Eamonn McCann, Dear God: The Price of Religion in Ireland, Bookmarks, London, 1999, pp201, £9.99
As this book is ostensibly addressed to the Almighty, He thought someone should reply officially. Unfortunately, everyone in Heaven is very busy at the moment, which is why an official request was received down here that one of us should take on the job. Not wishing to disappoint the Boss — we get on very well, actually — I agreed to dispatch the task.
I must say that I always enjoy reading intelligent Socialist commentators like Mr McCann, because in so doing I get fresh insight into how well we are faring in our principal task, which is, of course, the destruction of the human race. So I have little hesitation in recommending this work to your readers. Indeed the only reluctance I feel springs from a sense that, in praising Mr McCann’s exposition of how the Catholic Church in Ireland has managed to contribute to the end we have set ourselves in Hell, I may perhaps convey the impression that we are really on the side of the Reverend Ian Paisley, since he and his co-thinkers also take a keen interest in the goings-on in the Irish Catholic Church. Let me make it clear: we are not biased especially in favour of either the Protestant or the Catholic variant of Christianity — on the contrary we support (and denounce) both as and when it is necessary to do so. Salus Inferni suprema lex is our motto — ‘the safety of Hell is the supreme law’.
As I said, our aim is to get rid of humanity if that is at all possible — and I am glad to say that in the last few decades it has been looking increasingly possible — but if we can’t do that then we hope humans suffer as much as they can be made to. After all, they deserve it for refusing to listen to the advice of the Boss, don’t they? In this context Mr McCann provides some useful information on how an organisation whose ostensible aim is the alleviation of human suffering has actually been contributing to it over the years. Perhaps you and your readers think that what I am saying is all diabolical propaganda: I assure you that is not the case. If you doubt my word you have only to read the section of the book (which consists of articles written for the press by Mr McCann) entitled ‘Child Cares’, and the three case histories at the end (Chapter 10: ‘Home Tales’). It is, of course, the institution of clerical celibacy which is responsible for much of the trouble and for a series of scandals revealed in this past decade which have seriously eroded the prestige and respect of the Irish Catholic Church among the population of that country. I told the church authorities long ago when they insisted on imposing celibacy on the clergy that the regime would be too strict for them, but, unfortunately (for obvious reasons), they don’t always listen to me. But, as Mr McCann judiciously observes, the trouble does not end there: faced with the multitude of scandals in recent years, the clerical authorities have simply concentrated on a cynical damage limitation exercise, contrary to the interests of the victims such as those children who were forcibly expatriated, ‘huge numbers of whom are traumatised still, offered neither compensation nor counselling, nor even, in many cases, acknowledgement that they’d gone through the bleak experience which continues to darken their lives’:
If the bishops were genuine in the remorse which they advertise, even now they’d take the obvious course… They’d open the archives which their Church meticulously keeps so we could measure the extent of what happened and pin-point what Church leaders knew and when they knew it. In other words, they’d tell the truth. This isn’t a complicated matter. Scores of children treated abominably in ‘homes’ in Derry in the 1940s and 1950s were eventually shipped off to Australia, where their suffering continued and, if anything, increased. How many children, exactly? Who were they? Children who ‘wouldn’t be missed’, perhaps? Who devised this policy and why, and who supervised its implementation? (p103 — for the background to this post-World War Two forced export of children, involving not only Irish youngsters but also some from the UK, see page 153.)
To be fair to the worthy Mr McCann, I must stress that his opus is not all a chronicle of unmitigated horror. Your readers will find much to interest them besides, including some acute observations on Pope John Paul II, Catholicism in Belfast, the Good Friday Agreement, abortion, Mother Teresa, the Blessed Virgin of Medjugorje, and Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb (who was put on trial after the Second World War, charged with collaborating with the wartime fascist government of Croatia), all spiced with Mr McCann’s usual humorous wit.
On one point I must take issue with Mr McCann. He quotes approvingly Trotsky’s proposal for the overthrow of all existing regimes in the Balkans and the establishment of a Balkan Federal Republic (p179). I must warn that our forces on the ground will strain every nerve to prevent such an eventuality if it ever looks likely — and, what is more, I can assure you we shall succeed in stopping it dead.
Nonetheless, I warmly recommend the book. No doubt the Boss’s ‘official representatives’ on earth and those who speak for them will take a different view, but I leave them to make their own case, in the knowledge that they will, as usual, not be backward in coming forward.
Please accept my most felicitous sentiments. Forward to the common ruin of the contending classes!