TK Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot (2014)

CHAMBERS, Anne


  • Moral assessment: (L-A1) Nothing inappropriate
  • Public: Generic

Fascinating "behind the scenes" stories of the political events of the late 60s and early 70s are a particular attraction of this book. It also develops the economic history of the nation since the foundation of the state in and through the life of Dr Whitaker. His key role in the peace process of Northern Ireland can be seen in the book, as well as how civil servants function and their role in serving the government. Expertly written by Anne Chambers, it takes on the style of a thriller as it answers many questions of those of us who grew up in that period and had little or no knowledge of what was really happening. How civil servants on both sides of the Irish Sea and in Northern Ireland came together unofficially to forge the future is intriguing. Names like James Callaghan, opposition spokesman and later UK Prime Minister, was involved and his holiday in West Cork is mentioned. A surprising closeness and respect is revealed by the interaction between these people which may have seemed the last thing to be expected. The prevailing sentiment was that British citizens were distant, uninterested in Ireland and that few would even dream of holidaying here. In his role as Secretary of Finance, the leading position in the civil service, and later a Governor of the Central Bank, he played a pivotal role in guiding the economy through turbulent times. "Let us remember that we are not seeking economic progress for purely materialistic reasons but because it makes possible relief of hardship and want, the establishment of a better social order, the raising of human dignity, and, eventually, the participation of all who are born in Ireland in the benefits, moral and cultural, as well as material, of spending their lives and bringing up their children in Ireland". The Irishman of the century is described as the personification of integrity, service, and commitment while leading a simple personal and family life. He becomes a model to imitate. At a time when some ridicule the value of morality and its origins, his professional life speaks reams about the fruitfulness and importance of professional morality in all situations. Lack of it was the hallmark of the period after his incumbency and every citizen felt the pain. It is as if his very presence connects them to a time and a society motivated by a caring and more ethical set of principles. A good question to ask is where that type of society comes from? The need for ethical training could be the greatest message to learn from his passing. C.D. (Kenya, 2017)

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What do the moral assessments mean in relation to works of literature?

The assessments are divided into two groups, one for Literature (L) and the other for Thought (P). For Literature the assessments are as follows:

  •  L-A1: Nothing morally inappropriate.
  •  L-A2: Nothing morally inappropriate, although may be unsuitable for younger readers (e.g. because there are topics requiring a certain maturity on the part of the reader).
  •  L-B1: Some morally inappropriate content.
  •  L-B2: Contains significant sections contrary to faith or morals.
  •  L-C1: Contains some lurid passages, or presents a general ideological framework that could confuse those without much Christian formation.
  • L-C2: Contains several lurid passages, or presents an ideological framework that is contrary or foreign to Christian values.
  •  L-C3: Explicitly contradicts Catholic faith or morals, or is directed against the Church and its institutions.

What do the moral assessments mean in relation to non-fiction works?

Works of Thought (P) are assessed according to the degree of knowledge required to evaluate the implications of affirmations made with respect to the Christian faith.

  • P-A1 or P-A2: These books present doctrinal matters in accordance with the teaching of the Church as set out, for example, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They avoid complicated topics and subjects not yet theologically settled. They are grouped according to whether or not they require a certain minimum of Christian formation.
    •  P-A1: General readership.
    •  P-A2: Readers with general cultural or basic Christian formation.
  • P-B1 or P-B2: To appreciate how certain topics impinge on the faith, the reader requires a good cultural formation with respect to the matters dealt with (P-B1), or even university-level studies in these areas (P-B2). In particular, these books may take for granted certain widely-held opinions opposed to the faith, even though such ideas may not be central to their argument – and can be easily detected by readers with a certain amount of formation.
    •  P-B1: Requires prior general knowledge of the subject.
    •  P-B2: Readers with Christian formation and knowledgeable about the subject matter.
  • P-C1, P-C2 or P-C3: Because of the implications of the topics dealt with, or the need to be aware of the reasons why some of the theories set out in the book are invalid, it is always necessary for the reader to have very good formation in the area in question, whether university-level (P-C1) or specialist (e.g. a doctorate: P-C2). Hence the assessments place emphasis on the objective content of the book, rather than on its possible readership. The P-C3 assessment is reserved for those works which set out to contradict or deny certain aspects of the faith or the teachings of the Catholic Magisterium.
    •  P-C1: Contains doctrinal errors of some importance.
    •  P-C2: Whilst not being explicitly against the faith, the general approach or its main points are ambiguous or opposed to the Church’s teachings.
    •  P-C3: Incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

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