Catholic Church is original master of dark arts
James Joyce's astute observation contained in the line, "Ireland, my first and only love where Christ and Caesar are hand in glove", is as true now as it ever was.
Joyce felt forced into exile by the oppressive nature of the conspiracy of cant that dominated Irish society in his time.
How much has really changed? Pope Benedict has demonstrated that the Catholic Church -- arch practitioners of the oldest profession on earth, the manipulation of the gullible -- is still very much in business.
In refusing to accept the resignation of Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field, he is not only showing contempt for the victims of abuse, he is demonstrating what his organisation has always been best at: the long game of survival. The formula has been repeated thousands of times: ignore criticism, declare martyrdom and, most of all, undermine the credibility of victims.
Perhaps the greatest consequence of the church's moral teaching is the impact the Catholic philosophy has had on generations of our so-called leaders.
Apart from the overt and willing surrender of social policy to the church, there is another, more insidious, consequence of aping the dark princes of an obviously corrupt church.
The essential problem we have in public administration in Ireland can be better understood when we consider how well the hand of corrupt administration fits into the glove of self-determined moral certitude. Just like the clerical overlords of Rome, our politicians too often keep the head down when they offend against 'little people', never apologising, never explaining.
Irish politicians, more than any others, have mastered the art of declaring martyrdom at the very time they are revealed as having betrayed the people's trust.
Bertie Ahern is the clearest and most recent exemplar of this most dark of Irish political arts.
And the coup de grace? Both church and State always manage to blame the little people for their own victimhood.
And, like the mere bleating sheep we have become, we always come back to the fold.