British lobbied Vatican for papal statement denouncing IRA

Posted By: December 31, 2017

“However, Daly has been slammed for his role on this issue by American-based Father Sean McManus, who has called Daly a “gombeen” or stooge of the British during this period of The Troubles. McManus is the founder of the Irish National Caucus.”
IrishCentral Staff@IrishCentral. December 31, 2017 

The Vatican was lobbied by the British ambassador in Dublin and officials in Belfast to issue a papal statement denouncing the IRA in the 1990s, government files have revealed.

The statement denouncing the IRA was to be read at Masses across Ireland. Support for British policy and a plea for Catholics to join the hated RUC police force was also a likely part of the statement.

The British were leaning heavily on the words and tacit support of then-Cardinal Cahal Daly who had urged Catholics to join the RUC and denounce the IRA. reports that the idea of a papal statement was first mentioned in a letter between two Northern Ireland Office (NIO) officials in January 1990.  It was then discussed later in a meeting between the British ambassador, Sir Nicholas Fenn, and Archbishop Emmanuel Gerada, who was at the time the new Papal Nuncio to Ireland.

Brian Blackwell of the NIO drafted a memo for discussion, entitled ‘The Holy See and Violence in Northern Ireland.”

Read More:  British government admits to losing Northern Ireland documents from the National Archive.

It recalled that at a recent meeting with Fenn in Dublin, the archbishop disclosed that he was “contemplating advising the papacy to make some new move to condemn the IRA.”

Blackwell said any statement should acknowledge the “fundamental legitimacy… of an elected democracy” and the “sinfulness of violence.”

However, he added that there might be a clerical fear that “not everything that has been and is being done by the state to combat terrorism is morally irreproachable.”

Also, condemnation by the Chuch might be seen as one-sided in what some Catholics viewed as “a dirty war.”

Blackwell informed officials that the best approach might be “a papal statement issued from the Vatican to be read from the pulpit at all Masses in Catholic churches in Ireland on an appropriate Sunday in 1990.”

The statement should condemn violence by the IRA as well as support the British government policies in Northern Ireland.

Blackwell went on to suggest that the nuncio might encourage the recruitment of Catholics into the Police Authority and security forces, highlighting Bishop Cahal Daly’s support for Catholics joining the RUC.

In a letter to Ian Burns, the deputy undersecretary of state at the NIO, Sir Ken Bloomfield, head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, wrote that a papal statement might have a useful impact on “the moral ditherers, if not on the hard men.”

In a note, Ambassador Fenn summarized a February 1990 meeting with Burns and the nuncio, stating that the archbishop was receptive to a “papal message.”

Fenn would recall that in conversation Burns had “distinguished between the consistently humane, enlightened and compassionate Cahal Daly and the less helpful… Cardinal Ó Fiaich and Father Des Wilson [the west Belfast-based human rights activist]”.

Archbishop Gerada was said to have commented that Cahal Daly was “a leader of men; unfortunately, Tom Ó Fiaich was not.”

However, Daly has been slammed for his role on this issue by American-based Father Sean McManus, who has called Daly a “gombeen” or stooge of the British during this period of The Troubles. McManus is the founder of the Irish National Caucus.

McManus: “’Cardinal Cahal Daly was praised by British officials in a memo as consistently humane, enlightened and compassionate.’ 

“Well,  they would, wouldn’t they? Of course, the British Government would praise Cardinal ‘ Gombeen’ Daly—he was their man.

“The Brits also lobbied the Vatican to excommunicate the Fenians in 1870.

“In a disgraceful example of the abuse of Church power, the Vatican issued a decree of excommunication against the Fenians on January 12, 1870.  The decree said, ‘…our most Holy Father, Pius IX… has decreed and declared that the American or Irish society called Fenian is comprised among the societies forbidden and condemned.’

“So,  the Government that inflicted such harm and oppression on Catholics in Ireland was able to get the Vatican to excommunicate Irish and Irish-American heroes! It was a real miracle the  Irish and Irish-Americans remained deeply Catholic despite that awful betrayal.”