Page 1, 28th November 1941

28th November 1941
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Page 1, 28th November 1941 — Dr. Heenan's Report`on " What Ireland Thinks "—II
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Locations: Dublin, Tralee, Killarney

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Dr. Heenan's Report`on " What Ireland Thinks "—II

WHY THE IRISH DO NOT FEEL THIS TO BE A RELIGIOUS WAR

The Rev. Dr. Heenan, continuing his report of the state of opinion in Ireland as evidenced during a recent visit, states that some Irish people feel that the Church would not necessarily suffer more from a Nazi victory than a British one. On the other hand he points out the dislike of the Germans and the lack of hatred towards us.

Dr. Heenan asks us to stress again the fact that this report does not give his own point of view, but his candid recording of what he saw and heard. Though not claintirAg that a short visit like his gives him the right to call himself an authority on the subject, he does believe that these impressions may be of value to English readers in getting a true picture of Ireland to-day, free of propagandist distortion.

IT would be wrong not to record this I impression which, though startling, was given quite sincerely, that for the Church it may be that a Nazi victory would have better results than a victory for the British cause.

Several intelligent and pious Catholics put it lo ate this way: In Hitler the Church has a declared foe The Catholic world under Hitler would be fighting for its life and would produce confessors and martyrs.. The world und2r what the Allies call democracy (not a magic word in Ireland where democraci and Christianity are not confused) would mean a world not devoted to God and His rThrist but to the realisation of a " better world." Tins " better world " is understood by many Mshrtten to be one rulers according to the principles of materialistic humanism, Mr. Eden's speech on Mc new order was remarkable. the Irish thought, for ha failure to mention God o, religion.

Materialism is a more subtle and therefore more dangerous enemy to Christianity than any active persecution

THE IRISH DON'T SEE WHY ...

It need hardly be said that those who conskier the dangers of ihe pagan philosophy which is said to rule Great Britain to be more dangerous to the Church than the Nazi regime, are usually no more anxious for the triumph of Hitler thaii the average Catholic is thirsting for martyrdom.

The point is mentiones: only as the Irish corrective to the self-righteousness of certain British Catholic propagandists who speak as though any who doubted the Christian motives of Great Britain were resisting the known truth

The Irish Catholics do not understand why, for the sake of England, the one nation in the world which has wronged and still wrongs her, she shbuld be expected to be more Catholic than the Pope by declaring the British cause to be the cause of Christ.

The religious aspect of the war is not very evident to observers in Eire. They deplore the persecution of the Church both in Germitey and in the occupied territories, but they regard it as incidental in the programme of the Nazi legime_ They think that the British do Hitler too much credit by describing him as Anti-Chrisl and in any case, as one Irish Bishop said to me, he is by no means the first to have been given the title by the British Government. There is a strange familiarity tn the epithets used to describe the ,Fuehrer and Bonaparte.

INVASION DOES NOT ALARM THEM One question I asked continually because regarded it as a key question. What does Eire expect from a victorious Germany?

The most common answer given is that Eire expects much the same treatment as Germany has given to every other conquered country, but people do not think this is because of Nazi methods so much as part of the German characteJ They know that the Prussian mentality is brutal. But the dwellers in Dublin, Tralee, and Killarney are not easily horrified by stories of the excesses of the military. The Black and Tans, after all, do not belong to a past generation. The vast majority of the Irish people of to-day knew the Black and Tans at first hand. They do not expect that the Gestapo would be any worse.

'They are not, therefore. so alarmed at the prospect of invasion as would, be the residents in Wigan, Upper Tooting or Mayfair.

Except among Catholics in the Six Counties, who cannot be spoken of in the same breath as their brethrer in Eire, it would be hard to find any responsible people in Ireland who desire a German victory. They have suffered enough and realise that a German occupation would renew their bodily sufferings, however good this might be for their immortal souls. Not only ere they determined not to obstruct the British effort, but in their thousands the Irish have flocked to join the British colours. This is not so much for love of the British, whose ruling class they distrust and sometimes despise, as becam.t they realise that bad as the British have been, the Nazis represent refined barbarism in action. They honestly wish to sec the overthrow of Hitler, otherwise they would have put obstacles in the way of their young men who have gone to join the British forces.

I had not realised, until I had. the evidence in the towns and villages from the relatives of those on active service, how many young Irishmen have joined up. It is true that many have done so for economic reasons or, in the case of R.A.V. pilots, from a spirit of adventure. But neither reason would have sufficed unless the feelirg of the cciuntry was behind the British people in their struggle against Nazi aggression.

' It would be kind of our critics in England," a well-known Insh statesman said to me, " if. before they criticised our attitude, they realised that we have allowed more men to join the three services than would provide the quota which would have been expected from us as a colony at war." There are, in fact, more Irishmen on active service than Canadians or Australians, and' their record of heroism is not inglorious.

(Continued on page six)

Benedictine's D.Litt.

In recognition of scholarship Cambridge University has conferred upon Dom David Knowles. ossi., the degree of D.Litt.

Dom D. Knowles has written : Religious, Houses of Medieval England (Sheed and Ward) and Monastic Houses (Cambridge University Press).




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