chapter  4
21 Pages

The Catholic Church, Violence, and the Nationalist Struggles in Ireland, 1798–1998

ByS.J. Oliver Rafferty

For a great deal of the period surveyed, the Catholic Church in Ireland lived under a government not always sympathetic to its existence and outlook. For the most part institutional Catholicism sought to inculcate in its adherents a respect for the structure of the state. Antirevolutionary and antiviolence denunciations although welcome by the government could place the church in a difficult position. The revolutionary Irish Republican Brotherhood posed a definitive challenge to the religious–social agenda of the church. But the greatest test for Catholicism was to come in the crucible of nationalist Ireland's twentieth-century struggles. One factor in the church's relative failure was its inability to be in the vanguard of changing political philosophy. Ideas about the state, participation in political life, the relation of the nation to the state, and the nature of religious and national identity were all subject to change.