Gabriel Fallon's DUBLIN DIARY
UNITY Week has come and gone and ecumenism in Ireland has moved forward at a snail's pace. It is true that there have been a number of hopeful "happenings" outside the Archdiocese of Dublin. But within this territory the faithful are hound to a policy which one Dubliner summed up as:
"You ring us: we haven't the slightest intention of ringing you."
"We have to learn to be restless about our divisions," said Father Gabriel Daly, O.S.A. But there is little sign as yet of that type of restlessness which the situation requires. No doubt it will come, and the danger is that, having been suppressed for so long, it will rush to extremes even greater than those which Pius XII warned against in his instruction Ecelesia Catholica in September, 1949.
In his instruction, Pius invited bishops to work actively in the ecumenical movement: "They must not be content," he said, "to observe this movement diligently and carefully, but must promote and direct it prudently . . ." So much depends of course, on the meaning we attach to the virtue of Prudence. No doubt the servant who buried his talent as a protection against loss believed that he was being prudent.
Using, or rather misusing, Prudence in this sense, consider the number of occasions in the life of Christ on which He could be accused (indeed was accused) of being imprudent. Consider too, that so long as we have occasion to refer to our "separated" brethren, we are an integral part of the grave flaw in that unity for which Jesus Christ so ardently prayed to his Heavenly Father.
On the other hand there are dangerous signs of disunity within the Church itself, signs which are coming to the surface at an increasing tempo. Theologians are beginning to take on bishops in public controversy, the unheard-of situation in the Ireland of yesterday. Sooner or later the laity, informed or otherwise, will at tempt to get in on the act and it is at this point that polarisation will begin.
Both sexes are involved in the situation. According to Father Wilfrid Harrington, 0.P., in the current issue of nuns tend to suffer most because of an erroneous conception of authority. The most depressing thing about an Doctrine and Life there is a malaise in many communities of religious sisters . . . younger inadequate notion of obedience, and the wrong exercise of authority, is that they can have a devastating effect on a community. A rigid narrow discipline breeds discontent, even rebellion, and produces an effect which is the very opposite of the one intended."
APROPOSAL to establish a national council for unmarried mothers in Ireland, which originated at a meeting held in Kilkenny last year attended by Bishop Peter Birch of Ossory and Bishop Eamonn Casey of Kerry has been challenged from the Archdiocese of Dublin by Mgr. Cecil Barrett, P.P., chairman of the Central Council of Catholic Adoption Societies, who circularised the hierarchy and Catholic adoption societies, urging them to oppose it.
The national council idea has been defended by Rev. Fergal O'Connor, O.P. Such a council, he said, would not interfere with the spiritual and moral welfare of the girls concerned. "Any social worker who is properly trained," declared Father O'Connor, "knows that the spiritual and moral values of the client are an essential aspect of her casework. I might add that, in my own personal experience, I have found great concern on the part of non-Roman Catholic social workers for the spiritual welfare of their Catholic clients." This, which is the heart of the matter, the Monsignor gravely doubts. The outcome will be awaited with interest.
"ToHN XXIII did not deviate It from anything I have said ..." might well be described as the funniest quote of the year did it not come from a Franciscan who, if he gets the necessary permission, intends to offer himself as a candidate for Dail Eireann at the next General Election.
He is a man who, according to his reported statements in the January issue of This Week, was very much influenced by Hitler's youth movement. "How he could rally young people and when he did, he set about building a great nation."
"I found Ireland was in need of a youth organisation and I found in the Nazi approach — not in its doctrine, but in the technique of bringing young people together—the dynamics of it, I could learn quite a lot.
"Hitler held huge youth rallies. The ones I hold at Knock are the equivalent. He had this huge banner with the swastika.
"I set out to get a bigger, better banner than Hitler had, which I have at the moment, probably the most expensive in Europe, and larger 'than his.
"Instead of having the swastika on it, I have the emblem of the Holy Spirit and C.Y.C. (Catholic Youth Crusade). It's really beautiful. It was presented to me. l'd say its value is somewhere between £500 a nd £1,000 . . "
Incredible, yet true. There is no doubting the sincerity of this man who says it is his vocation "to enlighten people." He has a large following, most of whom doubtlessly feel that Dail Eireann would be the better of a hundred such Christian Soldiers.
MEANWHILE, in another part of the forest, 140,000 students in 600 schools will be affected by a strike of secondary teachers in a dispute which is bedevilled by so many complex issues that it is impossible for those not involved to keep track of them.
One of these issues is the Department of Education's interest in the establishment of "comprehensive" schools which is viewed in certain quarters as an attempt to secularise education.
And there are others. One thing is certain — we are not likely to lose our high place in the European "Man-days-losttable" if the striking rate of 1970 is maintained during the coming year.