Once upon a time, Catholic churches rang their bells at 6 a.m., noon, and again at 6 p.m. Then it became a nuisance, all that racket so early in the morning when people were trying to sleep, and then there were the non-Catholics who weren't keen on the chiming three times a day.
Except in Ireland, of course. Tune in to RTE Radio and you'll know it's time for the Angelus because the broadcast takes a pause.
Does that mean that there should be religious advertising on the radio as well? If the national broadcaster is going to be so Catholic as to ring the Angelus on air, where does it end?
Dr. Martin Mansergh, Minister for Finance, would like to keep the Angelus and do away with adverts that promote religion as if it were some ordinary commodity. It doesn't ring true, some commercial touting job openings with the Christian Brothers, smack up against a spot selling Carlings beer or McDonalds burgers.
They're debating the Broadcasting Bill, deciding what's fit to be heard by Irish ears, and Dr. Mansergh believes that the thrice-daily Angelus is suitable. Seymour Crawford, representing Cavan & Monaghan, thinks it wouldn't hurt to let religious orders push Christmas cribs through electronic media. And maybe some religious programs would be helpful, what with people not going to church because of the sex abuse scandals and look at the epidemic of suicide that's resulted.
Masses, the calling of the rosary: for the old, the isolated and the sick it wouldn't hurt. And as for the Angelus, at least if it's on the radio you can turn down the volume and not disturb your neighbor.