I don’t go in for conspiracy theories. Part of the reason for this is that they are a waste of time. They give people the sense of superiority by “knowing” the inside story of why things are going wrong (I have news for them: things started going wrong with Original Sin) and they seem to absolve people of responsibility for doing anything (this is not my fault because of the great Judaeo-Masonic-Marxist-Golfing conspiracy). Really, if you want light entertainment, try reading The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and have a laugh at the fact some people take this stuff seriously. My favourite nugget in the book is that John XXIII and Marcel Lefebvre are both members of the quasi-Masonic Priory of Sion: the first became pope and used the position to modernise the Church; when Paul VI tried to row back, John’s confrere in the Priory, Archbishop Lefebvre deliberately adopted a neo-traditionalist stance to force Paul continue with the programme. I think this bit was probably too complicated for Dan Browne to copy in writing The Da Vinci Code. Reminds me of the little Martian sitting at the table in episode of The Simpsons which sent up the Masonic Order as the Stonecutters’ Lodge.
However, it may be that The Phoenix is on to something in Charlie Brown and Benny (September 20, page 6) as they respectfully call the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland the Pontiff Emeritus. Goldhawk was able to tell us that Terry Prone organised the publicity for Rev Anthony Flannery’s book launch and Bill O’Herlihy actually launched it. Ms Prone (a former nun married to a former priest, Tom Savage) is Fine Gael’s main PR advisor whereas Bill O’Herlihy is a long-term Fine Gael organiser and fund raiser, when he's not commentating on soccer matches. Quite recently, Mr O’Herlihy received the supreme Blueshirt honour of addressing the Michael Collins commemoration in Béal na mBláth. You can tell the man by the company he keeps and Father Flannery moves in some exalted company. A pity that quite a lot of us find it a bit rich to hear Fine Gael either pointing their fingers at alleged right-wingers or talking about radicalism in general. But then again, publications like The Phoenix and socialist groups are remarkably capable of suspending their censorious attitude to Fine Gael hard line economics when it comes to social issues or the Church or both. However, The Phoenix speculates that Enda Kenny has given his approval to this. It’s hard to believe he hasn’t. Many of us believe that Father Flannery wrote, or at the very least advised on, the famous “elitist, narcissistic, dysfunctional” speech (use "Enda" as a mnemonic and you’ll remember it). All of us know Father Flannery’s brother Frank is one of Enda’s right-hand men. The Brandsma Review commented earlier that the January Vigil for Life were in direct competition with Father Flannery for headline space in a manner which could only benefit the government in their proposals to legalise direct abortion. So, why shouldn’t Enda show some gratitude?
The Phoenix is astute enough to recognise that the vocal liberal clergy have become very brave since the election of Francis I and point to a recent attack on the Nuncio by another ACP leading light, Father Brendan Hoban. Father Hoban criticises the Nuncio for not having been trained as such – in another context he could cite the lack of training as a virtue. The Phoenix recognises that the tactic is to portray Archbishop Brown as Benedict’s man, but it doesn’t challenge the ACPI’s perception that Francis is one of their own. The Pope has already re-stated the traditional teaching regarding the ordination of women. So Mary McAleese’s introduction to Father Flannery’s book won’t cut any ice there.
At one time, the Church of England was known as the Conservative Party at prayer. I wonder if the ACPI don’t see an inherent disadvantage in being labelled Fine Gael at prayer, especially given the behaviour of their accepted political masters in government since 2011?