Wednesday 24 January 2018

'I can't help but hear what it symbolises' - debate on the Angelus divides opinion on Cutting Edge

Eithne Shortall, Al Porter and Fidelma Healy Eames debated the relevance of the Angelus on RTE's Cutting Edge
Eithne Shortall, Al Porter and Fidelma Healy Eames debated the relevance of the Angelus on RTE's Cutting Edge

Sasha Brady

A debate on the Angelus divided opinion on Wednesday night's Cutting Edge.

Brendan O'Connor's current affairs show returned last night with a panel that included comedian Al Porter, journalist and author Eithne Shortall and former Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames.

In between discussions on millenials and porn, the panel debated the relevance of the Angelus as Eithne brought the topic to the table.

It followed a Claire Byrne Live survey last week in which six out of 10 people (62 percent) agreed with the Angelus being broadcast on TV and radio. However, those people were also in favour of seizing land from the church in order to repay victims of clerical abuse. Two opinions that Eithne found jarring.

"I can't help but hear what [the Angelus] symbolises," argued Eithne.

"I know people will say 'it's harmless, turn a blind eye' but that's the whole problem with the Church. I guess fundamentally I believe in the separation between Church and State. The only argument that I think people can come up with to defend the Angelus is that this is a Catholic country."

Her opinions were backed by Al Porter who said he finds it "unusual that [the Angelus] is still so woven into the fabric of our society".

He compared it to the Islamic Call to Prayer in the Middle East and recalled a recent visit to Dubai with friends where they were surprised to see people take a moment of pause from their day to pray.

"When they had a moment of prayer, we were saying 'it's very weird over here in the Middle East with all this prayer' but we do that at home.

"We're such a religiously conflicted country. It even shows that with people who want to redistribute the wealth of the church but then at the same time keeping the Angelus, people who don't believe in Jesus but tick Catholic or Christian on their census, people not attending mass but baptising their children to get into schools

"We need to decide if we're one or the other."

However, Fidelma Healy Eames had a different opinion and expressed concerns that we're too quick to get rid of things that we feel are outdated, despite the fact that they still hold value to many people.

"We need to be careful because the way we are in this country right now, we're trying to be so neutral and trying to be so clinically clean, we'll very soon throw out anything that ever meant anything to anyone in the past," she argued.

"I do think that the Angelus is a moment of reflection, every culture has it."

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