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Freedom and the Fifth CommandmentCatholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21$
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Brian Heffernan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090486

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090486.001.0001

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The Fifth Commandment and the brand of Cain: condemnation from the pulpit

The Fifth Commandment and the brand of Cain: condemnation from the pulpit

(p.35) 2 The Fifth Commandment and the brand of Cain: condemnation from the pulpit
Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Brian Heffernan

Manchester University Press

Many clerics who sympathised with Sinn Féin and who wished to see Ireland become an independent republic were nonetheless vociferous in condemning IRA violence. The discouragement of violence was thus an important aspect of the clergy’s traditional political alignment. This goal was pursued principally by exerting moral pressure on Irish Catholics through denunciation. This chapter examines public clerical condemnation of the IRA campaign. It looks first at its incidence, showing that priests condemned IRA violence more often as it became more frequent up to the last quarter of 1920, when denunciations dropped as British violence became harsher. The chapter also analyses the means by which clerics communicated their message and examines its contents. It shows that specific tropes of condemnation were established in the aftermath of the Soloheadbeg ambush.

Keywords:   condemnation, curses, denunciation, excommunication, murder, press, sermons, Soloheadbeg ambush

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