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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Bearded men wearing funny clothes


An RTE presenter showed his anti-Catholic bias a couple of days ago in a programme about a prayerful witness held by five Franciscans of the Renewal outside a family planning clinic. The Limerick Leader heads its article Monk's protest angers women. The article is generous enough to observe that Mr Duffy (the presenter) was "audibly angry" and reports a couple of the indignant and furious interventions in the radio phone-in.

Five Franciscan Friars stood outside the Limerick Family Planning clinic on Mallow Street and prayed. That's it really, but in modern Ireland this is enough to "arouse ire", "anger women" and so on. One of the main offences seems to be what children in school call "giving me funny looks" when they can't find anything else with which to to accuse their enemies.

One caller got her chance to protest at the "intimidation" of the Friars praying, how insulted she was and how "completely misguided" they were. Fr Charles tried to respond, starting off  "We live in a beautiful society and..." but he was interrupted by "Are you just going to give me your rhetoric and dogma?" which shows perhaps that it didn't really matter much what he actually had to say.

As so often on such set-up programmes, Fr Charles was facing opposition not only from the hectoring angry callers but also by the presenter who said at one point:
Do you think young women in turmoil would turn to five bearded men wearing funny clothes on the side of a street when they have no indication who they are?
That's really amateurish. Over here, anti-Catholic bias is much more polished. You set up the opposition who get a free ride with no difficult questions and then ask all the difficult questions of the priest/pro-lifer/concerned Christian in a concerned and meaningful voice. That way the ordinary viewer or listener thinks that the programme is "balanced."

The Franciscans of the Renewal chose to go and live in one of the more notorious areas of Limerick which had been in the news because of gang feuds and related shootings. Here is a quotation from one report:
The road where the friars live was in the front line of Moyross’ gang violence; a killing occurred within yards of where we talked – there had been no Christmas celebrations in 2006. Last Christmas (2007) 500 people came to celebrate at the live crib. Visitors from outside Moyross – from outside Limerick – came. A busload of handicapped kids came to join in the festivities. Local people put up Christmas lights, brought in provisions and “borrowed” the live animals.
When it comes to poverty, an ascetical life and commitment to prayer, these men "walk the walk."

They are popular among the ordinary people of the Moyross estate but they have offended the guardians of the dogmas of the new Ireland by quietly praying outside a family planning clinic. The venom directed against them speaks volumes.
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