Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

From Idealised Moral Community to Real Tiger Society. the Catholic Church in Secular Ireland

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

From Idealised Moral Community to Real Tiger Society. the Catholic Church in Secular Ireland

Article excerpt

Abstract: From the 1960s to the 1980s, a time of "tension management" between "the old hegemony of Catholicism and nationalism and the emergence of liberalism and materialism" (Fogarty 1984: 102), Ireland's self-image as a moral community came under the influence of secularisation. The country's secularisation process speeded up when it decided to embrace new technologies--and consequently met with huge economic success--in the early 1990s, the results of which for Catholicism in Ireland were the visible and apparently irreversible undermining of the institution. My argument in this article is that, whereas in an Ireland which many viewed as a traditional, well-integrated religious nation, it was possible for Irish Catholics to live their faith in an institutionalised manner through the idealised moral community desirable both to Church and State, economic success and increased internationalisation made this idea of community less sustainable. Indeed, in what has now become a "network society" (Castells 1996: 469), there has emerged a new breed of Catholics who no longer live their religion as a transcendent inheritance but as an immanent choice, and who, therefore, seem to "connect" to their religion more than they "commune" with it.

Key Words: Irish Catholicism, moral community, secularisation, Celtic Tiger, network society.

Resumen. De los anos 1960 a los anos 1980, un periodo "de gestion de la tension" entre "la vieja hegemonia del catolicismo y el nacionalismo y la aparicion del liberalismo y materialismo" (Fogarty 1984: 102), la autoimagen de Irlanda en tanto que comunidad moral se vio influenciada por un proceso de secularizacion. La secularizacion del pais se acelero con la adopcion de nuevas tecnologias--y el consiguiente exito economico--a principios de los anos 1990, cuyos resultados para el catolicismo en Irlanda fueron la visible, y al parecer irreversible, debilitacion de la institucion. Mi argumento en este articulo es que, mientras que en una Irlanda que muchos veian como una nacion religiosa tradicional y bien integrada, para los catolicos irlandeses era posible vivir su fe de una manera institucionalizada a traves de la comunidad moral idealizada y deseada tanto por la Iglesia como por el Estado, el exito economico y la creciente internacionalizacion hicieron esta idea de comunidad menos sostenible. Ciertamente, en lo que ahora es una "sociedad red" (Castells 1996: 469), ha surgido una nueva generacion de catolicos que ya no viven su religion como una herencia trascendente, sino como una opcion inmanente, y que, en consecuencia, parecen tener una "conexion" con su religion mas que una "comunion" con ella.

Palabras clave. Catolicismo irlandes, comunidad moral, secularizacion, Tigre Celta, sociedad red.

In the ballad "Nationality", Thomas Davis, the main editor of the 19th-century Young Irish weekly The Nation, presented what he called his "crusade for nationality" as brave and fair by stating:

   A nation's right, a nation's right--
   God gave it, and gave, too,
   A nation's sword, a nation's might,
   Danger to guard it through. (1)

The appearance of such ballads, in The Nation, was part of the Young Irish politico-cultural programme that turned O'Connell's campaign for the repeal of the 1800 Act of Union into a divine mission. (2) Indeed, in The Nation's songs and poems " (...) the fight for freedom [wa]s associated with God's will, and Irish resistance seen as a holy and righteous war against the forces of evil" (Kelly 1998: 22). The paper's nationalist rhetoric that associated nationalism with religion in general was to stimulate Ireland's nationalist movements for many years to come. Sean Oliver rightly pointed out that " (...) without Davis's romantic ideology of the unity between heroic strife and nation, the actions of the Fenians and, in the twentieth century, the messianic nationalism of Pearse, are inconceivable" (Oliver 1993: 39). …

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