Oracles of God: The Roman Catholic Church and Irish Politics, 1922-37/irish Catholicism since 1950: The Undoing of a Culture

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Oracles of God: The Roman Catholic Church and Irish Politics, 1922-37. By Patrick Murray. (Dublin: University College Dublin Press. 2000. Pp. 493. £42.95 clothbound;£19.95 paperback.)

Irish Catholicism since 1950: The Undoing of a Culture. By Louise Fuller. (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, Ltd. 2002. Pp. xxxviii, 360. euro30 clothbound; euro15 paperback.)

Both of these books had a common origin. Both began as a doctoral thesis and have made the successful transition into monograph form. The two volumes provide very important insights into different parts of the twentieth century. Murray focuses on the period between 1922 and 1937 while Fuller writes on Ireland since the 1950's. Murray's work is rooted in an exhaustive study of primary sources. He has used to great effect a wide selection of ecclesiastical archives. He has extended his range of study to the archives of a number of the smaller dioceses such as Clogher, Clonfert, Dromore, Galway, Kerry, Killaloe, and Limerick. He also conducted an exhaustive survey of relevant personal papers of politicians. Fuller in contrast bases her work almost exclusively on a survey of published sources. Her bibliography shows that she has consulted the Archbishop John Charles McQuaid papers and unspecified papers in the Galway diocesan archive. Her work is greatly strengthened by the methodical way in which she has reviewed meticulously and sensitively the most important ecclesiastical journals in the latter half of the twentieth century. Fuller has also conducted an extensive range of interviews with clergymen and women, a number of whom had a significant influence on the development of the Catholic Church in the second half of the twentieth century. She has, for example, interviewed Father Austin Flannery, O.P., the former editor of Doctrine and Life, on two occasions. She has interviewed Father Ronan Drury, founder member and long-time editor of The Furrow. Fuller writes with sympathy and sensitivity about the development of the Catholic Church since the 1950's. Her subtitle, "The undoing of a culture," provides a clue to the direction of her investigation. What is very refreshing about this study is the manner in which the author does not assert. Neither is she infected with the virus of political correctness. She uses her analysis of The Furrow as the spinal column for most of her work. The reader will be well rewarded by a careful reading of this text. The title, however, is slightly misleading. Her work really concentrates on how Catholic culture in Ireland was changing between 1950 and the late 1970's. You will not find in this volume a treatment of the crisis of Irish Catholicism in the 1980's and 1990's. …