atheism is growing at the expense of faith. But more than nitwits like him we blame the so-called bishops who gloss over the truth while reducing theology to its lowest terms — and history as well. That is what Diarmuid Martin has managed to do, and in the process he has set himself –– and the Irish Church –– up for the kill. Though as a tool for the Conciliar machine he could hardly do otherwise.
In those “Speaking Notes” of a year and a half ago, he noted how “the idea of a Eucharistic Congress has negative historical connotations because it is linked in their minds with a sense of triumphalistic celebration,” that is, the Congress held in Dublin in 1932. At the time, he admits, “Ireland was different” and “Irish piety was different.” “The Congress dominated Irish society, and such an image finds difficult acceptance by those who feel today that religion should be kept on the margins of society.” In contrast, the Irish society of today “has changed and Irish piety has changed. People are hesitant about any sense of triumph in the public affirmation of their faith.”
As for reasons for this “revolution” in “religious culture,” he doesn’t explain, except to note the effects of secularization — and the “scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests and religious in Ireland.” It is a “true scandal”, he says, “not a media invention”. The faithful “of all ages” are indeed “offended by the fact of abuse but above all by the manner in which the horrific abuse of children and adolescents was handled by Church authorities”. All this “has damaged the faith of many, who feel robbed of their faith and feel betrayed by their Church.”
What he ignores in all this, of course, are pertinent factors of the post Vatican II era, with its upheavals in basic doctrine, discipline, liturgy and morality. As a spokesman for the Conciliar Church, he avoids these. Thus when it came time to welcome pilgrims at the opening of the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin on June 10, Martin called for healing in the Church without correctly diagnosing the illness. He is quoted in a catholicherald.co.uk article by Michael Kelly as saying:
“The 50 years since the Second Vatican Council have brought many graces to the Church in Ireland. The message and teaching of the Council still constitute the blueprint for our renewal,” he said. However, he added that “those 50 years have also been marked with a darker side, of sinful and criminal abuse and neglect of those weakest in our society: children, who should have been the object of the greatest care and support and Christ-like love.”
For those of us who know better, the archbishop’s words sound illogical and contradictory. Significantly he admits the sexual abuse problems date primarily to the past 50 years. Back in the olden days the main priestly vice in Ireland involved the excessive drinking of alcohol. There were occasional trysts with women, to be sure, but clerics could be defrocked for this. Today, in contrast, the victim is usually a young boy, and in an age tolerant of homosexuality this should be seen as being part of a fad. To be sure, priests are not the only culprits; they simply get more publicity. Nevertheless, considering such “sinful and criminal abuse,” how can Martin say that Vatican II brought “graces” to the Church? It makes no sense, especially if we know what he fails to say: that the so-called conciliar message called for a loosening of old moral strictures and encouraged the touchy-feely methods of modern therapists. Is it any wonder that a lot of altar boys fell victim?
By their fruits shall ye know them.
Ironically, by failing to give a true picture of the situation, or to place the blame where it belongs, Martin puts his avowed religion in a position of vulnerability. His recent welcome to the Congress, for instance, actually touched, if ever so briefly, on the hot topic of “triumphalism.” Without explaining what this means, he assured pilgrims that his Church definitely does not “rejoice” in it — nor in “external festivities.” Oh really? Most of his audience had probably not read his “Speaking Note,” but those who had understood the reference. Not surprisingly his words were reported by the Irish Times, which continues to harp on such themes. By taking a defensive stance, implicit or not, Martin only invites more of that. Underlying the problem, of course, is his failure to distinguish between the true Church of tradition and its fraudulent imitation. And no, contrary to the thinking of Vatican II, the one does not subsist in the other. By indulging in Conciliar lingo at the expense of authentic definitions of dogmatic terms, he paves the way for attacks that smack of the old Protestant insults and distortions.
In yet another Irish Times article dated June 5 of this year, for example, Joe Humphreys presents what he calls five basic points of the Catholic Church according to the “weighty Catechism” of 1992. According to these, you are Catholic if you “attend church once a week and perform the sacraments.” Hmm. I thought the obligation was to assist at Mass and receive the sacraments. His choice of words makes me wonder how this writer who sets himself up as an expert can really be one.
But on to another point: transubstantiation, or the “real presence” of Jesus Christ, defined by Humphreys as the “changing of bread and wine into body and blood.” Catholics must believe in this as well, he asserts. To be sure, this is more than Archbishop Martin articulates in his notes for the Eucharistic Congress. While we cannot find fault with the definition in itself, we do have a big problem with yet another point regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here Humphreys has the gall to say that Catholic “belief in the ‘Virgin Birth’ is coupled with a deep adoration for Mary as the mother of God.” Talk about nerve! Historically this has been a big lie used by Protestants to bash Catholics, who, they say, “adore” Mary like some kind of goddess, and that this constitutes idolatry. The truth is, of course, that we do not “adore” Mary as we do God, but rather, revere Her highly as our Queen of saints and Mother of Christ.
Outrageous as this is, however, it is no more so than that Irish Times editorial of June 9 which picks up on Archbishop Martin’s description of the Eucharistic Congress of 1932 as representing a “triumphalist Catholicism.” Today, of course, such an attitude is not kosher, violating as it does any sense of ecumenical equality. Whereas in those “Speaking Notes,” his Excellency tried to excuse it by explaining how the Congress came in the aftermath of a bloody civil war and brought the two sides together, the Times seizes the opportunity to drive home a nasty point. Not that we should be surprised, given the past history of the Times as a mouthpiece for the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. Whoever wrote the editorial is no doubt quite happy to contrast the “triumphant self assurance” that ruled back in 1932 with the “troubled state of Irish Catholicism” today. Pompously he concludes that there is no point in dreaming of “a return to the triumphalist Catholicism of 1932.” For:
That world is dead. Ireland will never again be a monolithic culture in which a single hierarchical institution can enjoy such power and prestige. And nor should it be — the darker consequences of that culture are now all too well known. So how, if not through nostalgic fantasy, is the church to find its bearings in the new Ireland?
His answer to this is not to “build high defensive walls around a hard core of doctrinal certainty and institutional obedience,” but, rather, to take refuge in “cultural Catholicism,” i.e. “the idea that the broad church is deeply intertwined with the way Irish people think and feel and, however occasionally, pray.” Hmm. Sound familiar? To be sure, it smacks of that muted Protestantism that pervades today in British television, where villagers indulging in all sorts of illicit sex or even murder still congregate for Sunday hymns or weddings — or funerals — in picturesque churches, while a smiling vicar presides. Now, switching to a Novus Ordo venue, we can visualize the ghosts of Cranmer, Cecil and crew hovering in the pews, laughing and pointing to rows of worshippers, while gloating: “Aha! Gotcha at last! Ya bastards! We knew you’d come round eventually!”
Talk about nasty. . .
But wait. Considering the revolutionary changes of Vatican II, is it fair of the Irish Times to blame the “dark consequences” of the present on the traditional Church? And was the Irish Catholicism of 1932 really that all-powerful and “monolithic?” How many Protestants were fined or put in jail during that Eucharistic Congress? Joking aside, it is true that all sides suffered during the bloody civil war, but the Brits had one of those too, and their victor did not tolerate Catholics in the least, especially those in Ireland. During my own tour, the natives would point repeatedly to old stone ruins, saying “Cromwell did this — and that, while ordering Catholics ‘To hell or Connaught.’ ” During his mid-17th century rampage through the country, he and his henchmen managed to blot out roughly one-third of the population. So estimates the Irish Protestant historian W.E.H. Lecky in his book on the history of Ireland. Moreover, after the fighting,
. . . slave dealers were let loose upon the land, and many hundreds of boys and of marriageable girls, guilty of no offense whatever, were . . . shipped to Barbados, and sold as slaves to planters. How many of the unhappy captives became the prey of sharks, how many the victims of the planter’s lusts, it is impossible to say. . . The worship which was that of almost the whole native population was absolutely suppressed. Priests continued, it is true, with an admirable courage, to move disguised among the mud cottages of the poor and to hold up the crucifix before their dying eyes, but a large reward was offered for their apprehension, and those who were taken were usually transported to Barbados or confined in one of the Aran Isles.
But Cromwell was not alone. The persecution by Protestant rulers that had begun under the Tudors continued in successive stages for over two centuries. In The Framework of a Christian State Rev. E. Cahill, S.J. notes how all monasteries and religious houses were pillaged and broken up, lands seized and church buildings secularized or destroyed. While the celebration of Mass even in private was made a criminal offense, choice parochial and cathedral churches were seized by heretics for their own use. To sum up: “Those who refused to conform to the heretical sect were harassed, impoverished, and degraded by a series of laws and a system of administration which have gained a unique notoriety in the history of the world.”
Back in public high school I was taught about the so-called “Glorious Revolution” 1688 and how it brought political rights for the British that would later serve to inspire our own founding fathers. No one talked about the subsequent Battle of the Boyne, where the Irish fought for the Catholic James II of England — or that his son-in-law, the invading William of Orange, came with an army of mostly continental Protestants that was financed to a large extent by Sephardic Jews over in Amsterdam. Hmm. That of course led to the famous battle. Less talked about is how the Irish subsequently signed on to a Treaty of Limerick that was supposed to assure them freedom of worship but which the British proceeded to break. Under the penal laws that they instituted, a Catholic who practiced his faith became a felon. Both priests and schoolmasters had a price on their heads. Catholics could not school their children, enter a profession (except for medicine), hold an office, vote or serve on juries; own firearms or even own a cow or horse worth more than five pounds. A Protestant who saw him with one could confiscate it. Informers could get 20 pounds for reporting a priest, 50 for a bishop.
Lecky notes how the Catholic man was also subjected to unjust and oppressive taxation and deprived of the right of managing his own family and property. Any Protestant who so desired could injure and annoy him “in a hundred ways.” In short, the laws reduced him to a condition little better than that of absolute serfdom.”
Then there is Edmund Burke, the 18th century Irish Protestant statesman whose own mother and sister were Catholics, and whose father, some say, apostatized in order to become a lawyer and maintain the family property. He called the Penal Code “a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance as well fitted for oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people and the debasement in them of human nature itself as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”
Nevertheless, according to Fr. Cahill, the purely religious persecutions of the 17th and 18th centuries proved in the long run beneficial to the faith. He writes:
. . . the influence of the clergy was one of the main bulwarks of the Irish language and national spirit. Every rank and grade in the Church was purified in the fires of suffering and poverty. The people’s faith was intensified and elevated, and the spirit of self-sacrifice and Christian heroism called into action among every section of the community.
What suffered more than religion itself during this time was learning. Indeed,
. . . all the existing educational institutions, both religious and secular, were completely destroyed and the revenues seized. The same fate awaited the professional schools conducted by the Irish literati or bardic class as befell the private schools and those attached to the monastic and ecclesiastical institutions. The whole class of literati, one of the chief mainstays of the national spirit and tradition, was marked out for destruction. All the bardic schools were broken up; Irish books, manuscripts and even musical instruments were destroyed. Before the “law” the activities of the Irish teacher were no less criminal than those of the priest. The repeated attempts which were made during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Irish leaders under the direction of the Church to found an Irish Catholic University were foiled.
Elsewhere Rev. Cahill compares the techniques of the British conquerors to those of 20th century Bolsheviks in Russia. Of the latter he says:
Their methods bear a striking resemblance to the methods adopted in the 17th and 18th centuries by the English Protestant party in Ireland to break up the old Irish Catholic civilization, but are even more ruthless and cruel. The expropriations and confiscations, the disfranchisement of the opponents of Communism, the destruction of Christian institutions, including the monasteries and seminaries for the training of priests, the complete suppression of the existing educational organization, accompanied by a strictly enforced ban upon all education that is not Communistic, the massacre, banishment or impoverishment of the educated classes — all these measures are in the main a repetition of the means which were adopted by the English colonial planters in Ireland for the complete conquest of the country. . .(p. 195)
While, as he says, the Bolsheviks were worse in many respects, it is also true that their methods are more publicized. Facts about Lenin, Stalin, and the gulag abound. Irish history, however, is far less known outside the isle itself. Because, as Cahill notes, the Irish golden age predated that of England and continental Europe it can be more readily overlooked. When its treasures were destroyed, so went most of the proof of its existence. How many Catholics in this country, for instance, know how Irish monks during the sixth to eighth centuries preserved the basics of civilization while most of Europe wallowed in barbarism?
Msgr. Philip Hughes gives us some of the facts in Volume II of his History of the Church. It seems that with the conversion of the Irish to Christianity by St. Patrick in the fifth century came a unique form of monasticism which in turn produced a new and vibrant period of literacy. From the first, the monk’s main focus of learning was on the liturgy and Holy Scripture. This involved, of course, reading and writing Latin, and eventually Greek, and also developing a lower-case script not found in old Roman manuscripts that would be copied by scribes throughout the Western world.
As Msgr. Hughes notes, their use of Latin was providential, in more ways than one. First, of course, it insured the preservation of sacred scripture and its spread throughout the West. Also, because Latin was studied in Ireland as a foreign and dead language, its integrity was maintained, while elsewhere the old tongue, still in use, kept changing as it blended in with those of new invaders. In contrast, the Irish kept their native Gaelic tongue separate but also intact, and, most important, devised the phonetic formulas needed to write it down. Thus the Irish language was preserved, along with its literature, old and new, pagan and Christian, serving as a model for other emerging cultures.
Not all those involved in this were monks or nuns, either. A new professional class of lay poets, both men and women, also assisted in the work. Nor did all those monks stay in their cells, but, instead, took the opportunity to spread their faith and expertise far and wide. Thus Columba and Aidan evangelized the north of England, while Columbanus and Gall preached and established foundations in what is now France and northern Italy. Others like Killian headed for Germany. Nor did they charge for their labors; no, it was gratis. So why not give them credit today? In high school and college history classes, Catholic and public, I read about the Saints Benedict and Augustine and their monks, but never of any Irish connection. I never knew Ireland was called the Isle of Saints. When in my early 20’s I came upon a relative’s book on the subject of Irish monks and scholars I had to wonder about its authenticity.
To be sure, with the so-called Reformation, the Protestants had a vested interested in burying the truth. The Cecils and other profiteers under Henry VIII, and later under Elizabeth, destroyed monasteries while grabbing the land and loot for themselves. In order to justify the theft, they branded all monks and other clerics as corrupt. This was especially easy to do in a foreign land like Ireland; in the process they also burned countless histories and records of all kinds, even genealogies. In the process the natives were reduced to the lowest rung on the social scale.
With most of the Irish regarded as the lowliest of serfs, the invaders could say this was because they had never been civilized. If they were reduced to the level of savages it’s because they always had been. In fact, Rev. Cahill notes how they were regarded in law much like “South African Kaffirs or Australian aborigines” — as an “inferior race unworthy of serious consideration.” Even the late 19th century, Lord Salisbury, prime minister of England and descendant of the Cecils, opposed Home Rule for Ireland on the grounds that they could not entrust self-government to “Hottentots.”
Such remarks only served to obfuscate, to push history further into the realm of the fantastic. As Protestant historian Diarmaid McCulloch notes in his History of the Reformation, for many centuries the Irish retained knowledge of Latin that connected them to the Catholic world at large. In 1588 a Spanish survivor of the Armada, swept up on the Irish coast, was amazed that local peasants could converse with him in Latin. Considering this, it’s no wonder the locals, clergy and people alike, rejected Cranmer’s Mass in English as a scam when the government tried to foist it upon them. McCulloch says there was a Latin version, but this would have enabled them to compare texts more clearly, and to reject the innovations.
That in fact is what would occur — or recur — centuries later, when Catholics who could read and analyze the Novus Ordo with insight also refused to go along with it.
But back to the revolution that goes by the name of “reformation.” Whereas most of the Irish chiefs had apparently for political reasons given in to Henry VIII’s claims to rule the Church, this did not last. With the radical changes in liturgy that came under his son Edward and daughter Elizabeth, the situation came to a head. The Irish people as a whole said no to the new religion, along with its new liturgy and hymns. Subsequent decades saw the establishment of closer ties with colleges in Spain and France, as Irish youth, like their counterparts in England, journeyed to the continent to study, particularly for the priesthood.
Meanwhile, as most of the British, including the lowland Scots, became immersed in the new religion, their opinion of the Catholic Irish sank proportionately. Constantly the pope was denounced from Protestant pulpits as being anti-Christ. So what did this say about those who still followed him? Were they not decadent, indeed, downright evil, as well? The doctrine of predestination being spread about only made it look worse, since this suggested Catholics could not possibly be numbered among the saved, but would instead be damned en masse. So why not go ahead and kill them off, taking their property in the process?
Was this not the godly thing to do?
Such ideas circulated especially among the lowland Scots who settled in Ulster, giving rise, ultimately, directly and indirectly, to the famous — or infamous –– Orange Order. This, of course, was named after William of Orange, whose triumph at the Battle of the Boyne is celebrated by Orangemen annually with a parade in Belfast. Even after 320 years they gloat over how they trounced the papists. As for their own beliefs, while what they heard in church did tend to be a kind of Calvinism as recycled by John Knox, it seems, that the latter cannot be blamed for all the antics of the Order.
That is because an analysis of the Orange Order, or “Society,” as some dub it, along with its history and rituals, reveal a closer connection with Freemasonry. Indeed, the two are intimately intertwined. Fr. Cahill, in fact, insists the Orange Order was ultimately a tool of Masonry, which thrived for centuries at all levels of society in opposition to the Catholic Church. While not all Orange men were Masons, their controllers were. Indeed, according to Rev. H. W. Cleary, who also wrote a book on the subject, the Orange Order was run by Masons who had ascended to the level of Royal Arch Purple (RAP). Thus at meetings, if the lodge was “raised” to the RAP degree, the mere Orangemen left, while the Purple guys carried on in secret.
This brings us to the religious beliefs of Freemasonry as formulated during the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution. The first Grand Master of the English Lodges was appointed in 1717, and afterwards James Anderson, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, assisted by John T. Desaguliers, a Huguenot refugee, drew up the constitution and rituals which would serve as the foundation for the organization worldwide.
How did these define the beliefs of the initiated? Well, rather than require allegiance to any form of Christianity, they simply required that Masons promise service and loyalty to a vague entity called “The Grand Architect of the Universe.” They were obliged only to “follow the religion in which all men agree, leaving the particular opinion to themselves, that is to be good men and true, or men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished...” Most intriguing of all is an addendum found in Anderson’s updated version of his Constitutions in 1738. This labels Masons as true “Noahides” who adhered to “the three great articles of Noah,” which, while Talmudic, do not appear in the Bible.
And Protestants call Catholics unbiblical? . . .
To put it mildly, such beliefs, Fr. Cahill says, reflect “naturalism and religious indifference.” His books on this and related subjects, by the way, appeared in the 1930’s. Later in the 1950’s came books by a Protestant clergyman, Walton Hannah, that go even more deeply into the rituals of Freemasonry on the upper levels. In Darkness Visible, he comes to the crux of the matter. While the Holy Trinity of the Christians has been ignored on all levels, he reveals that in the ceremony of initiation for the Royal Arch degree, a different triad is proclaimed, that of JAH-BUL-ON. Apparently these stand for (1) Jahweh; (2) a Syriac word denoting Lord; and (3) an Egyptian word also denoting some god, obviously pagan. Despite the esoteric tinge to such rituals, however, Masonic ranks have included many royals and members of the Anglican clergy — even Archbishops of Canterbury! Hannah writes:
. . .if Freemasonry had been practiced in the primitive Church of Rome to the same extent as in the present-day Church of England, many quite unnecessary martyrdoms would have been spared. Christians in those days were willing to face death rather than cast a few grains of incense to the Emperor or other deities. But had their pagan brethren from Numa Pompilia Lodge claimed the right to visit Lodge Roma Ecclesia the latter would doubtless have discovered that the Great Architect of the Universe to whom they prayed together in brotherly peace and harmony could be equated with Nero and Jupiter quite as legitimately as with the Holy Trinity. Why then deny to the point of death in the Colosseum outside the Lodge what was so inevitably true inside?
Considering the roles in the ongoing farce, that of ultimate hypocrite must be attributed to Lord Palmerston, prime minister of England during the early Victorian era. Wearing a mask of respectability, he connived behind the scenes with Italian revolutionaries like Mazzini and Garibaldi against the temporal power of the pope and the Faith in general. To be sure, this Irish peer was none other than the Grand Patriarch of worldwide Freemasonry — and of the notorious Illuminati! The fact was brought out later in a series of lectures given by Msgr. George Dillon in 1884 in Rome that impressed Leo XIII so much that he paid for them to be translated into Italian. Much later, in 1956, to be exact, the book Bible and Sword by Barbara Tuchman would reveal still more scintillating facts about Palmerston: along with his step son-in-law, Lord Shaftesbury, though for less idealistic motives, he promoted an early form of Zionism. Yes, Palmerston was in favor of bringing Jews back to Palestine after nearly 1800 years.
Given the reality of trade and politics in the Middle East, he considered this to be feasible. Being an Irish landlord during the famine years of the 1840’s was definitely not. With starving tenants his policy was not one of return but of riddance. (And their ancestors had never left the area!) The so-called famine, of course, was actually a potato blight; other crops thrived, but the lowly tenants had little or no access to these for food. So they starved. At the peak of the hunger, in 1847 and again in 1848, he had 2000 of them loaded into so-called “coffin ships” bound for Canada. In American Catholic, Charles Morris notes how on one ship virtually all the peasants who survived the journey had to be clothed before they could “decently disembark.” To the dismay of the locals in New Brunswick, virtually all of these went immediately on public aid.
With Palmerston at the helm, Freemasonry continued to advance, using covert tactics to manipulate Catholics on the sly. Msgr. Dillon claims that secret societies like the Fenians, ostensibly set up by Catholics to fight for the underdog, were actually part of the same covert network. Being linked to Masonry, and thus controlled by enemies at the top, they were doomed to fail — and did, without realizing why. With World War I and the failure of legislative plans for Home Rule, the situation only worsened. Armed rebellion and civil war ensued — while Masonic control continued on certain levels. Because Catholics who joined were automatically excommunicated, the brotherhood included only Protestants or other worshippers of the Great Architect. Thus in the early 30’s Fr. Cahill could still write:
The Freemasons in Ireland are practically identified with the imperialist and non-Catholic portion of the population. The ostensible number of Freemasons in Ireland (about 50,000) although very much greater in proportion to the population than the number of Freemasons in any country of continental Europe or South America, is not an adequate measure of their effective strength.
The Masonic party inherits the fruits of the British domination. They control very much of the economic life of the country, including the banks and railways, several of the more important academic and educational institutions, such as the Queen’s University, Dublin University (or Trinity College) with its allied medical schools, and a large section of the Press. Besides, they have at command, for the purposes of their anti-Catholic and anti-Irish activities, the Orange Society which is practically a Masonic body. In addition to all this, it may be truly said that in Ireland as elsewhere, Freemasonry wields more influence and power through its allied associations and organizations than by its own personal memberships.
Trinity College had been founded by Elizabeth I as a stronghold of Protestantism in Dublin. Even as late as 1899, a continuing prejudice against the old culture prompted its professors to oppose any inclusion of the Irish language and literature in a national curriculum that was being planned for secondary schools. There was nothing in Irish fit to be studied, they argued. In response, Irish scholar and co-founder of the Gaelic League, Douglas Hyde, a Protestant, by the way, obtained evidence to the contrary from leading Celtic scholars in France, Germany, and Holland. Under such pressure, even the Trinity diehards had to relent.
Not, however, on the ownership of the Book of Kells, the finest surviving example of the old Irish monastic art and scholarship. It still remains in the keep of Trinity College. To the victors go the spoils forever and ever, I guess. Surely this undercuts the premise of that Irish Times editorial mentioned earlier. Remember how it alluded to a “triumphalist Catholicism” that supposedly reigned in Ireland as of 1932, when a “single hierarchical institution” ruled over a “monolithic culture?” How, we ask, can this have been the case? If the Church of the 1930s really was all-powerful, why was the Book of Kells not removed from Trinity College, where it remains to this day? Why leave such a treasure in the hands of Protestants whose forebears aimed to promote their agenda at the expense of the old Catholic culture? It’s outrageous when you recall how they destroyed the monasteries responsible for such manuscripts. While it is true that the Vikings had ravaged the area at a still earlier date, those pagans subsequently converted en masse to Catholicism.
Most Protestants have not — reconverted, that is. Yet they still occupy the oldest churches in the country: St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church, which date to about the 12th century. While living in Dublin I visited the latter. As I recall, except for an Anglican cleric in long garb, a helper or two, and yours truly, it was empty, unlike the newer, simpler Catholic churches. While dark, the high vaulted ceiling was quite imposing. . .
2012 by Judith M. Gordon