The W.A. Record 2nd September, 1916
A Priest’s Protest against stupidity
The following is clipped from a west of Ireland newspaper. It is the protest of an Irish priest against what, on the facts related, seems to be a mean, petty prying system practised upon the people of Kinvara for the purpose of extracting evidence for use against the rebels. Such irritating measures exercised for the production of incriminating information are bound to foment strife and discord, and are well described as stupid. Father J. W. O’Meehan writes;
As a priest I feel bound to warn our people against the danger of revealing anything whatsoever, either under blandishment or threat, to armed men concerning the most sacred subject of Confession. Unfortunately it has fallen to my lot to inform the people of the fact that in this catholic parish of Kinvara, questions of a most improper character were recently put to a parishioner – a decent but simple country boy – by one of two armed men concerning the boy’s Confession. Lest in present circumstances I should be regarded as a prejudiced person, I think it better to set down in writing, coolly and deliberately, the bold facts of this sad occurrence.
On Monday evening, May 29th, two armed “gentlemen” (?) approached this young man, and having put him several questions, which, as a Catholic priest, do not concern me now, one of these armed “gentlemen” then proceeded to ask him about the Confession which he made at the Convent Church on Easter Saturday evening. I shall allow yourselves, Catholics of Kinvara, to form your own judgment on the propriety of an Irish Catholic armed “gentleman” asking an Irish Catholic youth the four following questions;
First question: Who told you to go to Confessions on that particular evening?
Second question: Where did you meet Father ________ when he told you to go to Confession?
Third question: What reasons did the priest give you for asking you to make your Confession, or why did he ask you to go on that particular Saturday evening rather than any other evening?
Fourth question: How long was it since your last Confession?
I have ample evidence to show that these four questions have been asked on the evening of May 29th. The boy who was so questioned and two other persons who were present on the occasion and prepared to swear to the truth of the statement. May it be my privilege now to ask four questions?
First: Had this armed “gentleman” authority from his superiors to pry into this most intimate and sacred subject of a man’s Confession?
Second: Does the Defence of the Realm Act empower armed “gentlemen” in Ireland to invade the sealed realm of the Confession?
Third: Can this armed “gentleman” be too ignorant or too stupid not to realise that questions of this nature would outrage the most tender feelings of Irish Catholics?
Fourth: who really are the “gentlemen” who are now exasperating the people and helping in this most peaceful district to manufacture crime?
Catholics of Kinvara, even if there are vile tongues amongst you, which blab when they should not, let those of you at any rate who still remain faithful to birth and fatherland guard even with your lives, the sanctity of Confession against all the agents of stupidity in this land.
(Signed) J.W. O’Meehan