Role of Church and faith in rebellion subject of book

Posted By: March 31, 2016

Claire Simpson. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, March 31, 2016

1916: The Church and the Rising, published by The Irish Catholic newspaper
THE Catholic Church and faith played a key role in the Easter Rising, according to a new book.

1916: The Church and the Rising, which will be launched in Dublin tonight, looks at the faith of the rebels, the Church’s reaction, the experiences of Dublin’s clergy at the time, and the pros and cons of the uprising.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has written a foreword to the book, which is published by The Irish Catholic newspaper.

He said “the men and women of 1916 were men and women of faith” and that although Dublin’s churches, especially St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, played key roles in the Rising, “the conventional wisdom rarely refers to any church”.

Introducing the book, University College Cork historian Gabriel Doherty said the Church was the “most important institution” in Ireland in 1916 and “its response to a Rising in which the vast majority of the participants were practising Catholics was a key determinant of that Rising’s success or failure”.

The book’s editor Greg Daly rejected suggestions that the Church only supported the Rising after

public opinion turned in favour of the rebels following the bloody


“We found that most of the younger priests were in favour of the Rising while many of the older ones disapproved of it,” he said.

Mr Daly said there was a false idea of a split between Church and

state because both were part of Irish society.

“Society was changing and the Church and state were a reflection of that,” he said.

Although a small number of atheists and Protestants were involved in the Rising, it was an “overwhelmingly Catholic” rebellion.

“One of the most interesting thing for me looking through the archives was that the leaders were all religious,” he said.

Mr Daly said the book does not shy away from tackling criticism of the Rising, which was recently described by Northern Ireland Attorney General, practising Catholic John Larkin, as “profoundly wrong”.

It includes a section by leading Jesuit intellectual Fr Seamus Murphy who has previously accused Rising leader Padraig Pearse of using and abusing “ordinary Irish Catholics’ reverence for the sacrifice of the Catholic Mass, and their spiritual openness (or ‘vulnerability’) to its symbols”.

Enniskillen priest Fr Joe McVeigh also expands on an article he previously wrote for The Irish Catholic in which he described the Rising as a “courageous act of defiance”.

n The Church & The Rising is available from priced €12.99.