Saturday 1 October 2011

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

There are a great number of Koreans who consider that Thomas An Jung-geun, a man who assassinated the Japanese Prime Minister in 1909 and was executed a few months later, might be a candidate for beatification or even canonization. The Church had condemned the murder, but in 1993, Cardinal Kim of Seoul offered a public Mass for An, and now the archdiocese is preparing to initiate the beatification process.

The comparison is being made with Joan of Arc. Well, I am now going to risk alienating all my new-found French friends by saying that I have never really been able to get my head around la Pucelle.

I mean, if An, then why not Anthony Babington?

Or Guy Fawkes?

Or Michael Collins?

Or Eamon de Valera?

There will be those who will redouble their efforts for the beatification of Francisco Franco. Or even Augusto Pinochet! After all (despite a little skulduggery on the side) these two did fight the enemies of the Church as well as those they considered the political enemies of their country.

And what about the other side? Oh, the list could go on and on.

I do hope that there is no suggestion that An be beatified as a martyr!

You can read more about An's potential for beatification here, on the UCA Asian Catholic news site. If you click on the 'opinion' button, make sure you're sitting down with a good glass of something strong.


Sue Sims said...

Jeanne d'Arc attested at her trial that she had never personally killed anyone. Obviously she led an army which did, but there has always been a distinction made between killing in equal combat as part of an army in a 'just war' and assassination (or duelling, for that matter, also condemned). I honestly can't see any equivalence between An and Jeanne, apart from a bit of their names :-)

Ttony said...

This really is complicated, and the epigram at the top of your post doesn't really help, as it's talking about PBI - people who have volunteered to take up arms for their legitimate country.

In each of the examples you quote, people took up arms against their lawful sovereign, and whether or not their cause was just and they as indiduals were sinful or not is between them and God: but there was no sanctity about what they did. How many Sinn Feiners were excommunicated by how many Bishops between 1916 and 1921?

Think of Ireland in 1916:

"... the Rising was a catastrophe for Ireland -- one of many in Europe in that thoroughly evil year of 1916. Only a historically-illiterate political-class such as
ours could 'celebrate' such an event.

But what was the nature of the regime that the rebels were taking arms against? Was it governed by a legal caste of unrepresentative high-born Protestants, chosen for their religion and their loyalty alone? Not quite.

The Lord Chancellor in 1916 was Ignatius John O'Brien, an Irish Catholic. The Master of the Rolls was Charles Andrew O'Connor, another Irish Catholic. The two Lord Justices of Appeal were Stephen Ronan and Thomas Francis Molony, Irish Catholics both. The Solicitor General was James O'Connor, a Blackrock College boy. And finally, the King's Bench Division of ten judges contained five Catholics. Ten of the 15 highest legal positions in the land for which John Redmond had just won Home Rule were held by Irish Catholics."

I don't know much about Korea under Japanese rule, and I'm sure it was a more brutish place than Ireland in the early twentieth century, but may the Lord preserve us from nationalist myths becoming canonised by the Church.

1569 Rising said...

I was going to post some angry comment about the Devil of Eire, but Ttony has put it much better than I ever could. Thank you, Ttony.

Pastor in Monte said...

I hope you're getting my point here; I'm not suggesting that these people ought to be canonised; rather that political intrepidity (to put it one way) ought not to be considered a theological virtue.

Ttony said...

Sorry, Father, if I wasn't clear - I'm running a temperature at the moment. I was trying to build on your general point by giving a specific example of history being hijacked by mythology and agreeing with you that this isn't propitious territory for canonisation. Whatever the ultimate destination of the souls of those who took part, these acts were not of heroic virtue to be held up as an example to the faithful.

Anonymous said...

It was a pity that de Valerra was not shot with the rest after the 1916 uprising.

shane said...

It's true that parts of the Catholic middle-class had penetrated the British establishment by the 1910s, but to focus so selectively on that is to ignore the situation on the ground for ordinary people (Dublin had the highest TB rate in Europe and living conditions were appalling), and also misses the most decisive factors in the lead up to the Rising: the failure to implement Home Rule, the First World War and, most importantly, the impending threat of conscription. (Remember even Pearse had supported the 1912 Home Rule Bill.) The Ulster Unionists had threatened civil war and rebellion if the Home Rule Bill (which had been passed via the Parliament Act and received the Royal Assent) was implemented; in this they were explicitly supported by the Conservative Party (then part of the coalition government). How was that disobedience to one's 'legitimate sovereign' any different in principle from what the Easter Rebels did? Arguably the Rising saved thousands more lives than it took since recruitment for the futile trench warfare in Europe ceased almost immediately.

Pastor in Monte said...

Anonymous: that came as close as I get to a deletable comment. If you want to write something vile, at least put your cowardly name to it!

Pastor in Monte said...

Oh, and learn to spell while you're at it.

Anonymous said...

One historical fact, easily forgotten, is that the mothers of Dublin, who had sons serving in France, pelted the Post Office rebels of 1916 with bad eggs because they were so disgusted about their activities at such a time. Witness to that is found in Lutyens's war memorial to the Irish fallen, perhaps the best of the four national war memorials.

De Valera's entry in Wikipedia casts serious doubt on his activities during the rebellion and later.

Woody said...

Well, I am not going to be waiting for the beatification of Generalisimo Franco, but I have prayed at his tomb in the Valle de los Caidos, and will now turn to my copy of "Franco, Soldier, Commander, Dictator", by Geoffrey Jensen. Best to all.

BTW, I spoke with a local priest here in Houston recently who reported that the yung adult group he took with him to WYD in Madrid went with him to the Valle so maybe it has been reopened, mirabile dictu?

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that General Franco saved Catholic Spain from the chaos of Communism. Without him the country would have been reduced to ruins by divided Left Wing factions. On that subject, read Orwell.

Of all Fascist dictators he was the most honourable, not least in keeping Spain out of the Second World War and not introducing anti-semitic policies. In his time Spain had the highest level of morality in Europe and the Church flourished. It is only since the arrival of the present Spanish Government that the country has fallen to pieces.

Franco's tragedy is that he was politically associated with Mussolini and, devastatingly, with Hitler, from both of whom he distanced himself. He outlived them and was vindicated by the way he subsequently governed his country.

It is good news that the Valle de los Caidos is once more open to the public. I hope the Benedictine Abbey survives.

Andrew said...

But did Franco make the trains run on time? Either way, I'm sure Anonymous' contribution sounds better in the original German.