Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint

Terry Eagleton writes:

I once met a young priest in the west of Ireland who told me that he was to be sent on the missions the following day. ‘Where are you being posted?’ I asked. ‘Birmingham,’ he replied. The Irish Catholic church has always scattered its clergy abroad, and there has been a lay branch of this pastoral exodus as well – nurses, for example. There is a sense in which the Dubliners Bono and Bob Geldof are self-advertising versions of Irish missionaries. The English and Scottish Catholic churches have always relied heavily on Irish priests to minister to parishioners who were themselves perhaps only a generation or two away from the farm in Mayo or Meath.

(LRB 5 August 2010)

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