Fire and brimstone, and a lost perspective

Over the past couple of days a few statements have been issued on behalf of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland, perhaps not all of them benefiting from insight and wisdom in relation to the matters raised. But here is one that particularly caught my eye, and I am drawing it to your attention in case you missed it.

Brother Shaun O’Connor, a senior monk in the Irish Franciscan order, has issued a stark warning that a section of Irish society could expect to face ‘the wrath of God’. So who was he referring to? Priests, religious or others guilty of child abuse? Bankers who defrauded the state? Someone not opening GP letters in the Tallaght Hospital? Or maybe drunk drivers? Drug dealers? Litter louts, even? No, none of these. The people in his sights are those aiming to attend the Munster vs. Leinster rugby match in Limerick’s Thomond Park on Good Friday (and he never even got as far as those planning to have a drink in the perhaps-to-be-opened pubs afterwards). These people, the friar explained, could not call themselves Catholics.

Within the religious tradition (to which I myself belong) there is a good argument for seeing and observing Good Friday as a special day. But many of our problems today with religion stem from the blurred lines between church and state, and it is time for the church to stop arguing that the practices and rules of public life need to give way to the instructions of clerics. I won’t be at the match on Good Friday, but I sincerely doubt that those who are there will face the wrath of God. In fact, the one who died on Good Friday had a habit of mocking the rules and restrictions of the religious hierarchy of the time.

It’s time to get a better perspective.

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8 Comments on “Fire and brimstone, and a lost perspective”

  1. Sean Says:

    At last, some common sense on this topic. These rules you allude to are man made and not direct from god Himself. There is no other country in the world where this would be an issue. As Limerick’s economic state continues to deteriorate, this is a no-brainer! Let the wine flow! Come on Leinster.

    • Vincent Says:

      There is no other Country in the world that the Rugby Union would have made the mistake in the first place. Idiots.

  2. John H Says:

    As a catholic I say separate church & state. If people wish to observe solemnity on Good Friday, that is their choice. Apart from anything else, we have a significant number of these people who are either not practising catholics, or are not catholic at all.
    Oh, and up Munster.

    • Sean Says:

      as a gesture to the those who practice, maybe there should be a special offer on fish suppers in Limerick’s food outlets on the day!that way everybody will be accommodated. Maybe it will be a draw and the replay could be re-fixed with due consideration to the Church’s calendar of feast days! While I am on the subject, how come the GAA Finals are on St. Patrick’s day and there is no fuss, or have I just demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the importance of Good Friday?

  3. kevin denny Says:

    The last line in that IT article ” [the Franciscans] came, they said, to give locals a sense of hope..” is striking. Rugby brings a huge amount of pride and pleasure to the people of Limerick, I suspect a hell of a lot more than the Fransiscans. Someone should tell this clown to shut up.

  4. Enda Says:

    You know, I’m not religious, but I do kinda like the fact that pubs close on this one day. I know people in the trade like it too as its the one day of the year bar chirstmas that they close. Plus there are always great parties on Good Friday, it just takes a little more effort. It was pretty silly scheduling the game for this day though.

  5. Wendymr Says:

    Once upon a time, I would have said, in a long-suffering way, Only in Ireland. But that was before I ended up within shouting distance of the world’s greatest religious nutcases, the American fundamentalist right (try the Westboro Baptist Church for starters – warning the URL is offensively homophobic, and the site itself is far worse). Another shining example is Glenn Beck, who has recently declared that Christian churches which preach social justice are Nazi and communist (no contradiction in his mind between those two philosophies, it seems!) and that real Christians should ‘run as fast as they can’.

    I think I’ll take a priest/monk preaching Sodom and Gomorrah over a rugby match any day! Swap you? 😉

  6. March 31, 2010

    In the past few weeks there has been a great deal of media attention in Ireland concerning the rugby match between Leinster and Munster scheduled for Good Friday. Several newspapers and radio station contacted the friars to get our view on this event, and you may have read or heard some comments which have been inaccurately attributed to me. In more than one paper it was reported that I claimed that anyone who attends this match can no longer call themselves Catholic and that they will face the wrath of God. I never said either of these statements, and certainly have no authority to tell someone they are no longer Catholic.

    I do believe that anyone who is a Catholic should not attend the match. As Good Friday is one of the most solemn days of the year for all Christians, this day should be commemorated by prayer, fasting and quietly reflecting on our Lord’s passion. It is not a day for festive events and engaging in unnecessary leisure activities. It would be a beautiful witness if all Catholics showed how much Jesus meant to them, and how much they appreciated his ultimate act of love and sacrifice, by not allowing anything to overshadow the true meaning of Good Friday.

    I hope this helps to clarify any misconceptions which may have arisen as a result of all that has been reported. May this Easter be a time of true joy and peace for all of you.

    Br.Shawn Conrad O’Connor, CFR
    St. Patrick’s Friary, Limerick

    posted here:

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