Welcome Friends!

A Catholic blog about faith, social issues, economics, culture, politics and poetry -- powered by Daily Mass & Rosary

If you like us, share us! Social media buttons are available at the end of each post.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Editor's Note: My homeschooled godson Ben, age 16, is studying history, and from that experience he took a great dislike to the British as they behaved in history especially toward the Irish. Ben is mostly Irish. I answered his questions regarding the pope and who killed Jesus Christ in this blog post Questions from a Godson: Who Crucified JesusAnyway? Is the Pope Really as Pure as He said? But I really couldn’t address the British-Irish question for him, so I called in my faithful British friend Christopher Woodford, Twitter Handle @Crimbo51, who describes himself as a “former atheist who has abandoned the arrogance of certainty.” He is so recently “former" atheist that we were just arguing about the existence of God two weeks ago! He lives in Southampton, England.

Ben's Original Question

Ben and I found a real Roman soldier to
answer his questions. Young Christopher
Woodford growing up in the British Isles.
The Romans originated from Italy, they took Britain from the Briton Celtic people around 60-78 AD. While the Romans took over and the Britons ended up accepting their new overlords, the other Celtic tribes kept struggling, refusing to give up so easily. The Romans/Brits were the ones to kill Jesus. In the end the Briton and Roman people mingled, so the modern day British people are mutts of the two, perhaps thrown in with a splash of other ethnic groups (Been a long time, after all.)

The Roman/Brit people continued to then fight the Insular Celts, enslaving them and selling them in the era of slaves for the U.S. to build their railroad.

The “Brit’s” Response

 Christopher Woodford: Hello Ben, In early 1946, my father and mother went to our rail station to meet her youngest brother at the train station. He was coming home from the Far East where he had spent 1942-45 in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Singapore.  He saw them first and came up to speak. They did not recognize him. He was not much more than an emaciated skeleton, and this was his condition after spending months in rehabilitation.

Changi Prisoner of War, British or Australian
In the Changi Prisoner of War (POW) camp, he was beaten and subjected to the terror of possible instant or slow death on the whim of the Japanese guards. The prisoners were worked in 100-degree temperatures, eating only a handful of rice daily and some dirty water, supplementing their diets at night with snakes, insects and rodents unfortunate enough to pass through the camp.

I was born in 1951. From as early as I can remember I was taught to hate the Japanese, Japan and all things, which came out of it. I would never buy products from Japan, though they made good quality electronics, music systems, cars and motorcycles at reasonable prices. Hating them cost me money. This hatred lasted for decades into my adult life.
Japanese guard at Changi
POW camp
In 1993, I travelled to Dresden, Germany, which used to be part of Communist East Germany up to a few years before. As we approached the city, cranes dominated the skyline – more than I had ever seen in one place before.

The whole city was still under reconstruction nearly 50 years after it had been completely destroyed.  Walking around the city center, we saw it as a colossal jigsaw puzzle. We stood outside a fenced off area where a cathedral towered over us. Around its base were chunks of masonry, some no bigger than a football, all with numbers on them.

Only three months before the end of World War II, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) sent 800 Lancaster bombers at night over Dresden. This was followed the next day by two waves of US Air Force B-17s, each numbering 311 and 450 planes respectively.  Dresden was almost untouched until this date, its industry being the manufacture of fine china. On the night and day of the raids it was full of refugees fleeing the Soviet army. The purpose of the raid? “The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do,” according to an internal RAF memo. 

AFTERMATH DRESDEN BOMBING: An estimated 25,000 people
killed Feb. 13-15, 1945, by American and British bombers.
The German city was full of refugees on that date.
We went into a restaurant in the city after our walkabout. A young man about 10 years younger than I ran it. His hate toward us British was obvious from the start. 

This got me to thinking.  I was born six years after the bombing of Dresden.  I didn't bomb his city.  He was born 16 years after the bombing. He wasn't there when it was bombed. Maybe, in some odd way, the event led to his parents coming together and his life beginning. Who knows?

After that, I changed my attitude toward Japan. Why should I hate them? Most of the people involved in the conflict were dead or in their senile years. And who, if anyone, should apologize? After all, they were the victims of two atomic bombs.

On Ireland:  Yes. The British have wronged the Irish. But who is a nation? Who is a Briton, or an Italian? Go back 2000 years to Rome. They weren't Italians. Go back to 1776. The Americans you would meet would be nothing like the people you see today.
Christopher Woodford with daughter Emma at Versailles Palace
He's a look alike for American singer and politician Sonny Bono,
who came to fame in the 1960s
I grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The adults were oppressive and controlling. We broke out of that. We had a kind of revolution in music, fashion and behavior. Not all changes were for the better. But I guarantee I am a different man from my father and grandfather.

Ireland's oppression started 900 years ago. The Norman king, Henry II, was first to invade. But note the word “Norman.” These kings were foreign invaders in England. Their arrival in England in 1066 sparked an oppression of the Saxon English, which only eased slowly over two centuries. The English were suffering the same fate as the Irish.  It was only in the mid-1300s that the English aristocracy began speaking “English.” And the “English” they spoke is unrecognizable today.

All through the following centuries Ireland was a strategic problem for the rest of the British Isles (right up to the 1940s). The French were always angling to land forces there for a foothold to invade England and Wales. This problem
King Henry VIII messed
everything up.
"If" only he didn't want a divorce!
increased after Henry VIII abandoned the Catholic Church causing Spain, then the most powerful world power, to become our enemy.

Eire and “the six counties” which comprise Northern Ireland are to this day in the dying throes of an old enmity between Catholicism and Protestantism. Almost no one anywhere else in the world thinks too much about this difference any more, outside of Northern Ireland.

The British mishandling of the potato disease in the mid-1800s in Ireland, which resulted in Irish starvation and the consequent diaspora were typical of a thoughtless government run by the rich and aristocrats. If, at the same time, you could see the conditions the poor were living under in England, Scotland and Wales, it would be plain that their lives were given no value either. The average Englishman wouldn't have known the famine was happening. He might possibly be able to read, but would have no money to spend on the few news leaflets available, even if they mentioned the famine. And he couldn't turn on the radio, TV, or the Internet.

The Easter Rising of 1916 was dealt with in a heavy-handed manner typical of the time by a British military then in the middle of World War I. The mentality of the aristocrat generals of the time was such that British soldiers in France were executed for cowardice for suffering what is now recognized as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. And British soldiers suffered through the stupid tactics of mass infantry attacks, which poured away men's lives in the 1000s every day. That means the British generals would not see any alternative except violent repression to an Irish protest.

The Easter Rising was a missed opportunity. Properly handled it could have turned out well. But hindsight is useless and the judging of yesterday's actions by today's standards happens in all walks of life.

Forward to The (British-Irish) Troubles, a thirty year period of bombings and violence from 1968, starting with repressed civil rights marches for Catholic equality, aggravated by the intervention of the British Army, the formation of paramilitary groups, and ended by international pressure to form a consensus government.

A priest gives the last rites to a demonstrator shot on
Bloody Sunday. Thirteen people were killed when
British paratroopers opened fire on an Irish civil rights
march in Derry on Jan. 30, 1972. 
There was still that imperial mentality in government. Lessons were hard learned. A pivotal moment in thinking occurred with the aftermath of Bloody Sunday in 1972, when the Parachute Regiment shot dead 26 protesters. I remember it well. The shock of this day went through society and rebounded into politicians' thinking. “You can't just shoot civilians in the street!”

But at about roughly this same time, the Ku Klux Klan and other racially motivated groups were shooting civil rights protesters in the USA. Also at this time, protesters and strikers in England were being beaten by police, and by soldiers masquerading as police.

The separation of Eire and the six counties is an insoluble problem in the near future. It is a problem 900 years in the making, and it can’t be reversed overnight. But British and Irish governments have made great progress since the ‘90s. Prime Ministers  Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fáil of Eire), John Major (Conservative of Britain), and then Tony Blair (Labour of Britain) pushed through stubborn local opposition and forced the creation of a local government in Northern Ireland representing fairly both sides.

Sinn Féin  Catholic party members Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness sat together with Protestant party members Ian Paisley (Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party) and David Trimble (Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party). It would have been unthinkable 20 years earlier. Their arms were twisted -- not only by Westminster and Dublin, but also by U.S. Senator George Mitchell sent to represent the U.S. by President Bill Clinton.

Since then, a whole generation has grown up in peace. I don't think anyone of your age would want to return to the troubles of the recent past. Neither would any Briton.

I would like to know where your idea comes from that we wish to re-enslave Ireland, especially in the light of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. With an 84 percent voter turnout, the Scots chose to remain part of the United Kingdom 55-44.  They could have walked out of the United Kingdom last October, and they've suffered over the centuries too (Culloden/Highland Clearances).

The Protestant Orange Order, with its marches and Apprentice Boy Parades, seems to be fading out. It’s old men's stuff. It was and still is, the Protestant majority in the North, who insist on remaining in the United Kingdom.  And complete reunion with Eire is made more difficult still with Eire's whole-hearted plunge into the European Union and its use of the  Euro currency. That is something, which is a “NO, NO” to England, Wales and Northern Ireland in particular.

Pushing the Celts west: Consider the treatment Native Americans have received in the United States.

The Britons did resist the Romans. In 54 and 55 BC Julius Caesar was involved in two failed invasions of Britain (as usual, our lovely weather helped.) Claudius Caesar succeeded in 43 AD, but check out the actions of Boudicca, who conquered Roman-controlled Colchester, Verulamium (now St Albans) and London in 60-61 AD.

But remember, Rome was the USA of its day. Who could stand against its well-organized, state of the art, fighting equipment, legions and supply lines? And why resist, when acceptance of their superior system led to improved living standards. Being a Roman citizen had advantages, some of which the Apostle Paul exploited to his advantage when on trial in his homeland.

If Rome had survived, I have no doubt the moon landing would have happened 1000 years ago, and today we would be among the stars.

Christopher Woodford and
one of his favorite activities
drinking beer in the local pub 
Am I a heathen? Ask Susan Fox. She knows my religious background and the reason for my current thoughts. (editor’s note: Chris has an open, beautiful inquiring mind, but a heart bruised by being raised in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Therefore with respect to God, he has trust issues. But apparently, God values a person’s willingness to love, and in this department, Chris excels.)

Britain has many beautiful churches and cathedrals. Henry VIII's Church of England has slipped out of the minds of the average Briton. But the Catholic churches seem to be doing well.

This loss of religious enthusiasm has something to do with the age of the nation. Countries are like people; they age and change over time and we have been around longer than most. There's a certain tiredness in the minds of the indigenous people for religion. We've seen a lot of trouble, some of which we exported to America in the Mayflower flotilla. There is a lot of support for religion amongst immigrant communities, and not just Islam.
Do I hate Islam? That's a hard one. As it's an ideology and not a living person or persons, I suppose I do, in the same way, as I hate communism. Both stifle individuality.

Do I hate Muslims? No. They are people. I have worked with them over the years. Some have been good friends and colleagues. Our favorite local restaurant is Bangladeshi. The lads in there are great guys. Maybe I pity those Muslims who let the religion tear up their lives and rob them of their freedom.

One day a while back, Mike (my son) and I were in a city center Asian food shop. It is almost next door to the mosque and Friday prayers were just finished. The shop was busy and we arrived at the checkout at the same time as a Muslim man. I gestured to him to go first, but he put his clenched fist to his heart and looked into my eyes. He wanted us to go first. His eyes were wet with tears of joy and love for his fellow man. Islam must be doing him some good.

Am I, and other Britons, “cocky”? Some must be, as happens in all ethnic groups comprised of a multitude of individuals. Like all other nations, we have the full spectrum of good guys and bad guys. But if you don't take some pride in your country, then it's doomed. I bet you are proud to be a U.S. citizen, and proud of your Irish roots.

I'm proud of my country's achievements. We are still the 5th power in the world. And I'm proud to be a friend of America, as are Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians, all nations with the same values. Britain is a virtually guaranteed extra vote for the USA on the United Nations Security Council. We were involved in the birth of America, and we actually need a strong America. It worries me to see the US spending vast sums in military engagements around the globe whilst at the same time undermining its own industrial and commercial base. History repeats itself. Look at Britain's position 100 years ago.

A few words more, before you suspect this Brit of trying to bore an Irishman to death. Perhaps you would like to try this experiment at night because that’s our daytime.

When you are alone in your room, shut your eyes tight, clench your teeth, and with all the power you can muster, send hate to all the British and Italians.

Somewhere in Italy, there will be a man on the Fiat truck assembly line, and somewhere in Liverpool, there will be a woman working on a supermarket checkout stand, and they will feel nothing. They, and everyone else in the two countries, won't even know you exist.

Hate is acid in your soul. It exists only in your mind. You are the only person it can erode and burn away. Love is cool neutralizing spring water. Forgiveness brings a joy to your heart, which is worth more than anything else you could achieve. Why do you think forgiveness is at the core of the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Mural painted in Changi POW camp by a prisoner.
It says, "Father, forgive them for they know not
what they do."
A thought came to me whilst pondering all this. My Uncle Charlie spent three years in that Japanese prison camp. I spent nearly forty in it (hating the Japanese). The man in the Dresden restaurant turned a key in the door of my cell and released me.

I hope he's not still in his prison.

Best wishes for your life,

He (Chris) sounds like a nice man, however I stand by my point. I did not hear explicitly “the British want to re-enslave the Irish.” I'm basing such a suspicion on the fact they still haven't just let go of Ireland. If they truly had no wish to impose, seize control of the island, why persist? If they wanted to make amends, let bygones be bygones, they could just start by backing out. Regardless of what the polls in “Northern Ireland” say, back off.

But with Chris' information, it really was the British officials at fault, not the common British man, and it’s probably still like that today. It'd still be an amazing gesture for them to let it go, and then I truly would have to reconsider my stance.

So Chris, Why Not Let the Irish Nation, North and South, Together Decide Their Fate For Themselves?

Chris and Ben decide the fate of IRELAND in the next post British People are Like All People: We Want Peace


  1. As to new blog on Brit forgiveness, I am Irish. My parents who have witnessed the worst of the troubles instilled in me a severe dislike for them. I can forgive if they so desire. To those who still hate us and claim the North of our Country as their own, forgiveness is difficult for me. Only God can help me with this issue, however I feel that justice is in order & pray that our Erin shall be whole one day. They tortured us, made martyrs of all, even Catholic infants & elderly. To this day, they still hate us, wanting to force us to assimilate to anti-Catholicism and out of our own land. Ben is true to his countrymen and the atrocities committed against us. It continues to this day, which is why so many left for America (my family), so they could have freedom OF religion, work and maintain our holy traditions, without the oppression of force to deny our Faith. Written by Sheila Buxton on Twitter and reprinted here with her permission

  2. As I recall, there are no New Testament passages that ask us to forget. Pain cannot be erased from memory but forgiveness is not factual, not based upon events. Forgiveness is neither based upon knowledge nor empathy. Forgiveness is based upon Christian faith and Jesus' promise to us.

  3. That's right, and usually forgiveness comes after someone says they are sorry. That is Ben's point. Pull out and I will believe you have repented. But Chris' point is that is not realistic. Read the next post. I think my husband nailed the solution. God bless you. Susan Fox