Tuesday, July 25, 2017

So easy to miss so much

This week's Independent News & Meida Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
By the time this appears in the newspaper the blue skies may have disappeared and been replaced with cloud and rain. That's Ireland for you. But so far this summer it's not been too bad. 

Not only that, only last week I heard someone complaining about the 'heat'. And that's Ireland for you too, and its people.

But last week was spectacular and is there anywhere in the world more beautiful than Ireland when it is covered with bright blue skies. On Monday of last week there was not a hint of a cloud to be seen anywhere in Ireland.

The following day a work colleague was chatting with friends and showing them a picture of her parents who had just arrived in Mauritius on holiday. A smart aleck quipped that they would have been better off staying at home in Ireland and basking in the Irish sun. 

They'd have saved themselves the airfare, avoided the hassle of an airport, the discomfort of sitting in an airplane seat and have done the environment a power of good by minimising their carbon footprint.

But it is striking how we can travel all over the world and yet miss what is right in front of our noses.

On the Monday of last week I took to the bicycle in the afternoon. It was just to get some exercise and get away from what I was doing. I was finishing off a book review and needed to get out. The tide was the wrong way for a swim so the bicycle was the next best thing.

The plan was to head out on a well-worn route, call to a friend and then cycle back home. In all it would have been approximately 18 to 20 kilometres. Neither wind nor rain, blue skies, perfect weather for cycling.

I had gone less than two kilometres when I decided the route I was taking was boring, nothing special about it. And just as I was toying with the idea of taking a different route I passed a small laneway. 

Earlier in the day I had been looking at a map and had spotted that there was a small lake close to school playing fields. I knew I was in the area of the playing fields, so why not cycle up the laneway? It's just what I did and to my surprise and amazement I spent the next hour being enthralled by fabulous woodland, a small stream and a lake. 

And it was the perfect day for it. What has surprised me most of all is the fact that I have cycled passed that place for so many years and never before thought of simply turning right and exploring what was at the top of the laneway.

But isn't that the story of our lives. We seem to be programmed in some strange or odd way that makes us fit into grooves and then move forward and backward. It's seldom we have the inclination or the will to look out over the parapet and see what's going on just metres away from where we are.

Of course most of us think we are adventurous, far more enlightened than the generations that went ahead of us. Alas, from my experience, there's not that much movement away from our comfort zones.

Come to think about it, isn't that exactly what a prophet is, someone who has the ability to read the signs of the times and then try to put a shape on things. The prophet, like Plato's gadfly, is never at home with the status quo.

Can a prophet ever be popular?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Japanese touch in Rathgar

A reader mailed this picture.

It is a variegated Japanese Maple on Frankfort Avenue in Rathgar, Dublin 6.

'The Tablet' editorial on the 'culture war' phenomenon

Interesting and informative editorial in The Tablet this week.

It's about the state of the Catholic Church in the United States.

A number of excerpts:

Many bishops have led the American Church into the scenario known as the 'culture wars'......

The real question the Vatican must face is why it allowed this division in the Catholic Church in America to fester for many years, why, in particular it appointed a slew of 'safe' conservative bishops, eager culture warriors, to replace faithful bishops who saw their mission as including the promotion of social justice and equal rights.

It goes on:

The Catholic hierarchy's failure to put its full weight behind healthcare reform is deeply troubling, given that those who suffer most from lack of healthcare are the poor.

It is an editorial well worth reading.

Indeed, it is not exclusively talking to or about the church in the United States.

It could well be talking to/about the Irish Catholic Church, the Irish province of the Dominican Order.

In the case of the Dominicans what has the management team in Ireland and in Rome done to prevent the polarisation and divisions that are taking place?

The answer: nothing. Indeed, it may well be that the management teams have helped bring about the difficulties.

Beauty of Bohernabreena

Stunning Bohernabreena yesterday.

And this gift of nature is 12 kilometres from Dublin city centre.


The magic of the ordinary

This week's Sunday Letter

Michael Commane OP
Some months back Mary was a patient in St Luke's Hospital. Her husband visited her every day.

We'll call them Mary and John Murphy, which are not their real names.

John is a bus driver with Dublin Bus and embarrassingly, I have to admit that I have a passing interest in buses. Sad to say, I can spot the difference between an SG and a GT Volvo, which are the newest designed buses in the fleet.

So over the weeks that Mary was a patient I had plenty of time to discuss the world of buses with John. Probably greatly annoyed and bored the man. But we had many laughs. He's good-natured and I think we enjoyed each other's company.

The 14 bus is now a cross-city route and works out of two depots, Donnybrook and Summerhill. John is based at Summerhill, which means he occasionally drives the 14.

I have been looking out for him for months, indeed, I have almost fallen off the bicycle while checking drivers on the 14.

Then three weeks ago when getting off a 14 I noticed I was on a Summerhill bus. I asked the driver did she know a John Murphy. She said she did, so I told her I knew him, gave her my name and asked her to say hello to him from me.

Within a week I received an SMS from John. The bus driver had passed on my greeting to him and he in turn sent me a text to say hello.

A tiny little episode in the scheme of things but how delightful. It put a smile on my face. And to add to the story, Mary, his wife, is in good health.

See, the little things. And all right in front of our eyes. Not in some far off exotic land but here in my own place.

Isn't it  the poet William Wordsworth who sees the extraordinary in the ordinary things right in front of us? At times so easy to miss, what a shame. But the magic when we see it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Thoughts of a wise and kind 90-year-old Irish priest

A 90-year-old priest, and a good priest too, when asked what he thought of celibacy replied with one word: 'daft'.

"Indeed, I would do away with the three vows and replace them with three words; Sensitivity, Sharing, Service."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

We believe the Spirit helps us in our weakness

The 'Thinking Anew' column in The Irish Times today.

Michael Commane
In St Paul's Letter to the Romans he writes about the Spirit coming to help us in our weakness.

He goes on to say: ‘For when we cannot choose words to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.' (Romans 8: 26 - 27)

Everything to do with God is in a sense surrounded in mystery and so too is any communication that we try to have with God. It's so easy to be glib or disconnected about God and everything we try to say about God. It can be easy to rattle off formulaic prayers, sometimes never giving the slightest heed to what we are saying.

But these words of St Paul are surprisingly consoling. He knows there are times when we cannot choose the right words in which to frame our prayers, and to know that the Spirit comes to our help is reassuring for those of us for whom prayer so often is an experience of fumbling and muddling and hoping for understanding. 

It's almost a year now since I began work as chaplain in St Luke's Cancer Hospital in Dublin. The exact date was August 28, 2016. Every day I meet sick people but every day too I see wonderful examples of love, kindness and goodness. The goodness, love and kindness that I encounter helps me try to make sense to the pain, suffering and turmoil that is the reality of life in a hospital. 

Some weeks ago I was asked to review a book written by a woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and is now in recovery. The review is for Spirituality, which is a Dominican Publications magazine.

The title of the book is Cancer - A Circle of Seasons with the sub title A way to journal and pray through life's challenges. The author is Anne Alcock and it is published by Columba Press. 

Reading the book and then writing about it complements in many ways the work I do in the hospital.

No matter who we are, how we are or what we do or think, our lives are journeys, and there is always an element of mystery, of chance, good fortune and misfortune, about how we travel through our lives. There is also a confidence that is given to those who have faith.

Anne Alcock begins by thanking all those involved in cancer research and then immediately quotes the Book of Numbers: 'May the Lord/bless and protect you,/May the Lord's face/radiate with joy because of you./May He be gracious to you,/show you His  favour/and give you his peace.' (Numbers 6: 24 - 26)

Throughout the book she dips in and out of the Bible with quotations that are so relevant to the mystery of life and suffering. Just as so often we can't put words on anything to do with God, so too it is almost impossible to put words on pain and suffering.

In her preface, the author talks about how her cancer has turned her venture with God into an adventure. Of course, cancer for many is terminal. We are all assured of death. But to believe that the Spirit helps us in our weakness is reassuring. Pie in the sky? I hope not, and most times I believe it is not. 

Reading Anne Alcock's book and working where I do, I’m inclined to believe in that Spirit, also knowing it is close to impossible to put words on that Spirit and that faith. And then on to something else, far bigger and mysterious, something far bigger than my head can ever get around - life after death, God, eternal life. In the community of grace, comforting, suffering, and – for some, healing – that is a cancer hospital, we catch glimpses of the light it casts every day. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Remembering Fr Larry Kelly

A little over a year ago Fr Larry Kelly died, on July 18, 2016 to be precise.

Larry was a special man and an oustanding priest.

The week after is death the following column appeared in Independent News and Media Irish regional newspapers.

Michael Commane
Kilcummin is six kilometres from Killarney. It's considered more east Kerry than south Kerry. There are no tourist buses to be seen going through Kilcummin.

Last Wednesday it was a busy spot as mourners turned up for the funeral Mass of diocesan priest Fr Larry Kelly.

The modern-style church is in the centre of the village. I knew Fr Larry Kelly, more on that anon, so I was attending the funeral and arrived 25 minutes before Mass began.

Across the road from the church, probably in the most strategic spot available, was parked a large black vehicle and blazoned across the side of it was Healy-Rae.

Naturally I laughed. They don't miss a trick.

When I came out of the church after Mass there was no sign of the Healy-Rae vehicle.

It was probably sometime in 2003 when I first met Michael Healy-Rae. I was visiting my elderly father in Tralee General Hospital. Walking along a hospital corridor Michael Healy-Rae came up to me and said hello. It was Friday, I was tired and looking forward to getting home. So I turned to him and said: "Why are you saying hello to me as you don't know who I am, It's just a political stunt."

Immediately he replied: "Commane, you're as nasty in reality as you are in the paper." I found myself stuck to the floor of the hospital corridor. We got chatting. He told me why he was in the hospital. And I told him I had been with my elderly father. If I remember correctly he visited my father the next day. Michael Healy-Rae's number is in my phone and from time to time we have a chat.

The day that I saw the Healy-Rae wagon was the same day that his brother, Danny Healy-Rae TD, was on radio answering criticisms to his attendance at funerals of 'strangers'.
It brought a smile to my face.

But the Healy-Raes would have known Fr Larry Kelly as he was parish priest in Kilgarvan, the epi-centre of the Healy Rae-kingdom.

Before going to Kilgarvan Larry had been parish priest in Castlegregory, in other words he was my parish priest.

When I went to work in 'The Kerryman' newspaper in 1998 I went back to live in the old home in Castlegregory. Back then Fr Larry was in his late 60s.

Though we may have had different opinions on many subjects we became good friends. He could well have criticised me for doing what many may have seen 'unusual' work for a priest. But that's not the way Larry worked or thought.

There was never any 'double-speak' from Larry. You knew what he said he meant. There was not a scintilla of 'sleeveenery' about the man. Larry was no career priest and never an apparatchik.

He grew his own potatoes and vegetables. Those spuds were special and always my first real taste of summer.

In his late 60s he painted the outside of the church. He lived a simple frugal life, never drinking alcohol. An impressive man.

He had a great sense of humour, quirky and probably slightly eccentric. Maybe that's why we hit it off so well?

His nephew, MEP Sean Kelly put it down to "athnaíonn ciaróg ciaróg eile".

Larry was a special person. In many ways an 'old-style' Irish priest. In other ways not at all.

He was an avid GAA follower, who enjoyed being in Croke Park when Kerry were in the final.

I'm going to miss him. I knew he liked me and I treasured that.

He was a kind man. May he rest in peace.

German motor scandal

Major scandal breaking this evening in the German motor industry.

It has been revealed that VW, BMW, Audi and Porsche were all in cimmunication with one another concerning emissions. There was a cartel system working between them.

Busiest ever day at airports

Today is expected to be the busiest day in aviation history in Great Britain.

There are due to be 8,800 landings and take-offs at airports in England Scotland and Wales today.

Our carbon footprint?

From today's Guardian:

UK air traffic controllers are expecting to handle more than 8,800 flights on Friday – the busiest day on record for UK airspace – while millions take to the roads as the summer school holidays begin for many pupils.

A record 2.4 million UK holidaymakers will be heading overseas, according to the travel association Abta.

Airports in the south-east are expecting a very busy weekend with more than 500,000 passengers expected to depart from Heathrow, 335,000 from Gatwick, 136,000 from Stansted and 85,000 from Luton.

Summer in Dublin

Outside a house off Rathgar Road yesterday.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New German law to punish fake news and hate speech

Twelve million Germans have newspaper subscriptions, whereas 28 million use Facebook.

Germany has passed a new law compelling social media companies to remove 'evidently unlawful' abusive material within 24 hours. Failing to obey the law could mean fines up to €50 million.

Fake news or hate speech that isn't strictly unlawful has seven days to be assessed under the new law, which comes into effect in October for services with more than two million German users.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Martin's Würzburg lecture

Below is a link to a letter published  in The Irish Times on Monday concerning Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's Würzburg lecture.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Secular and religious side of life on Munster Final day

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's lecture in Würzburg on the feast of St Kilian makes for interesting reading.

The following excerpt gives a sense of what he was saying. Reading it one gets the impression here is a man who is trying to sense where things are and then say something about the reality.

"The sexual abuse scandals have affected the faith of many and at the same time they were an indication of an underlying crisis of faith where the self-protective institution had become in many ways decoupled from the horror which ordinary people rightly felt.  The emerging post Vatican II new religious culture, with its stress on the role of the laity, found itself once again betrayed by a culture of clerical self-protection.

"All of this indicates how Ireland needs to do much more to incorporate a broad spectrum of activity of laymen and women in the life of the Church and to be witnesses to their faith in the emerging Irish culture."

He talks about Christian faith not just being a faith of doctrines or about rules and regulations. The archbishop understands faith as involving the ability to preach and witness to the message of Jesus.

The Sunday before Diarmuid Martin gave his talk I was in West Kerry. Early that morning I was down in the local Spar shop. The young man at the till said hello but it was a second or two before I recognised him. He recognised me before I knew who he was. I had taught him English probably eight years ago. And just as I was leaving the shop I met another past pupil. They are now at university.

Two outstanding young men. They were two lovely young fellows when I taught them English. And now they are two fine young men, full of life and enthusiasm. I left the shop wondering what God means to them.

Later that morning I was on a train to Dublin. I was expecting it to be a quiet train so to my surprise I was amazed to see crowds of people at the station. The penny dropped: it was Munster Final Day in Killarney and they were hanging out of the rafters en route to Fitzgerald Stadium to watch Kerry beat Cork.

There was a crazy atmosphere on the train. Jokes, laughter, football talk, excited children running up and down the train. Great fun but I was relieved to know that they would all be getting off in Killarney.

Off the train at Heuston and back on my fold-up bicycle I called into a church on the way home. It was a short visit. Mass was on. There were two or three people in the porch with small children. I wanted to get a copy of 'The Irish Catholic'. I stayed a minute or two but in that short time I got a sense of the place and the service that was in progress. It all seemed odd and sad. The priest was preaching. It was difficult to hear what he was saying, though I did hear the word -'doctrine'. There was something profoundly dead about what was taking place.

My experience in the shop and on the train were fabulous human encounters, genuine too.  There was a sense of optimism and hope in the air. Whereas the church was uninspiring. There was something controlled about it all, so far removed from the sense of hope and enthusiasm I experienced in the shop and on the train.

Reading Diarmuid Martin's Würzburg lecture I kept thinking of my three Sunday experiences. Martin is saying something extremely important.

Monday, July 17, 2017

'Devout' Steve Bannon

Right-wing religious people and their publications never cease to amaze.

In the current issue of the Catholic Herald there is a piece by Michael Davis titled The poisoning of American Catholicism.

Davis refers to Steve Bannon as 'devoutly Catholic'.

Mr Bannon has been married and divorced three times.

A bishop who knows his priests and cycles his bicycle

Mario Enrico Delpini is the new archbishop of Milan.

He is known for cycling his bicycle through the city.

He has been an auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the diocese, where he is known to have a strong bond with the priests of the diocese.

Some months after his election as pope Francis urged his new bishops to be 'profoundly bonded' to their communities. He said: "I beg you please to stay among  your people. Avoid the scandal of being "airport bishops".

It seems Delpini fits the papal bill for archbishop of Milan.

 In 1998 Delpini published a humorous book critical of clericalism.

Might Francis extend his influence to the Irish church, to religious congregations, to the Dominicans?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fifty years of Pope Paul VI's 'Humanae Vitae'

The editorial in The Tablet this week is titled 'A plea for change'.

It begins with how Melinda Gates has pointed out how access to contraception is a vital key to promoting the welfare of women and children in the poorer parts of the world.

It concludes recalling The Tablet's comment 50 years ago on the publication of Pope Paul Vl's encyclical Humanae Vitae, which labelled contraception an intrinsic evil.

The Tablet then wrote: neither joy nor hope can we derive from the encyclical.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Macron the diplomat greets Trump the bumbler

A lovely piece of writing in yesterday's Guardian.

The author Mary Dejevsky also writes in The Tablet. In the current issue she has an article on President Macron.

Within hours of Air Force One touching down in Paris there was fresh confirmation that no foreign visit by this US president comes without its risks. Betraying what the kindest interpretation would describe as an old-fashioned eye for the ladies – let’s face it, he is 71 – Donald Trump had strayed from the conventional introductions to compliment his host’s wife, Brigitte, on her figure. He then turned to her husband, the president of France, to remark: “She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful, isn’t she beautiful?”
This unfortunate sequence will, no doubt, go down in Macron family legend. It may also be replayed for new generations of French diplomats to prepare them for – how shall we say? – the unconventional and unexpected. Nor was there any disaster. It would take more than a sexist, off-colour remark by a bumbling American president to faze this smooth young French head of state and his wife.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Silly extremes

Great headline in The Tablet this week.

Headline on an article by Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard:

We have lurched from uncritical respect to knee-jerk cynicism about everything.

Brilliant and true. And a lovely piece of writing too.

A medical device a heart beat away from a Dominican

There was a report in The Irish Times yesterday about a new medical device that treats a heart complaint where a valve does not close properly.

The new device, which is minimally invasive treats the condition quickly and cost effectively, with no need for long-stay hospital care.

The device has been developed by CroíValve, whose CEO is Lucy O'Keeffe.

Lucy is the daughter of Janet and Jerry O'Keeffe.

Jerry was a Dominican priest of the Irish Province. He was ordained a priest in 1968 and resigned from ministry in 1977.

Congrats to Lucy and the family.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Diarmuid Martin talks on Kilian's Day in Würzburg

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin gave a talk in  Würzburg on Saturday, July 8, the feast of St Kilian.

Aspects of it have been quoted in the Irish media with follow-up comment.

It makes for great reading.

The full text is available on the diocesan website.

Below is just one paragraph from the text.

The separation of Church and State is not a hostile one, but it could turn into one and there is a growing number of vocal supporters of a much more hostile relationship.  Alongside hostility to the Church one can identify more integralist elements within the Church who see a Christian presence in a pluralist culture purely in terms of a negative culture war.

Kilian, who was born in Mullagh circa 640, had close links with the church in Würzburg.

There is a statue of the saint in Mullagh, Co Cavan, which was made by Dominican sculptor Henry Flanagan.

A church of many parts

Anyone who sits down and reads The Tablet, Catholic Herald and The Irish Catholic any one week is bound to wonder how the Catholic Church manages to hold together.

Australian cardinal, George Pell, old boss in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, new CDF boss Luis Ladaria are all painted with different profiles in each of the three publications.

Who's who at all?

In the Catholic Herald of July 7 there is a two-page hagiography of Gabriele Kuby, who is a member of the far-right AfD.

Below is the last sentence from the piece. It seems author Simon Caldwell is not too good on his past participles.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A rising anger

An extract from an opinion piece in Monday's Guardian by Paul Mason.

Indeed, for Trump and Vladimir Putin, there is a clear calculation: the more angry their own people are with foreign countries, products and human beings, the less likely they are to stage their own version of the Hamburg protest. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has, this week, made his own contribution to the rising anger in the world by plastering Budapest with posters depicting George Soros as an enemy of the Hungarian people.
We are at a stage in global politics where the rising anger can be directed in only two directions: upwards, at the elites themselves, or sideways – towards minorities, rival nations and the institutions we rely on to maintain the rule of law.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Timothy Radcliffe believes love will be victorious

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column

Michael Commane
Timothy Radcliffe cuts an impressive figure. He is a tall man who has an air of gravitas about him, which he easily mixes with a sense of fun. A kind man too.

He is a 70-year-old English Dominican priest who was Master of the Dominican Order from 1992 until 2001, indeed in the 800-year history of the Order, Timothy is the only English man to have held the job.

Twelve months ago Timothy was due to give a lecture at the Priory Institute in Tallaght but unfortunately, he had to cancel due to illness. Timothy was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth.

At one stage during his treatment he was told there was the possibility that he might never talk again.

Last Tuesday evening Timothy stood in front of a crowded lecture hall to deliver his postponed talk.

The title was 'How can we hope today? The lessons of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East'.

Timothy jokingly alluded to his recent illness and how he imagined some people had hoped that he might never talk again.

While his talk had a specific interest in the work and life of the Dominican Order in the Middle East he gave a bird's eye view of what it has been like in recent years for Christians in that part of the world.

Since completing his term as Master of the Order in 2001 Timothy has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, visiting Iraq and Syria on a number of occasions.

He wonders how we can hope in these days when there are 65 million people displaced in the world, there is the prospect of ecological disaster plus a worrying development of fundamentalism and nationalism. But Timothy believes that love will have the victory on Easter Day.

And listening to the man it was evidently clear that he genuinely believes in the power of God's love, the power of love over darkness.

It's uplifting to hear someone give such vitality to the Christian message. And that's exactly what Timothy did in his lecture.

He has been amazed how people have refused to leave their homes but he completely understands why others have fled. And he has also been greatly impressed how Christians have remained.

He quoted the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who once said that one of the most powerful things we can hear is when someone tells us that they are not going to go away.

Timothy said that we see the face of the Lord in the wilderness.

"We have to learn the art of reading one another's faces," he explained, because behind every human face is a frightened child.

All during his talk he kept returning to the Eucharist and how he had seen Christians celebrate Mass within hearing distance of gunfire.

He told the story of an imam offering a mosque on Christmas Day to Christians, whose church some days earlier had been desecrated.

He believes that the Eucharist offers hope to a broken people. He readily admits that Mass can bore him, sermons annoy him and with his roguish sense of humor he told the story of the mother, who calls her son to go to Mass on Sunday. She goes back to his bedroom 10 minutes later and he is still asleep. She tells him he has to go to Mass. He replies that it is so boring. In exasperation she tells him: "You should go to Mass, besides, you are the bishop of the diocese."

Timothy Radcliffe has published a number of books. I strongly recommend you dip into some of his writings.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Spelling at Kerry ETB

Notice how Kerry Education and Training Board spells the plural of CV.

Priestly ordination

Below in italics is a paragraph from a sermon preached at an ordination ceremony in St Saviour's Church, Dominick Street on Saturday.

The church is situated in Dublin's north inner city where unemployment is high and church attendance low.

The ordaining bishop and preacher at the liturgy was Augustine Di Noia, an American Dominican, living in Rome.

In this way, the Son of God continues to be in our midst in a manner adapted to our human nature – by sending His only Son who in turn commissioned the Apostles and their successors – so that we might receive His word and His grace from other human beings.  The hand of another human being blesses us, pours the water of Baptism on our heads, offers the body and blood of Christ to us in the Eucharist, and is raised in absolution unto the forgiveness of sins.  Through these visible and tangible sacramental actions,  God bestows His invisible grace on us, drawing us into a participation in the communion of love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  These are the fruits of the Paschal Mystery for whose service you have been chosen.  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Corbyn feted at miners' rally

As expeced Jeremy Corbyn drew a record crowd to the Durham miners' gala yesterday.

The Labour leader called on Theresa May to call a snap general election.

"Jeremy Corbyn urged Theresa May to end the Conservative “nightmare” and call a snap general election as he addressed record crowds at a Durham Miners’ Gala hailed as a “celebration of Corbynism”.
"To the now-familiar chants of “Oh Jer-emy Cor-byn”, the Labour leader demanded an end to the public sector pay cap and a public inquiry into the “national catastrophe” of the Grenfell fire.
"His speech to the 133rd Durham Miners’ gala was interrupted when a woman invaded the stage and briefly refused to leave, having fought her way through the crowds.
"At one point she held on to the Labour leader as trade unionists nearby scrambled to his aide. 
"After the stage invasion, Corbyn told the crowd: “Someone wants to have a chat with me about a couple of things. I’m very happy to do that. I do talk to everybody.”


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Trump in Poland

The Polish daily newspaper “Rzeczpospolita (Republic),” even though it is thought to be close to the government, sounded a skeptical note about Mr Trump's visit to Warsaw.

“He wants to pay back the peevish Western Europe by first visiting the modest periphery,” the newspaper said. “We should guard against too much obsequiousness. That doesn’t bring us Europeans any further. Because after Mr Trump’s departure, we will still be back in our Europe.”

Dental care in Ireland

We live in a State that will pay for any number of dental extractions.

After the 2009 budget, only one free dental examination is State-funded and PRSI workers are required to pay for the cost of all other treatments, excluding extractions.

In 2009 there were approximately 108,000 extractions. In 2016 that figure jumped to 124,600.

Surgical extractions have increased by 40 per cent, from just over 37,200 to more than 52,000.

The number of fillings carried out for medical card patients dropped from approximately 604,000 to circa 380,000.

And these are the facts that matter so much for poorer people, people who are genuinely trying to make ends meet,irrespective what time of the day they get out of bed.

Is there ever a word about these sort of details from a priest or bishop?

Does the establishment not get it why so many feel marginalised and are angry?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Street battles in Hamburg

At 00.30 Spiegel Online is reporting that special forces armed with machine guns are being used to break up the demonstrators in Hamburg.

Television scenes from the city look like shots from a war zone.

Over 130 police have been injured and it is reported one police officer drew his pistol to protect himself.

On Thursday President Trump was applauded during an open air speech in Warsaw.

In Hamburg the US president did not show his face in public.

Water cannon and tear gas against G20 demonstrators

Scenes from Hamburg yesterday and today are quite extraordinary.

The Welcome to Hell demonstrators have managed to cause chaos and violence right across Hamburg.

It has been said on radio and television the 21,000 police in the city have been pushed to their limits to control the situation. Extra police from across Germany have been brought to Hamburg for the occasion.

Cars have been burned, buildings damaged.

And after all that it seems the G20 conference has achieved little or nothing.

Pictures of Vladimir Putin with Donald Trump are simply funny.

This evening the G20 guests are attending a concert at the Elbphilharmonie, where Beethoven's Ninth Symphony will be performed.

UK government minister attacks the messenger

The link below is from yeserday's Guardian.

UK government minister Liam Fox believes that the BBC would rather see Britain fail rather than Brexit succeed.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Joachim Meisner dies

Cardinal Joachim Meisner died in Bad Füssing in Bavaria yesterday.

Meisner was the former archbishop of Cologne and before that was bishop in Berlin from 1980 to 1988.

In a surprise move he was appointed archbishop in Cologne in 1988, less than a year before the Wall came down.

During the life of the former German Democratic Republic the Catholic Church held an unusual position in Berlin as it was one of the very few organisations that straddled the Berlin Wall. The Berlin diocese included the territory of the Capital City of the GDR, its hinterland and West-Berlin. The bishop resided in Bebel Platz in the East, in the territory of the GDR.

Meisner most likely was one of the few diocesan cardinal bishops.

He was born in Breslau, now Wrocklaw in Poland, in 1933 and studied for the priesthood in Erfurt.

Meisner was not a charismatic figure and seldom seemed at home among his diocesan priests.

His move to Cologne was received with skepticism by the majority of Catholics in the archdiocese.

Joachim Meisner was considered a conservative bishop, who grew up under the tyranny of the Nazis and served many of his years as a bishop under the dictatorship of the SED government.