Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Statute of the Blessed Virgin in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, UCD Belfield

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why Do I Blog?

This question, I think, deserves an answer. I sometimes feel rather insecure about posting my thoughts, especially on religious matters, considering I have no specialist theological, historical or scholarly knowledge.

What really motivates me, aside from the natural desire to put my ideas into words, is the desire to fly my colours. Whenever I dip my toes into the Irish internet, it is painfully obvious that there are an awful lot of people there who literally hate the Catholic Church. And not only the Catholic Church, but the very concept of religion.

They lurk in comment boxes, competing with each other for the most extreme denunciation of religious faith. They seem to spend hours on internet forums (especially Politics.ie and Indymedia.ie, which I only ever come across by accident when I am searching for something else) making ludicrously exaggerated claims about "child rapist" priests and pro-Nazi Popes. Any Irish blog that is in any way political or cultural or sociological is almost guaranteed to be both liberal and stridently secular.

Whenever John Waters contributes an article to the Irish Times-- even if it doesn't mention religion-- the electronic version is sure to attract a swarm of comments such as: "Why don't you just pray to your sky fairy about it, John?".

When I went to America recently, and spoke to young Catholics there, I realized that they are well aware of modern Ireland's hostility to the Church. I had half expected they would still have a sentimental and outdated vision of Catholic Ireland. But they actually seemed to have received-- something I didn't think was possible-- an exaggerated idea of Ireland's descent into anti-Catholicism.

It is all too easy for the anti-God brigade to paint Irish Catholics as people who go to Church out of a kind of cultural inertia, but who don't take the teachings of the Magisterium seriously, who place no great importance on their faith, and who may not even believe in God-- apart from a minority of embittered bigots who have pictures of General Franco on their bedroom walls and believe the Earth is a few thousand years old.

So I believe that writing an Irish blog that strives to be faithful to Catholic orthodoxy, to show some evidence of reflective thought on a range of religious and secular topics, and perhaps even show a glimmering of humour every now and again, might go some way to countering this stereotype, and to counteract the tsunami of anti-Church bile on the Irish internet. I know how cheered I am every time I come across evidence that there are ordinary laypeople like me who cherish their Catholic faith in countries as disparate as Norway and Australia, Canada and India. If this blog serves the same purpose for somebody out there-- or, indeed, in Ireland-- it will have achieved enough.

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