Jude Collins

Monday, 23 April 2012

John Waters and the Catholic Church

John Waters is that rare thing, an original thinker. He proved it again the other day when he wrote a piece  in the Irish Times. In it he expressed admiration for Pope Benedict, was critical of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, and had some tough words for those people who call for greater democracy in the Catholic Church.

“Last week, on the publication of an opinion poll on behalf of the Association of Catholic Priests, commentators who had never written a sentence indicating genuine interest in, or affection for, Catholicism – who never miss an opportunity to attack the Church and its leadership – struck up demands for 'democracy', purportedly on behalf of what they depict as the downtrodden and ignored 'faithful'.  Why? Why do they care whether the Catholic Church is democratic or not? What is it to them?”

I don’t agree with all that Waters says in the article, but I’m completely with him in much of it. I don’t believe Pope Benedict is deserving of uncritical admiration:  his response to a number of matters, including his reception of married Church of England clergy and their flocks into the Catholic Church, and his attitude to women priests, is up the left. Or up the right, in his case. And  the Catholic Church could do with a health-giving infusion of democracy. And there are quite a few Catholic priests who think we're still living in the 1950s.

But Waters nails it exactly when he questions  criticism of the Catholic Church  by many commentators.  It should be obvious to even a short-sighted man on a galloping horse that a wide and deep strain of hostility to the Catholic Church runs through the Irish media, north and south. As Waters says, these commentators have no commitment of any kind to the Catholic Church, yet they lose no opportunity to express their outrage at rulings in the Catholic Church, and strain to indicate that anyone who follows such rulings must have a weakness in the head or be a lick-spittle lackey of the Catholic clergy.  And as Waters also says, why do these commentators care? If you don’t play golf and have no interest in it,  wouldn’t it  look odd if you repeatedly wrote articles about its rules, its organization, its worth? Except, of course, you  were contemptuous of the game and those who played it.

The Irish media, by and large, is relentlessly “liberal” in its assumptions, and works hard at impressing those assumptions on the rest of us. Part of this is Catholic-Church bashing, resoundingly and at regular intervals. We should be glad there are people like Waters. Very glad.


  1. While I'm not a journalist, therefore have no soap box of my own to stand on, I do admit to getting on a "high horse" from time to time when it comes to the Catholic Church. I do not attend, I do not follow it in my own home anymore. Why? Because I believe that its archaic thinking and refusal to see what the common people, like myself, really want and need from a church is slowly strangling both itself and its followers. Would I return to the church if it modernized and allowed married priests and female priests as well? Yes, actually, I probably would because that would be a sign that it's finally coming out of its self-imposed dark ages and many of its other old views and practices would be changing too. Hmm - maybe I do have a soap box. :-)

  2. Waters was and is his own man,not conforming to prevailing orthodoxies.I believe one of his original mentors was the late great John Healy(aka Backbencher in the Irish Times) and he clearly shares Healy's independence of mind.Healy's only fault was that he could see no wrong in Charles J Haughey!But I suppose we all have our blind spots.

  3. The Roman Catholic Church in ROI has and continues to have influence of several matters of importance e.g. education therefore any person, usually those born there, are fully entitled to have a go at the Irish version of the RCC.
    I'm Irish and living abroad. I wonder what has the RCC done for the ROI that has not been achieved without religion in other locales?
    Just because there are many good people associated with the RC does not mean that its a good organization.
    Chris Hedges (US author) pointed out that schools and the media are the most important means to controlling a population. It might sound obvious but its worth mentioning when looking at the RCC.
    I notice on the "count me out" website that the RCC is no longer accepting requests to leave. We are supposed to be positive about an organization that declines an exit! In case anyone thinks I am biased I'm sure I could point out some flaws in other faiths, namely the desert religions (Taichi Sakaya) which originated in the Middle East area.