One of the world’s leading Catholics has said he sees a close parallel between Islamic State and the IRA.
Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, said in an interview that the Islamic fanatics who now hold swathes of territory in the Middle East had perverted their own religion in the same manner that Irish Republicans had in decades gone by.
Cardinal Dolan, speaking in a television interview in the USA this week, had said the Islamic State movement was in the midst of a “systematic, well-choreographed, very well-focussed attempt to eradicate the ancient Christian population of the Mid-East”.
“You know the parallel I’ve drawn?” he went on to add.
“And enough people have been kind enough to tell me they think the analogy is accurate.
“Remember 30, 35, 40 years ago with the IRA in Ireland? The IRA claimed to be Catholic, ok? And they were baptized; they had a Catholic identity.
“What they were doing was a perversion of everything the church stood for.”
He went on to add that the Irish bishops “to their immense credit”, said at the time that the IRA attackers who targeted homes or military installations were not Catholics.
He said that while the killers of Islamic State (which is also often known by the acronym ISIS) are Muslim in his eyes, they belong to a “particularly perverted form of Islam”.
He said what was needed was for the “temperate, moderate, genuine forces of Islam to rise up and say: ‘They do not represent us’ Now that’s beginning to happen”.
He had been speaking to CNN host Chris Cuomo, during a TV broadcast of the show New Day on Tuesday.
He was expanding on comments he had made in the New York Post on February 17, when he had made a similar analogy and indicated that Muslim leaders should follow the lead of the Catholic bishops in Ireland in denouncing violence.
The UUP’s Tom Elliott said he could also see similarities – but questioned just how far the Catholic Church really had gone in denouncing IRA violence.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, who has often been outspoken about the republican campaign to drive Protestants out of border areas, said of Cardinal Dolan’s remarks: “Those religious leaders must be more forceful in their opposition to those who are causing the violence and murder, and causing it in the name of that religion.”
Asked whether he believes Cardinal Dolan’s reference to the Catholic Church anti-IRA stance rings true, he said: “On some occasions it does. However, I never knew the Catholic Church to not bury a PIRA person and some of them allowed, obviously, those terrorist or paramilitary funerals at their church. So while they did go some way, they had options to go much further.”
The video of YouTube embedded here was originally uploaded by the website rawstory.com