Gabriel Fallon's DUBLIN DIARY
CLOSE on 1,000 people attended the ecumenical prayer service for peace held at Dublin's G.P.O. on the evening of the Feast of All Saints. Approximately 80 people of all denominations were on the platform, nonCatholics predominating.
Two bands played for the hymns and, as on the previous occasion, units from various youth organisations fronted the platform. But one expected a greater response from the "sit. ent majority" than this.
Can it be that old suspicions are still at work, and that there is an unspoken reluctance on the part of members of the majority religion to join their brethren in this sorely-needed act of supplication?
Ideally, it is an activity which should be taking place at parish level, leading from there to great diocesan gatherings. Has the "silent majority" lost faith in the efficacy of prayer or arc its members waiting until the churchmen effectively solve the problems of an ecumenical theology?
The men of war, on the other hand, have no doubt as to where they stand. Even while the token group of Christian soldiers were praying at the G.P.O., Mr. Joseph Cahill, the Belfast leader of the Provisionals, was over at Dublin's Mansion House thanking God that he was alive today "to witness a fighting force of men, the like of which has never been seen in the history of this country—the fighting men of Oglaigh na h'Eireann."
Appealing for more support, despite the fact that "never before has there been such strength in the I.R.A.," he went on to say that "the fight is not only in the North, it is for the whole of this country. The sooner this is realised, the sooner the terrible agony of this country will end."
Do they care?
Mr. Cahill knows what he wants. Can as much be said for the "silent majority"? Do its members realise what is facing their country? Do they care? We like to call ourselves poetising Christians, But do we really practise, not just for ourselves, but for our fellow-men'?
We would not deny that the Church is the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the leaven in the dough. Statistically, we should have paralysed Dublin's traffic from the G.P.O. to Mansion House on the Feast
of All Saints in our efforts to storm heaven in the cause of peace.
Perhaps we prayed at home. Perhaps we shrank from the still questionable duty of praying with worshippers who are not of our Church. But there is no I in the "Our Father"; it's we all the way through.
If the men of war prevail, if more of our fellow-men are sent to God before their time, the fault will be ours. Juno Boyle's prayer in O'Casey's great play is still apt : "Take away these hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh; take away this murderous hate and give us thine own eternal love."
Only the gun
ADUBLIN reader of the CATHOLIC HERALD, a Mr. Joseph Kenny, has written me a letter taking .me to task for using the term "gunmen" where, seemingly, I ought to have used "Freedom Fighters." He describes himself as a man who has tried every peaceful means towards the reunification of his country.
He has fraternised with Orangemen, he tells me, and has even walked with them in their July 12 procession, in Toronto. "If peaceful means would work," he writes, "I was all for it; but no, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing for it but the gun.
"I am very friendly towards the English. I am an honorary member of two golf clubs over there. I hate the idea of having to shoot their young men. I have even written to Paisley to try to end the fighting."
I feel certain that if the Rev. Ian Paisley could stop the fighting he would. But I also feel certain that if I hated the idea of having to shoot young Englishmen I would not only refrain from doing so myself but would do all in my power to dissuade others from doing so, even if this meant prolonging the reunification of my country.
Mr. Kenny goes on to blame the Catholic community in Ireland for creating religious division, with segregated schools and clerical managers. Finally, he accuses the Legion of Mary (of which he was formerly a member) of "making attacks on fellow-Christians attending their Divine Service as I have seen them do" and he assures me that the Rev. Ian Paisley has "some moving pictures of these attacks."
Well, so far as I am aware, there is nothing whatever in the Legion's handbook that would in any way justify such alleged conduct. It would be interesting to learn the Legion's side of the story as well as to view the Rev. Ian Paisley's "moving pictures."
THAT this gathering of Irish priests, representative of the clergy of several dioceses and religious orders, strongly condemns the present internment without trial of hundreds of our fellow-Irishmen in the North of Ireland and is appalled by the inhuman
treatment to which many of those arrested have been subjected.
"We therefore call for the immediate release of all internees, for the cessation of torture methods and for a full inquiry into the allegations of torture which have already been made."
Copies of the above resolution, passed by the association of Irish-speaking priests, were sent to the Taoiseach, the M.Ps. on hunger strike at 10 Downing Street, the camp commandant of prisoners in Long Kesh, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and the Prime Minister of Great Britain. It is indicative of the growing feeling in Southern Ireland even among those who have set their faces against the use of violence.