Is Ireland Still Catholic? (Guest: Connie Marshner)

March 15, 2024 00:51:40
Is Ireland Still Catholic? (Guest: Connie Marshner)
Crisis Point
Is Ireland Still Catholic? (Guest: Connie Marshner)

Mar 15 2024 | 00:51:40

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Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

The Catholic Church has a long and deep history in Ireland, but does the Faith remain on the Emerald Isle?
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:10] Speaker A: The Catholic Church has a long and deep history in Ireland, but does the faith remain on the Emerald Isle? That's what we're going to talk about today on Cris Point home. Eric Sam is your host editor in chief of Cris magazine. Before we get started, just want to encourage people to hit that, like, button to subscribe to the channel, let other people know about it. Also, you can follow Crisis magazine on different social media channels at Crisis Mag. You can also subscribe to our email newsletter. Just go to crisismagazine.com, fill in your email address, and we'll send you our articles to your inbox twice every day, two articles every day. So just make sure you do that. Okay? So St. Patrick's Day is almost upon us, and so I thought it'd be great. Let's talk about Ireland. Let's talk about is it still catholic, and what does that even mean to be catholic at this point? So our guest today is Connie Marshner. She fell in love with Ireland when she was in middle school, and she got a master's degree in Gaelic literature at the University College Cork. And that gave her an opportunity to do in depth research on the topic. Her latest book is coming out very soon, monastery and high cross from Sophia Institute Press. It presents a comprehensive, authentic history of Christianity in Ireland in late antiquity for the first time, as drawn from her 2022 dissertation. She is the chair of the Saints and Scholars foundation, which supports a new model of faithful catholic education for modern secular Ireland. Welcome to the program, Connie. [00:01:36] Speaker B: Thank you. It's great to be here. [00:01:38] Speaker A: So it says here that you fell in love with Ireland when you were in middle school. So tell us a little bit, just as a way of introduction, kind of your love affair with Ireland, how it all began and where it's taken you. [00:01:53] Speaker B: Well, it began with Padrick Pierce, who was the leader of the 1916 uprising, but he was a profoundly, I think, holy Catholic. Obviously, there's revisionist historians who quarrel with that, but based upon his writings, he was profoundly catholic, and he was a profound advocate of the Gaelic language, to revive the irish language. So I decided when I was twelve years old I was going to learn Irish, but I had no opportunity to do that until about ten years ago. For the first time, I was able to actually hear the language. And then I did a deep dive into it. And when COVID started, I saw an ad on the Internet for the Masters of Arts in Gaelic literature program in Cork, which was all Internet. And I thought, why not? This is going to be a tough couple of years. Let's do this. And somewhere in between there, like about around the time I got married, I had discovered the eastern rite, the Melkite rite of the Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and had been attending malkite services for umpteen years. And back in the, there had been a little mini fad of celtic spirituality, which I had at that time. I was still working, raising kids, blah, blah, didn't have time to delve into it, but I read some of the things that were published and there was a little echo in the poetry to what I was hearing at holy transfiguration. And so I just stored that in the back of my mind. And then when I got into choosing a dissertation topic for the masters, I wanted to pursue that point. And so I delved into these obscure references in old documents that everybody had poo pooed. That is to say, scholars had poo pooed references to the seven egyptian monks buried at Desert Ili. Well, nobody knows where Desert Ili is anymore, but why would there be a 7th century irish litany praying for egyptian monks? And on the high cross at Castle Dermot in County Kildare, there is a carving of a monk under a palm tree. Why? In 2006, a farmer digging up some peat in County Tipperary pulled up a weird looking piece of something and he covered it up with wet cloth and called the authorities. And that turned out to be the first decorated manuscript, or the first manuscript found in 200 years. It was a salter that had probably been dropped by a monk fleeing the Vikings. But in the binding of that book was papyrus from Egypt. And the only place that the conservators at the National Museum could find similarly made book was in Cairo in the Nag Himadi manuscripts from the fourth century. So that's pretty tangible proof that there was ancient Christianity, ancient before St Patrick, because St Patrick's fifth century. So this is older stuff. So anyhow, I started pursuing that one, following up one footnote after another, and put together a really interesting picture. Art, architecture, a lot of archaeology findings, even prayers and litanys and liturgies, this a huge number of connections between ancient Ireland and the eastern Mediterranean and even Constantinople. [00:05:56] Speaker A: That is fascinating because I think our standard history of Ireland in our brains is, okay, it's pagan, St Patrick shows up, it's christian. Therefore St. Patrick, who himself was obviously from England, therefore the Irish Christianity is basically based on English Christianity. I think that's kind of the assumption most people make. Is that the case? [00:06:22] Speaker B: There's truth and false in there. St John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople in the year 387. He wrote about the, quote, altars and churches in the british islands. He says, plural. I take that to include Ireland. [00:06:43] Speaker A: Right. [00:06:44] Speaker B: So there were altars and churches there in Chrysostom's day. And we have reason to think that they. Well tell you the story in a second. But there was always contact between Ireland and the Mediterranean. It never stopped between the Isles, both Britain and Ireland. The tradition that the English have, the charming tradition that Joseph of Arimathea brought his nephew baby Jesus, who wasn't a baby, to England on a tin trading mission, because there was tin in Cornwall that was all over the empire. So there were plenty of connections. And there were Christians there in the third century, fourth century, the year after the edict of Milan. So the first year that Christianity was legal, four bishops from Britain went to the Council of Aral. So there were already, sorry, three bishops. There were three bishops in England already at the time Christianity was legalized. So did the faith come to Ireland from Britain? Well, indirectly, the faith more directly came to Ireland, from Gaul, from Lyra. But before that, these evidences of egyptian presence are older than that. There's a well in County Cork, near the town of Agabo that has a stone slab upon which is carved in Uam Ogham, the ancient. Before Christianity, this was a language that was being used by the Celts that says, pray for St Olin the Egyptian. Now, that handwriting, so to speak, stopped being used in the fourth century. And if there was already a memorial to St Olan the Egyptian, he was there long before. So who was he? Who knows? But one more evidence of Egyptians in Ireland. So there was plenty of reason for egyptian monks to be leaving Alexandria. There were theological wars in Alexandria that were bitter and violent, and the monks had been. The desert fathers were well established there when those wars happened. It's totally plausible that they just got in a boat and sailed west, because Ireland was the edge of the known universe. So that's totally plausible. No documentation. But there is evidence, other evidence, archaeology. The oldest church remains that we have, the oldest monastery remains that we have on the Aran islands are groups of seven churches. And there were groups of seven churches elsewhere in the ancient monastic relics, and that was always the pattern in the east. Seven churches would be clumped together. The monastic traditions that came to Ireland were very eastern. For instance, things like the 350s. People had long commented on this weird and peculiar irish monastic custom of the 350s, by which they meant the 150 psalms that the irish monks would say every day. And that was considered just totally uniquely irish. Well, no, it wasn't. It was in the egyptian desert fathers. That's where that came from, and other traditions like that. So the monastic traditions in Ireland had a very, very strong eastern flavor. And the desert Fathers were known in Ireland. Their writings were known. Their writings were the models for the rules that St Columba wrote, for the rules that other abbots wrote when they got to writing rules. So there's a lot of connection there. I'll stop and let you talk. [00:11:13] Speaker A: This is fascinating because there's this image of Celtic Christianity, and I think it's not, like you said, there's been times where it's gotten kind of been popular. And I think people see it as. I kind of feel like sometimes people see it as almost like it becomes a fad, almost like a paganish type of Christianity or something like that, which is obviously not the case. But how did this egyptian influence, how then did the faith in Ireland then develop separately from Britain and how it was practiced and how maybe worship or ecclesiology or just anything of that nature? [00:11:55] Speaker B: Well, the interesting thing is that the faith in Britain pretty much died out when the Romans left. [00:12:03] Speaker A: Right? [00:12:04] Speaker B: But it didn't die in Ireland. It stayed in Ireland. So Ireland was still having, from what we can tell, was still being influenced by the monks of Lera, who were. And Larant was a very interesting place. An island off is still an island off the coast of Marseille, and a monastery was founded there by Egyptians. And the tradition there has always been that monks went from there to Ireland, and there's documentation of that. In one of the old biographies of Patrick, it says that he went to Lehra to study after he escaped from Ireland. There's no documentation about. There's no proof of that. He never said he did. But there was always a tradition and that evidence of that influence of Lora was very strong in Ireland, and Loran was very close to the fathers because Loran was founded by blanket on the name. Right. Now we can come back to it. Monk who had known Polycarp, Polycarp had studied at the feet of St John the Evangelist. So there's a pretty straight, direct line. So it was always very authentic. Now, when Britain lost connection with Rome and paganism kind of took over, and then the Anglo Saxon invasions, Britain lost the faith. But it stayed in Ireland. But it was not in communication with the West. I mean, in Rome, they were struggling to survive. They were struggling to figure out all kinds of things. Ain't faith? From what we can tell from the surviving documents, which, admittedly, are very few because of the rampages of Vikings and then the rampages of the know. So very few documents left. But what we have shows the absolute orthodoxy of the irish faith. Like, for instance, there's the liturgy, the creed in the Stowe missile. Now, the Stowe missile is a fragmentary missile, first published in 1893, but from the 6th century, it had just been lost and forgotten. The litany in that missile includes prayers for the emperor and the roman army, which tells you how old that is. And the creed in that liturgy is the same as in an ancient egyptian papyrus. There's no filioque. This was way older than that. And the curious thing is, there was no creed in the roman rite mass until the 11th century. So that gives you a sense of how ancient this faith. And the creed, of course, began as a confession of faith at the time of baptism in about 380 or so in Constantinople. Now, the celtic church thing, that's an interesting point. Yes, there was a true church in celtic lands, a true church which was based on the fathers, et cetera. But there's a lot of touchy feely, soft stuff that says, oh, there was an original version of the church in celtic lands that wasn't connected to the fathers and was kind of a blend of druidism and connection to the ancient roots and the ancient gods and the ancient feasts. And nature was strong and women were powerful. And that's the imposition of 20th century sensibilities on fragmentary evidences. The Protestants who first discovered the old manuscripts were very eager to prove that Ireland had never been connected to Rome. And so this idea of a celtic church that had know, fostered, that had no connection to Rome. I mean, even Winston Churchill, in his history of Britain talks about how there was no connection to the papacy, and that's false. As soon as Rome could, they sent a missionary to Ireland. The first missionary was Palladius, who was sent in 431. We don't know when Patrick came. Some records say he was born in 461. We just don't know. But anyhow, we know that Rome was in touch with Ireland. And as documents began to be written that were saved, they were right on target with what was going on in Rome, what current creeds were, et cetera, et cetera. The liturgy was different, no question about that. The liturgy was diverse and the irish monks had their own liturgy, and then they converted the Anglo Saxons in due time, and the liturgy evolved, and then there was a different liturgy here. And then there was the French coming in. So you had the Gallican liturgy. So you had all different forms of liturgy, but they were authentic, they were real. And when St Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory, Pope St Gregory the Great to Britain, he wrote back to Gregory, and, you know, there are all these different liturgies. This is weird. What am I supposed to do? And Gregory's answer was, take the best from each one and formulate something that is comfortable with English and then be, you know, at that point he wasn't insisting, know Rubik by Rubik, he was just know the people have got this, go with them and accept it. And so there was diversity in liturgy in Ireland, but it was absent and disconnected to Rome. [00:18:53] Speaker A: And I know, of course, in Britain, there was a lot of battles after St Augustine of Canterbury came between the Christianity that was still in Britain, that was heavily influenced by Ireland, and then what St Augustine brought. And there was like, because things of the nature of when Easter was celebrated and other things of that nature. So how did that all. I mean, I kind of know how it shook out in Britain, but how did that then influence? Because eventually what happened was that in Britain, it became very much kind of the standard western, roman influenced way of doing things. How did that then influence Ireland as it moved into the Middle Ages? Did it start to kind of fall more in line with kind of the way the whole west was doing it, or did they kind of keep a little bit different for a while? [00:19:43] Speaker B: Well, they kept different for as long as they could. There were several different conferences. There was 1644, the Senate of Whitby, to set the date of Easter, and that was accepted by most of the irish monasteries, not Iona, which was one of the main ones. Later, Iona said, ok, I'll go along with your date. Then. There was a synod of Clovisho that brought all the Anglo Saxon dioceses, if you'd say, although I don't know if the word existed then. But all the bishops together on the liturgy of Rome in Ireland, they wanted to keep their own liturgy. And there is a fascinating document called the Razio de corsus, because the way the Irish were celebrating came to be known as the Corsus Scotorum, because, of course, Scott was the name for the irish back in those days. And this is a document that was written by a monk, we don't know who, we don't know where, and it know lost for centuries in a monastery in Europe. But basically it makes the case that our liturgy goes back to St Mark and St John and to Peter gave it to Mark, Mark brought it to Alexandria, they brought it here. The Egyptians brought it here. So this is an authentic liturgy from the, you know, why can't we use our own, you know, Cassian, St. John Cassian from the desert took it to Leran, the island off of the coast of Marseille, and then it went through all of Gaul and then came from Gaul to Ireland. And that's the history that this unknown monk, you know, he didn't make that up. That certainly was what he believed. And I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though it can't be documented in the way that historians like to document things. But that was called the ephesine, as in ephesus theory of the irish liturgy. But even know, eventually it was suppressed in favor of the roman liturgy because after Charlemagne, Charlemagne wanted the standard Roman liturgy. And so after that, that became the roman liturgy. And it took a while, but eventually the know came in and followed it, but it took a while. They wanted to maintain their individuality and their diversity. Yeah. [00:22:28] Speaker A: And so by the high middle ages, we have Ireland basically following the roman liturgy and practices, things like that. Now, let's skip ahead a little bit because we're going to talk about modern Ireland for people who are watching this right now. I honestly could go for like 10 hours on the history, so I'm trying. [00:22:49] Speaker B: To be come back anytime. [00:22:53] Speaker A: But let's skip ahead now to the reformation area. So now we have, obviously King Henry VI in England. He is instituting his own church. How then did the relationship, how did that impact Ireland? Because obviously there's still a lot influence between the two countries, two islands. And how did that then influence Ireland when England went Anglican? What happened over in Ireland? [00:23:20] Speaker B: Well, the irish liturgy had been really brought into conformity with Rome when the Normans invaded Ireland in, what, 1171? Something like that, because the Irish had maintained their diversity, but they got standardized. The Normans did that. And the Normans banned the use of the irish language, they banned the use of irish dress habits. I mean, they tried to anglicize Ireland. What happened was that they got distracted by the wars of the roses in England and forgot about Ireland. So the Gaelic culture revived and absorbed the Normans. But then comes protestantism, and that begins to be a real problem because not only did Henry abolish the monasteries, which were a central part of life in mean, that's where people were educated, that's where the poor were taken care of, et cetera, et cetera, and that was ancestral. I mean, those monasteries had been part of the family, part of a tribe. There were 150 kings in Ireland, before the Normans and kings had their own family monastery, a lot of them anyhow. So that was the big disruption. But the huger disruption was Crowdwell, because the reformers, I guess you'd call them, they set out to destroy every evidence of papism, and they're the ones who just sent people into the churches and pulled out every written thing and burned it in the square. And of course, it was illegal to be a Catholic. It was capital crime to be a priest. That was the days of the penal was. [00:25:11] Speaker A: And this is true in Ireland as well. [00:25:14] Speaker B: Oh, I'm talking about Ireland. Yeah, I guess it happened in England, too, but I talk about Ireland totally. So the church went underground. The Jesuits and the Franciscans started irish colleges. The Jesuit one was in Salamanca in Spain. The franciscan one was in Luvain in Belgium, and there were scores elsewhere in Europe, but those were the two main ones. And they, particularly Louvain, restored what they could. They sponsored the writing of the four masters in Donegal, the history of Ireland, because everything had been lost. And they also sent priests back into the country and began to rebuild the church among the poor people, among the lower levels who could fade into the woodwork. And then what happened eventually that moderated a little bit, mitigated. And in 1829, Daniel O'Connell got, who was a member of parliament from Ireland, but he was a Catholic, got irish, sorry, catholic emancipation through the british parliament, at which point it became legal for a Catholic to vote had not been legal for 200 years, and became legal to establish a bishop in Ireland, hadn't been one for 200 years. And also the English were very afraid of these irish priests going to Europe and picking up these progressive, know, like, humanity equality fraternity. So they wanted to make sure that none of that liberalism got into Ireland. So they said, tell you what, you can have your own seminary, but it's got to be all in English. So then the famine came, and most of the poor people who emigrated, who survived were irish speakers. The people who spoke English were in the cities. The irish language was elsewhere. So that was kind of the death knell for the irish language except for the most remote parts. And that also meant that Catholicism in Ireland became a very interesting animal. The survivors of the famine, I mean, being such pious Catholics instead of whatever, they took the famine as an evidence of punishment for sins. So they became very, very pious and very devout, and they loved their priests and they loved the church, but the spirituality that was available in the english language at that point in time was coming from England, and it was post Puritan, early victorian respectability, spirituality. It wasn't a deep personal connection to the high king of heaven, which is what the Gaelic spirituality had been. It was a different system. That was a crucial change in the development of Irish Christianity. [00:29:04] Speaker A: You might not be able to answer this question, but I'm going to ask know. So both in England and in Ireland, we see the establishment of the state church, the Anglicanism and everything, and we see the outlawing of Catholicism, the persecution of Catholics. Things like the Catholic Church does remain. It is, but it's very much almost obliterated. It's very small, very minor, and it never really does kind of come back. I mean, there's the flourishing in the 19th century, St. John Henry Newman and the Oxford movement, things like that. I get that, but in Ireland it really comes back and it's still catholic. Why did that happen in Ireland, not in England and vice versa? [00:30:01] Speaker B: You can thank the Franciscans, because that irish college in luva sent Franciscans over there during those penal days, during those dark days, and they spread, and this is interesting, they spread the post Council of Trent Christianity, and that's what turned Ireland into a post council of Trent catholic country, which it hadn't been that close to what was going on in Rome before, frankly, there had a lot of tension and in communication, but now it became gung ho. So the Franciscans get the credit for that. But it's interesting, the education was still a problem. I mean, you'll recall when you mentioned John Henry Newman, he was sent to Dublin to set up a Catholic university, right. And he tried, and he actually wrote the famous work, the idea of the university. He was trying, I think I've got this documented trying to persuade the bishops to include theology as part of the curriculum, and they wouldn't do that. They weren't really sure they wanted this university at all, and they sent the money that had been raised over to Rome to defend the city in one of the uprisings going on in Rome. So the catholic university in Dublin never got off the ground because the bishops didn't really want it. And that was a very bad foretaste of things to come, because the people were very, very pious and very devoted, and they were very much devoted to their old traditions, visiting the holy wells and doing pilgrimages around holy wells and so forth, which became very unfashionable, and that was considered backward. And the establishment, the bishops wanted to say, get rid of those things. They're sort of pagan, but they didn't replace it with theological education. When the Catholics began to go to school. And when the British set up the national school system, which then was taken over by the. When Ireland got her independence in 1921 and then really got going in 23, it was broke. So religious orders who had been teaching said, hey, listen, we'll take over education. So fine. So the elementary schools were staffed by nuns and brothers, and they taught the catechism pretty much up to the end of elementary school. So people had that grounding in faith. But if you were a bright youngster and you wanted to know more, and you kept asking questions, the answer ultimately would be because Father says so. And if you were a guy and you really wanted to know theology, you had to go to minor seminary. But other than that, there wasn't a Catholic. I hate to use a communist word, but intelligentsia in know we in America had that, because from the time we had catholic high schools, we required most of the catholic high schools. Four years of religion, christian doctrine, which was theology and philosophy, and catholic colleges required theology and philosophy. So there was a very broad swath of educated laity and a whole variety of catholic journals and magazines in different languages over here and different points of view that didn't exist in Ireland. [00:33:49] Speaker A: Yeah. So now we get to the 20th century, and obviously Ireland at the beginning of 20th century is different from Ireland at the end. And I think we said for a lot of western countries, in a lot of ways, we see a definite weakening of Catholicism. So could you talk us through how that happened? And are you kind of arguing that some of the foundations for that weakening are because of the lack of real education among the. Like you said, there wasn't intelligentsia, we'll co opt the term, among Catholics. So kind of walk us through how then Catholicism weakened in the 20th century in Ireland. [00:34:29] Speaker B: Well, I think that, in all honesty, that a couple of factors. One, most of the population was in small villages where the priest was the dominant figure. And what father said went, if Father didn't like the color purple, you didn't wear purple. I mean, that kind of clericalism, which was excessive, we wouldn't consider that good today, but that was very dominant. And there was a huge amount of gossip and being afraid of what other people thought of you would control your life. As people moved to the cities, that social control faded. And as wealth came to Ireland, remember, Ireland had never had any money, so it had been very poor and therefore very limited. The irish national television station didn't start until 1961, and that was the first time television was all over the country. And so that was a massive sudden, and it was the 60s exposure to what was going on in the rest of the English speaking world, and that cultural floodgates were opened and then a couple of decades later, came affluence and then moved to the cities. And that was, I think, behind the huge change. And as changes started coming and influences, cultural influences started coming in that were anti Christian, the bishops could put out a statement, but there weren't Catholics on the ground, laity, to talk about it at the coffee break or in the pub and say, yeah, but wait a minute, that's not such a good idea. Doesn't the church teach thus and so that level of popular understanding and ability of laypeople to defend the faith was lacking? Right, go ahead. Yeah. [00:36:29] Speaker A: I was just going to also say that here in America, of course, in 2002, we had the outbreak of the scandals among the surge and things like that. And that, of course, has had a big impact on the Catholic Church here. Now, I know Ireland, the Catholic Church in Ireland has had some massive scandals that have rocked it. And when did those kind of come out? And what kind of impact did they have on the catholic church in Ireland? [00:36:53] Speaker B: Oh, that was huge. That was huge. It was like drop by drop torture for 20 years. Because here's a very clerical society that loved the priest, thought the church could do no wrong. And one after another, I mean, first there was the bishop in Galway, who, turns out, for 20 years had been using diocesan funds to support a woman in America who had his son, and this was a bishop. And then there was another priest who was a great defender of traditional values in the church. Turns out he had a housekeeper who was the mother of his children. And these were the traditionalist defenders who. Vatican II talk about a gut punch. And then came the pederasty stuff and the revelations of abuse. And then came the business about the Magdalene laundries and the industrial schools, which were a very large factor in irish life. If a girl got pregnant and wasn't married, she was sent away to one of these schools. Now, that was a bad idea to begin with, but it happened on very large scale. And bodies were found buried in the yards of these Magdalene laundries, they called them, that had never been recorded or reported, and all kinds of stuff like that. And the industrial schools, which were like, I suppose, like reformatories for high spirited, troublesome boys who couldn't be managed. Father Flanagan from Boystown had visited Ireland in the. Looked at that system, he said, this is bad, this is not good. And nobody paid attention to it. But 50,000 people had been through the industrial schools and the Magdalene laundries. So it had a huge devastating effect on the people of Ireland, and it destroyed the trust that the ordinary folks had had in the church. Now, had they had a little bit of theology and been able to understand that the priest doesn't equal the church or the bad decisions that Father X makes doesn't mean the church is being evil. But that was not deeply embedded. [00:39:23] Speaker A: It's like a set up because you have a highly clericalistic and relatively uneducated. So Father really is the church, and all of a sudden you find out that father is really a terrible person, then the church is terrible. I mean, that's the logic. [00:39:39] Speaker B: And it kind of flows. That's how it changed so fast. [00:39:46] Speaker A: Yeah. Now today leads coming here from America, it seems like we have some mixed signals from Ireland as far as its faith, Catholicism, because I guess it was like 2017, 2018. They had the referendum which basically removed protection, basically made abortion legal and constitutionally protected in Ireland, which was, I was telling you this beforehand, but I know Bishop in Ireland, and we were talking after the election here in Ohio that made constitutionally, made abortion legal. And I was saying what gut punch it was. And he said, yes, it was unbelievable gut punch when that happened in Ireland, that the people would decide, we want to have legal abortion. So that's a horrific thing. And I think most of us thought, okay, we can't really think of Ireland as Catholic anymore, and that's kind of gone. But then literally last week, they have a referendum, and the referendum was, according to the irish constitution, so marriage is essential to family life, and the value of mothers to society comes from fulfilling their duties in the home. That's what was in the constitution. And of course, the modern people like that sounds awful. You can't say marriage is so important. You can't say women should be in the home. So they had a referendum to remove that, and it got defeated. I mean, I think pretty significantly. I was reading an article like a week before the referendum saying how they're a little worried it might not know, it's a little closer than they think and ends up being a huge defeat. And so that makes us think, well, is there like a revival of faith in Ireland? Is this something else? How would you say, kind of the status today of Catholicism in Ireland? Is it a powerful force still? Is it more just a cultural thing? What's going on? [00:41:38] Speaker B: Well, I think that the bishops qua bishops took note after the referendum legalizing same sex marriage and after the abortion referendums and realized, you know, 90% of the people who voted had had an education in catholic schools. Something's not right here. So they noticed that. I think the bishops in Ireland realized they have to do something about catholic education, because since the scandals and the religious orders dropped out of teaching 30 years ago, the very woke, very left wing secular government has been calling all the shots on education, which is totally crucifixes are not allowed. Even though the school may be called saint so and so's, it's not allowed to teach religion anymore. So there's no catholic education for all practical purposes, for the ordinary folk who go to the government schools. And I'm probably exaggerating that, so don't hold it against me. But it's the general overall picture. I don't think the bishops were very visible in this recent referendum, and that might be to the good, because their stock is very low. And the Irish have this contrary streak in us that if somebody in authority says, I should do this, I'll do the opposite. So I think it was lay, I think the opposition to that was led by laity, which is a very hopeful sign to me, because it might mean that the residual capital, so to speak, of the culture of Christianity, there might be enough of that left that people are saying, wait a minute, I'm a mom in the home. 69% of women in Ireland who are working wish they didn't have to. And they're saying, yeah, it might be great for women who want to work, but I'd rather be at home with my kids than I can't afford to. So, hey, government, why don't you fix that problem first? And the replacing family, the word family with a nebulous, meaningless phrase of, quote, durable relationships, what did that? You know, they already have some resistance to the huge immigration in Ireland, and if a durable relationship could be declared today and then tomorrow you can bring your family in. People said, wait a second, this is too much, and the government was just going too far, and I think people might be beginning to think for themselves, and that would be a really good sign, especially if it can be followed up with an improved catholic education system. [00:44:35] Speaker A: Yeah, so I think we're going to wrap it up here in a minute. But what is kind of the hope for the future for Ireland, for Catholicism in Ireland, what is kind of the path forward to recovering some of the Catholicism in the past, but yet not have the weaknesses that were later exploited in the Catholicism of the past? [00:44:57] Speaker B: Well, I have no idea what's going on among the bishops, and I can only pray that they're listening to the Holy Spirit and that the bishops are driving. But I know that at the level of the laity, there is a lot going on, and that's very encouraging. For instance, there are evangelization efforts among young people, and net Ireland is there. For instance, and I was talking to a missionary who did net Ireland, which is like focus only for high school kids in Ireland. And this girl who'd been a missionary told me how she worked with a girl for a long period of time and eventually got to the point of saying, now this is a high school girl saying, you know, you might want to go to confession. And the girl looked at her totally honestly and said, what's that? [00:45:44] Speaker A: Wow. [00:45:46] Speaker B: So that tells you how big the deficit is of education, but later you're working on that. There's the net group and there are other efforts. And the thing that really is needed is a new model of education. And I don't think that anybody should look to the government or even the church for it, because here in America, what has really turned around catholic education has been the independent, lay run classical schools. And that's a new idea. In Ireland, there are a handful of independent schools that don't get money from the government or have control for the government. Most of them are Montessori schools, but there's a secondary school in Cork called Mater Dei Academy, which is model Catholic, lay run classical curriculum. And there are a couple feeder schools that have been set up. Homeschooling, thanks be to God, is legal in Ireland. It's not in most of Europe, but it is in Ireland. And there's an irish homeschool curriculum, matherdeucation ie. So if the Mater Dei model can begin to take off, that could be very promising. And the other thing that's great about the Mater Dei model is that the families, and they're just families who were concerned about their own kids, who started this, they want it to be available to anybody who wants their kids to have it. You don't have to be rich. There have always been catholic, not always, but catholic schools for the wealthy. James Joyce went to one and we see what a great Catholic he turned out to be. But anyhow, so they're making a model that parents pay what they can and they count on donations to make up the rest. And this is, of course, where America can help. Just as America helped save the know by. By providing money for the comrade Nguelga, the Gaelic League, and helped win Ireland's independence by providing money for the war of Independence, so Americans can fund this new movement for catholic education and help create a deeper level of understanding of the faith among the next generation of irish young people. The missionary told me that the grandmas are just confused. That generation is just confused. They just don't know what's going on. The parents hate the church because they came of age during this scandal revelation, but the Gen Z just don't know the church. So there isn't resistance. There's just a vacuum. [00:48:44] Speaker A: So tell us about this saints and scholars foundation that you're the chair of, because obviously this is very much related to what you're talking about here. [00:48:51] Speaker B: Right. Well, Saints and Scholars foundation is an american 501 that was set up in order to collect donations from America to go to the new model of education in Ireland. Right now, Mater day Academy Cork is the main recipient because they're doing the most. And so just a way, if you're a Catholic, you don't even have to be irish. But if you're a Catholic and you want to see the faith saved in Ireland and a new age of catholic education in Ireland, go to Saintsonscholarsus us and find out more. [00:49:31] Speaker A: Okay, I'll put a link to that in the show notes so people can go to mean. That's very encouraging to hear about these kind of independent lay run schools and homeschooling, of course, because we see it here in America, that is where the best catholic education happens, in homeschooling community and these independent kind of classical education schools. So I think that is the model for the future. So, I mean, that's encouraging. It's not all bad news, obviously. [00:49:59] Speaker B: It's following the spirit of Vatican II, which this is the age of the laity. [00:50:04] Speaker A: The actual one, not the invented one, misinterpreted one. [00:50:09] Speaker B: But, yeah, I mean, it's the people who have the ancestral faith, and it's still there. The census, I think it was in 2022, found that 69% might have been 59. Don't hold me to it. But one or the other of the people in Ireland still call themselves catholic and want to be catholic. So that's a great reservoir. Let's not let that reservoir of faithfulness evaporate. Let's strengthen it and build it. [00:50:38] Speaker A: Right. Okay, well, thank you very much. Also, I want to make sure people know about your book, monastery high Cross. When is the publication date for that? [00:50:46] Speaker B: The publication date is April the 16th, but you can preorder it at Sophia Institute Press. [00:50:52] Speaker A: Okay, I will put a link to that as well. I'm looking forward to that. When that comes to that gives a lot of the history that we've been talking about, the Celtic and know pre St. Patrick, the egyptian connection, all that. Right, exactly. [00:51:04] Speaker B: And all the ancient connections of Ireland to the east. Yep. [00:51:07] Speaker A: Okay, perfect. That's great. And then, of course, the saints and scholars foundation also, I'll put a link to that. But thank you very much, Connie. I really do appreciate coming on and happy. [00:51:18] Speaker B: Thank you, Eric. Great to talk to you. [00:51:20] Speaker A: Okay. Thank you. And until next time, everybody. God love.

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