Posted By: June 15, 2012


“ It’s a pity Cardinal Dolan didn’t also get ‘his Irish up’ over British oppression of Catholics in the North of Ireland.”


That was my instinctive reaction when I heard that the Cardinal said President Obama “ got his Irish up.”


I track the record of Irish Catholic politicians and Church leaders on human rights and equality in Northern Ireland. The record shows that Cardinal Dolan in forty years  never opened his mouth to condemn British Government internment (imprisonment without charge or trial) torture, collusion, shoot-to-kill, anti-Catholic discrimination, etc., etc.


The racist, anti-Catholic Maggie Thatcher never got the Cardinal’s “Irish up,” but the thoroughly decent President Obama has. What’s wrong with that picture? What sort of double-standard is that?


 I deplore  partisan ideology, on the right or on the left. However, any time I make comments about something  like this, ideologues want to accuse me of being a partisan Democrat or Republican. I am neither. So, for example, when I praised the late Congressman Hamilton( R-NY) and the great Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY)   for their record on Irish justice , partisan Democrats attacked me for being a Republican. When I praised Hillary Clinton and the great Congressman Mario Biaggi ( D-NY),  I received  complaints from Republicans. I have simply no patience with that nonsense.


Here’s my bottom line: An Irish-Catholic leader who has never opened his mouth about British injustice in Northern Ireland has weakened his own moral leadership…. An African-American leader who refused to speak out against  Jim Crow or apartheid has forfeited moral leadership … A Jewish-American leader who remained silent about anti-Semitism has surrendered the high moral ground.


And let no one dare say,“ That’s just politics.” No, no, no!


Justice is not just politics —  struggling for justice is an essential part of the Judea-Christian faith.  The Hebrew Scriptures puts it perfectly: “ Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God (Micah  8 :6); and “Justice in the World” by the Synod of Bishops, resoundingly proclaims,“ Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.”


Therefore to remain silent about injustice is to betray The Gospel. It is, in my mind,  a sort of heresy.


I reflect a lot on this theme in the just published American Edition of my Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland. Indeed, it has haunted me my entire life: how could Irish Catholic Church leaders in both Ireland and the United States have remained silent about the British Government’s anti-Irish and anti-Catholic policy in Northern Ireland? What  the hell was wrong with them?


I write in my book, “ Thank God Ben Gilman was Jewish and Bill Clinton was Protestant” because had they been Catholic, they might have been guided my the official position of the American Bishops: “… after due consultation with the Irish bishops, and in recognition of the efforts being made by the governments and church bodies directly concerned, we had concluded that there is no appropriate basis for public intervention in the problems of Northern Ireland, either by this conference, or any branch of the United States government…” (Office of International Justice and Peace. US Catholic Conference. October 17, 1979).


What an outrageous, shameful, quisling and “heretical” teaching. And at that time, the key person in  the Office of International Justice and Peace was Fr. Bryan Hehir, SJ, who was – and still is — considered the Catholic Church’s top theological expert on Catholic social teaching.


That horrible double-standard leads me to writing  in my book : “ And what about  all the Irish-American priests, especially the Irish-born. Why were ninety per cent of them silent? Some from Southern Ireland were even known to tell Americans that Northern Ireland  is an internal matter for the British Government! What pathology is at work here? What explains such self-loathing gombeenism? It was enough to make a man become a Protestant. History will not forgive them – neither will Biblical theology.” (Page 86).


Cardinal O’ Connor, God rest him, was famed for his pro-life leadership. But he also condemned British injustice in Northern Ireland. For me, therefore, he  spoke with full moral authority. His motto was, “ Without justice, there is no love.” My sentiments exactly.


To me, one of the most enduring signs of God’s grace is that the Irish have kept the Catholic faith despite Church leaders (with a few honorable exceptions) colluding with British Government  oppression.


God bless America and God save Ireland.