Friday, January 4, 2019

Father Michael Sweetman SJ - declining to Baptise the Spirit of the Age

Homily by Michael Sweetman SJ (1983) on 50th anniversary of death of Fr John Sullivan

The above is a talk by Father Michael Sweetman SJ in St Francis Xavier Church in Dublin during a Mass to commemorate his former teacher and then colleague Fr John Sullivan a well-known saintly Jesuit who died on 19 February 1933. The date is February 1983 - the 50th anniversary of the death of Father Sullivan.
 [Michael Joseph Sweetman was born in Dublin on 20 March 1914 and encountered Fr Sullivan when he was a late adolescent studying at Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare. He himself joined the Jesuits in 1931 and was ordained a priest in 1945.]

I was a novice in the De La Salle Brothers in Castletown, Co. Laois (diocese of Ossory) in 1966/67. At the end of the year of training in late August 1967, our novice master Br Maurice Kirk invited the well known Jesuit Fr Michael Sweetman to give us an eight-day retreat. I took copious notes of his talks that I wrote up in my diary in the evenings. A few years ago I photocopied the relevant pages and left copies in the National Archives and Jesuit archives. Due to the collapse of all our hopes of that time, I have never been able to reread the notes or the rest of my diary - but hopefully I will get around to it now - or my notes of Fr Sweetman's talks anyway! [ I have written about Fr Sweetman and Br Maurice in the About Me section of my old website ]

What follows are (or will be) excerpts from articles by Fr Sweetman from the 1940s to the 1980s - mainly in The Furrow - for which he was film reviewer from  1965 to 67 - and in Studies Quarterly Review, a publication of the Irish Jesuits. It may well have been his articles in The Furrow that helped bring him to the attention of Brother Maurice. I have described Brother Maurice elsewhere as a "liberal Conservative" (with emphasis on the noun!) and Fr Sweetman as something of a "radical priest". However the latter phrase has definitely changed its meaning from Ireland in the 1960s to today. Fr Sweetman's attitude was quite different from that of Fr Gabriel Daly OSA of whom I have written previously.

This essay is definitely a Work-in-Progress and will continue that way for a while. I propose to organise it in themes rather than chronologically. Curiously enough the first film review of Fr Sweetmans's that I came across in the Furrow (November 1965) concerns the issue of false sexual allegations made by a child against adult teachers! 

NOTE: I should stress that the various topic headings in blue are my own invention - not those of Fr Sweetman!

Dublin Youth of 1965, Sex and False Allegations

(The Furrow, November 1965)
In discussing, and judging, what is suitable in films presented for indiscriminate public consumption, the statement is often made that something will shock the young and uneducated. This is a possibility that deserves every consideration. But if by un-educated one means particularly city youngsters who have been unable to obtain more than a primary education, the notion of what is likely to shock them needs imaginative investigation. They are not uneducated in the realities of life; they, of necessity, have become immune to many of its shocks. Certainly the use of obscene and even blasphemous language would be no shock, in the sense of being something new, to them; nor would the sight of raw passion, violent emotion, scurrilous abuse, drunkenness, dishonesty or squalid lust. Those who are likely to be shocked by these things, or entertained as the case may be, are the educated and sheltered minority. But as they are surrounded by counteracting influences antagonistic to this kind of behaviour, they also are partly protected.

 What really does everyone harm are false values attractively displayed; omission of all concern for religious and ultimate standards; cynical or sentimental contempt for people.

 When a film like The Loudest Whisper (Academy) is restricted to those over eighteen, it is not because the subject or treatment is shocking, but rather because it would be puzzling to the very young and might create morbid suspicions among adolescents. 

The subject here might be said to be lesbianism, but the film gets its excitement not from this, but from the power of malicious whispering about it. ......

Here, as in Lord of the Flies, there is an indication of the zest for evil that can possess a child. The bold girl is a clever, malicious, subtle, cruel little viper, but she is not inhuman, she is no caricature. For spite, using phrases she has overheard from a silly adult, she tells her grandmother that there is an unnatural relationship between the two young teachers who run the school. In the orgy of, mainly, feminine emotion which follows on this, the parts of the teachers are sensitively played by Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine; the grandmother is superbly done by Eileen Hopkins; the children are excellent. The poisonous whisper is tipped into the ear of the grandmother in a most effective dialogue in the back of a car. ....

 It is a film worth seeing for all educationalists and that, in some sense, includes nearly all adults. 

Effect of Film Sex Scenes on Irish Girls (1966)

The Furrow June 1966 - [This follows his review of a film version of Hamlet by Grigori Kozintsev]

 From the sublime to [Vittirio] de Sica. Marriage Italian Style (Academy) is bored de Sica, following his own too well tried formula: a golden hearted prostitute, a few orphans, a sly cleric, a glamorous play-boy ready to harvest an unlikely domestic peace once he has sown the very last possible wild oat. . . and so on. Sophia Loren affronts me; I can't take her; and I must say I don't much want to. Though in fairness it should be said that when her characteristics are toned, honed down, as she is supposed to grow older, she becomes far more beautiful and appealing. The comedy is very predictable and seldom warms up. Except for the intellectual effort which might be demanded of parents in explaining to children how Filomena's three children came into the world, there does not seem very much reason to restrict this film to adults. It is certainly not adult fare.......

In almost all of these kind of films there is a scene or so of the glossy magazine type, where female bodies are displayed in an impersonal, provocative, artificial way. These are of the same category as that group of writings which Richard Hoggart well labelled "sensation-without-commitment". If I may at all trust my intuition, these scenes generally break the interest of the audience in the cinema, and are received with more embarrassment than fascination. Certainly they reveal minds behind them whose sense of humour has deserted them, whose good taste never existed, and whose inventiveness and imagination has been choked by desire for easy money. But the very fact that they leave nothing to a more sensitive imagination - one's own - makes them that amount less harmful than the static picture or the suggestive passage in a book. But though they may be less successful they must be stigmatised as of the same intention as the type of picture that is pushed into a drawer when an unexpected knock comes to your office door. Their contented lovelessness, and chinkless in sincerity, are perhaps their most objectionable qualities. 

I have been wondering what effect these scenes have on girls. A very limited research suggests that they mostly view this kind of performance as silly, something no girl, bad or good, would want to put on in any conceivable circumstances. This may be tinged with slight envy of the mere physical talents of the sirens. Some feel that this kind of stuff is clearly what purveyors of "immature emotional satisfactions" (Hoggart) want their frightened clients to believe is the way they would like girls to behave. It all begins, and ends, in solitary fantasy. 

It reminds one again that many authors or artists, even of genius, never knew sexual normality. So many were warped in their own experience or suffered from egoistical inability to control their im pulses. Anyhow, the evidence goes to suggest that there are some very stunted, and not a few sick minds behind the production of mass entertainment. But when all is said and done the misfit sections do not make these films totally objectionable; no more than occasional tactless insult altogether destroys a friendship.

Censorship, "Liberals" and 'Room at the Top'

(The Furrow, January 1966)
 Room at the Top (Corinthian) is one of the best of the films previously banned, and now cut and passed for adult audiences.  They keep before our minds the question of censorship and the  deeper one of the moral influence of art and literature. The days of  banning merely because of the theme, or subject, seem to be over  everywhere; there is more attention given now to the method of presentation and the intent behind it. If this film was originally  banned because of the love scenes, judicious cutting has removed  such ground for objection without in any way clouding the issues  at stake. To contend that one needs a more prolonged and detailed  indication of the sexual relationship of the central character (Lawrence Harvey) with the two women, if one is to follow their story,  seems to me stupid if not dishonest. Just as well complain that you  don't know what happened to Karin in the Virgin Spring, because  the rape is not shown. (This beautiful, elemental film was shown in the Fine Arts theatre; I hope it will appear every now and again forever.) The way, the spirit, in which the double attachment is  dealt with seems to me reasonably adequate, given a completely non  religious environment. One leads to a pre-married pregnancy and  shot-gun wedding with the boss's daughter, the other, with an unhappily married woman, to her too timely death. Granted, by our or almost any standards the immorality of the two liaisons, there is nothing in the way the story is told to make one believe that this is  an attractive or acceptable way to live. The hopelessness of such a  situation is really effectively conveyed by the sensitive acting of  Simone Signoret; and if the great settler of knotty problems, death, is used a bit too glibly, still on the other hand he has always been  a legitimate means of emphasis of any vital point. 

But the sexual emotions are not the only or perhaps the most  important ones touched here. The exacerbated resentment of the  clever, ambitious, young man from the provinces and working-class, in the face of his social "superiors" is well set out. Suave manners, name dropping, initiated behaviour are all used as weapons to  humiliate and exclude him.The resultant emotions are well worth dramatic exploitation, for they are among the most explosive in the world.

 To return for a brief moment to the question of banning and  morality; the reason why this film does not seem to me likely to have  bad effects is principally because the women are never here treated in an impersonal, and so most deeply degrading way. The relationships are intensely, painfully personal. In so many other films which  seem to have no trouble gaining entrance, human flesh is paraded for  the amusement or provocation of anonymous Man. These arrogant, beedy-eyed inspectors look the girls up and down with cool appraisal,  intended to glorify an attitude of disenchanted experience coupled  with unflagging lust. This is immoral, and almost as unpleasant as  the slavish praise meted out by mis-named liberals, to any production  that is smutty, blasphemous and debunking.

The Insecure Offenders: Rebellious Youth in the Welfare State (1961 book)

Review of book ( by T. R. Fyvel ) in Studies Quarterly Review, Winter 1962 
THE first of these books might take its place in the worthy company of The Uses of Literacy, The Hidden Persuaders and The Affluent Society. It is, with them, a study of the vital under-currents of modern society; here there is particular stress on the influences which are producing delinquents in such alarming numbers. Statistics are used; but the book is a study of people not numbers. It deals principally with Britain, but has interesting sections also on the problem in U.S.S.R., U.S.A. and Europe. The statistical size of the problem may be indicated by the figures for Britain: in 1938 indictible offences in the 17-21 age group were 10,131, in 1959 they were 30,086; violence against the person rose from 163 to 2,366. Similar trends have appeared almost everywhere. 

An examination of the social soil encouraging such luxuriant growth shows it to be one where the moral law is openly derided, its very notion being denied validity even in learned circles; where the idea of there being a transcendental purpose in human life is presumed away; where the working philosophy of life is explicitly materialist and hedonist. In such a society commercial interests rule, almost absolutely. These interests are in themselves amoral and ruthless; their one purpose-production, of any thing. Desires are created and satisfied with this end alone in view. Now, the teenage spending power has increased to an enormous extent- unmarried young people spent £900 million in Britain in 1959 - so the commercial pressure is turned on it. The desires created in them are, for the most part, not for the essentials of life;

 'The economy is geared to the least urgent set of human wants' (Galbraith: The Affluent Society); stress is on drinks, smokes, entertainment, decorative clothing, body culture (cosmetics, etc.), betting, cars and scooters, sensational reading. This is the area where advertising and high-pressure salesmanship is concentrated. Desire is not only aroused but made rabid. 'In the U.S. it is already harder than almost anywhere else for those who cannot follow the advice of the advertisers . . . to lead any life which is psychologically secure.' 

It might not surprise a contemplative: it may at first seem rather unexpected to most others, that the result of all this, or at least what goes along with it, is a pervasive boredom. Time may be short and all that but one of the great problems is to put it in, how to kill it! The crime peak is reached in England at 4.0 pm on Sundays.This is one way of relieving boredom. Whether the long hours spent in coffee bars is to be taken as a way of relieving it, or of showing it, is an open question. They may possibly be included under the heading 'Doing Nothing' which was the way 23% of youths, in another survey, described their leisure time activities.

 Little enough interest is taken, and comparatively small sums spent in providing housing, sports facilities, education for the submerged tenth and where their fundamental needs are neglected their energies and resentments break out in violence, restlessness and a search for 'kicks'.

The great advertising media plug sex, sensation, crime and other get rich-quick activities. Is it to be wondered at that this 'arouses morbid and synthetic emotions' amounting at times to hysteria. Two popular Sunday papers were condemned by the British Press Council 'as grossly lewd and salacious . . . debased to a level which is a disgrace to British journalism'. They have of course a loud enough voice to set up a heart-rending cry of 'Inquisition' or 'Puritanism' or prudery if there is any attempt to censor them. Some one apparently calculated that United States television showed 6.2 acts of violence per hour; while their 'comic' literature was described by a Senate sub-committee as 'Short courses in murder, mayhem, robbery, rape, cannibalism, carnage, necrophilia, sex, sadism, masochism, and of all crimes, bestiality and horror'. Well, a lot of this may well leave the normal child unaffected, but it can certainly topple the unstable. ......

This simply tots up to a false, unsettling set of values which makes sheep of the majority but also a nice proportion of wolves to prey upon them. .....

When these mass-produced sheep in wolves' clothing, interspersed with genuine wolves as a by-product, get into the clutches of society's penal system, what happens Some rather peculiar things to start with: one is that many of these apparently untameable beasts have their first experience of an ordered, secure and reasonably healthy life; they thrive on it, and secretly rather regret certain aspects of it when it is over e.g. the companionship, the sense of belonging, the loyalties and solidarity of the group. This is so of the more enlightened juvenile institutions. Lady Wootton is here quoted as saying that 'Penal experiences create a delinquent culture based on these experiences'. This has its disadvantages when they are plunged back into the society which was largely responsible for deforming them and still repudiates them; they begin to hate it. Battle is joined and may be waged through many a raid and 'job' on one side and many a sentence on the other, till a type is developed which can live no other way and is stamped indelibly as criminal.

Sean O'Casey, Prostitution, Anti-Clericalism and the film "Young Cassidy"

(The Furrow, April 1965)
The most interesting show recently, for extrinsic reasons, was Young Cassidy (Adelphi). This is a story based on the life of Sean O'Casey; it scarcely adheres to its base at any point. It is cinema entertainment untrammeled by much reality. Rod Taylor in the lead is unconvincing. He is lusty, burly, blustering, an extrovert, quite unlike what O'Casey was or could have been. Perhaps this is the kind of "boyo" he would like to have been, instead of the scraggy, under-nourished, petulant misfit of genius which he was. There are some exciting, vigorous riots and street fighting to set ......

The encounter with the prostitute, and to a lesser extent with a slum siren, was in poor taste. Here was glamorised immorality at its most obvious and artistically inexcusable. One doesn't need to be as staunchly blind as the good lady who announces as she strides out of the Abbey Theatre: "There is not a prostitute to be found in the length and breadth of Ireland", to object to this scene. (This remark was, by the way, greeted with the derisive jeers it so clearly invited, by the cinema audience.) The prostitutes of Dublin, at least such as a young, impecunious literary agitator could afford, in the city of Buck Mulligan, Bloom and Young Cassidy, were unfortunates whose moral squalor and misery would have been well matched by external grime and stench. Here you have a beautiful, happy girl (Julie Christie) well bathed and laundered, looking as if she had come straight from the caresses of a Mediterranean sun. This is insincere, bogus, false; untrue to life and trebly untrue of Dublin slum life in 1913. 

This, coupled with the speech by Yeats implying that the most contemptible thing that could be said of a man would be to call him "a God-fearing young Irishman" all this lacks integrity. A further false impression is created when Cassidy leaves Ireland with the pompous encouragement of Yeats booming in his ears, whereas O'Casey left with fury in his heart at Yeats's refusal of the Silver Tassie

But when all is said and done it's not to be taken too seriously; the scenery is beautiful; all the women act well. Nora (Maggie Smith) is easy to watch, though indeed the love scenes are oppressively "filmy" with conventional posturings and manoeuvring for position on the canal bank, from amorous clich to clinch. This is a film of parts; the good parts do not redeem the bad but neither do the bad corrupt the whole. There is no whole. 

Sean O'Casey, Matt Talbot and Marxism

Extract from review of two books on Matt Talbot in The Irish Monthly, July 1949
Another book that makes passing mention of Matt Talbot is the autobiography of the emigre Dubliner, Sean O'Casey. He sneers. It seems rather strange that an artist, one of the sensitive high-priests of the true and beautiful, should fail to admire beauty flowering even by a cess-pool; it is somewhat disgusting to find him going out of his way to spit upon it. Is it because Matt Talbot purified himself completely of a ravening vice, cauterising it ruthlessly out of his soul, that he is " Mutt Talbot "? Is it ever contemptible for a man to free his spirit from almost all the claims of mortal flesh in order to seek Truth and Beauty with unshrinking sacrifice, with undiminishing fidelity? Is he a fit object for ridicule because he gave from his scant possessions to a good cause more than he could spare? Perhaps the Marxist in Mr. O'Casey got the better of the artist. 

 Your Marxist is a determinist. These omniscient planners of a perfect world, these humourless betterers of the human race, think they can plan men, infallibly. How then can they admit that something far better than the best they have planned has grown up strong and tall and fair out of conditions that should breed inevitably depravity, meanness and ugliness? It would never do for a doctrinaire Marxist to admit that the highest form of human activity could grow out of the soil Matt Talbot was rooted in. Above all he could not admit to be a hero an addict of the "opium of the people ". Now if Matt had only remained a drunkard he might have served his purpose as an obscure but useful little figure in their statistics : the hundred and first case of crime inevitably due to liquor, or the fifth, perhaps, of suicide due inevitably to hopeless poverty, or of lunacy predetermined by victorious environment. But he evaded their clutches. He had a will of his own, that forbidden article of private property; he had a strong, free will, and by God's grace he used it. That is the rub; that is the accursed scandal for the Marxist. "The weak things of this world has God chosen to confound the strong." Matt Talbot confounds the Materialists: "Confound him!"

 Is there just a little danger that he might be a stumbling-block to "progressive" Catholics? They might ask: Is he a fit ideal for the social movements in the Church, with their present stress on self-development, education, good housekeeping and in general the raising of the workers' standard of living? Not that you expect a man to be ahead of his time - you don't blame St. Louis for accepting the feudal system - but you do not want him to be notably behind or to seem even opposed to the progressive movements of his time. And Matt Talbot? What did he care about the standard of living? A cup of cold tea and cocoa mixed, and a few bits of bread kept body and soul as close together as served his purpose; there was not much use in dressing too respectably if he was going to slit his trousers at the knees, in order to kneel on the bare ground : a hard bed, too, served better for praying on that a soft mattress. Then what about the Social and National revolution that took place in his time? What was his record; " Where was he in 1916?" Probably kneeling on his plank bed, praying.

 But, as the bus-conductors say : " Hold tight a moment, please." Are we to get so obsessed with procuring good things that we can no longer admire better? There is no need to get huffy because a quiet, independent, courageous little man walks out absent-mindedly far beyond our furthest goal, brushing aside somewhat gruffly the proffered hands of the uplifters, and ignoring all their most cherished maxims. " Matt went on his way, and maybe it was a good way, too." He was not against social improvements, he just got where he was going without them. He might have spent his life, and spent it well, in fighting for improved labour conditions and national freedom, with Pearse and Connolly; he might have joined Big Jim Larkin in his fight against drunkenness among the dockers; but, forced to a judgment, would you not say that he spent it better in fighting the long, glorious, lonesome battle for better spiritual conditions in his own and other souls, all-absorbed in the movements stirred by the incalculable action of the Holy Spirit? He went " a more excellent way ". 

"Of Human Bondage", Somerset Maughan and Meaninglessness

(The Furrow, May 1965)
Of Human Bondage (Adelphi) has the particular interest to us of  having been made at Ardmore. It is well made, and well cut, only  once did I feel a jolt as regards sequence of events. But it is not a  very good story. The character of Philip (Lawrence Harvey) is sympatica. He is club-footed, sensitive, insecure and sentimental.  Admit it or not, many will easily identify with Philip ; Philip mooning romantically over a saucy little waitress, longing for her physically, and longing to be her saviour as she sinks from sauciness into the  soup. It is touching in parts, due to Harvey's sincere, anxious,  portrayal of a man cornered by his own disguised greediness into  altruistic concern for the girl. He speaks clearly, which adds  immensely to the enjoyment of viewing him; Kim Novak doesn't,  and it irritates. 

The story evokes only a minor pity, where there  could have been tragic sorrow. The great issues are not raised. When  the now wasted prostitute asks for a fine funeral as her dying request, one feels that the author is showing not merely how pitifully  mean her values always were, but that he himself believes that there was nothing else at all that Philip or anyone could have done for  her at that time but promise to fulfill her paltry wish. Religion is  thrown in with vague gestures over the remains, the words of prayer  sounding as meaningless as the trimmings on the hearse, the whole  performance something tacked on to life or something that happens  at a distance from reality. This was suggested to me by the great  space between the watching Philip and the burial. 

I wonder am I  wrong in thinking that it was Maugham as much as Philip who  could not think of anything to say that might conceivably console  or give hope to a degraded, desperate, dying girl. One wasn't left  in sorrow that the girl was beggared of all values and failed to  reach the only hand that could have saved her; there never was the  slightest suggestion that such a hand existed. Deep things are treated  shallowly and tragedy reduced to insignificance.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, the Sisters of Charity and the National Maternity Hospital [2]

Attack on Sisters is "Elder Abuse"

The hysteria about the Sisters of Charity and the National Maternity Hospital is underway again. Predictably the Sisters capitulation to an anti-clerical mob in May 2017 failed to satisfy said mob and they are having another go. I posted comments regarding the controversy on two articles on the Association of Catholic Priests website last year and this seems a good time to reproduce them.
["Catholic Ethos and Other Mysteries" AND "The New National Maternity Hospital and The Religious Sisters of Charity" ]

Much of what I had to say was a response to a statement by Fr Gabriel Daly OSA (Order of St Augustine) whose attitude to the attacks on the Sisters of Charity was that the critics were "wise and persuasive" and also "temperate and convincing". 

In the present crisis the bishops, together with the Sisters of Charity, had little to say on what was happening. Most of them may understandably have felt that the least said the soonest mended. There was, however, a surprisingly belligerent atmosphere among the people interviewed by the media.  The prevailing opinion among those interviewed was that under no circumstances should the new hospital be handed over to a religious body like the Sisters of Charity, because of its alleged failures in the past. Those with more considered reasons feared that there might be interference with medical decisions on religious grounds.  This was a fair point, usually made by professionals like Dr. Peter Boylan, who had the grace to argue temperately and convincingly.  I find myself convinced by his wise and persuasive arguments.

In Father Daly's view the REAL problem is traditionalists in the Catholic Church who are engaged in "a relentless and heavy-handed creation of laws and the heartless prescriptions for their infringement" And the difference between "Traditionalists" and Reformers": 
Traditionalists are concerned about law, control, discipline and punishment.  Infringements against marital law, for example, are punished by canon law by forbidding the offenders to receive Holy Communion.   The Gospel is ignored and there is no mention of mercy or forgiveness as a grace.  ‘Reformers’, on the other hand, following Pope Francis, prefer to dwell on God’s mercy.  This distinction is vitally important for attitudes towards the question of ownership and ethos of hospitals and schools....

 Revelation has little to say about sex; and nothing at all about reproduction.  It is time for Catholics to think theologically about these matters rather than allowing traditionalists away with imposing their own narrow and authoritarian views in the name of church teaching.

"Black Hats" and "White Hats" in the Church
Father Daly states: The plain fact is that there are two very different parties whose values seriously conflict in their view of their church. One group claims that the church is charged with legislating for the whole body and is greatly concerned with how these rules are carried out, with suitable punishments for those who offend.  The other, following the example of the present pope, Francis, prefers to emphasise mercy, understanding and forgiveness. It believes in the need for constant reform.  These two views stem from two very different attitudes to God, Jesus, the church and the world.

When we speak of the relationship between church and state, we are not speaking about abstractions.  Whatever about the state, it matters which party in the church is conducting the matter in dispute.  The fear of interference by the church is a live possibility in a maternal hospital – a point that takes us back to Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and is closely relevant to the present dispute.

HOWEVER there was no sign of "mercy, understanding and forgiveness" in the behaviour of the politicians, journalists and media mob that denounced the Sisters of Charity. In fact their behaviour quite closely resembled that of the Traditionalists condemned by Father Daly - relentless, heavy-handed,  heartless, narrow, authoritarian, emphasis on " law, control, discipline, punishment".  In addition one specific allegation - that the Sisters "owed" €3 million to the State sounds much more like a bare-faced lie than even 'sincere' bigotry. Yet Father Daly lets these people off rather lightly. His heart-felt criticisms are directed at the nuns and at the Hierarchy!

"Catholic Ethos and Other Mysteries" - Fr Gabriel Daly and the National Maternity Hospital 

[ For ease of reading, I have renumbered Comments made by myself and others]

[1] Padraig McCarthy
May 9th, 2017 at 9:17 pm
I know nothing about the running of a hospital, nor about the complexities of getting two hospitals working in close cooperation. I do know that when I was in that parish (Westland Row) in the 1970s, and we used to be called at any time of day or night to a child whose life was in danger, even then there was talk of the difficulties of the present premises of the National Maternity Hospital.

I do not understand why the decision was made to give ownership of the new Maternity Hospital to the St Vincent’s Hospital Group, even when the land belongs to them. Perhaps there are practicalities of ensuring smooth administration of the conjoined hospitals, or perhaps, as some suggest, there are some financial considerations which make it necessary.

In the present dispute, both the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) and the St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) have given categorical assurances that the new maternity hospital will be clinically independent to perform any procedure which is permitted in law. I do not know whether that has been copper-fastened in law at this stage. It seems clear, however, that if that independence were not respected in any way, there would then be strong grounds for serious action against SVHG.

In the light of that, it seems to me that the fears of Dr Peter Boylan and others are unfounded. Gabriel finds himself “convinced by his wise and persuasive arguments.” I find myself nowhere near convinced. Dr Boylan seems to speak more from his fears than from clear argument. He clearly cannot bring himself to trust the judgment of the rest of the board of the NMH. I cannot say at this stage whether his fears will turn out to be justified; if that proves to be the case, there will be an almighty row. Gabriel says that “interference by the church is a live possibility in a maternal hospital.” Is it “interference” when the Sisters are faithful to their medical ethics in such matters, but not interference when those same ethics led them and other congregations to fill “this serious gap”, as Gabriel describes it?

The fears of Dr Boylan and others seem to arise from strong resentment against the Sisters of Charity, as Gabriel says, pointing to how the sisters are being “execrated in such hostile and sometimes vitriolic terms.” I suspect that this is heightened by the proximity of the debate on abortion. As reported in the media, it seems at times almost a frenzy. A petition with 100,000 signatures against ownership of the new NMH by SVHG sound impressive. The population stood at 4,761,865 in April 2016, so that petition represents 2.1% of the population, but they are well organised. If someone versed in these matters were to initiate a petition in support of the present proposals, I wonder could it surpass it?

There is something seriously contradictory if we are about to invest 1 billion Euro in a new Children’s Hospital, and at the same time to invest €300 million in a hospital which will include in its programme of “services” the termination of the lives of unborn children. There are better ways. The recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly lack rationality and leave serious questions. No person has an abortion just for the sake of having an abortion: there are always other reasons. If those reasons are non-medical, for example “socio-economic”, as is the case in a large majority of abortions elsewhere, then those same reasons need to be addressed, rather than apply a medical “solution” to a non-medical problem. If the reasons are medical, then it is quite clear that the mother may always receive whatever treatment is necessary to save her, even if, sadly, it is not possible to save the child.
There is an internal anomaly in Gabriel’s essay. He writes of “traditionalists”, with whom “the Gospel is ignored and there is no mention of mercy or forgiveness as a grace.” And yet he writes in relation to the Mother and Child Scheme that it was “opposed, perhaps understandably, by the medical profession, and unforgivably by the Catholic Church.” The church has indeed many failings; but why should any of these be unforgivable?

[2] Rory Connor
May 13th, 2017 at 5:25 pm

I find Fr Gabriel Daly’s arguments very strange and I can’t see the relevance of many of them so I will concentrate on one. Fr Daly finds himself convinced by the “wise and persuasive arguments” of Dr. Peter Boylan who feared that there might be interference with medical decisions on religious grounds. In summary I wonder why he is convinced by Dr. Boylan but not by Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony, deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns, or the overwhelming majority of the board members (25 out of 28) who approved the agreement brokered by Kieran Mulvey in November last year?

I suppose the argument that Fr Daly agrees with is the one contained in the text message sent to Dr Mahony and (former president of the High Court) Mr Kearns on 23 April: [Irish Daily Mail, 26 April 2017]
I’m sorry it’s come to this but I did try to warn you. The way out for both of you is to make it clear that you were misled by SVHG [St Vincent’s Hospital Group]. You accepted their bona fides and assurances and were effectively lied to. Both you and the minister are inextricable linked in this and you’ll either sink or swim together.

The way to get the hospital is to insist on CPO of Elm Park golf club land on periphery and establish links to via tunnels/corridors. Minimal design alterations needed.

Does Fr Daly consider these to be “wise and persuasive arguments” or “temperate”? Is he really surprised by the immediate response Dr Boylan received from Mr. Kearns that included the following:
”Both the Master and I have received and read your text sent to us at 13.47 today.

“We are now asking for your immediate resignation from the Board of Holles St – both because of your public intervention to criticise and oppose the overwhelming majority decision of the Board taken in November last to approve the agreement reached with SVUH for the transfer of Holles St to Elm Park – a vote on which you abstained – and in addition because of the content of your text sent today.

“It’s intimidatory tone is most regrettable.” ……

Would Father Daly consider that an “intemperate” response to a “wise and persuasive argument” from Dr. Boylan?

The National Maternity Hospital also issued a statement .
Dr Boylan was a member of the NMH Board at all times during the six month period of mediation which resulted in the agreement of 21 November 2016 to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital with St Vincent’s University Hospital. The Board was kept fully briefed on all developments by the negotiating team during that period,” the hospital said in the statement.

The decisive final meeting of the board overwhelmingly supported the agreement with 25 in favour, two abstentions (including Dr Boylan) and one vote against. [My emphasis] 

Thereafter the agreement was approved by government and planning permission was lodged.Last week, some five months after the agreement was approved, Boylan, without warning, consultation with or notification to the Board, its chair or the master of the hospital, went public in attacking the agreement. Board members have a duty of loyalty to the Board on which they serve and for this reason his resignation has been sought.

I see that Dr.Boylan’s proposed solution is a Compulsory Purchase Order of land belonging to Elm Park golf club. So what’s wrong with a CPO? Well Health Minister Simon Harris has pointed out that using a CPO would not have been “the ideal solution by any means” because it would have meant the project getting “caught up in some potential legal difficulty for a large number of years.” Shane Phelan in the Irish Independent on 25 April gave an illustration of this difficulty. One just has to look at the case of Thomas Reid who resisted efforts by IDA Ireland to compulsorily purchase his land in 2011. The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court where Mr. Reid won his case in 2015. In the scenario suggested by Dr. Boylan, Elm Park Golf Club would be VERY likely to win a legal battle. They could point out that their land is “on the periphery” (as Dr Boylan states) and that for ideological reasons, the National Maternity Hospital had rejected the offer of a more central site from the Sisters of Charity!

FINALLY I see that Dr Boylan seems to accept that a CPO of the Sisters of Charity land is not possible. Veteran negotiator Kieran Mulvey said (in the Mail on Sunday 30 April) that it was not possible for the nuns to give up ownership of St Vincent’s because of intertwined loans. He said St Vincent’s Healthcare Group had large borrowings connected to the hospital site and ‘the idea that you can just separate a piece of land is just not legally possible at the moment… There are large borrowings by the St Vincent Healthcare Group which will have to be met.’

Unfortunately Dr. Boylan’s proposed solution appears to involve equal – if not greater – legal difficulties and delays!

[3] Rory Connor
May 15th, 2017 at 7:35 pm
There seems to be two separate – although related discussions – going on here, one of which is the general issue of a “Catholic Ethos”. I believe that the latter issue is peripheral; it’s being used by anti-clerics as an excuse to launch savage attacks on the Sisters of Charity and I suspect that the rational and respectful discussion between Kevin and Joe etc is beside the point!

I see the main issue as that stated in the recent statement by the ACP in the article entitled National Maternity Hospital
..In fact, if some of the things being said publicly about nuns today were being said about any other minority group, they would be clearly seen as highly inflammatory and viewed as being in violation of the laws against discrimination...

Specifically I suggest that they are in violation of the Prohibition against Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 which makes it an offence to publish or broadcast material that is threatening, abusive or insulting and is intended, or is likely, to stir up hatred. (This includes hatred directed against a group of persons on the basis of their religion.)

I recall media articles relating to the controversy in which people claimed they were experimented on for vaccine trials while in a Mother and Baby Home, or subjected to “atrocities”. And a letter in which a lady claimed that the words “nuns” and “maternity hospital” in the same sentence are enough to make an Irish female shudder. The latter comment is rather strange because according to a (very hostile) article in the Irish Times last year (28 April 2016)
..The running of the Irish health service was largely undertaken by religious orders in the past. Orders of nuns were responsible for the setting up of many of Ireland’s hospitals in the 19th and 20th centuries

Indeed St Vincent’s Hospital was founded by Mother Mary Aikenhead foundress of the Sisters of Charity and established at St Stephen’s Green in 1834 to care for the sick poor. Did the Sisters prevent the State from establishing a secular equivalent in pre-Famine Ireland?

One extraordinary feature was the repeated claims by politicians and journalists that the Sisters of Charity had failed to pay the balance of €3 million “compensation” that they “owed” the State. Health Minister Simon Harris said that the two matters should be considered separately. What two matters? On 23 April [2017] the Mail on Sunday (journalist Valerie Hanley) reported:

The Department of Education has confirmed to the MoS that that the nuns’ legal costs for the Ryan Commission will be offset against the €3 million of payments for abuse victims that are outstanding. While these costs have not been finalised, media reports that were based on briefing documents have estimated them at €5 million, a sum that would more than wipe out the outstanding bill that they owe.

Crucially, the department has confirmed that the reason for the delay in resolving the problem is nothing to do with the nuns, but is down to its own officials figuring out the final costs of the congregation’s legal representation at the Ryan Commission…..”

Yet, as Ms. Hanley pointed out, the claim that the Sisters owed €3 million, had been repeatedly cited by politicians from Fianna Fail, The Greens, Labour and the Social Democrats and the media as justification for outraged comments about the agreement brokered by Kieran Mulvey. Did the Minister for Health not liaise with his Education colleague? Or did he decide to sidestep the issue – on the basis that discretion is the better part of valour when faced with anti-clerical hysteria?

[4] Kevin Walters
May 16th, 2017 at 8:11 am
Reply to Rory Connor 
Thank you Roy for your comment, the article by Gabriel incorporates an attack on the moral authority of the church’s teachings, especially Humanae Vitae as it is sited six times often disparagingly.

I realize that you want to focus on injustice in regards to the Nuns but that same injustice is undermining their ethical belief in the Churches teaching in regards to the sacredness of human life, from conception to death, which many have given their lives in service to.
I believe that there is plenty of space on this web page to search for the Truth of “related discussions”

kevin your brother
In Christ

[5] Rory Connor
May 18th, 2017 at 8:02 pm
Reply to Kevin 
I tend to agree with you regarding Humanae Vitae. Also some anti-clerics who were alienated from the Catholic Church because of the encyclical, probably see it as justification for ANY kind of hate-filled attack on clergy or nuns. “Ecrasez l’infame” and all that.

However the CURRENT issue is the controversy about the National Maternity Hospital and it is due to come to a head again at the end of this month – after the cooling-off period suggested by the Minister for Health. I suspect the ONLY result of the “cooling-off” is that journalists and politicians will no longer repeat the lie about the Sisters “owing” €3 million to the State. However this won’t be because of a new-found devotion to the truth but because THAT particular lie is no longer sustainable! Otherwise it will be back to business as usual and the Church needs to prepare itself.

I do indeed want to “focus on injustice in regards to nuns” but as I stated in a previous discussion, this has major implications for the laity – and for teachers most of all. See in particular comment # 4 in “The Oblates, the Minister and the Redress Board”

If the Sisters of Charity manage to handle the present crisis properly, namely by refusing to make concessions in the face of hysterical attacks, then it could discourage such attacks in future. And that will benefit lots of people apart from clergy or religious.

In that respect I was pleased to read the following in Valerie Hanley’s article in The Mail on Sunday on 23 April [2017]:
A source revealed: ‘The nuns are adamant that they have fulfilled all their obligations under the redress board. When something is repeated enough it becomes fact. There has been an awful lot of vitriol loaded on the nuns. There has been a nonsense argument going on all week and there is no basis for some of what has been said. Some of what has been said is prejudice for things that happened historically. It’s band-wagonism and politicians are running after it. The politicians should be doing better.

The nuns are annoyed and they consider some of the comments that have been made as being defamatory. I think their attitude now is ‘let the State go off and build their hospital on their own land’. [My Emphasis]

That’s all very well and I couldn’t agree more BUT the Sister’s comment is being made anonymously. My own fear is that – under pressure – the Sisters of Charity will cave in and authorise an amendment to the National Maternity Hospital Agreement approved in November 2016. In that case, their critics will rejoice and declare themselves victorious and vindicated. In previous comments I have detailed how the Sisters of MERCY were savaged because of their constant attempts to ingratiate themselves with people who hated them. I also have an article on the subject here:
Sisters of Mercy

I hope that the Sisters of Charity now understand the dangers of Appeasement – defined by one British newspaper in 1939 as “A clever plan of selling off your friends in order to buy off your enemies”.
(For the Sisters of Mercy, that worked the same way it did for Neville Chamberlain!)

[6]   Eddie Finnegan
May 19th, 2017 at 3:16 pm
The Leadership [of the Association of Catholic Priests]  very balanced statement on ‘The National Maternity Hospital’ on 10 May unfortunately diverted any comments to this discussion thread, thereby losing the importance of the points it made in four of its five paragraphs. Only Pádraig McCarthy referred to the statement [1] above, though Rory Connor@[5] once again returned to the wider question at greater length.

The statement’s Paragraphs 2&3 rightly pointed out: “In the current debate . . . . we consider some of the language and expressions being used about the Sisters, and indeed nuns in general, both in the media and by some public representatives, to be both distasteful and unfair.

In fact, if some of the things being said publicly about nuns today were being said about any other minority group, they would be clearly seen as highly inflammatory and viewed as being in violation of the laws against discrimination.”

The excellent letter from Sr Una Agnew SSL in today’s Irish Times [Time to reject caricatured view of nuns’] deserves to be reproduced within this discussion on the ACP forum.

As Sr Una puts it: “The derision with which the word ‘nun’ has been spoken on Irish television has cut to the heart of many who have put their lives on the line for values that are foundational to human flourishing . . . It is not nun-like to blow one’s own trumpet, yet no one is likely to do it for us, though many in high places have reason to be grateful.”

[7] Rory Connor
May 23rd, 2017 at 11:44 pm
Reply to Eddie 
I agree it’s a pity that the ACP Leadership diverted discussion on their National Maternity Hospital (NMH) statement to this thread. The “cooling-off” period called for by Health Minister Simon Harris, will come to an end shortly and we will probably face another barrage of hate-filled rhetoric directed at the Church and the Sisters of Charity. The discussion re Humanae Vitae is of limited relevance in this context.

Anyway I have just re-located Breda O’Brien’s article in the Irish Times regarding the abuse being hurled at the Sisters of Charity. Dated 6 May, the heading is “Mob Mentality Over Religious Orders Has Gone Too Far”. She quotes Professor Roy Greenslade regarding the way the McCann parents were treated after the disappearance of their daughter Madelaine (and the current hysteria is similar):
"It was like being in front of a mob – and you realized there is no wisdom in the mob. And it’s been terrible since”.

Ms O’Brien compares the atmosphere to that which led to the false conviction for rape of (former Sister of Mercy) Nora Wall who was accused of holding down a 12 year old girl so that the equally innocent Paul (Pablo) McCabe could rape her. She reminds us that both were convicted in the immediate aftermath of RTE’s broadcast of Mary Raftery’s “States of Fear” programmes in 1999. She could well have added that both were accused shortly after the broadcast by RTE of the “Dear Daughter” programme in 1996.

Nora Wall was the first woman in the State to be convicted of rape, the first person to receive a life sentence for rape, the first to be convicted of evidence given after “recovered memory”. These are “firsts” but there is also an “only”. There were TWO rape allegations against Wall and McCabe, one supposedly having occurred on the “victim’s” 12th birthday. Pablo McCabe was a homeless man but by an extra-ordinary chance there WAS an official record of where he was on that that particular day – and it was nowhere near the site of the “rape”. No problem for the jury. They acquitted the two defendants of that rape but convicted them of the second one for which no specific date was given! I think I can safely state that this is the ONLY time in the history of the State in which such an event has occurred – or will ever occur. An accused person is supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty” and if an accuser tells an obvious lie, then that should be the end for the prosecution. In fact the Prosecution were able to overcome that obstacle because Nora Wall had been a nun and anti-clerical hysteria trumped every rational consideration!

Anti-clerical hysteria continues to triumph over reason and morality in “liberal” secular Ireland. Breda O’Brien also refers to RTE’s libeling of Fr Kevin Reynolds in May 2011 by accusing him of impregnating and abandoning a young Kenyan woman. Fr Reynolds offered to take a DNA test but RTE ignored the offer and went ahead with the broadcast anyway – thus exposing themselves to a huge libel payout. Note that a NORMAL conman (i.e. one motivated by the desire for money or fame) would have seen the alarm signals and backed out at that stage but people motivated by ideological hatred (in the form of anti-clericalism) behave differently.

Am I being too strident? Well an earlier Irish Times article by Breda O’Brien regarding Judge Harding Clark’s report on the Symphysiotomy “scandal” is also relevant here. How many people still recall this fake scandal that occupied media headlines for a mere 17 years – prior to the publication of the judge’s report in November 2016?
Why Did So Many Women Say They Had Symphysiotomies?
Sensationalist consensus may overlook one third of applicants who never had procedure.
……But medical experts proved that a third of those who made applications, including some very vociferous and active campaigners, had never had the procedure at all.

Other applicants claimed to have had it in hospitals that were not yet built, or to have had it carried out by doctors who were not there, and “in several statements the applicant claimed being held down by nuns (in hospitals where there were no nuns) while she was being ‘assaulted’.”…..

Again this has an obvious link to the false allegations against Nora Wall and Pablo McCabe. It also helps to explain the thuggish rhetoric being directed at the Sisters of Charity today.

[8] Rory Connor
May 25th, 2017 at 12:13 pm
I see there are two articles in the Irish Medical Times on the National Maternity Hospital controversy – both significant in their own way and I commented on the one by Doctor Ruairi Hanley “Minister Build That Hospital”.

You have to register (although there is no charge) so I will quote what I see as the most important section:
….Regrettably, there is another factor in this dispute that has taken us beyond mere clinical disagreement. Over the past month, a baying liberal cyber mob has entered the fray and all sense of perspective has been lost. Please note, I am not referring here to those colleagues who have genuine concerns about this project. As already stated, I disagree with these people, but I respect their view.

No, the group that I find beyond parody are the extreme liberal, Catholic-hating online brigade who appear to think that a giant abortion clinic is the most important priority for South Dublin. I suspect some of these people will not be satisfied until a few nuns are imprisoned and the Catholic Church is effectively eradicated from any involvement in Irish society.

Liberal outrage
The vicious, obnoxious tone of some members of this new mob is truly appalling. They have turned on Dr Rhona Mahony, an outstanding and dedicated obstetrician who is a role model for Irish women. But, let’s be honest, the cool gang could not care less about the facts. Once they heard mention of nuns the red mist descended and it was then we moved to a classic liberal outrage contest.

For these individuals, online perception is always more important than clinical outcome. In their world it is apparently acceptable for this project to be sabotaged, with negative consequences for women and children, so long as a few elderly nuns get a good cyber-kicking.

Naturally, if the mob gets their way the hospital will be delayed at a cost of tens of millions of euro to the taxpayer. In my opinion, this would undoubtedly be the most expensive act of online ‘virtue signalling’ in human history. [My emphasis]

As an aside, I make no apologies for pointing out that the Catholic Church has done enormous good work in healthcare for the poorest in society over the past century, even if I am one of the only doctors in Ireland willing to say this publicly. …..

[9] Rory Connor
May 26th, 2017 at 6:53 pm
The second article in the Irish Medical Times “A Complicated Delivery” (by editor Dara Gantly) is equally significant – although for slightly different reasons.

In relation to the ownership issue Dara Gantly writes that
..Talk is now of a possible long-term lease (999 years anyone?) at a nominal or ‘peppercorn rent’.

It’s a curious development, given that the terms of agreement between the Holles Street and the St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) clearly stated that both hospitals realised this mediation process represented “the final opportunity to reach agreement on the project”, and that the Minister previously didn’t want to renegotiate it. …..

Indeed and if the Sisters of Charity are so foolish as to agree to this further re-negotiation of the Agreement, the “baying mob” referred to by Doctor Ruairi Hanley [comment #[8] will declare themselves vindicated and victorious. And let not the Sisters suppose that the mob will be content with their victory!

Mr Gantly concludes his article with the following:
What is of further interest now is that the Minister [for Health] wants to begin a “broader conversation” about the structure of our health service, including the role of voluntary hospitals and the interest religious congregations have in them. This has been happening in education (slowly mind), so we should not be too surprised to see it start in Health.

“That is a good thing and I want to separately put in place a process to facilitate that broader conversation which is long overdue and which will, rightfully, take some time,” Minister Harris has noted. ..

And what will be the nature of this conversation IF Minister Harris sees that the Sisters of Charity and the Church will not stand up for themselves but will attempt to conciliate the mob? When politicians and the media claimed that the Sisters owed €3 million in “compensation”, it was not the Minister for Health, but a Daily Mail journalist who queried the Department of Education and discovered that the Sisters owed nothing and in fact had over-paid! [See comment # [3]]

If the Sisters of Charity attempt to appease the mob in relation to the National Maternity Hospital, then reason and logic will NOT feature in the future “broader conversation” referred to by Simon Harris!


An article on the ACP website called The New National Maternity Hospital and the Religious Sisters of Charity features a Statement by Sister Mary Christian that details the Sisters' self-abasement before the mob. It begins:
The Religious Sisters of Charity will end our involvement in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group and will not be involved in the ownership or management of the new National Maternity Hospital...
I commented as follows:

[10] Rory Connor
June 2nd, 2017 at 9:13 pm
I had a number of comments on a previous ACP article Catholic Ethos and Other Mysteries including numbers [8] and [9] that referred to articles in the Irish Medical Times. I am reproducing #[9] here. It is very relevant as the Sisters of Charity have not just caved in to vicious and lying allegations; their Statement does not even refer to such allegations. Is anyone really deceived as to their motivation?

[I then repeated the previous comment above which ended with a prediction:
If the Sisters of Charity attempt to appease the mob in relation to the National Maternity Hospital, then reason and logic will NOT feature in the future “broader conversation” referred to by Simon Harris! ]

[11] Rory Connor
June 5th, 2017 at 6:50 pm
In a previous comment (#57 in the “Catholic Ethos and Other Mysteries” discussion #[8] above) I quoted from an article by Doctor Ruairi Hanley in the Irish Medical Times entitled “Minister Build That Hospital”. Doctor Hanley refers to “a baying liberal cyber mob”, their “vicious, obnoxious tone” and continues
“as an aside, I make no apologies for pointing out that the Catholic Church has done enormous good work in healthcare for the poorest in society over the past century, even if I am one of the only doctors in Ireland willing to say this publicly.“[My emphasis]

One reason why other doctors are unwilling to say this publicly, is that they will be undermined by the craven response of the Catholic authorities whose sole concern is to abase themselves before their slanderers. Last year, I corresponded with a man who had done good work in the past in defending falsely accused clergy and religious. However his response in 2016 was that he would not stick out his neck on behalf of people who were not prepared to defend themselves; naturally my request had related to nuns! His attitude – and that of other fair-minded people – can only be reinforced by the recent Statement from the leadership of the Religious Sisters of Charity.

I wonder what would have been the attitude of Jews if they had been attacked in similar fashion? Suppose that a Jewish group had offered to donate land for a hospital under precisely the same conditions as those agreed in November 2016 between Holles St and St Vincents. Suppose that the media and politicians erupted with hate-filled lies – including claims that the Jewish group committed “atrocities” against children, “experimented on [a child] for vaccine trials” and owed the State €3 million. Suppose that the Government Ministers responsible failed to defend the Jewish group against the lies and it was left up to a Daily Mail journalist to find out – via a Freedom of Information request – that the Jewish group owed nothing and had actually overpaid!

Of course, one reason that this would never happen is that the Jewish group would immediately defend its slandered members and take legal action against those responsible. Anti-Semites know this and are very mindful of the risks they would be facing. (For a recent illustration of this process at work try googling the names of the late Lord Greville Janner and his son Queen’s Counsel, Daniel Janner. One article you will find in ‘Police Professional’ on 30 May 2017 is headed “Historical Abuse Accusers Drop Claims against Lord Janner.”)

So Anti-Semites have to be very careful – but NOT anti-clerics and in particular not anti-clerics who tell lies about nuns. There have been a few occasions in which MALE clergy have successfully sued false accusers but the leaders of female religious congregations have always preferred the Appeasement approach. This has worked for the Catholic Church in much the same way it did for Neville Chamberlain in the 1930s i.e. it encourages further attacks from people who recognise moral cowardice when they see it. I wrote an article on this topic a few years ago and little has changed since then:
Sisters of Mercy