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Inside File And by happy coincidence . . .

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Fr. Sean McManus’s campaign to roll back the beatification of Pope Pius IX — because he excommunicated the Fenians in 1870 — seems to have floundered on the immovable rock that is St. Peter’s. Readers will recall that McManus, a member of the Redemptorist order, began his crusade back in June claiming that the beatification was not only upsetting to the Irish, but also to Jews, because of the infamous Edgardo Mortara case in 1858. Pius had the young Mortara abducted from his Jewish parents and raised a Catholic.

Stepping up his campaign, McManus recently penned a letter to the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C., the Rev. Gabriel Montalvo.

Stating that Pius had acted "unjustly" in excommunicating the Fenians, McManus argued that Catholic saints were supposed to demonstrate "to a heroic degree" not only the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, but also the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude.

"In his cruel excommunication of the Fenians, Pope Pius IX did not demonstrate heroic justice, but rather shameful collaboration with oppression in Ireland.

"Irish Catholics would much rather have forgotten about Pope Pius IX’s unjustified excommunication of the Fenians. But his proposed beatification is reopening that old wound. I, therefore, urge your Excellency to use your good office to convince the Vatican not to beatify Pope Pius IX," McManus concluded.

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"IF" reckons McManus has blown his chance of ever becoming a bishop with this one. Pius was duly beatified at a ceremony in Rome last weekend along with Pope John XXIII and, interestingly, an Irish monk who had been languishing at the far fringes of the beatification list for over 30 years.

Dom Columba Marmion is credited with curing a Minnesota woman’s cancer in 1966 but what some believed to be a miracle was dismissed by the Vatican as just a "happy coincidence" in 1979. One can only wonder if it was another happy coincidence that Dom Marmion’s fortunes were so lately elevated to the level just below sainthood on the very same day as the Fenian-foe Pius. By coincidence again, Dom Marmion was born in Dublin in 1858, the same year that Pius spirited young Edgardo away from his ma and da. Hmmm!

What’s in a name?

"IF" was intrigued by a New York Post report that the family of Billy Tyne, the character played by George Clooney in the movie "The Perfect Storm," is suing Warner Bothers over the way that Tyne was portrayed in the film. The family is furious at what they see is the movie’s suggestion that Tyne was a lousy seaman and that he even had a death wish. The family is also alleging that Warner Brothers never obtained their permission to use the family name in the movie version of the book penned by newly sprung Irish bar owner Sebastian Junger.

The name-use issue is interesting. John Spillane, the former pararescue jumper recently profiled in the Echo, sought, along with his former comrades, to obtain payment from Warner Brothers for the use of their real-life names in the movie. This effort to secure payment was in large part prompted by a desire to secure money for the family of Rick Smith, who died during the ill-fated rescue mission at the peak of the great ’91 nor’easter. The sums being asked for were not that big against the backdrop of a film costing more than $100 million. But Warner Brothers demurred and instead invented fictionalized names for Spillane and the rest of the Air National Guard unit — Smith included — that risked their lives and lost a life trying to save a floundering yachtsman.

"IF" wonders that if the Tynes had asked for money in advance whether Warner Brothers would have changed Billy Tyne’s name too. He could have been Capt. Billy Ahab and there would be no lawsuit. Those Hollywood guys can be fierce mean, but sometimes it all comes back to haunt them.

‘Tis the season

With September comes the first turning of the leaves and rustlings, too, in the political undergrowth. Both Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Irish foreign affairs minister, Brian Cowen, will make U.S. landfall in the coming days with the United Nations in New York being prime targets for both men.

Ireland is entering the last stretch in its two-year campaign to secure a revolving seat on the UN Security Council. A vote involving all 188 General Assembly members is due in October. The Norwegians and Italians are Ireland’s main rivals for the seat. If nothing else, Bertie and Biffo know how to swing a vote or two, what with their years in the front lines for Fianna Fáil. Do the poor Norwegians and Italians really have a chance against Bertieman and the Boy Biffo? We’ll see.

Things to know

The Ulster Defense Association earlier this summer purchased 5,000 light blue flags with their names and motto "Simply The Best." The flags have been fluttering all over the wee North since. Were these flags the product of the fabled Northern Ireland Protestant work ethic? Eh, no, they were imported from Taiwan, where, presumably, they are simply the best at making UDA memorabilia.

€ Johnny Adair’s sobriquet, "Mad Dog," may be well deserved, but he got it by accident. The story goes that an Irish journalist writing for the British newspaper The Guardian got Johnny mixed up with the INLA’s Dominic McGlinchey, who was already well into his "Mad Dog" phase.

€ Be that as it may, Johnny has long accepted a nickname that most people would feel a tad uncomfortable with. He has also publicly referred his 2-year-old Jonathan as "mad pup."

€ The road is called "Shankill" and not "Shankhill," as recently reported in the New York Times and several Irish publications that should know better.

They said

"No wonder the Brits are scared of Johnny Adair: they created him." Headline over Ed Moloney report in the Sunday Tribune.

€ "Although we have openly expressed a lot of our concerns with the current implementation, the EIIC has always supported the aims and intents of the Walsh Visa Program. We look forward to the opportunity to working with all parties to effect positive change." Emerald Isle Immigration Center statement.

€ "In 1980 they were just a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads who spent their time disrupting concerts by the Specials and the Beat or breaking up anti-racist punk gigs in Belfast." Henry McDonald in the London-published Observer newspaper on the early days of Johnny Adair’s C Company, Ulster Freedom Fighters.

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