Lots of talk on justice: Frank Duff lived it

Lots of talk on justice: Frank Duff lived it

It’s interesting how the concept of justice is used so liberally these days – everything from ‘climate justice’, a relatively new concept, through ‘social justice warriors’ whose methods don’t always taste of justice, to genuine justice tempered by mercy.

The phrase ‘crying out for justice’ was used in a timely interview on Times Radio Breakfast (Saturday) when Jenny Kleeman spoke with colleague Tymiah Ford about the case of Julius Jones, whose death sentence was commuted last week by Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt, just hours before the execution was due. That must have been traumatic, but the item also showed empathy for the victim’s family – I don’t think their interests were really served by the death sentence. Further it seems that the original conviction is questionable anyway, as someone else confessed, even bragged about being the shooter during a car-jacking. Some evidence suggests that Jones wasn’t even present but was framed. If that’s the case, the work of justice continues.


On the same show there were several plugs for a new book, The Great Post Office Scandal by Nick Wallis about what was described as one of the UK’s worst miscarriages of justice. This was the drastic case where 736 post office workers were criminalised, but it turned out to be a computer error. Their difficulties in achieving justice were previously detailed in a BBC podcast The Great Post Office Trial (BBC Sounds). Episode 11, ‘The Reckoning’ recently brought the story up to date a year after the original series.

Another man infused with a desire for justice was Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary. The centenary of the Legion is this year, an event marked by an inspiring and informative item on Bowman Sunday (RTÉ Radio One) last weekend. As John Bowman put it, this date tended to be lost among all the other dates associated with the foundations of the State. There were fascinating archive contributions from his biographer Finola Kennedy, along with historian León Ó Broin and Fr Michael O’Carroll, both of whom knew him personally. It was noteworthy that despite his achievements he was a low-key figure, keeping himself in the background – no cultivation of guru status for him! He was described as being ahead of his time, positively combatting prostitution, poverty and misery in Dublin and later worldwide. For example, he set up a hostel for unmarried mothers, ensuring they would have the option of keeping their babies – all this in tandem with devotion to Our Lady and to the Mass.


A more prominent figure in this media driven age, Jordan Peterson, was a guest on Question Time (BBC One, Thursday). I reckoned there might be sparks flying as the controversial Canadian psychologist and best-selling author seems to rub people up the wrong way, often with the clarity of his thinking, but perhaps also by how firm and sure he is in his opinions. His early contributions were certainly useful and pertinent. Discussing the making and breaking of promises by politicians his concern was that if this was done in a manipulative way it would erode trust in our public institutions and that had serious consequences for society. If it was a genuine situation where promises couldn’t be kept because of changing circumstances then the politicians should be up front and prompt about admitting it. On the current migrant crisis that the UK is facing he suggested a priority should be to raise living standards in developing countries, presumably because economic migrants especially would be keener to stay at home. Of course, that doesn’t solve the problems created by civil wars and autocratic regimes.

The nearest thing to sparks was when the topic of racism was discussed, particularly in the context of recent revelations about cricket. Another panellist took offence when Dr Peterson used air quotes when he mentioned racism. He graciously agreed to be more careful in future, but his point was that resorting too quickly to claims of structural racism was unwise. First he asked for the specific when, and who of the offences, to ensure accountability. He thought claims of institutional racism showed ‘low resolution thinking’ and were too likely to pit group against group.

I’d like to have heard more of what he had to say, regardless of whether I agreed with him or not – he provides thought provoking perspectives far above what one panelist called ‘knockabout’ politics.


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Advent is the season of preparation, and Maranatha signals the coming of our Lord at Christmas – a chance to receive him by turning away from sin and proactively pursuing good deeds. We have a living hope in Jesus.

Cancelled Channel 4 Thursday December 2, 10pm

From entertainment to academia, presenter Richard Bacon examines how cancel culture is affecting our lives.

The Leap of Faith RTÉ Radio One Friday December 3, 10.05pm

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