With Your Spouting And Your Swearing, We Don’t Want To Hear About….

Pope John Paul II is thinking about coming to Ireland in the autumn or maybe the springtime. How cool is that? It is to commemorate his historic visit here 25 years ago, where a million turned out to open air mass in a Dublin park. It is a commonly used Rubicon for pre-modern and modern Ireland. It was Catholic Ireland at its peak and at its best- a tremendous outpouring of communal reverie and fun. It was what a religious service should be.

If Il Papa comes again he will find a different Ireland but I’d wager that he knows that better than anyone. The man strikes me as a titan in all senses, a poet, an actor, a sportsman, a politician but most importantly, someone head over heels in love with Jesus. I have no doubt that even in his wizened, Parkinson’s ravaged old age, he keeps track of culture and the development of society outside of his Church.

His iconic speech back in 1979 was made in Galway when he declared, “Young people of Ireland… I love you”. His charisma helped his pull such ostentatious words off.

Last time round, Bishop Fee advised him not to go North of the border because it was feared he would be a catalyst for carnage. Now, the Pope can hope to cap his achievements by blessing one of the great renewals in Western society of the late 20th Century- peace in Northern Ireland.

So yesterday, Rev Willie McCrea of the Free Presbyterian Church and DUP was asked about the proposed visit. Specifically he was asked on national, island-wide radio, whether he would oppose the visit of the Pope.

For those of you who don’t know, the Free Ps are a fundamentalist evangelical church founded by the Rev Iain Paisley in the 1950s that have about 11,000 congregational members up North. Although their numbers are smaller than the Baptists, they get a disproportionately large amount of media coverage and space in the public consciousness because of the oratorical and polemical skills of their founder and because of their intriguing hatreds. Primary amongst their demonized targets is the Pope, who it is claimed is actually Anti-Christ and not a Polish cleric and philosopher who helped bring down the Soviet Union.

The Free P’s are tightly aligned to their founder’s political party, the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP is much more popular than the Free P church and is now the largest Unionist party in Northern Ireland. They prey on (Protestant Unionist) people’s fears (which are legitimate to a certain extent) that the failure by the IRA to decommission their weaponry makes the continued power-sharing arrangements untenable. Historically they have consistently tried to associate the IRA terrorist campaign with the Vatican. I know that this might seem like a stretch to you, but remember we are talking about Northern Ireland.

So, to get back to the point at hand, which was Willie McCrea’s radio interview. Instead of answering the questions about whether the DUP/Free P would tolerate a visit by “Anti-Christ” to the “Province” as he put it, he began a trademark DUP/Free P diatribe.

He insisted that the Hunger Strikers (10 IRA prisoners who died in protest at the failure of the UK government to grant them Political Prisoner status… In the early 1980’s!!!) had crucifixes blessed by the Pope and therefore the Pope condoned suicide. He reminded us that the IRA had not destroyed all its weaponry and ammunition “in deed and not word” and that the political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein, wasn’t doing anything about this. Finally he assured us that every Presbyterian minister in Ireland swears that the Pope is Anti-Christ upon ordination. And all the elders think he is Anti-Christ too, allegedly. This was quickly rebutted in no uncertain terms by some Presbyterians via text message.

All that is just preparing you for this, my point. Willie McCrea believes that he has in his possession, a revelation from God who is God, the Creator of the Universe and that this revelation means that every single human being can now freely enjoy communion with said God for all eternity. He gets an opportunity to talk on national radio and he is asked a question about the Pope, another man who claims to also know this God and by his profession of faith and in his deeds, can be seen to have a genuine faith in the Christian God.

When faced with so simple a scenario, McCrea responds with preposterous allegations about the Pope assisting suicide 25 years ago and for good measure he throws in the irrelevant fact that a Marxist terrorist organization which ended its devastating violence 7 years ago has not yet destroyed its weaponry. Then he lies about other Christians, claiming that they are as filled with hate as he is but they don’t have the guts to admit it.

What kind of a witness to his revelation is that performance. Instead of modeling the radical generosity of spirit that Jesus demonstrated, he ranted like a Bible bashing fundie. Now I know what Bible bashing is all about. My fiancé’s Bible bashing has left me in a Men’s Shelter for Physically Abused Spouses & Partners on numerous occasions but this was a whole other level. He was putting a lot more the mentalism back into fundamentalism and not the fun. His response had not a sup of the milk of human kindness that should be the hallmark of the Christian. Living up to stereotype, he attacked others and occasionally talked in evangelical jargon about salvation and other concepts a secular nation don’t automatically understand by default anymore.

To slip into his jargon, I believe that Rev McCrea has a firm and saving faith. But he should preach the Good News of Christ instead of the political views of his Party in future. I am sure that he would accuse me and the Papists of selling cheap Grace. We are not of course, but even that is better than peddling Grace at a cost; which is adopting his worldview, his politics, his identity. Those things make for another Gospel.

I hope John Paul II can visit us. I would love to be able to tell my grandchildren that I heard one of the greatest people of the 20th Century speak and I would love to experience the ecumenical and devoted worship that no doubt will accompany his visit. If I could do that in Armagh, (which almost became the home of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages) then that would be perfect.

Your Correspondent, Asking God to pass him the mic

3 Responses to “With Your Spouting And Your Swearing, We Don’t Want To Hear About….”

  1. Des says:

    Alright Kev,
    Good post. Enjoyed it.

    des.

    (p.s there is no mentalist in fundamentalism)

  2. Zoomtard says:

    Nice spot there Des. Sorted that out.

    I failed a Theology HDip once for making the same mistake.

  3. Des says:

    Update your blog, or I’ll be forced to move elsewhere, elsewhere I tells ya