Bill O'Reilly fairly interviews Bishop Tobin

There was 180 degrees difference between Bill O'Reilly's interview with Bishop Tobin last night and Chris Matthews' disrespectful, aggressive, insulting filibuster the night before.

O'Reilly asked fair questions many would ask, and Bishop Tobin gave excellent responses.

As an aside, what a relief to hear the bishop clarify the Catholic Church's teaching on the death penalty, which I hear misspoken a lot.

Re: Matthews et al, Deal Hudson thinks Democrats are picking a fight with the bishops. Hudson drew attention to this quote by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League in a piece...

No non-Catholic would ever treat a bishop this way. But too many liberal Catholics, especially Irish Catholics, think they are exempt from the same standards of civility that apply to others. They are flatly wrong.

As a Protestant I agree with the 1st part of Donohue's statement.

And it is obvious liberal Catholics have no trouble expressing hostility toward their Church's leaders and teachings. Of course. What else should be expected? Their Church condemns various behaviors they uphold, and they can't stand the guilt. They blame their Church when it is really their own consciences they hate and are trying to eradicate.

I'm curious about the "Irish" Catholic part, though. Perhaps someone can explain.


"I'm curious about the "Irish" Catholic part, though. Perhaps someone can explain.:I'm curious about the "Irish" Catholic part, though. Perhaps someone can explain."

I don't have an explanation, but an observation. My family is made up of MANY Irish Catholics, and ironically, they are all fiercly liberal! Hmmm.... Not saying all Irish Catholics are, but I gotta say, I come from a VERY large family, on both sides, and they are all Irish Catholic, and I am a minority in my family concerning the Church. Very interesting.

Posted by: IDSCforlife at November 25, 2009 7:32 AM


I'll take a stab at the issue of disrespectful Irish Catholics.

My mother's side of the family is Irish. We're famous for our fights over politics and religion, which for the Irish, have always been conjoined twins. It goes all the way back to the treatment of the Irish by the English, the Great Hunger and their arrival here in the U.S.

Persecution followed us here to America. "No Irish Need Apply" signs hung in the windows of businesses. Our Priests were the ones to organize the community politically into a powerful voting block. This in turn led to the Irish securing for themselves civil service jobs such as police, fire, sanitation. The bagpipers at funerals for civil service employees today are a reflection of how "Irish" these jobs were.

As the community grew, they came to identify with liberal politics, which championed the underdog. The pugnacity of the "Fighting Irish" has been bred in the bone.

As the Irish became more educated and affluent, faith began to diminish. So too did the organizing activity of the clergy. By the 1960's Irish Catholics had the Kennedy Clan as both the symbol of how far we had come, and a rallying point for a newer, more cultural catholicity. The Democrat party through which they had risen to prominence in American life was their home. As the civil rights movement took off in the 1960's, the Irish had an issue with which they were all too familiar. As the Democrats championed the cause, bonds of fidelity were strengthened.

When the Democrat party veered sharply to the left on moral issues such as birth control and abortion, the Catholic clergy broke ranks and dug in their heels. What to do for Irish-Catholic laity? As so many had become highly educated, highly secularized, and a product of their generation with the social and sexual revolution, they came to view their own clergy as oppressors. The Church became the enemy that threatened their narcissistic lifestyle and the fail-safe option of abortion.

What has remained for too many is a bastardized, secularized version of what the Irish clergy fought for a century ago. All of the wealth and prominence, little if any faith.

In the Democrat Party today, access to the halls of power requires a repudiation of the Catholic Church in the area of sexual morality. The more pugnacious the take-down of the clergy, the higher one's esteem by the leadership.

Other Catholics lacked this pugnacity or interwoven expressions of politics and faith. On my Italian and Spanish side of the family, the great cardinal virtue for the clergy was...Respect.

That's my rough-hewn take on the subject. If any believe I'm in eror, then I'm open to your gentle correction.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at November 25, 2009 8:03 AM

The simple fact should not call oneself Catholic if they do not hold to and practice the teachings of the Churh.

Jesus said it this way:

"Matthew 7:20-23
20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’"

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at November 25, 2009 8:32 AM

I thought it was great when Bishop Tobin said there is nothing more important than your relationship with God. It is apparent that Kennedy does not feel that way even after his father's death. To them there is nothing more important than themselves and power. Kennedy does not care about receiving the sacraments but cares about someone telling him NO.

Posted by: Maria at November 25, 2009 8:34 AM

I think Gerard gives an excellent answer to the question.

My shorter version would be that Donohue was saying that Irish Catholics have become major social climbers. What mattered most to them was acquiring money and getting back at protestants for their perceived social superiority in the United States. Their faith became a cultural thing for them, and whenever it conflicts with the drive for social power or popularity, they jettison the faith and even turn on the clergy.

Posted by: Jeff at November 25, 2009 8:46 AM

Don't emphasize "Irish". Emphasize "Irish Catholic" This is code for Kennedy Catholic.

Posted by: Cranky Catholic at November 25, 2009 8:47 AM

Tobin tries to rehabilitate himself after the devastating cross-examination by Matthews. I don't like Matthews, but his deconstrution of the Bishop's position was thorough. With O'Reilley's emphasis on his double, or multiple standards, Tobin looks even worse.

I Hope O'Reilley agrees with Donohue's
anti-Irish bogotry. LOL

Posted by: Bystander at November 25, 2009 9:03 AM

I'm an Irish-American Catholic from a middle-class Chicagoan background who has "sunk" or "risen" to the level of working class, depending on whether you are materialistic or spiritual. Politics are all over my family tree. There are Italian Catholics who are a disgrace to their faith, as well as Polish, there are African American Christians who have betrayed Christ, and all can be quite arrogant and argumentative. All can justify their disrespect for their religious leaders by claiming to have suffered oppression and persecution throughout history.

Being snotty and loud and politically arrogant in the face of a religious leader is always a mistake. Try discussing things from God's point of view, not man's, or just admit that you are an atheist altogether. You can't mold God's law to fit your own selfish choices.

Posted by: MEL at November 25, 2009 9:04 AM


What was one really good point Matthews made? Let's discuss it here and see if it stands up to any kind of scrutiny.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 9:18 AM

A lot of people have a lot to say about a lot of things they know nothing about, like the Truths taught by the Catholic Church which are confirmed in the wounds suffered by those who choose to disregard those Truths.

This whole issue really is very, very simple. I, as a non-expert in some field, would not deign to tell the actual expert in the field anything. How ridiculous it would be for me to tell my eye doctor how to do his work. Thus, how absurd it is for Kennedy, or anyone else, to tell the Catholic Church and its Apostolic Successor what it means to be Catholic.

Kennedy can choose do whatever he wants. God gave all of us free will. But stop the stupid pretense. The Church and its Apostolic Successor in communion with the Church, expresses the proper definition of Catholicism, not Kennedy. That's why there are 40,000+ denominations out there . . . all started by someone who thinks he/she has a better idea. The anarchy is astounding, absurd and to anyone who actually has read the four Gospels and the Letters (especially St. Paul's) blatantly anti-Catholic.

Kennedy can vote for abortion 'til the cows come home, but he does NOT have personal authority to define what it means to be Catholic or define the Faith. He is no more Catholic than buddha.

Jesus said (those who actually have read the Gospels know this) "whoever hears you (Apostles) hears Me." When Jesus handed the keys to Peter, He knew Peter was a sinful man. (St. Peter even said so.) Jesus also knew St. Peter and the rest of the Apostles were not going to live for 2,000 years, but would have successors. It follows that he who hears today's Apostolic Successors hears Jesus. So when Bishop Tobin tells Kennedy either straighten up or quit receiving the Eucharist, Kennedy needs to get a grip and realize that Bishop Tobin, not Kennedy, is the Apostolic Successor. Kennedy's arrogance (so typical in the entire family) is incomprehensible.

Like I once hear Fr. Corapi say, "if you think your scholarship is so grand as to exceed the knowledge and wisdom accumulated by the Catholic Church over the past 2,000 years, that's pride."

One last thing . . . today's anti-Catholic bigotry, which once was comprised of 500-800 year old, ridiculous and historically false myths about the Crusades, the Inquisition and Gallileo, now includes a false representation of the "scandal." As a lawyer since 1991, I know firsthand that the far greater scandal which noone discusses regards the far worse atrocities committed by the general public . . . I understand that the rate of offense is twice as high in other denominations, and 9-10 higher in the general public - that we KNOW about, because it is such a dark secret that nobody comes out of the woodwork to accuse some dead person from 50 years ago. Why? Because there aren't a bunch of lawyers salivating over the hundreds of millions of dollars in blood money payouts that have nothing to do with proper justice against the true offender.

A recent GOVERNMENT study revealed that essentially 10% of kids in public schools are abused by the time they graduate, but you don't see a public outcry against all teachers like you heard against all the Church and her priests, nor do you see lawyers trying to jump on that 10x larger bandwagon. Why? Two reasons . . . 1) no deep pockets (and that IS the greatest reason . . . no money to scam, no lawyers) and 2) no ideology to rip on (like the Catholic Church's 2,000 year old moral teachings).

This anti-Catholic bigotry, and attempt to form the Church in Kennedy's own image (or any of the other de facto schismatic Catholic-in-name-only parishioners) surely must make Jesus weep, just as He did on the hill overlooking Jerusalem.

Bottom line for all the arrogant: be Catholic or quit pretending and leave. Go start denomination #40,001 and call it "The First Church of Me, Myself and I." Just quit calling yourself "Catholic" because you're not.

Posted by: Fr. Jim Altman at November 25, 2009 9:31 AM

As an Irish Catholic, I do not think it's only Irish Catholics but there do seem to be a lot of them who scoff at the Church. I think perhaps a better term would be affluent Catholics. Think Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sibelius, neither of which, to my knowledge is Irish.

Posted by: Andy at November 25, 2009 9:52 AM

I think he's specifically talking about Chris Mathews, the Kennedy family, Joe Biden, et al. The Abort-leone family. The impression is their "Irish Catholic" faith has no attachment to how they live their lives. They are saved by their personal faith alone(I dont mean that to be a protestant bash) instead of accepting the Universal Faith.

Posted by: LaCrosseCath at November 25, 2009 9:58 AM

I think perhaps Irish-American Catholic would be a better discription of the Kennedy Catholics.

The Catholic Church in Ireland has been very steady in defending life as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Lauren at November 25, 2009 10:04 AM

I think Fr. Jim Altman's and Gerard Nadal's comments are spot on.

It's my opinion that many liberal American Catholics see Catholicism as part of their family's identity/tradition. This could be said for many nationalities. I think the Irish, who tend to be a gregarious, outgoing group, and more prominent in public life than other groups, therefore the most often heard. Regarding abortion specifically, most Protestant denominations have not spoken out against abortion, so the Irish Catholics are influenced by them as well and thus feel their "personal faith" is enough.

Posted by: Janet at November 25, 2009 10:32 AM

O'Reilly's EGO complicates every interview he conducts, the rule being "O'Reilly is the winner." It colors everything he does, and that is especially true because he, like so many of us in the current generation of American Catholics, are poorly instructed in our faith.
Go to the greatest gift given us by Pope John Paul II and look up the obligations we have as Catholics to announce and promote the faith and the consequences of mortally sinful behavior if we do not confront, by fraternal correction in a living and gentle but firm way the mortally sinful behavior of our fellow brothers and sisters by silence or by direct or indirect cooperation in not hindering them. (Catechism 1868, 1736 and JP2's Reconciliation and Penance, and Evangelium Vitae); the latter is the definitive teaching on the difference between the question of abortion (the taking of an INNOCENT human life and the rare but not excluded need to sometimes authorize the taking of a GUILTY human life for the protection of other life.

Posted by: Kieran at November 25, 2009 10:55 AM

Donahue's assertion is correct, and plays out time and time again.
Disaffected Catholics who ditch civility to trash their own leaders always come off as bratty tantrum-throwers.

Posted by: Mary Ann, Singing Mum at November 25, 2009 11:14 AM

liberal Catholics have no trouble expressing hostility toward their Church's leaders and teachings.

Or accepting abortion money when they get to Congress.

Posted by: Fed Up at November 25, 2009 11:24 AM

All, thanks for explanations, particularly Gerard, whose review was just excellent, I thought, and very well written.

I wonder why these people don't just renounce their Catholicism. Likely it is tradition and fear of something... not sure what.... Would be interested in Catholics' thoughts on that question, too.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at November 25, 2009 11:29 AM

Jill, My family tells me they can not leave the Church, or they will be like all of the protestants who left, and nothing changed. Their theory is, if they stay, and change it from with in, they will then have the church they want. Call to Action is a big faction who believes in this "stay and change the Church from with in." idea. It is a strategy, believe it or not.

Posted by: IDSCforlife at November 25, 2009 11:45 AM


Thank you for your kind words. As for why Catholics don't leave the Church, that's a mixed pickle.

On the one hand, I don't impugn their 'faith', such as it is. I believe that people such as the Kennedys and Cuomos genuinely believe at some level.

The question for them, as for us all, is what becomes the standard, or template against which all else is measured? From the purview of the Church, divine revelation as handed on by the Apostolic successors is the standard of the Catholic's life. Anything in culture not comporting to that standard needs to be renounced. Bishop Tobin says as much with O'Reilly when he says hat Kennedy has the option of quitting a job whose requirements are to further the cause of abortion. Our salvation is our greatest life's work.

For too many, especially the Baby Boomers, ESPECIALLY the Baby Boomers, the belief is that we can have everything, and have it all on OUR terms. We, as a generation (I'm at the tail end, 1960), have conducted a scorched earth campaign across the American landscape. We are the very narcissistic, 'ME' generation. Such narcissism and faith are like oil and water.

As St. Paul said, all humans have the law of God written on their hearts. In the quiet moments, when they are alone with their thoughts, I believe the Kennedy's either know that they are wrong, or have a gnawing sense of disequilibrium. But wealth, power, and prestige are every bit as addictive as crack cocaine.

I take it as a sign of the relentless love of the Holy Spirit that there is some intuitive connection that keeps them from walking away.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at November 25, 2009 12:05 PM

OReilly is not my favorite person on Fox, but he is strongly pro life, so I thought this interview would be much better than the Matthews one. Glad to be right about that.

Posted by: Joanne at November 25, 2009 12:11 PM

Well said Gerald.

Posted by: Jasper at November 25, 2009 12:22 PM

Gerard, thanks again. I'm still left thinking that for all the negative publicity and hounding (for lack of a better word, and I mean it in a good way) by devout Catholic clergy and people of faith on the issue of abortion, you'd think someone of Kennedy or Pelosi or Cuomo's standing would finally say, "That's it, I'm done, I don't need this." And move on to a pro-abortion denomination, if they move on to a Christian faith at all.

IDSC, perhaps you're right.

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 12:42 PM

I wonder why these people don't just renounce their Catholicism. Likely it is tradition and fear of something... not sure what.... Would be interested in Catholics' thoughts on that question, too.
Posted by: Jill Stanek at November 25, 2009 11:29 AM

Share your view on that Jill.

Posted by: Hal at November 25, 2009 12:47 PM

Gerard: Actually, it's possible that those "No Irish Need Apply" signs are an urban legend...

Posted by: Marauder at November 25, 2009 1:38 PM

For some of us it's quite easy and obvious to leave the Catholic Church when we don't agree with its teachings or don't have faith. For others though it's not.I suspect it hassomething to do with liking the pomp, formality and traditions of the Catholic Church especially at certain times of year and events. And I do think that Gerards suggestion that many stay on in hoping to change their Church from within.or at least wait for the change.

Posted by: Minno at November 25, 2009 1:52 PM

Good point.

Posted by: Janet at November 25, 2009 1:58 PM

I don't think the Catholic Church is really an institution you can "change from within," especially as a lay person. Wait for the Church to change its views on abortion? In our lifetimes? Not too likely. Right Bobby?

Second, I can't imagine being a part of any organization that has such a fundamentally different view on abortion(or gay marriage) just because of "pomp, formality and traditions." Right Bobby? It's like saying, "I love being a Republican but I disagree with most of the party platforms."

Posted by: Hal at November 25, 2009 2:18 PM

Absolutely, Hal. In fact, the Church can NEVER change its teaching on abortion. Never. If it does, that is a defeater for the Catholic faith i.e. that would prove that the Catholic faith is wrong.

But I think a lot of people do feel really attached to the ceremony or pomp, even though they do disagree with abortion and gay marriage etc. I think it's sort of becoming like Judaism in that sense, Hal. I think there are a lot of people who may even consider themselves atheists but who make go to temple once a year or still do some of the main celebrations because it's such an important tradition to them.

So I do think that there are people who are still in it because of your first point, Hal, but they are simply delusional. But your second point I think is a bit more legit. The mass and "Catholic culture" are very non-world-like; it's very different, and if you are used to it and enjoy the outward formalities, there really isn't any other place you can go to fill that void, so I can see some people staying just for that reason.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 2:40 PM

That makes sense Bobby. Thanks. Have a wonderful Holiday. My "little girl" comes home from college today, can't wait to see her.

Posted by: Hal at November 25, 2009 2:44 PM

Oh Hal, that's wonderful. Golly, I can't even imagine what that's gonna be like... this is probably the longest you've ever gone without seeing her. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 2:49 PM

well, we have skype, and I did visit her last month. but still.....

I know I don't have to remind you, Bobby, but I will anyway. Enjoy your little ones every day. They grow up fast.

Posted by: Hal at November 25, 2009 2:53 PM

"They might say you are delusional Bobby"

Sure but they'd be wrong. There is about as much reason to believe that the Church will change it's teaching on homosexuality as there is evidence that the Supreme Court will admit that it has ever erred.

But sure, anyone can make a claim based on nothing.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 3:06 PM

Actually, Bobby, the Supreme Court does admit error from time to time. But I agree the Church is not likely to change its views on these issues. Maybe married priests someday, maybe even female priests. But abortion and gay marriage are off the table, at least for the next 100 years or so. A split is always possible, I suppose. But I don't see that on the horizon either.

Posted by: Hal at November 25, 2009 3:31 PM

"Actually, Bobby, the Supreme Court does admit error from time to time"

Haha, OK, bad analogy, but you get the idea :)

"Maybe married priests someday"

We already have these in the East, and even a few in the West, but it isn't the norm. But here you are correct- this, as a norm, is technically possible.

"maybe even female priests."

This is just as unlikely as changing abortion or homosexuality. It has been definitively taught that the priesthood is reserved only for males, and if the Church ever teaches that female priests exist, it would be a defeater for Catholicism and Catholicism would be false.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 3:36 PM

Wait, so what am I thinking of then, Hal? (yes, I am asking you to read my mind) Is it that they never admitted that they were wrong when it came to Dred-Scott?

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 3:38 PM

@ Hal:

Just an FYI, married priests are a possibility in the future but female priests are not. It would directly contradict the theological teachings of the Church (and Christ's orders as it were). So add that to your list of impossible things :)

Posted by: Jason at November 25, 2009 3:54 PM

BTW, this was definitively put to rest in JPII's1994 Apostolic letter "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis."

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at November 25, 2009 3:58 PM

Bobby, I'm not sure. I don't think Dred Scott would have ever been over-ruled because of the 13th and 14th Amendments made the decision moot. As a result, the questions in Dred Scott would never have to be revisited. So, they wouldn't have an official way to say they were wrong, as they don't (usually) comment on questions not officially before them.

RE: Female Priests. Understood.

RE: Thanksgiving. Have a happy one everybody.

I'm out of here.

Posted by: Hal at November 25, 2009 3:59 PM

I believe that Irish Catholic here is code for Kennedy idolizers. As a Catholic of Irish heritage, it really bothers me that many of my cousins, some who were total products of parish schools, think the Church is somehow a democratic institution. It is the Church, it is of God and his laws, not popular opinion. The same folks also idolize the Kennedys who are, in most part, poor examples to follow.

A Catholic must be pro-life: Believe it or Leave it.

Posted by: LB at November 25, 2009 7:52 PM

As a Catholic of Irish descent, I will attempt to answer why some of these Catholics don't or can't leave the church. Many of us are so entrenched in Catholicism from little on, living in Catholic neighborhoods, going to Catholic schools and taking it all for granted. Many of us are from large, tight knit families also. We are so much a part of the Catholic thinking that even when we are not always faithful to our religious beliefs we still feel very Catholic. It is for us, sort of like breathing. It can become a cultural thing, not so much a religious thing anymore.

The Catholic church has many traditions that can help us along the way. However, if we begin to turn away from God, for whatever reason, we can still feel the pull towards the church of our childhood and the traditions we were raised in.

When the Kennedys came into power, all politicians were pro-life so we did not have this argument. It is when feminism took hold in this country that many politicians turned from God and sold their souls for a vote. I wish Bishop Tobin was around then to speak up.

Posted by: Eileen at November 26, 2009 1:24 AM

I just heard a fantastic Catholic Catechism instruction on morality and conscience by a priest named Father Corapi. He used abortion as a reference throughout and the examples built upon one another.

Everything from intention, "I paid for my friends abortion cause it make her feel good" to why a baby dying as a unintended consequence of life saving surgery on the mother is so different then abortion.

I just googled the topic to try to get a refresher and I see Fr. Corapi is going to be on Relevant radio discussing this exact topic on Friday at 4a.m. and 10a.m. Great perspective and learned stuff for analysis of the Catholic position on abortion. I haven't found a better source for Catholics or non-Catholics to learn the Catholic faith.

Here the link to relevant radio home page with a listing of the stations and live streaming in case you can catch it.

Posted by: truthseeker at November 26, 2009 5:57 AM

Eileen, your answer makes sense. At same point, though, as the generations pass, Catholicism won't be in all the air these kids breathe, and they will fall away from their religious heritage. Read Scripture. There is nothing new under the sun. Right now many are CINOs (Catholic In Name Only). So it's the next step. This is an indictment on parents and grandparents who let the slippage begin. And it's not just a Catholic phenomenon.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at November 26, 2009 6:31 AM

Jill, Your post to Eileen is dead on. Catholic-as-culture has no binding capacity without a common moral code. Culture is open to individualistic expressions of innovation, and leads to something looking profoundly different by the end of three generations.

The moral code is what we must conform our lives to, and is the immutable declaration of who we are and of our great dignity. It tells us what we owe ourselves and each other. That code was entrusted to the Apostles and their successors. When we break with Apostolic authority, by definition, we begin to define morality for ourselves.

And we wonder why there have been 50+ million abortions, why according to CDC 3/4 of all adults will have a sexually transmitted disease in their lifetimes, why scores of millions have contracted HIV/AIDS, why illegitimacy is 80% in the inner city, why cervical cancer has skyrocketed, and divorce rates stand at 50%.

That's what cultural Catholicism and cultural Protestantism have gained for us.

Not much to rally around, is it?

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at November 26, 2009 11:11 AM

Bystander, the Jovial Troll, wrote:

Tobin tries to rehabilitate himself after the devastating cross-examination by Matthews. I don't like Matthews, but his deconstrution of the Bishop's position was thorough. With O'Reilley's emphasis on his double, or multiple standards, Tobin looks even worse.

(*sigh*) So many words... so little sense. Statements like this *are* much easier, so long as you needn't concern yourself with facts--or reality in general, for all that, yes?

Have some sense.

Posted by: Paladin at November 26, 2009 8:46 PM

The Simple answer to the question as to why we see this from many Irish Catholics is the fact that we as Irish Catholics have been highly influenced by the Kennedy family-which has been idolized as royalty in our American culture-which is why it is so important for Catholic leaders to say flat out- THIS IS WRONG- YOU ARE BEING MISLED- by some silly camelot image-I mean why on earth would the Bishop have to answer(like on Hardball) to something John F. Kennedy said?...Was john F. Kennedy a Moral authority???!! A good man maybe, but not without some moral issues.

Posted by: LK at November 27, 2009 6:53 AM

As a half-Irish girl myself, married into a family of Irish Catholics (and no, not Irish American Catholics, the real deal still living across the pond!) I concur with the idea that this is code for Kennedy Catholics who think that wealth and family name equal the right to rewrite whatever they like of the faith.

I will say that possibly part of it, as well, is the natural outspoken-ness of the Irish people, and the fact that they will often say comments others would only think. Even my father in law is notorious for this which makes for many an interesting family discussion. Luckily he is as conservative as I am, although much of the family is not.

Posted by: Elisabeth at November 27, 2009 9:07 AM

"I will say that possibly part of it, as well, is the natural outspoken-ness of the Irish people, and the fact that they will often say comments others would only think. "

Elisabeth, LOL. As one who is part Irish, I may have to agree with you on that. It can be extremely embarrassing, no?

"Father Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do"

Posted by: Janet at November 27, 2009 12:30 PM

Gerard's explanation above was very on target to what I have learned about this topic.

I would like to contribute to this by pointing out there is a relationship between the scandal of Obama making the Notre Dame commencement speech last year, and Gerard's account.

When the Irish first arrived in large numbers into this country, they were very poor and very discriminated against, both for being Irish, and for being Catholic. They were the bottom of the barrel socially in America. This gradually began to change during the 20th century. Irish Americans became a more and more integrated and respected part of America. They increased in wealth, education, and status.

Notre Dame is a case study in this on a smaller scale. Being Irish and Catholic, Notre Dame gradually increased in prestige and reputation in the 20th century. Finally at a certain point (perhaps in the 70's?) Notre Dame was considered a top academic university on a par with the best universities in America. This reflects what was a big deal for Irish Americans all over; finally, they had arrived. And nothing symbolizes this more than the President speaking at Notre Dame. It is full circle. The Irish, who at an earlier era in our history had difficulty seeking higher political office because of claims they were "Papists" and were taking orders from Rome and couldn't be trusted--now, are hosting the President at the prestigious university that they founded and nurtured.

To people like Matthews, and perhaps on a somewhat implicit, subsurface level, he sees Churchmen like Bishop Tobin as a threat (or a reprimand) to the status and success Irish Americans have achieved. For, he may think, if Bishop Tobin had his way Irish Catholics would never have risen above the bottom of the social and political barrel in America. (A sentiment I think is quite false).

Posted by: Scott Johnston at November 28, 2009 12:38 AM

After reading my comment above, I sense a need to say I do not mean to imply the Irish had it worse than black Americans. Certainly not. I think my remarks are mostly applicable to the situation in the northeast in the late 19th, early 20th century.

Posted by: Scott Johnston at November 28, 2009 12:49 AM

Scott Johnston,
Great points about Notre Dame.

* * *
Eileen, your answer makes sense. At same point, though, as the generations pass, Catholicism won't be in all the air these kids breathe, and they will fall away from their religious heritage. Read Scripture. There is nothing new under the sun. Right now many are CINOs (Catholic In Name Only). So it's the next step. This is an indictment on parents and grandparents who let the slippage begin. And it's not just a Catholic phenomenon.
Posted by: Jill Stanek at November 26, 2009 6:31 AM

I agree with you. To tie what you wrote with Scott's comment, I'd say Notre Dame's responsible for a good portion of this "falling away" by encouraging dissention instead of embracing the Church.

One other note - I find that the most devout Catholics are those who have converted from other denominations - because they have studied the faith much more rigorously than the (poorly catechized) Catholics of this generation and perhaps their zeal is so strong. They are truly a blessing to the Church and in my opinion necessary to keep the faith alive.

Posted by: Janet at November 29, 2009 12:03 AM

In the Irish Catholic discussion thread, Ross Douthat has an interesting post this week with quite the provocative title: "The Tragedy of Irish Catholicism" that may serve to inform the conversation.

Posted by: John Jansen at December 3, 2009 1:26 PM