Saturday, 7 July 2012
Arise, Sir John
It's not always that I agree with the Dean of Northern Journalism, Eamonn Mallie. But I'm with him on this one - John Hume accepting a papal knighthood would be - although Eamonn would never stoop to such language - a crock of shit. For a start there's the timing. No, not because as Eamonn puts it: "Why accept an honour from an institution which has visited so much hurt on the young and innocent?" You might as well say "Why give credence to an institution which has visited so much hurt on the young and innocent by going to Mass with your children on a Sunday?" No, the timing has to do with Hume himself. When a papal knighthood offer might have had some merit would have been when Hume started his talks with Gerry Adams, and the Indo and all the southern media were going bananas about the shame of it all. A papal offer at that point would have shown that the papacy stood by those who were genuine peace-makers like Hume (and Adams) rather than Sir Tony O'Reilly and his assorted lackeys. But did it come at that time, when most needed? Not a chance. The church waited until Hume, as Mallie points out, was top-heavy with honorary degrees and awards. It's like waiting to see which way the wind is blowing, and only when there's a hurricane of approval behind the chosen one do you make up your mind.
Plus, of course, the idea of knighthood has been inextricably linked with the British Honours List, so if Hume were to transform himself to Sir John, he'd have to keep explaining to nationalists it was the pope that gave it to him, not that other one with the thing on her head.
Finally, the rich and/or powerful conferring distinctions on those they deem worthy is itself a crock of smelly stuff. Who are they to tell us who's worthy of distinction? Shouldn't we be telling them? Oh but I forgot - neither the papacy nor the monarchy are too much into democracy. Heavy on bowing and scraping, though.