Posted By: September 04, 2022


In reference to recent articles and comments on the violence of The Troubles, the perspective and analysis mostly previously associated with Liberation Theology may help. In fact, theologically speaking, it is now broadly accepted as valid. (Still, of course, no analysis of any violence will mend the broken heart of any victim).

Violence begins with injustice, in one form or another. It begins with institutionalized, legalized violence (usually by the rich and powerful against the poor and powerless). This violence is maintained by military might, political domination, and economic exploitation.
It is, therefore, VIOLENCE NUMBER ONE.

When the poor and powerless—through God’s Grace— gain the fortitude and self-confidence to assert their rights, the rich and powerful (in and outside government, backed by street mobs, not rich but loyal to the status quo in whatever State) unleash a reign of terror, repression, and systematic violation of human rights.
This, therefore, is VIOLENCE NUMBER TWO.

And, as that violence continues and increases, almost inevitably, revolutionary violence will erupt.

So, any objective analysis of violence must begin, therefore, with VIOLENCE NUMBER ONE. If it does not, it is not objective, just, or honest. Too often the Catholic Church in Ireland (and needless to say, the State) began by condemning revolutionary violence.

The Church leaders mostly refused to listen to the powerful prophetic words of the late Fr. Thomas Merton: “A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interest of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, longsuffering, and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently.” (Faith and Violence. 1968. Pages 8 – 9).

Nor did those Church leaders listen to Pope John Paul 11, who told the Brazilian Bishops in 1986 that Liberation Theology was “not only opportune, useful and necessary.” And they paid absolutely no attention when the pope also taught — in the words of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace— “Peace is founded not only on human rights but also on respect for the rights of peoples, in particular the right to independence.” (Page 69. #157).

Finally, it is important to note that Liberation Theology is not just for Latin America. There are different forms— African, Asia, etc. But, apparently, it would not be “useful or helpful” in Ireland. … One of the many things that do not apply to Ireland—because Ireland is “different.” Why? Because England has undemocratically dominated Ireland for 852 years and counting. That’s why.


And in all those 852 years, how many Church leaders in England (before and after the English Reformation of King Henry VIII in the 16th Century when England became violently anti-Catholic) risked their lives or careers to condemn England’s violent oppression in Ireland? How many great Statesmen in England—or world-renowned poets and writers

—jeopardized their standing by denouncing England’s injustice in Ireland?