Posted By: December 09, 2020







Don’t mention anti-Catholicism in the North

                                     Fr. Sean Mc Manus.

Irish Echo/May 31-June6, 2017/page 12.


Thanks to The Irish Peo­ple newspaper (now dis­continued) being digitalized, one can read this:

“Father Sean Mc­Manus in giving the Benediction said: ‘We pray for an Ireland free and independent, where the little man, the man of no property, the ordinary guy, can walk tall without having to depend on political patronage…. An Ireland where all power, whether political, ecclesiastical, military or economic will always be used for the good of the people.

‘We pray, in particular, that once the divisive British presence has been banished, we will have a Country of harmony and reconciliation. An Ireland where religion will never again be used as a political device. An Ireland where the Catholic man from the Falls Road can go and have a pint of Guinness with his Protestant pal from the Shankill Road. . . An Ireland where the young Protestant woman from the Shankill Road can date the young Catholic man from the Falls Road.

‘We pray above all for the little children of Ireland that one day they will soon be able to share the same playground, the same classroom, the same school, and, yes, one day the same Church to worship the same God that died for both.’”
(Second Annual Irish Northern Aid Dinner, New York City. January 18, 1974.)
The Irish People Newspaper. Page 9. January 26, 1974.

That brought back a lot of memories.

It also bears witness that this Fer­managh man has always had a deep ec­umenical theology and has been animated by a non-sectarian vision for his homeland, or as Wolfe Tone put it, the desire to “substitute the common name of Irishman, in place of the de­nominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter.”

When I first came to America, on Oc­tober 2, 1972, I saw it as my duty to counteract England’s Big Lie: that there was a “Religious War” in Northern Ire­land (the Six Counties of Ireland that England was still holding onto).

But being from Fermanagh, I knew it would be silly and woefully non-histor­ical to ignore that, in fact, England had (since The English Reformation, as dis­tinct from the German Reformation) used anti-Catholicism as a major weapon in its conquest of Ireland.

Before the English Reformation (1169 to 1536), very Catholic England op­pressed very Catholic Ireland without using the weapon of anti-Catholicism.

Some silly Irish Americans, however, felt that to deny that there was a reli­gious war in Northern Ireland they had to avoid condemning anti-Catholic dis­crimination. That stupid idea was spread by the Stickies (the Official Re­publican Movement, as distinct from the Provisional Republican Movement. (It was also spread by the British em­bassy, naturally).

In the early 80s, I launched a cam­paign to expose the constitutional foun­dation of anti-Catholicism in Ireland: The Act of Settlement, 1701- the foun­dation stone of the Royal Family.

This act still today forbids a Catholic from being the monarch. It’s like having a provision in the U.S. Constitution bar­ring a black person from being presi­dent.

I always point out that the Orangemen did not enact the Act of Settlement. Thus, state- sponsored sectarianism and anti-Catholic bigotry are enshrined in the unwritten, non-codified British con­stitution.

One person – believing in the Stickie nonsense and the British big lie – tried to oppose my campaign: “[McManus claims] Americans should be objecting to the Act of Settlement. under the be­lief it has something to do with the con­flict in Ireland. It is quite possibly the most idiotic thing for Americans to be lobbying for.”

How convenient. Absolving the British monarchy and parliament from any connection with “the conflict in Ire­land.”

Fortunately, nobody listened to that egregious nonsense.

However, the big lie is hard to keep down. It has popped up recently.

Another person — the spiritual heir, perhaps, to the former person — took to the internet to decry my analysis of the root causes of Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, and how the Protes­tants are not to be ultimately blamed but the British constitution: “Sean Mc-Manus’ continued harping on it being Catholics vs. the world drives me nuts – it’s counterproductive to progress.”

A bit like trying to dismiss African American opposition to anti-black big­otry as being counterproductive to progress. God save us from such progress, and from such egregious mis­understanding!

Furthermore, isn’t the phrase “Catholics against the world” a very strange formulation for someone pro­claiming his concern for justice in Northern Ireland? It almost betrays an animus for all Catholics in the world, period.

But isn’t it a bit ironic that this Fer­managh man has to listen to lectures from people who apparently have a very superficial understanding of the real nature of England’s rule in Ireland?

Indeed, especially ironic, given the quoted benediction at the beginning of this article over 43 years ago about my vision for the relationship between northern Protestants and Catholics.

Not to mention that for this year, the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reforma­tion, I have made many statements re­joicing in the theological agreement between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doc­trine of Justification – the one issue that more than anything else sparked the Re­formation; and welcoming, also, the fact that the Anglican/Episcopalian Church and the World Methodist Council have endorsed the Agreement on Justifica­tion.




The root cause of anti-Catholicism in North

(Sean McManus. Irish Echo. July 12, 2017)

A state’s constitution is the fundamental set of principles by which the state is to be governed.

It is, therefore, of foundational importance and superior to all other laws of the state, as in the case of the written U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Can you imagine how awful it would be if there were a discriminatory law still within the Constitution?

Imagine, for example, if there were a provision prohibiting a black person being president of the United States.

Imagine how that would have powerfully condoned and promoted white racism, bigotry, and contempt in the 1950s and 1960s in, say, Mississippi.

And suppose presidents and members of Congress had ignored that foundational provision, and merely expressed concern about some individual Jim Crow laws in Mississippi.

Would they have gotten away with it? Would the rest of the world have ignored that Pontius Pilate hand washing act?

How come, then, that the British constitution and “the Queen/King in Parliament” – have gotten away with constitutionally enshrined discrimination and sectarianism?

Since 1701 – 316 years, for goodness sake – until this very moment, and ongoing, there is at the heart of the British constitution a law prohibiting a Catholic being king or queen of England.

The Act of Settlement of 1701 is an integral part of the unwritten, un-codified British constitution which consists of, according to University College London, “an accumulation of various statutes, conventions, judicial decisions and treaties which collectively can be referred to as the British Constitution.”

The 1701 Act of Settlement determines succession to the Crown of England, and is, therefore, a fundamental constitutional statute.

Indeed, it is the very foundation stone of the royal family.

The Act of Settlement contains provisions that decree only a Protestant can succeed to the British throne and that if the monarch becomes a Catholic, or marries a Catholic, he/she forfeits the throne and “the people are absolved from their allegiance.”

The ban on marrying a Catholic was repealed in February 2013 by the Succession to the Crown Act.

However minimalistic that change may have been to the ordinary Englishman in the street, how do you think the extreme Orangeman would react to any proposed change in this Anti-Catholic law?

The Belfast Telegraph gives the answer: “Members of the Protestant Orange Order [led by Jeffrey Donaldson MP, DUP] have descended on Downing Street to oppose the lifting of a ban on those in line to the throne from marrying a Catholic.” (Orangemen at No. 10 over Catholic ban.” Saturday, November 12, 2011).

The Succession to the Crown Act also removed the outdated sexist rule that allowed a woman in the line of succession to be superseded by a younger brother.

Thus, Queen Elizabeth II would not, in fact, have become queen in 1952 had she had a younger brother.

In effect and consequence, the ban on a Catholic being king or queen would be like having a provision in the U.S. Constitution prohibiting a black person, or a Jewish person, being president of the United States – irrespective of the historical reasons for the Act of Settlement, 1701 (and there are always historical reasons, anyway, for all sorts of sectarianism/racism, two sides of the same coin).

Certainly, pointing out that the queen is also head of the Church of England is no valid excuse, and should cut no ice with Americans who know, and are proud of the fact that the Founding Fathers insisted on separation of church and state, this being enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The Act of Settlement may mean little to the ordinary Englishman in the street, but it does, indeed, mean a whole lot to extreme Unionists/Loyalist/Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Time and time again, unionist leaders in Northern Ireland have pointed out that their allegiance is not just to the British Crown but, rather, to “Protestant succession to the British Crown.”

This is like American white supremacists saying their allegiance would only be to the U.S. Constitution if it guaranteed their supremacy while ensuring that blacks were deemed inferior.

Why am I one of the few people in America who, for over 40 years, has raised the state-sponsored anti-Catholicism of the 1701 Act of Settlement?

How can constitutional bigotry and discrimination be conveniently ignored? And to be clear: anti-Catholicism is not about theological disagreement with Catholicism, but rather a socio-political system and mind-set determined to keep Catholics down.

Just as anti-Semitism is not a theological disagreement, but rather an organized system of hostility towards people of the Jewish faith or heritage.

Of course, it is easy for some people to criticize the extreme anti-Catholicism of the Orange Order and the thuggery of associated Protestant paramilitaries.

But it was not the Orangemen who enacted the anti-Catholic Act of Settlement.

To quote the University College of London again: “It has been suggested that the British Constitution can be summed up in eight words: What the Queen [Monarch] in Parliament enacts is law. This means that Parliament, using the power of the Crown, enacts law which no other body can challenge.”

And that’s where the buck stops.

In significant measure, orange bigotry and anti-Catholicism is but a logical, inevitable outworking of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which must be seen as an utter disgrace to modern-day England.

For as long as it is in place, extreme fundamentalist Orangeman will see it as their patriotic duty to endorse and implement this act, which means refusing to accept Catholics as equals, because the British constitution does not.

Fr. Sean McManus is founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Irish National Caucus.

This article appeared in the July 12, 2017 edition of the Irish Echo.