Church and State, No. 10
Date:1982
Organisation:Athol Books (see British and Irish Communist Organisation)
Publication:Church and State
Issue:Number 10
Contributors:Angela Clifford, Conor Lynch, David Berman, Joe Keenan
Collection:Abortion and reproductive rights
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: Eighth Amendment (Right to life) Referendum, 1983 Religion, Church and State

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

19th November 2012

Church and State is one of a number of documents issued by the indefatigable B&ICO albeit this was essentially a standalone publication with no overt reference to the B&ICO. Issued as a quarterly, and edited by Angela Clifford, it covered a broad range of issues. As the short section ‘What is Church & State?’ notes the magazine ‘has the aim of desisting the growth of a powerful secular and liberal opinion in Ireland’.

This was because it saw the situation in the following terms:

The Republic of Ireland is a uniquely Catholic state. The social force of Catholicism is far greater here in the late twentieth century than it has been in France or Italy since the Middle Ages, or in Spain since the 18th century. France and Spain all developed popular anti-clerical movements in the 19th century, and they all had periods of anti-clerical government.

It continues suggesting that clericalism on the continent was ‘bound up with monarchism and political reaction in general’ where as in Ireland it ‘was bound up with the rise of nationalism. It was popularly based. Republicanism was not a centre of resistance to it. From the 1920s to the 1970s the Catholic hierarchy was a sort of parallel state which supervised the functioning of the secular government.’

And it argues that:

This simple Catholic nationalist heritage is the greatest obstacle to the growth of secularism and pluralism We have no Voltaire and Rousseau in our national culture, no Locke and Mill, no Frederick the Great. The present generation is the first in which there has been serious discontent about the supervision exercised by the Church.

It suggests that:

Church and State aims to assist the growth of well-informed secularist public opinion by giving expression to the general secularist viewpoint that developed in Europe, by explaining the history of Catholic clericalism in Ireland; by drawing attention to the individuals who resisted the growth of that clericalism in Ireland - for example, Thomas Moore, author of “Moore’s Melodies”, and the Parnellite, M.J.F. McCarthy; and by commenting on the particular issues through which the demand for secular reform is developing at any particular moment (divorce, education, etc).

The contents is of considerable interest, with a wide range of articles. Most notably there is a piece on the then current anti-abortion amendment presented by Charles Haughey. There’s another on ‘Pregnant and Unmarried in Ireland - A True Story’ which offers some insight into the nature of the times. There are also pieces on Archibishop Ryan of Dublin and Rome Rule, ‘Jeremy Bentham’s Analysis of Religion’ and ‘Church & State in Western Europe - The Origins’.

Reading this document it is clear how in later years B&ICO, the Socialist Party of Ireland and others would make common cause on social issues. The magazine asks ‘Why not join the Divorce Action Group. And has contact numbers for DAG, Women’s Right to Choose Group and Irish Pregnancy Counselling.

It also has available from its offices:

M.JF. McCarthy: A Belligerent Liberal (an account of the lone bourgeois liberal (developing within Catholic Ireland) who consistently opposed the growth of clerical power from the fall of Parnell to the foundation of the Free State. His commentary on the ‘miracles’ of Knock is included. Published to mark the Pope’s visit to Knock.

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