Militant Irish Nationalists still Planting Bombs in Northern Ireland

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2012

Week in Review

Ireland and England have a history.  And it isn’t a very good one.  With things getting really bad when the English went Protestant.  And the Irish remained Catholic.  Which aligned Ireland with England’s Catholic enemies on the continent.  France and Spain.  England would go on to conquer Ireland.  But it didn’t stop the Catholics from rising up against English rule.  So the English colonized Northern Ireland with Protestants in the 17th century.  Plantation of Ulster.  To dilute the Catholic threat.  With English Anglicans.  And Scottish Presbyterians.   Which did nothing to improve relations between the Irish and the English.  Even to this day (see Bomb defused in Northern Ireland would have caused devastation by Ivan Little posted 4/28/2012 on Reuters UK).

Two bombs planted by militant Irish nationalists, including one packed with enough explosives to have killed anyone within a 50-metre (yard) radius, were defused in Northern Ireland on Saturday, police said…

Army bomb disposal experts defused a similarly sized bomb in the border town of Newry this time last year. Another bomb was also found near the main Dublin-to-Belfast motorway earlier this month that police said had the potential to kill.

The other bomb also made safe by the army on Saturday was discovered under a parked car in Belfast where 80 people were moved from their homes for five hours overnight. There was no confirmation yet of its size…

The 1998 peace agreement called a halt to more than three decades of violence between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists opposed to British rule of Northern Ireland and predominantly Protestant unionists who wanted it to continue.

The British founded America.  While the Irish built much of it.  The British gave us our language, our representative government, our institutions and our economic principles.  Despite two wars we’ve remained close.  The Irish helped us to win our independence from the British.  And subsequent waves of immigration swelled our population.  And, later, our cities.  Filling our factories.  And building our infrastructure.

We have great numbers of both Catholics and Protestants living peacefully together.  Which makes this continuing struggle between Ireland and England difficult for many Americans.  For we probably would not be who we are if it wasn’t for both of these people.  We abhor this violence.  Especially when those who suffer this violence are not responsible for the sins of their distant ancestors.  But worse for Americans is that both the Irish and English are our ancestors.  And they’re not that distant from us.  Which is what makes this struggle so difficult for us.  They’re both family.  Unlike they are to each other.

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The Irish Parliament begins Debate on Bill that will Provide Limited Access to Abortion

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

Representative government transferred the power from the privileged few to the people.  And once they did things got better for the people.  Because the government started serving the people instead of the people serving the government.  And to keep it that way representative governments introduced separations of powers.  And checks and balances.  They created legislative bodies to write laws.  Where legislators represented the people in proportion to the population.  So laws represented the will of the people.  And not minority interests. 

Of course, this made it difficult to pass some laws.  Especially those that went against the will of the people.  So some found a way to get around the will of the people.  By legislating from the bench.  Where instead of needing a majority of hundreds of legislators you only needed a majority of a handful of judges.  Which has been the legislative tool of choice for liberals to write laws.  Using the judiciary to write law that they could not write in the legislature.  Violating the separation of powers.  And going against the will of the people.  Such as making abortion legal in countries where the majority oppose it.  Like the United States.  And Ireland (see Ireland Takes Up Bill on Abortion Access by DOUGLAS DALBY posted 4/18/2012 on The New York Times).

One of the most deeply divisive issues in Irish society was reignited Wednesday night when the Irish Parliament began debate on a bill that would provide for limited access to abortion.

As in the United States, it was the Supreme Court here that legalized abortion, although in strictly limited circumstances. But in the 20 years since the decision in the “X Case,” successive governments have shied away from enacting the legislation needed to carry out the order…

“We believe that it is only a first step for abortion to be legalized in Ireland in all circumstances. We have waited long enough,” Ms. Daly said. “Over 100,000 Irish abortions have taken place in Britain for many different reasons, none of them easy, all of them valid. The hypocrisy, injustice and expense of having to travel to England for terminations, away from family and friends, is a disgrace.”

But in this conservative and Catholic nation, sentiment against abortion runs strong, and over the past few months anti-abortion groups have been pressuring politicians to oppose the bill, and are confident it will be defeated.

Governments shy away from putting abortion in the hands of the legislature.  Especially in countries with large Catholic populations.  Which is why there are no abortion laws on the books in the U.S. or Ireland.  Just Supreme Court rulings that created an abortion law from the bench.  As Supreme Court justices typically serve for life they don’t have to worry about the political fallout of their decisions.  Which gives some a green light for judicial activism.  Giving them leeway to disagree with laws they don’t like.  Or creating laws they like that the people don’t.  They can do this.  Legislators can’t.  Which is why they shy away from abortion law.  Because a legislator usually has another election to try to win.  And that isn’t easy to do when you go against the will of the people.  As many found out in the U.S. after they voted for Obamacare.  And lost their jobs in the 2010 midterm elections.  Because they not only acted against the will of the people but against their own constituents.

Ireland is a Catholic country.  And they take their Catholicism pretty seriously.  Which is why so many Irish hate the English.  Who are Protestant.  If you’re not familiar with this history read up a little on it.  Perhaps looking up some names like Elizabeth I, James I or the Earl of Stafford.  Then you’ll get a feeling for the love between Irish Catholics and English Protestants.  So the Irish are Catholic.  And fiercely so.  They stay true to their Catholic beliefs.  Which includes an absolute opposition to abortion.  Which is why there is no abortion law in Ireland.  Only a Supreme Court decision.  Until now, perhaps.  As the Irish legislature is now debating this subject.  What will the Irish Catholic do?   Whatever they do one thing is for certain.  It won’t make the issue any less divisive.

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LESSONS LEARNED #14: “Christianity does not beget antidisestablishmentarianism.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 20th, 2010

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were literate.  As many in British America were.  They knew their history.  Europe’s history.  And Antiquity’s.  They read books.  They knew that a Macedonian conquered a weak confederation of Greek city-states.  That Julius Caesar marched into Rome at the head of a professional Roman Army and put an end to the Roman Republic.  That large standing armies and a bloated bureaucracy bankrupted the Roman Empire and led to her demise.  That differences in religious opinion plunged nations into war.  And they were very conscious that history repeats itself.

They studied history and applied the lessons they learned to the founding of a new nation.  And they were blessed with a blank canvas.  There were not centuries of past wrongs to right.  No grudges.  No bad blood.  They had an ocean between them and that past.  Europe may have still been fighting each other, but it was just too costly to extend that fight across an ocean.  At least, not in any large scale action.  And they had vast tracts of land to the west waiting for them to settle.  Growing space.  True, there were indigenous people on some of that land, but there was so much more land than people (even today vast tracts are uninhabited).  Not like in Europe.  There, if a nation left the confines of her borders, it bumped into another.  And, typically, professional armies did the bumping.

So there they were, the Founding Fathers, on a new continent ripe with possibilities.  They had land, resources, knowledge and timing.  It was as if God said that now was the time for a great new civilization to begin.  Or so many felt then. 

THE FATHER OF Christianity was a Jew.  A Rabbi.  Born and raised in a part of the Roman Empire that was a royal pain in the ass to them.  The Jews just did not readily submit to Roman rule.  And the Emperor was growing tired of this thorn in his side. 

The hapless procurator for this troublesome land was Pontius Pilate.  He may have been cruel.  He may have been just (in the context of the times).  He may have tried his best to keep the peace.  But he was certain to fail.  Don’t rule hard enough and order breaks down and Rome is unhappy.  Push too hard and it may cause open rebellion.  Again.  And Rome is unhappy.  Damned if he does.  Damned if he doesn’t.

Long story short, the Romans crucify Jesus Christ.  And a religion is born. 

THE CHRISTIANS WOULD became as big a pain in the ass as the Jews were for the Roman Empire.  Christ’s apostles spread His message and Christian pockets developed in the Empire.  And the Romans persecuted them.  Until one day.

The Roman Empire was in civil war.  Constantine approached the River Tiber.  Across lay Rome and Maxentius.  They would meet in battle in the morning.  Before that battle, though, Constantine had a vision.  He saw a Christian symbol.  The Christian god appeared to him.  He was to advance his armies behind this symbol.  Or so the story goes.  Anyway, Constantine did win the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.  He proclaimed that the Christian god made that victory possible.  And he would subsequently convert to Christianity.

The Roman Empire would give up its pagan past and become Christian.  Constantine would build a great Christian city and name it after himself.  Constantinople (modern day Istanbul).  Christianity would spread throughout the civilized world. Even to the place where he became emperor.  Britain.  A Christian Monk would take the religion into the hostile lands north of Hadrian’s Wall (Scotland).   There he founded a monastery called Candida Casa.  His successor at the monastery, Caranoc, probably introduced Christianity to Ireland.  St. Patrick’s missionary work took over from Caranoc.

ONE OF THE surviving institutions of the Roman Empire was the Catholic Church.  With the structure and order of Roman rule gone, it was the one uniting force that transcended the diverse remnants of the empire.  King Clovis converted to Catholicism and united the Gallic people.  Charlemagne built on this consolidation and created the French and German monarchies, setting the stage for modern, Christian Europe.

The Catholic Church was the bedrock of life in the Middle Ages.  It soothed and comforted.  It gave hope and meaning during difficult times.  Civilization became civilized when Christianized.  People lived by the Golden Rule.  They helped each other.  Christian kings ruled more compassionately, for the afterlife was important to both ruler and ruled.  A king may answer to no man, but a Christian king answered to God. And in Europe, that was the Pope, who ruled spiritually in God’s temporal world.

The Pope may be the last word on things spiritual, but he was still a man.  And like all men, power tends to corrupt.  And it would be a German priest to point this out in a grand way.

IT WAS THE 16th century and the Renaissance was under way.  Everyone was catching the fever.  Even the Pope.  Pope Leo X was renovating his St. Peter digs in the new style.  Paid for, in part, by the selling of indulgences.  You say you’ve sinned?  But you still want to go to heaven?  No problem.  I can help you.  I can forgive you.  For a nominal fee.  And really, now, can you put a price on personal salvation?  I mean, sure, you can risk eternal damnation.  But why take the chance?  Buy an indulgence today.

Or so went some kind of sales pitch.  Which caused a problem for a German priest.  Martin Luther.  He didn’t believe you could buy your way into heaven.  So he said it.  The king wasn’t wearing any clothes.  I mean, the Pope was wrong.  He nailed up his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 and the Protestant movement was afoot.  Caused a reverberation or two.  Plunged Europe into war.  Catholic versus protestant.  Reformer versus counter-reformer.

Luther translated the Latin Bible into the common German spoken in his country.  Over in England, they were translating the Bible, too.  And speaking of England.

HENRY VIII WANTED a son.  As kings are wont to do.  But he wasn’t having any luck.  He needed a new wife.  So he wanted a divorce.  Couldn’t get one.  So he said goodbye to Rome and opened the Church of England.  He got his divorce.   And a new baby.  Another girl.

The story of England’s break with Rome is a bit more complicated than this.  Henry VIII was a Catholic.  He even persecuted Protestants.  But his third wife was a German princess married for political reasons.  And his new Church leaned Protestant.  He did a lot of things that Luther said to do.  And he hated Luther.  His subjects were even reading an English translation of the Bible.  But then the politics changed and he divorced Anne of Cleves.  And the Church swung back to Catholicism.

When Henry VIII died, Edward VI assumed the throne.  And the Church swung back to Protestant.  When he died, his sister took the throne.  His Catholic sister.  Queen Mary.  And the Church swung back to Catholicism.  People didn’t mind.  Hey, they were Catholics far longer than they were Protestants.  Then she married the Catholic King of Spain.  Started burning Protestants at the stake.  Went to war with France in support of Spain.  And lost English land on the continent in the process.  The people didn’t take kindly to this.

Then came Queen Elizabeth.  She swung the Church back to Protestant.  And the Pope thanked her for that by excommunicating her.  Pope Paul V sent missionaries into England to agitate and return England to Catholicism.  Elizabeth countered by making life very difficult for Catholics.  But the Catholics weren’t the only ones unhappy with Elizabeth.

The Puritans were Calvinists who were extremely anti-Catholic.  Yes, she swung the Church of England back to Protestantism, but it still had some Catholic flourishes (bishops, priest vestments, candles, some saints’ days and feasts, transubstantiation, etc.).  As Supreme Governor of the Church, these Puritans were challenging her authority.  So she arrested and executed them.

YOU GET THE picture.  The tug of war between Catholicism and Protestantism was a long and bloody one.  And it involved outsiders.  Catholic France was stirring up trouble in Protestant Scotland.  Mary, Queen of Scots, cousin of Elizabeth, even plotted against her cousin to take her throne (and make Scotland and England Catholic).  She failed and Elizabeth chopped her head off.

Meanwhile, Catholic Spain was stirring up trouble in Ireland.  She hated England for their break from Rome.  Wanted to bring her back to the Catholic fold.  The Catholic Irish did not like Protestant English rule. There was rebellion in Ulster.  Spain helped the rebels.  The English suppressed the rebellion.  To dilute this Catholic hotspot from causing further disturbances, England settled Ulster with Protestants.

Spain also wanted vengeance for the looting of Spanish ships (filled with gold and silver looted from the New World) by English pirates.  Spain assembled a great fleet (The Great Armada) for the invasion of England.  It was defeated.  England escaped Catholic Spanish subjugation.

SO THERE YOU have it.  Kindling for civil war in England as well as world war across the continent and in the New World as the Old World fought to colonize it.  And that history would be a bloody one.  A lot of wrongs to right.  A lot of bad blood.  A lot of grudges.  And the Founding Fathers wanted no part of it.

When the British defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City, Catholic French Canada became British.  To appease the local French inhabitants, though, the British passed the Quebec Act.  And let them keep their French heritage.  Je me souviens (I remember, motto of both Quebec Province and the Royal 22e Régiment).  One part of the Quebec Act expanded Canadian territory into lands that the Americans were planning to settle.  Another part guaranteed the free practice of Catholicism.  Right in British America’s backyard.  Which was a Protestant backyard.  This infuriated the Americans.  The Protestant-Catholic simmering hatred did make it to the New World.  This was one of the last of British insults that eventually led to the Revolutionary War.

But that was the peak of anti-catholic rhetoric in America.  After the war, the states would eventually disestablish their churches.  Catholic and Protestant would live peacefully together.  Along with Baptists.  And Jews.  And any other denomination.  And religion flourished.  Especially Christianity.  By not establishing Protestantism or Catholicism, both flourished.  The new nation blossomed.  And America became that city on a hill.  If you go by immigration records.  And one day America would even have a Catholic president.  JFK.

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