Essay on Nell McCafferty
Nell McCafferty was born in 1944 in Derry, Northern Ireland. She studied at Queens University Belfast, where she earned a degree in the Arts. For a short amount of time, she worked as a substitute English teacher. Eventually, she began writing for The Irish Times. In 2004, she wrote her autobiography that she is most known for, Nell. Through her years of writing, she has earned the title of a feminist. She actively and bluntly exposes clerical abuse as well as walking her readers through her journey of growing up as a lesbian. With her persuasive and forceful character, Nell McCafferty focuses much of her writing on the hardships of her sexuality, censorship in Ireland, and the abuse of the Catholic Church.
In her short story The Legacy of Clerical Abuse, McCafferty eagerly explains the destructiveness and corruptness of the priests of the Catholic Church. It is evident that there has been falsification by Catholic priests, as they were raping children. Many people turned the other cheek because religion was such an important role in society that a scandal like this would be unheard of. But McCafferty strongly opposed the Catholic Church, despite her very religious childhood. She explained how not only were the children being destroyed because of this, but their entire families were hurt. She says, “The reverend fathers did not just rob the crib and rape the child. They robbed mothers and fathers of their families” (The Legacy Of…353). She questions the truth in calling a priest “Holy,” when she says, “He will ask for prayers for ‘His Holiness, the Pope,’ who also defends the right of abusive Holy Men to say Mass, ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ promises to be a nightmare” (The Legacy Of… 355). Questioning the holiness of the Pope or the priest during the middle of the century, or even now, is sacrilegious. Not only was it sacrilegious, but also because she was a woman, it was even more irreverent. In an article written by Mary Ellen Flynn, it is noted how important this concept of feminism with regards to the Church is. Flynn says, “This patriarchal experience is mirrored in McCafferty’s time in the activist movement for Catholic equality, where women were not allowed to attend meetings of the leadership running the protest movement” (Flynn 2). She went on to say, “And when they weren’t abusing children, the Holy Men, abetted by the Vatican, banished unmarried pregnant women to Magdalen homes, and banished their babies to the institutions