Wednesday, 6 January 2010

St Mel’s – the burning of Ireland’s reputation?



I’m a Catholic – albeit not a good one – but I am saddened by the blaze in St. Mel’s, which will cost a minimum of 2 million. But what far exceeds the financial damage is the irreparable destruction done to both our national reputation and international cultural standing. The burning of this building that was a top pilgrim destination throughout the ages, and housed priceless artefacts of saints such as St. Mel, St. Patrick’s nephew. The reasons bandied about for the suspected arson are that it was ‘revenge’ and ‘justifiable because of the abuse cases’. But revenge on whom? Not one abused child will be better off because St. Mel’s was gutted. What formerly abused adult will get healing because a place of worship was destroyed? All it has done is to further a stereotype of Irish people as spiteful begrudgers, a sort of ‘a priceless church ruined as pay-back for the abuse victims’. But is it really a stereotype? There’s a very real attitude of ‘well they got what they deserve’. This is a temporary feeling of satisfaction, but for generations to come, we will be explaining the loss of historical treasures. On a short term level, the people of Longford are without a sightseeing location with which to lure tourists, and less tourists means less local revenue in a recession. I’m no saint but I know that pointless revenge seeking should have no part in our faith.


PS - Allow me a comparison with another faith; may I ask, were a part of Mecca savaged by fire in ‘revenge’ for the London bombings, would the Islamic community think it fair revenge?

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