Vatican report critical of Irish College
Sir, – Following articles in your paper regarding the Irish Pontifical College of Rome’s seminary staff, we of the Irish Club of Rome would like to express our gratitude to the four departing staff members.
Over the years the clergy at the college have played an important role in creating a cohesive atmosphere within the Irish community of Rome. They have regularly accepted roles on the Irish Club of Rome’s committee. They have donated their time and freely offered themselves as a point of reference to the many Irish living in Rome, thus easing the pang of nostalgia for the homeland that we sometimes feel.
The continued support by the Irish Pontifical College for the Irish Club of Rome is much appreciated. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It would have been easy to miss it, but there was a direct link between the opening Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress and the visitors’ report on the Irish College in Rome, composed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan et al (Home News, June 15th).
The backdrop to the altar at the RDS was a mosaic from the Irish College. This mosaic includes St Oliver Plunkett and Blessed Dom Marmion, who were past students of the Irish College, as well as an image of an Iraqi Chaldean (Eastern) Rite Catholic, Fr Ragheed Ghanni. Ragheed Ghanni, who was a student at the Irish College from 1996 to 2003, was ambushed and murdered with three companions in Iraq on June 3rd, 2007. Cardinal Dolan sat in the shadow of this mosaic at the opening Mass of the Congress.
Cardinal Dolan’s report, we have since learned, has recommended that Eastern Rite Catholics, including those from Iraq, should no longer be welcome in the Irish College.
There is a natural revulsion at the blatant contradiction, if not outright hypocrisy, involved in such a scenario.
This is not helped when we reflect that one of Cardinal Dolan’s fellow-travellers was Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Archbishop for the US Military Services, 1997-2007, a period which covers the invasion of Iraq and the death of Ragheed Ghanni.
Beyond this, however, is a further consideration that should give anyone with the remotest interest in Irish Catholicism pause for thought.
All of the visitors to the Irish College and other Irish seminaries were from the United States; not one European in their number. Their report, along with other events, represents nothing less than an attempt, in a very specific sense, to Americanise Irish Catholicism. And, if the evidence of the treatment of the Irish College were not itself sufficient, let it be said that American Catholicism today is at best a problematic role-model. It is a place where teachings central to Vatican II such as freedom of conscience and hierarchy of truths have been frequently trampled underfoot, a place where many independent voices, individual or, as in the case of the women’s religious orders, collective have been silenced with greater or lesser degrees of subtlety, a place where intelligent theology has too often been replaced by a fundamentalist version of identity politics where the lines of exclusion are drawn with quasi-military ruthlessness and precision.
It is encouraging to read that the four Irish archbishops have made an immediate and robust response to the damaging inaccuracies of the Visitors’ Report. It would be dispiriting to think that they and others would confine their efforts to the straightening out of one document. If the events of last week have taught us anything, it is that there are hearts and minds to be won. Let us hope that the effort to win them will be conducted with ploughshares, not swords. – Yours, etc,