4/30/08: The Rev. Wright and how dangerous a man he really is
“Barnicle’s View”, with Mike Barnicle, Imus in the Morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 655a & 855a.
May 20, 1998
DUNGANNON, Northern Ireland — He has stood over too many fresh graves filled with victims of a stale hatred that is quite pervasive but he manages to greet each day with a grin along with a hope that the children he teaches will somehow manage to prosper here in a small country where education might eventually prove to be a larger asset than a ballot measure that has all the politicians talking while the public on both sides — Catholic and Protestant — approach the election with sealed lips anda grim pessimism.
He is 66 years old, Monsignor Denis Faul is, and he is the principal of St. Patrick’s Academy, where 940 boys and 930 girls attend classes in a huge school set on a hillside alongside an awkward neighbor — a British Army post — as constant noise from helicopters interrupts geometry and geography. “They’d never get away with flying in and out over a Protestant school,” the monsignor said yesterday. “It’s just the way it is here.”
Denis Faul is not a shy man. He has specific views and certain opinions. He also has credentials among Catholics: For years, he said daily Mass for prisoners in the Maze prison and alienated the IRA when he was instrumental in ending the hunger strike nearly two decades ago.
“We had 10 already dead and they had had 20 more ready to die,” Faul recalled. “Enough was enough. Ireland doesn’t need any more funerals or any more martyrs. I helped get the lads to stop and the IRA never forgave me.
“Let me tell you what will happen Friday,” he declared. “It will be a 55 to 45 vote for the Yes position. Just enough to create chaos. People are truly torn about this because it’s an argument between the head and the heart.
“For most people on both sides — the majority in the middle — their heads tell them to stay with Great Britain because they’re afraid of losing their benefits, their free education, free health as well as what they get from the dole. But their heart tells them to vote with Dublin. And, of course, they’ve had “Moses” Mitchell and “Moses” Hume with their new commandments, but the real issues are not discussed.
“There is indeed a strong element of bigotry among Protestant leaders and the only way this will work is for everyone to take a vow to protect human life, get rid of the guns, and look after the victims. That will have to be done street by street, parish by parish, and town line by town line. And it will only succeed by bringing charity and a lot of forgiveness to the task.
“There are very long memories here,” he added. “People know that whenever Catholics have shown advances in acquiring legal rights, civil rights, poltical and economic rights, that’s when the assassinations begin again. The Protestants fear Catholic advancement.
“When Sinn Fein had the prisoners appear at the rally last week, it was a dreadful blunder, but it was done because the IRA runs Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams is a very clever man. But he’s a vain man, and that’s dangerous. Yet he’s patient. He knows time is on his side, so he can wait to see how unmanageable the new process will be because he knows, in the end, the British will have to deal with him. Not Dublin. Not Washington. Him. He views a Yes vote as a tactical vote for the IRA and Gerry Adams.ts do not know who they are. They have no sense of identity. They’re not Irish, not British, not Welsh; all they have to cling to is the fact that they won the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 — not that long ago in Ireland — and that’s why they go crazy during marching season in July.
“That gets to the issue of justice, too. The application of the law toward Catholics is unjust. It’s at the heart of the whole debate over the release of the prisoners. Since 1968, not a single RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary] man has served a day in jail for killing while on duty or torturing people arrested under emergenecy laws. Twelve children and many adults were killed and no one was ever charged. So the Catholics say, “Why am I doing 25 years in prison when the man who killed my son or
“Now I’ll be voting Yes on Friday,” Monsignor Denis Faul stated. “But you can’t build a government on a 55 to 45 vote. You have to have education with a spiritual background as well as human rights, and you must have a soul and be willing to forgive. That’s the foundation we need to build.”
Then he stood at his desk and glanced out the window behind him at an Army helicopter skidding through the sky above his school. The noise was fierce, but the priest’s smile was gentle as he said, “They wouldn’t dare do that to any other people.
May 19, 1998
POYNTZPASS, Northern Ireland — She came into the pub through a back door that led to a courtyard alongside a stone house that is actually an extension of The Railway Bar, where two men were murdered a few months ago in a rural village that had always provided residents with great pride because faith never infringed on friendship and blood never spilled due to religion. She came past a door shattered by bullets, carrying a pot of tea and a plate of sausage.
“My supper,” she smiled. “It has to last me the night. “Who was working then?” she was asked.
“Who do you think?” Bernadette Canavan said. “Me. I was right here behind the bar. They put the lads down on the floor and killed them. Both of them. Damien and Philip, killed them for no reason. Just hate.”
Bernadette Canavan is 69. She and her husband, Des, along with their son Brian, 39, run the place plus the grocery next door. At 9 p.m. on March 3, Damien Trainor, a 26-year-old Catholic, and Philip Allen, a 35-year-old Protestant, were murdered inside the Railway, a snug stop with five stools and a 20-foot bar that attracts customers throughout the quiet area.
“They grew up together,” Brian Canavan said. “Damien was going to be best man at Phil’s wedding. There was never any religious war here.”
The Allens live 50 yards from the tavern. Their son, a truck driver, is buried 200 yards up the road, behind the Presbyterian Meeting House.
“I’ll never be right again,” his mother, Ethel, said. “I can think of nothing else. I don’t know that I can bring myself to go vote.”
The country is days from a referendum aimed at reducing the terror that has haunted Ireland, a measure that would drastically alter how people live. But the ballot arrives too late for a place so small it remains crushed by the type of mindless murder that created a violent claustrophobia within the culture of the North, keeping people apart on the basis of religion and fear. Always, the village seemed immune to the illogical reality around them, until two of their own died on a barroom floor.ative to a land hardened by dark shadows of gunmen.
“I was sitting right here at home,” Trainor said in her living room. “I ran up to the pub. I leaned over and told Damien I was there with him.
“He’d been shot four times, three in the chest, one in the head by those savages. They took him to the hospital in Newry, but he died. I told them I wanted to see him. They brought me to him. I put my forehead on his and kissed him. I shut his eyes. I pulled back the white sheet and straightened the crucifix around his neck. Philip was there in the same room, the two of them dead side by side. I never cried.”
“Having Damien was hard work,” she continued. “Raising him was hard work. And he’s still hard work because it hurts so much to think about him. My friends send me memory cards, but I don’t need any cards to remember how wonderful my son was. To everyone.”
“I’ll tell you something,” the victim’s mother announced. “There might be peace in Northern Ireland someday. But there will never be any peace for me.”
The men charged with the murders of two friends who lived yards apart in a hamlet where news arrives by word of mouth, and there are no secrets, were caught within a week. In jail, seven days later, one of them was executed by Catholic inmates. Killing is contagious here.
Yesterday, Ann Trainor walked sadly up the hill from her home to St. Joseph’s Cemetery where Damien is buried. She stood in silence, and when she looked up from her son’s plot, out past a low stone wall, she could see Philip Allen’s grave 100 yards away, behind the Presbyterian church; the two men together forever, in a village scarred and ruined by a historical hate that finally found the last few innocents of Poyntzpass.
May 18, 1998
BELFAST — Ian Paisley stood yesterday at the pulpit of a fairly new church in order to preach ancient hatred to a dwindling congregation of old people, afraid they might be losing their future on Friday. Paisley, besides being a politician who prospered over the years on a platform built with bigotry, is minister at Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, which is directly across the street from the 12th fairway of the Ormeau Golf Club.
Yesterday morning, promptly at 11:30, Paisley climbed the steps of a high pulpit inside his modern church, where no more than 50 men and women sat scattered through the huge double-decked arena waiting for word on what to do this week when Ireland votes on a referendum that could end decades of unreasonable death. He is a big man with a huge head covered with a shock of white hair. He has thick lips, strong hands, and a booming voice, and all were employed yesterday to push his faithful followers toward rejection of work done by George Mitchell, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Gerry Adams. “I had a confrontation the other day with a very nasty journalist,” Paisley shouted. “He asked me why I always say, `No,’ and I told him that God gave us 10 commandments and He said no in nine of them.
“The body says `no’ to germs or it will die. The soul says `no’ to sin or it dies too. And we must say `no’ Friday or our nation dies.”
Paisley built a constituency as well as a congregation around themes of contempt, revenge, and pure, raw anti-Catholicism. Yet, as election day nears, his grip on Protestant East Belfast — where many are poor and tired of visiting cemeteries or jails — seems weaker than ever.
“He’s a faker, he is,” Freddy Wilson was saying. “He’s only trying to keep himself in power now. He led us up the top of the mountain years ago, telling us all the time the Catholics would never get this and they’d never get that. And oh, how he hated the pope! But Protestants got just as tired of all the killing as Catholics did. Old Paisley, he just never changed. He’s still in it for himself, is all.”
Wilson is a 37-year-old unemployed dock worker and a Protestant. He stood at the bar of the Park View Lounge down the road from Paisley’s church, where the politician-preacher was merely halfway through a Sunday schedule of prayer meetings and speeches where his words become weapons hurled at anyone who favors peace. Paisley’s version of religion is simply prejudice from a pulpit; his sermons are cold and cruel and leave no room for any of the forgiveness found across town yesterday where 15,000 Catholics gathered at Milltown Cemetery for the annual blessing of the graves. How utterly Irish.
Milltown is a huge burial ground off Falls Road. Ten years ago, several people were killed here during a funeral for three unarmed Irish Republican Army members shot to death by British security forces in Gibraltar. Yesterday, the place was teeming with relatives saying the rosary in unison under a hot sun on Belfast’s version of Memorial Day, where the past is never farther away than the very next sentence out of someone’s mouth and where every headstone is a marble memory of a son, brother, uncle, or father lost in a long, weary war.
“My Tommy died two days after his 24th birthday,” Tom Kelly said about his son. “He was stabbed to death downtown by Protestants. They caught someone for it but nothing ever happened. My wife took a heart attack from it, and she died too. She’s over there.” He pointed past a row of granite Celtic crosses toward his wife’s grave. “So it has to be `yes’ Friday, doesn’t it? Otherwise it’s back to the same old thing.”
And as one crowd seemed comforted by hymns and rosary beads, Ian Paisley was across the river getting ready for the ritual of his evening sermon, where he twists prayer into a polemic and faith is defined by the depth of a parishioner’s fear. His thunderous hate has always been the beating heart of so many Protestants, but this week that thunder seems, more and more, to be off in the distance and part of a past that people on both sides want to bury.
May 17, 1998
BELFAST — A hundred children of parents from a poor, shattered neighborhood where the past always conspired to defeat any decent future streamed into Holy Trinity Church yesterday to make their First Holy Communion. All the girls wore dazzling white dresses and boys were dressed in light gray suits as entire families watched, dizzy with pride.
“It’s like a fashion show,” the Rev. Matt Wallace said. “Most of these people go into debt to buy the outfits. Father Wallace is pastor of Holy Trinity in the Turf Lodge section of town. He is 55, a priest for 28 years, and he brings an infectious laugh and wonderful sense of humor to a parish of 6,000 people living in an area smaller than Beacon Hill. The church is the focal point of the community. It is a large, square cement-block building with a flat factory roof, located high on a hill above Center City, all right in the shadow of a British Army facility.
“Lock your car,” he advises visitors. “We share cars around here. Nearly everyone belongs to the D.L.A. club. That’s disability living allowance, and without it there wouldn’t be a single car in Turf Lodge.”
He and Father Patrick McCafferty were in the sacristy putting on their chasubles and stoles for Mass. The church was packed for a simple ceremony that manages to offer hope and optimism to an area more familiar with funerals after 30 years of violence.
“This church opened on Bloody Sunday,” Father Wallace recalled. The people here have suffered a lot but they are the most forgiving people you’ll find. And I think that this is the last community in the Western world where the extended family is so important.”
The pastor, two altar boys, and Father McCafferty strolled to the altar promptly at 11 a.m. Everyone rose as voices from the grammar school choir filled the building while the service began.
All the doors were open for a breeze so at the Offertory the sound of an Army helicopter overhead competed with the song, “We Love You Jesus.” Due to the huge numbers receiving, communion took 15 minutes to complete as the place filled with the light of flash bulbs as youngsters, hands folded in prayer, accepted the host and new responsibilities.
After Mass, everybody flooded on to the driveway between the rectory and the church where most of the adults lit a smoke before lining up for family pictures with the two priests. “Like I’m a rock star,” Father Wallace laughed.
Maria Coogan stood off to the side of the happy crowd, cigarette in hand, surveying the long line of two-story attached stucco bungalows as if each building contained a single story with a separate memory. Across the years, Turf Lodge has lost 27 men in a struggle rooted in politics, economics, and religion; a bitter, bloody fight that seems to have lessened a bit recently and might even recede more with this week’s vote on peace.
“Billy Gibson lived right across the street,” Coogan said. “He was 15 when the soldiers murdered him. Sean Savage lived two houses up; he was killed in Gibraltar. Died for his country, he did.”
“Terry Enright was the last we had,” Father Wallace pointed out. “They shot him to death in January. He was a wonderful lad. Worked with Catholic kids as well as Protestants. A youth worker, he was. Wonderful man.”
“Why was he killed?” the priest was asked.
“Catholic,” he replied.
“Then there was Brian Stewart,” Maria Coogan added. “He was 9 when a British soldier murdered him; the soldier’s name was Mark Thien. He did a year in jail and he’s back in the Army today. I don’t think there’ll ever be peace in Northern Ireland. Too many splinter groups. Too many bad memories.”
The parish population has an unemployment rate of 35 percent. It is presently enduring the horror of teenage suicide and rising drug usage. But yesterday, with marvelous weather and all these terrific children, smiling and almost saintly in their appearance, the past disappeared for a morning while a whole community took time out to concentrate on this country’s one true future.
July 31, 1997
As soon as everyone had gathered in St. Ignatius Church at Chestnut Hill yesterday for the funeral Mass, a full company of Jesuits marched silently down the center aisle of the handsome stone edifice to bury a brother, Rev. Ray Callahan, SJ, who fell dead at his desk last week at 59. Until his death, Father Callahan had been president of Nativity Prep in Roxbury, a miracle of the city where children are given the gift of a future.
It was 10 a.m. when the Jesuits took their seats directly across the aisle from Marie Callahan, the deceased priest’s mother, who sat sadly with her daughters. She wore a black dress and held a single white rose Outside the church, the sun stood sentry in a cloudless sky and a wonderful breeze danced across the day. Inside, people stood shoulder to shoulder singing “Here I am, Lord” as five Jesuits began the beautiful ceremony.
There were no TV cameras or any reporters clamoring for participants to discuss the quiet, noble life of Ray Callahan, who never sought a headline. He was born in Framingham, son of a newspaperman, and he went to Fairfield University until God tapped him on the chest with such ferocity that he chose the Marine Corps of Catholicism — the Jesuits — as a life.
He taught at Boston College as well as at BC High, but for the past several years he had run Nativity Prep. It is a small, private school — 15 students in 4 grades, 5 through 8 — where boys from places like Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester get just about the finest free education around.
“Anybody can learn math,” Ray Callahan used to say, “but our job is to help these boys gain pride and dignity, too. They are wonderful, strong children.”
All this week, the town has witnessed a flood of publicity concerning the future of William Weld. And as the funeral began, a new governor, Paul Cellucci, was in the State House discussing tax cuts and judgeships. All of it is considered news because these people and their policies affect so many.
However, Ray Callahan was a single man who touched a thousand lives. He was a Jesuit priest who had a hand on someone’s shoulder every single day, pushing or prodding them toward heights once thought to be unattainable.
As Rev. William Russell, SJ, delivered the homily, one of the many Nativity Prep students at Mass bowed his head in grief. His name was Adrian Rosello. He is a 13-year-old from Mattapan who will be in eighth grade this September.
“I never expected him to die,” Rosello said quietly. “I loved him. He always made me laugh and told me I could do better. He believed in me. How could he die in the summer?”
Now, at Communion, Mike Burgo came from the sacristy holding a guitar. He began to sing the infectious hymn “Be Not Afraid” and soon the huge congregation joined Burgo, the sound of their grateful voices filling the church and spilling out toward the trolley tracks and the campus of Boston College.
“You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst. You shall wander far in safety, though you do not know the way. You shall speak your words in foreign lands, and all will understand. You shall see the face of God and live.
“Be not afraid. I go before you always.”
Both song and service are part of the constant comfort of Catholicism, a religion that blankets the start and conclusion of life with splendid ritual. But Ray Callahan represented the finest aspects of his faith every single day. He led by example, a humble man dedicated to God and to education.
And yesterday his legacy filled St. Ignatius: Former students; young people like Amy Shields, who went straight from Duke to teaching at Nativity Prep because providing a child with the excitement of ideas is far more rewarding than making money; hundreds of friends; and his fellow priests.
Then the Mass ended and the Jesuits filed out to the front of the church where they stood in a circle on the sidewalk, resplendent in white cassocks, as six Nativity Prep boys carried a black casket down gray cement steps. They were followed by Marie Callahan, who walked slowly out of the church into the bright sun of a day, comforted by the knowledge that while others elsewhere celebrated temporal rewards of prosperity or politics, the crowd around her had gathered to celebrate the rich and marvelous life of Raymond J. Callahan, SJ.
“Thank you for your son,” Rev. William Leahy, the president of Boston College, said to Marie Callahan.
“Thank God for my son,” his mother replied.