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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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Preserving the peace: mediation, relief work and political activism

Preserving the peace: mediation, relief work and political activism

Chapter:
(p.226) 9 Preserving the peace: mediation, relief work and political activism
Source:
Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
Author(s):

Brian Heffernan

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719090486.003.0009

A majority of the clergy simply tried to avoid becoming involved in the conflict at all. This was an unremarkable course of action in areas of the country where violence was rare. But even in violent counties such as Cork it was a common attitude. The most pressing concern for most priests most of the time was how to avoid bloodshed in their parishes, and, if blood had already been shed, how to relieve the suffering of their parishioners. This relief work was ostensibly non-partisan, but its emphasis on shared victimhood at the hands of a foreign power was intended to reinforce the message of Irish Catholic unity. The current chapter examines a number of humanitarian clerical responses to political violence and assesses their meaning. It also looks at the wider context. Priestly involvement did not happen in a vacuum. There were other political issues at play, related only indirectly to the struggle for independence, but which were of crucial importance to the clergy.

Keywords:   education, humanitarian action, mediation, peace keeping, priests in politics, relief work

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