Remembering “Those Persecuted for Righteousness”
Msgr. Joseph McLoone had to look no further than the latest CNN report on unrest in Egypt to find an analogy for his sermon on “Bloody Sunday,” the incident that occurred on January 30, 1972, when British soldiers opened fire on protesters in Derry’s Bogside neighborhood, killing 13 and touching off decades of fighting in Northern Ireland.
“We see what’s happening in Egypt, we see people standing up for their rights, for democracy,” he told the 60 people who gathered in the Irish Center dining room for a Mass of remembrance on Sunday, January 30. “We see what happens when people are in power for so long that they forget the human person.”
The men who died on Bloody Sunday are unlikely to be forgotten. Although there will no longer be marches on January 30 in Derry, Bill Donohue, president of the Philadelphia-based Sons and Daughters of Derry (called “the Derry Society”), said that this annual religious ceremony in Philadelphia will continue “in perpetuity.”
One of Philadelphia’s last large waves of Irish immigrants come from Northern Ireland, many fleeing the violence and religious bigotry that dominated the landscape in places like Derry, Belfast, and Tyrone.
Just last year, the British government, after 40 years, released the Saville Report in which they admitted that the shootings that day in Derry were, as British Prime Minister David Cameron put it, “unjustified and unjustifiable.”
Most of the people killed and wounded were teenagers. On Sunday, their names and ages were written on white crosses placed around the wall of the Irish Center dining room.
“Let us remember,” said Msgr. McLoone, referring to the eight beatitudes of Christ, “that those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness will be received in heaven.”
See photos from the Mass here.