St. Patrick's Day Smackdown
St. Patrick’s Day--or as it’s known in the Ordo, the Feast of St. Patrick--falls for the first time since 1940 during Holy Week. Not surprisingly, that means no Masses in honor of the patron saint of Ireland (that is, the man born Patricius in Roman Britain) on March 17. A few Catholic bishops have also asked to have the parades on that day moved as well. Predictably this has disappointed, frustrated and even angered some Irish-Catholics. CNN.com has a good piece on the controversy "St. Patrick’s Day Controversy"and tells what’s going on in Columbus, Ohio.... [In] Columbus, the Shamrock Club is going ahead with its March 17 parade, drawing protests from the local bishop. A handful of Irish-American politicians have lined up behind church leaders, breaking with tradition by refusing to march in the parade. In a letter last fall, the Catholic Diocese of Columbus told the Shamrock Club, the group that organizes the parade, that Bishop Frederick Campbell wanted "all observances honoring St. Patrick" -- religious or otherwise -- removed from Holy Week. "It’s not a sin to celebrate your Irish culture," countered Mark Dempsey, the club’s president. "Actually, you’re born Irish first," he said, "and then you’re baptized Catholic." Look, I’m half-Irish (as near as I can make out from our complicated family tree). And I have a great devotion to St. Patrick. But, for Pat’s sakes, it’s Holy Week. You have to wonder what St. Patrick would say to someone who thinks that being Irish is more important than being Catholic. James Martin, S.J.
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