Friday 22 February 2008

Monks in Moyross

Just watched an interview on the late Late Show with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who have recently established a community in Moyross in Limerick. To those of you unfamiliar with it, Moyross is a large estate in Limerick, sadly and perhaps unfairly identified with drugs, crime and an ongoing inter-familial feud which has claimed a multitude of victims in the last couple of decades. Having worked in Limerick I am aware that there is much more to Moyross than this and sadly it is the usual case of only bad news sells papers. However there are a lot of problems in the area and the arrival of the friars would seem to be a much needed shot in the arm for a community which is more accustomed to bad news than the Good News! Among the friars on the show tonight was a most unusual character who does his preaching through rap and has according to the local media made a big impact on the local kids especially.

Out of curiosity I took a look at their web site and was surprised to find them more theologically right-wing than I would have suspected. Some of their activities include vigils outside abortion clinics and I have to say this was a disappointment and a surprise. The whole philosophy underlying the so called 'pro-life' movement seems to me to be often so simplistic as to be dangerous and potentially damaging. No matter where one stands on this emotive issue it seems to me there are better ways to witness to one's convictions than this sort of confrontation which inevitably turns to unhelpful condemnation!

However they seem to be doing good work in Limerick and while I would have severe reservations about any group that campaigns in this way on this issue I cannot deny the importance of what they are providing in Moyross! So once again life is not simple.

You can watch a video below of their arrival in Limerick. Ironically their appearance on the show was followed by the Gorilla Girls on tour which featured 2 masked women discussing their understanding of being 'pro-choice'! Hard to believe it wasn't planned but I don't think the Late Late Show team are so devious!


Robert said...

Stephen, this is a fascinating bit about the CFR friars! A note, though, about the abortion clinic part: I know a minister, one of my professors in fact, who leads an outreach to such a place, careful to be what we might say "compassionately present" for the clients and their family, boyfriends, etc. Praying for, and with, many of the people, they seek to embody Christ to people in difficult circumstances.

Stephen Neill said...

Robert I hear you and I don't doubt that some people have good motives and intentions in such action. The greatest enemy of the so called 'pro-life' movement in Ireland is an organisation called SPUC who are the most vile conglomeration of hate filled individuals, something akin to the Westboro Baptist Church in the US , and I speak with authority as I have encountered both first hand! Any mention of such campaigns brings to mind such individuals which I am sure is not fair to the good friars.
However I do see that their witness includes banners (though not pictures thankfully) and it is this that I would particularly question. In seeking to follow Christ which is a vocation you and I both share we try (emphasis on TRY) to be 'Christ-like'. To me that is typified by coming alongside a person and hearing their story before we share our story, which in the case of the Gospel is a story we believe to be potentially everybodys story. But the point I am trying to make is that we build relationships before we try and convice people of the message we hopefully embody. So to my mind Christians who feel very strongly on this issue would be better at looking at the issues which face the born which drive them to the abortion clinics. I firmly believe that there are justifiable reasons for abortion but I would never see it as anything but a tragedy but I also believe that a woman's right to determine what goes on inside her own body is an area we trespass on with great caution. I would have a lot more time for some of these campaigners if they were as concerned about life after birth as they are about life before birth! This it seems to me is a better way to proceed and will ultimately be more effective at reducing abortion levels than the and the pain that surrounds it.

Sniffle&Cry said...

Hi Stephen,

Anyway who takes an extreme position should be approached with caution. I think that�s what you�re saying about the ZZ Top look-alikes abroad in Moyross.( Because they protested outside an abortion clinic and are also members of the cloth). Is their extreme position in the protesting, or in the wearing of the cloth? If they hadn�t been priests, would you perceive their position as radical? And because they are priests is their position more radical ? And if that is the case, how much of the radicality is involved in the wearing of the cloth?

BTW, I agree with you, they will be like a much needed breath of fresh air in there. Once, when I was working temporary for the post office a hundred years ago at Christmas, I delivered letters to the same place. And maybe the delivery was before the scumbags got up, or maybe there were none there at the time (30 years back, Jeesz), but I liked that job. Of course, I coulda legged it outa there in a big hurry if anyone chased me.

Anyway back to extreme positions and the wearing of the cloth.

Robert said...

Stephen, my feelings exactly. I do wish "sniffle and cry" could have expounded a bit~ Now I'll be wondering all day if the fellows at Moycross are "scum" for being religious, for being pro-life, or if s&c just doesn't like Rock & Roll! Of life's many mysteries, then there's man!

Sniffle&Cry said...

I thought it was a case of kettle calling the pot black. Pointing a finger at those who protest outside abortion clinics, yet in preaching your own message, being extreme.
(I understand what Stephen has said about building a relationship first and only then, hitting them up with your message.)

The ZZ Top crew in Moyross, regardless of their protests, are doing good stuff. This is one of the more profound moves/ sacrifices/ missions I’ve seen any religious group make in my lifetime. I think you agree.

My point, at the risk of sounding dull, is that you are both members of the cloth who preach, and are therefore in my mind extremists. Is suppose the question now is whether you are good or bad extremists.

Stephen Neill said...

There I was asleep on a Sunday afternoon and wake up to find my blog hopping! - Comments on a Sunday are rare - well comments anytime really ;-) Incidentally I think in the light of S&C's last comment we are all singing from roughly the same hymnsheet when it comes to the Friars - Never thought of myself as an extremist before but S&C has got me thinking.
I'm going for a walk to contemplate my newly discovered extremism but feel free to continue the discussion while I'm away.

Hessman said...

How can I get a copy or view on the web the interview with the Moyross Monks?

Stephen Neill said...

Hessman - It will be available here in the next few days:
At the moment the archive is only up to last week but it will be up shortly