‘No Pope Here.’ Britain, the Vatican, the IRA and the Papal Visit to Ireland, September 1979

Doherty, M.A. 2021. ‘No Pope Here.’ Britain, the Vatican, the IRA and the Papal Visit to Ireland, September 1979. Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture. 90 (3), pp. 603-620. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009640721002134

Title‘No Pope Here.’ Britain, the Vatican, the IRA and the Papal Visit to Ireland, September 1979
TypeJournal article
AuthorsDoherty, M.A.
Abstract

It is often assumed, particularly by outsiders, that the conflict in Northern Ireland, known euphemistically as ‘the Troubles’, in which some 3,600 people lost their lives, was an atavistic throwback to Europe’s religious wars of earlier centuries. In 1979, by which time some 2,000 people had already been killed in the Troubles, Pope John Paul II proposed to pay a visit to Ireland, and perhaps to cross the border into Ulster’s sectarian cockpit. The idea provoked outrage from some Ulster protestants and high anxiety for the British, concerned that the Pope might inadvertently enflame the situation or embarrass the British by raising difficult issues. But there were hopes too that an unequivocal condemnation of violence by the head of the Catholic Church, might help to bring the conflict to an end. This article, based on extensive research in diplomatic archives, reveals deep divisions within the Catholic Church on the Irish question and points to the power and limitations of the British diplomatic reach into the Vatican. It reveals also, however, the powerlessness of prayer and pleadings in the face of terrorist violence.

KeywordsPope John Paul II
Ireland
Vatican
Irish Republican Army
IRA
JournalChurch History: Studies in Christianity and Culture
Journal citation90 (3), pp. 603-620
ISSN0009-6407
1755-2613
Year2021
PublisherCambridge University Press
American Society of Church History
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009640721002134
Publication dates
Published online17 Dec 2021

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