Rory McIlroy Religion: The Catholic Faith is a Private Matter
For most of his career, Rory McIlroy has been pulled in multiple directions as different groups want to claim the golfer as theirs. McIlroy grew up a Catholic in Northern Ireland, but prefers not to deliver long messages about his faith. It was a topic that came up often during the 2016 Olympics, as the golfer was asked to choose between the Irish or British flag.
“All of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to wonder who I am?” McIlroy noted to the Belfast Telegraph. “Who am I? Where am I from? Where are my loyalties? Who am I going to play for? Who don’t I want to piss off the most. I started to blame and I do. I do. don’t like the Olympics because of the position they put me in, it’s my feelings towards them, and whether it’s right or wrong, that’s how I feel.
McIlroy ultimately decided to withdraw from the Olympics due to fear of the Zika virus, but chose the Irish flag. The golfer then admitted he was Catholic, but doesn’t want that to define him.
“Not everyone is [driven by] nationalism and patriotism and that was never me, because I felt like I grew up in a place where I was not allowed to be, ”Rory told the Belfast Telegraph. “It was deleted. I’m in a lot of conflict because I’m Catholic and I turned on the TV at home and it was the BBC; I did my GCSEs; I used pounds sterling, stuff like that. So I’m Catholic but I feel very Northern Irish, and I never wanted it to become political or where I’m from, but that’s what it has become. And it just got to the point where it wasn’t worth bothering. “
McIlroy grew up in Northern Ireland in the midst of heated conflict, and that’s a big reason he prefers to stay out of controversial topics. Golf.com has detailed the difficult position in which McIlroy finds himself.
McIlroy is Catholic by birth, but is neither religious nor political by disposition. Arguably he remembers nothing of the most violent phase of the Northern Irish conflict on this issue, which mostly ended in ceasefires when McIlroy was 5 years old. But nearly two decades later, he still has to dance through that tedious political and religious minefield.
McIlroy’s family experienced the dangers of extreme beliefs firsthand when McIlroy’s great-uncle Joe was murdered in 1972. According to Fox Sports, he was murdered in his own home with the apparent motive of retaliation for the Joe’s decision to move his Catholic family to a Protestant Quarter.
This was part of the reason why McIlroy’s parents chose to send him to a school diverse in its religious population. Fox Sports detailed the decision.
But the McIlroys instead sent their golf prodigy to a school where children from both sides of the religious division were welcome. A school whose motto is Lámh Foisdineach An Uachtar, which means “With a gentle hand forward. “
And with a gentle hand, above all, Rory McIlroy seems determined to bring his people together, whether Irish or British.