Canon sounded like an ingratiating cleric

Canon Peter Campion, preaching at a Remembrance service in Dublin's St Patrick's Cathedral, could have made his point ('˜CoI cleric praises poppy stance of her McClean,' November 13) about the poppy being cheapened by turning its wearing into something other than what it should be (a point I have some sympathy with) without having to elevate James McClean, a footballer in an English team, into a 'national hero' for Ireland in going against the fashion in his refusal to wear it when playing at English matches.

Monday, 27th November 2017, 2:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 12:50 pm

By so elevating James McClean to a “national hero”, Canon Peter Campion’s pulpit proclamations read like just another ingratiating sermon by an ingratiating cleric, given in the presence of the Irish president, Michael D Higgins and Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald. All to prove we Church of Ireland people are “good patriots”.

Whether this is so or not his sermon reads like that - despite his hint that Ireland was a cold house for his forebears who had served in the army – he cites McClean’s reason, and seemingly praising that reason, for refusing to wear it when asked by his team - namely because of “Bloody Sunday” in Derry-Londonderry and the role of the army in that.

No thought given to the army being earlier brought in, as it was hailed at the time, to protect the beleaguered Roman Catholic community from the attacks of others, including no doubt amongst many from Canon Campion’s “own church”.

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The army dragged in soon came to realise it was not as simple as so many media commentators were portraying it.

My sympathies are with those young soldiers who in face of a shouting unruly mob had to identify themselves when on duty by wearing a uniform (sitting ducks) and particularly in Derry-Londonderry on that occasion when a few days before two RUC officers, also wearing uniforms, now forgotten, were gunned down.

Better for Canon Campion and other like minded Church of Ireland clerics, of whom there seem to be quite a number around, to take as their exemplar the Dublin Jesuit priest, who also wore a uniform, Fr Willie Doyle, popular with the Ulster Protestant soldiers, who on a Great War battlefield comforted a dying, young Ulster Protestant: but Father, said the young soldier, I’m not of your church, never mind said Willie Doyle, you are of my God.

That is what wearing a poppy is about.

W A Miller, Belfast BT13