Thursday, September 27, 2007

'An Anglican fudge'

There is an interesting editorial in today's Irish Times.
Readers may have missed it in the newspaper. Here it is printed in full.

An Anglican fudge

The troubled relations within the world-wide Anglican Communion, of which the Church of Ireland is a part, would seem to have taken a small turn for the better with the decision in New Orleans by the Episcopal Church to cease appointing as bishops openly homosexual priests, and to end giving blessings to same-sex couples.

At a stroke, it would seem, the issue that has caused profound division within the 77 million strong communion has been set to one side. But in reality, there are irreconcilable differences at play that are unlikely to go away as easily as proponents of this decision must surely hope.

The central issues here concern tolerance, equality, inclusiveness, New Testament Christianity and love. The fissure among Anglicans goes back to 2003 and the Episcopal Church's consecration of an openly gay bishop, Bishop Gene Robinson. Led by churchmen in Nigeria, where homophobia is enshrined in law and violence against gay people commonplace, and traditionalists in the US (where violence against gay people is also commonplace in many states), conservatives within the communion have been campaigning to have the Episcopal Church expelled or forced to reverse its position.

Episcopal bishops meeting in New Orleans, accompanied for a time by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who urged compromise, on Tuesday decided after six days' debate to rescind in effect their policy of what might be termed proactive tolerance. Henceforth, no openly gay priest will be ordained a bishop, no matter the depth of their faith or the quality of their ministry or leadership, or the degree of support they may have among their congregation.

There can be no doubting that the American church leaders, facing a deadline of next Sunday, were anxious to avoid an irrevocable split within Anglicanism. But gay activists will ask how the bishops can, as they did, reaffirm their commitment to the civil rights of gay people and express opposition to any violence towards gay people or violation of their dignity, while at the same time denying full and equal rights to gay people within their church.

The Anglican Communion is a compromise organisation, one of the defining differences between it and the Roman Catholic Church. Anglican churches in many countries - not least this one and the UK - have among their congregations and within the ranks of their clergy many gay people whose orientations are well known. They will not go away and they are likely to ask with increasing urgency if they must forever tolerate being treated as second class Christians. The issue may be fudged but it will not go away.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia University tells his audience that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
How will the Vatican respond to such a comment? What will cardinals, bishops and priests have to say to that?

Raido Maria

The Polish radio station run by a Redemptorist priest has come out in favour of the current government in the upcoming elections in the country.
It is worth noting that the Vatican and some Polish bishops have told the radio station not to become involved in politics. But the station continues to involve itself in politics and politics that are right wing, insular and at times anti-Semitic. It has also made nasty comments against homosexuals.
So how serious is the Vatican and the Polish episcopacy in turning down the volume on Radio Maria?
A book worth reading is Brendan Hoban's 'Change or Decay'.
A good read for anyone interested in the state of the church in Ireland today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jesuit website

The following appears on the Jesuit website today, September 25.

The sight of Buddhist monks protesting against the Burmese government in the media this week reminds us of the essential 'action' side of faith. The Burma Action Ireland group staged a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Dublin this morning, highlighting China's role in supporting the Burmese military junta. Maybe we could do with a bit more of this Buddhist-style activism here in Ireland!

Brendan

Well said Brendan. It has occurred to me that as the wall in Berlin came tumbling down, a high official of the Central Committee of the Communist Party commented that they were ready for every eventuality but never considered prayers and candles.
It was the Christian demonstrators in Leipzig who set the ball rolling.
Compliments to the Irish Jesuits on a fine website.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First with the news

Read it on this blog first. News of the demise of the NCPI appeared on this blog before it made it on the pages of Irish newspapers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The demise of the NCPI

At a meeting of the NCPI (National Conference of Priests of Ireland), Sister Stanislaus Kennedy has called for the church to give up running schools.
There seems to be a great logic in that. Why should sisters and priests have anything to do with the running of schools, at least at management level. The idea that the church should be involved in subsidising the education of the rich seems most odd.
There might be reason for the church educating poor people, who cannot afford education - the original reason why so many sisters and priests became involved.
At that same NCPI meeting it was decided that the organisation should be disbanded.
Maybe it was never a very effective organisation and while it may have had the name of an organisation that supported the rights of individual priests, it never seemed to have any sort of serious teeth or backbone. But it did highlight issues and often spoke out in a way that challenged people, bishops and civil authority.
Now that it no longer is in existence, priests have really no recognised body to support and speak up for them.
It is also symptomatic of a worrying trend within the hierarchical church. On one hand it displays an inertia that exists, and it also points to a worrying trend where clerical apparatchiks are in the ascendancy. Surely that's the last thing the church needs at present.
These can be lonely days for priests who stay clear of cliques and groups and try to speak in any sort of prophetic language.
May I on this blog call for a strong union for priests to be set up. Anyone out there willing and able enough to pick up from where the NCPI have left off and create a new grouping that will act on behalf of priests.

Lost in translation

Between Cardinal Meisner's use of the word 'degenerate' and the German ambassador's recent talk in Dublin, words, especially in translation need great care.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Who dares to speak?

A Fr Fay is alleged to have stolen $2.5 million from his parishioners in Darien, Connecticut in the US. Alleged to have spent it on high living, his mother and probably his boyfriend. Oh, and on his personal chef too. Ah well.
We are all made of clay - part of the human condition.
What is it about the catholic church around the world that it has such appalling management structures in place.
It's the same old story right around the world.
Did no-one tweak to this behaviour right from the beginning? Did no-one miss the money? The money is alleged to have been stolen, not from the diocese, Federal Reserves, a major corporation. No from a parish!
What is it about clericalism that makes them so unanswerable.

Unusual words

In an article titled 'Time to respect those who freely choose celibacy', Simon Rowe in Thursday's Irish Times writes:
"As an aside it was intersting to observe this past week the reaction of those born after Fr Cleary's death in 1993. Most ask, "Who was Fr Cleary", and, "Why all the fuss about something that went on between two consenting adults?" '.
Someone born in or after 1993 is now at a max 14/13 or under. Mr Rowe quotes directly.
Is that second quote really the language of a 13/14 year old Irish young person. I doubt it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Criticism gets things moving

We live in an era of competition or at least so we are told.
Most people at this stage will say that the introduction of Ryanair brought cheap travel for millions of people.
It's not an argument that always holds. Has a multiplicity of banks meant cheaper banking?
That's the world of economics and business.
A fellow Dominican has commented that this blog is 'not the way we do things'. It is a legitimate comment and worth noting.
But why is it in the world of the church there is so little open discussion and 'difference'.
Some weeks ago this blog criticised the Irish Dominican web page. For a long time it has been poorly managed, is out of date and contains little or no interesting information.
What happens? At least according to the current site, readers are being told that the site is being updated.
Of course there has to be open and honest criticism, even annoyance with ineptitude. That's life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The late Fr Michael Cleary

Yesterday in Dublin city centre I met a friend of mine from Dominik Street. Before they introduced the car parking meters Jimmy was a part-time attendant. We know one another for the best part of 17 years.
Our conversation yesterday turned to the late Fr Michael Cleary. And Jimmy was quite strident in telling me how he liked the man and still liked him. He met him on a number of occasions and had been impressed with him. He felt that Fr Cleary understood his life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bishop Robinson's speech at launch of his book

The text below makes for good reading.


THEOLOGY
Confront sexual abuse, don't manage it
30-Aug-2007

By Geoffrey Robinson


The Cardinal Secretary of State at the Vatican is usually thought to hold the second highest office in the Catholic Church. The present Secretary, Cardinal Bertone, was a personal appointment by the pope. So it was disheartening when, on a recent visit to the United States, he was asked about sexual abuse and first blamed the media, then greedy lawyers, then said that the Church had “faced this trial with great dignity and courage” and hoped that “other institutions and social agencies will face the same problem with their members with an equal degree of courage and realism as the Catholic Church has done.” I believe that most of the Australian bishops had moved beyond this point more than a decade ago, so it is discouraging to hear that it still prevails at the highest levels. It is a typical example of seeking to manage rather than confront a problem.

As long as the Church seeks to manage rather than confront, the devastating effect the scandal has had on the Church will continue and will cripple other activities. Of what use is it to proclaim a “new evangelisation” to others if we are not seen to have confronted the suppurating ulcer on our body? In all our preaching to others, we would lack credibility. Cardinal Bertone does not seem to realize just how much credibility the Church has lost over the last twenty years and how seriously we must act in order to regain it.

Over that time most of the blame has been poured onto the bishops. I am not simply seeking to divert this blame, far less to defend every action of every bishop, if I say that it is important to understand that, within the present structures of the Church, the pope alone has the power to confront this problem in its deepest sources.

One must ask, “Where is the papal statement addressed directly to victims, with the word ‘sorry’ proclaimed clearly? Where is the papal promise to investigate every possible source of abuse and ruthlessly to eradicate it? Where is the request to those institutes especially set up to treat offending priests to present their findings on the causes? Where is the request to the bishops to coordinate the studies in their territory and report to Rome? Where is the document placing everything on the table for discussion, including such things as obligatory celibacy and the selection and training of candidates? With power go responsibilities. The pope has many times claimed the power and must accept the corresponding responsibilities.

If you go to Italy, you will not be there long before you meet the two phrases “far bella figura” and “far brutta figura”. Literally they mean “to make a beautiful figure” and “to make an ugly figure”, but are better translated as “keeping up appearances”. In other words, when something is badly wrong, you still present a beautiful exterior, a beautiful figure to outsiders. This mentality goes all the way back to ancient Rome, so it is deeply entrenched, and it is small wonder that it has been present in a Church that has its centre in Rome. When one adds to this the rise of papal power in the second millennium, culminating in papal infallibility, with its idea that the pope and the Church he rules can never really be wrong, one begins to understand why someone like Cardinal Bertone could still speak in the way he did. The response to abuse was at least as great a scandal as the abuse itself. If we are to overcome it, we must be prepared to put up with a temporary and very brutta figura so that we may eventually create a genuine bella figura.

The danger for bishops today is that they can think that they have done everything that is within their personal power and that the rest is up to the pope, over whom they have no control, so they can and must just get on with their job. It seems to me that bishops and, indeed, all members of the Church, still have the most unpleasant, most difficult and most unwelcome task of trying to insist that the pope be the rock a pope is supposed to be in holding the Church together. They have to use whatever means they can to convince him that there is a scandal that will cripple all the Church’s activities unless and until it is confronted.

This has been the first and major basis for the book that is being launched today, but as I wrote it I realized that there was a second basis.

Protestant Churches have always had the weakness that, when controversies arise, there is no authority to hold them together, so they have divided into dozens of Churches and literally thousands of sects. Within the Catholic Church, on the other hand, the power of the rock, the pope, has held the Church together. Its weakness, however, is that all the divisions do not go away, but are contained within the Church. Outsiders frequently have the idea of a monolithic Church, with everyone meekly obeying the pope, and they can fail completely to understand just how diverse the Church is, just how motley a group of people Catholics really are, and how fierce are the divisions and the struggles for power within the Church.

I believe that the major division is between the proclaimers of certainties and the seekers after truth. Of course we need certainties and of course we need a search for truth, but it is possible to put too heavy an accent on either of these elements. Today the proclaimers of certainties seem to be in the favoured position and to hold the reins of power. This has left many people feeling a sense of alienation, of being marginalized, of no longer quite belonging to the Church that had given them much of their sense of belonging, meaning and direction throughout their lives. This feeling has strengthened sense of needing to search for truth.

In writing the book I became aware that I was writing a book for these people, that I was trying to tell them that there is a Church for them and that it is fully in accord with the mind of Jesus. I was telling them that there are basic certainties, but there is also abundant room for search, for taking personal responsibility and growing through that process to become all we are capable of being, all God wants us to be.

I became aware that it was important for many people that there should be a bishop saying these things. At moments I felt that the needs of these many people were so great that it is perhaps true that I have never been more of a shepherd, I have never been more justified in carrying around a pastoral staff, than I have in this. If the book carries an important message to these people, then I shall be delighted.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as this, for I feel that the major differences between the proclaimers of certainties and the seekers after truth are not religious or theological, but psychological. For reasons in their background and upbringing or within their personality, many people need certainties. In a world in which, as Alvin Toffler still teaches us, change is the only constant, this need can be profound. I may argue with a person’s theology, but I cannot argue with their psychological needs.

Surely the answer has to lie in dialogue and mutual respect, and we have a long way to go. We must get away from the idea that the side with which I disagree must do all the changing and come to me, and see instead that both sides need to reach out. I hope that I have given some indications of the lines the dialogue might follow.

I express my sincere thanks to those people who read either the whole or different parts of drafts of the book and offered me their comments. They greatly helped me to avoid some basic errors and to have greater consistency in the book. I would love to name them, but the unfortunate reality is that that might not help them.

I thank Garry Eastman for the risk he took when overseas publishers would not take up the book. I thank him for his support for me and the wholehearted manner in which he has sought to promote the book. I thank Cathy Oliver, the editor, who was patient with me and helped my writings to look more like a consistent book. In the last two weeks I thank Debbie McInnes for her expertise in guiding me through my dealings with the media. I thank Michael Whelan, Catalyst for Renewal and the Aquinas Academy for hosting this gathering. I thank my brothers and sisters and my many friends for their support for me, whatever the circumstances.

I thank all of you for coming here this afternoon and supporting me by your presence. I hope that the book in some manner speaks to your own needs and longings, both psychological and spiritual.

Geoffrey Robinson is a retired auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Sydney. He is author of the recently-published "Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus". Details at the website of John Garrett Publishing. The above is the text of the address he delivered at the book's launch.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bishop's book

A contributor to this blog has referred to the Australian bishop who is making interesting comments.
Thank you to the contriibutor for the alert.
Bishop Robinson is speaking with great clarity and his book is obviously worth reading.
More on this topic at a later date.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Misogyny

Columnist Diarmaid Ferriter writes about the late Fr Michael Cleary today as does Mary Rafftery in The Irish Times.
Diarmaid is harsh but what he says is true. Again, it comes down to the 'clerical thing'.
I keep saying to myself, who do 'clerics' think they are.
The quote from John McGahern is scary.
And what is most frightening is a new 'clerical tendency' which is showing itself among young people joining seminaries and religious orders.
Ferriter's comment about misogyny is surely incisive. I wonder is there a diocese/religious congregation anywhere in the world which has organised a serious think-in/seminar on the problem of misogyny among its clerical numbers? I'd be surprised to hear if there has been a single one.
What do men 'in charge' of young students for priesthood say on the subject?

Encountering people

A strange thing happened me today. I was walking down the Rathmines Road in Dublin to work. This man came towards me. I immediately recognised him. He was md in The Kerryman, Donagh O'Doherty, while I was working there. He was driving down the same road, happened to see me, stopped his car, parked it in busy traffic, came towards me and offered me a lift to work. We chatted for the five-minute journey.
When Donagh was md I was FOC at the newspaper. We were on opposite sides. He was representing the might and power of Sir Anthony and I was trying to represent the journalists, the workers. You could say, capitalists versus workers.
Donagh was always polite and correct in his dealings. But our meeting this morning set me thinking of the importance of people talking with each other and how important it is to 'de-name' people of the titles and categories we give them.
In another encounter in the last few days I found myself talking, even smiling with someone about whom I have been far too critical.
May I go a step further and say if we could all see the presence of God in others, we'd be laughing.
We, at least I do, sell ourselves to systems and organisations,beliefs and then take stands.
The mind is a strange place.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A launch

Looking through the website of the Irish Dominicans I came across this note.
As you will see it was decided in September 2004 to 'update' the Irish Dominican website. Today is September 5, 2007.
What exactly did Harold Wilson mean when he said,'A week is a long time in politics'?.


from Fr. Pat Lucey, OP.

On behalf of the Irish Dominican friars I welcome you to our reconstructed and up-dated website. It was suggested at our Provincial Chapter held at St. Mary's, Tallaght, in September, 2004, that we should set about this task and I am happy now to re-launch the present website. I hope you enjoy using the site and pray that it will be used as an effective tool to preach the Word of God

Fr Pat Lucey OP
Provincial.

The late Fr Michael Cleary

RTE television ran a programme on the late Fr Michael Cleary on Monday evening. As a result of the programme there have been many words spoken about the man and the era.
In 1990 Fr Cleary published a book called 'From the Heart'.
One chapter is titled 'Priests are human too'. It is a great example of the 'clerical thing'.
And in that chapter he talks about 'the pseudo-intellectuals' and 'noveau riche' who 'church-bash'.
The arrogance is breath-taking. But it is the clerical mind-set. I'm scared when I hear clerics talk about the 'laity'.
The chapter headings in the book make for extraordinary reading.
It would be irreverent and inappropriate to list here the chapter headings.
I'm amazed that no journalist has picked up on it.

The Lives of Others/Das Leben der Anderen

A film worth seeing is the Lives of Others or in original German, Das Leben der Anderen.
This is a review I have written for the September/October issue of 'Spirituality', which has just appeared.

The Lives of Others (the original title in German: Das Leben der Anderen) was released in Germany in March 2006 and in England and Ireland in April 2007.
It is one of the best films I have seen, if not the best. After three viewings it remains a brilliant piece of cinematography. Indeed, at each sitting new insights gained, new aspects of characters discovered.
The film is set in East Berlin in 1984.
The opening scene shows Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) lecture young recruits to the Ministerium für Staatsicherheit (MfS) commonly known as the Stasi. He is showing his students the most efficient ways of getting people to talk – people whom East Germany (The German Democratic Republic), deem enemies of the State.
Wiesler is the archetypical small East German official who offers total allegiance to the system. But he also believes in the communist ideal and hopes for a world where there will in truth be a classless society. But Wiesler is also a desperately lonely man, who lives alone in a soulless East Berlin apartment.
A government minister and a high official of the Central Committee of the SED – the ruling communist party is attracted to the girlfriend of the well-known playwright, Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch). And so as to make the way free for the minister, the Stasi set about bugging the home of Dreyman and the man in charge of operations is Wiesler.
Wiesler quickly discovers what is going on and why he has been asked to take on this operation.
The purpose is of course to get something on Dreyman so as to discredit him and send him off to jail leaving his girlfriend, Christa –Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), ‘free’ for the high official.
It shows how out of touch officialdom is with the world of life and love. How can the government minister ever expect to win the love of Christa-Maria? But because of the lip service paid to the party and the ideology behind it, the governing class believe they are untouchable and think they know what is always to be done.
Dreyman is considered by the authorities to be party-friendly and he is to a point. But when his friend and fellow artist commits suicide, Dreyman proves to be duplicitous in a surprising way.
All the time Wiesler knows what is going on and has continually to decide how much or what he will tell the authorities.
This film is about the metamorphosis of one poor lonely man, who has been fooled by a rotten regime.
During his eavesdropping on Dreyman and Christa-Maria Sieland, he sees the power and wonder of real love and friendship, he looks at his own life and realises its pain and emptiness. He also realises that he is being used but also knows that he could redeem himself and in so doing save the lives of honourable people.
Wiesler has choices to make and his dilemma is whether he should or not disclose what he is observing in the operation.
His boss, Anton Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur), exemplifies perfectly the middle management class of the old East German State. He is a careerist, who at this stage in his life probably believes in nothing except his own survival and promotion. In that sense the film is not just a portrayal of life in East Germany but may also be an allegory of life in any modern state.
When Grubitz becomes suspicious of Dreyman and Wiesler he calls in Christa-Maria and uses on her all the nasty tricks the Stasi have learned over the years.
Right through the film Wiesler clearly knows that should he not obey the orders he has been given he will suffer the consequences.
Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power in the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall comes down.
An early joke against Erich Honnecker told by a young Stasi recruit means that the recruit comes in touch with Wiesler just as the Wall falls. It is a clever detail with great significance and irony.
Once the Wall is down Dreyman checks out his Stasi file. He never knew he was being spied on, something that was a complete mystery to him. He discovers how there was total surveillance on him.
The final denouement gives the seal of excellence to this brilliant film.
The film is in German with clear readable sub-titles. It is a remarkable expose of what went on in the East German State and it is truly extraordinary that the young director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, can capture the mood so perfectly, down to the detail as to how the young Mfs officers wear their uniforms in that characteristic ‘GDR style’.
The film is set in 1984 and it so happens that I was living in West Berlin at the time and my work took me regularly to East Berlin. So naturally, I have a close affinity with what is going on. The film is amazingly true-to-life and when the artists talk about crossing from east to west at their ‘beloved Heinrich-Heine crossing’, any one living in Berlin during the division of the city will know the pain and brutality that those crossing points evoked. And Heinrich Heine was mainly used by Berliners and in that sense had a mix of intimacy and pain about it. So close and yet so far.
Germans and especially Berliners will also recognise all the coldness and horror that went on at Normannenstraße, the centre of Stasi operations.
But the film is much more than a story about what went on in a corrupt communist state, it is very much about how an individual becomes a slave to a system. It is also a powerful analysis of the sort of person a system uses to carry out its dirty tricks. But the great hope in the film is that, in spite of everything, the human spirit has the ability and the potential to rise above all that is nasty and bad and set their sights on the great goodness that is inside the soul and heart of every man and woman.
If it is not now running where you are, make sure to buy the DVD and sit down and experience a film that does much more than chronicle life in old East Germany. This film is a powerful modern allegory warning all of us never to sell our souls to any system or party. It also challenges us to see the freedom and goodness there is when we stand up and face the music that is involved in taking on corruption and indeed, stupidity.
It might be over-simplified to make Wiesler the all-perfect hero. He was a lonely man, also maybe a bitter man and his bitterness might well have motivated him to do what he did. But again, that is another argument for recommending the film – there is no perfect person. Even in his greatness, there is always the nagging contention that had he been higher up the ladder, he would not have done what he did.
The ifs and accidents of life.
See it for yourself.
It’s easy to manipulate people, ordinary decent people. The East German authorities always insisted that any time they said ‘Berlin’ they would always add, ‘Berlin, capital city of the GDR.’ (German Democratic Republic). They had it written on their coins.
One day in 1984 I was near Alexanderplatz in the heart of East Berlin when I got chatting to a middle-aged woman. At one stage I asked her where she was from. Her reply was, “I am a capital citizen”. When I further asked her why she did not simply say ‘Berlin’, she was amazed with my question. It came natural to her to say that long mouthful of propaganda nonsense.
The GDR had it down to a fine art and yet in spite of all its power and control, Wiesler stands out as a man apart and succeeds.
I must admit that while I was living in Berlin – the western part of the city, I was fascinated with the east. I regularly found myself saying, ‘Berlin – capital city of the GDR’ and often when my Dominican brothers would ask me where I had been after a visit in the east, I would tell them that I had been in ‘the capital city’. In some perverse way I was proud to say, ‘Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR’.
Never underestimate the thousands of people who prayed and protested in the church in Leipzig in the months before the wall came tumbling down making the Heinrich Heine crossing redundant.

Ulrich Muhe died in Walbeck on July 21, 2007.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Breda O'Brien, the archbishop and astrology

Two letters in today's Irish Times re Archbishop Brady, Breda O'Brien and astrology might be worth a read.

ARCHBISHOP AND ASTROLOGY


Madam, - Breda O'Brien (Opinion, September 1st) is one of a number of commentators who have suggested that one could not expect anything better from the mass media than for them to focus on that part of Archbishop Seán Brady's recent speech at Knock in which he criticised the fortune-telling industry.

That aspect, writes Ms O'Brien, "generated a predictable response". She writes that the archbishop's comments on the matter "were little more than an aside in a substantial homily".

If that is so, I wonder why the Catholic Communications Office headlined its press release about the speech as follows: "Those who put their trust in horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, tarot cards and mediums lack trust in God's providence and are colluding with an illusion, promoting a fiction - Archbishop Brady".

Feeling superior to the mass media is a pleasant experience, particularly for fellow journalists. However, public expressions of such superiority may be used to discount legitimate and critical journalism.

One expects tabloids to be sensational (which is not necessarily the same thing as being inaccurate), and some of what they have published in defence of horoscopes could be seen as predictably self-serving. However, a number of newspapers carried serious reflections on the archbishop's speech.

While the media are certainly not without sin, their graces might more fruitfully spend their time in dialogue with critics rather than in condemning journalists as the "commentariat" (Archbishop Brady's term). - Yours, etc,

COLUM KENNY, School of Communications, Dublin City University, Dublin 9.

Madam, - I salute The Irish Times for exercising impeccable judgment in printing the full text of Archbishop Brady's homily at Knock. It was an excellent clinical assessment of Ireland in 2007. One of the most apt phrases for me centred on trust: "Trust is the fruit of perfect love". Trust permeates all facets of human interaction. The reality is that loss of trust leads to so many broken marriages causing pain and heartbreak. Truth is the next casualty. - Yours, etc,

MARY RYAN, Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

Breda O'Brien's words

Breda O'Brien's article in Saturday's Irish Times is well worth a read.
Some quotes that are worth noting.
She asks. "Where would the average Catholic who wants to learn more about prayer turn to?" Later in the article she writes, ".. so many parishes are more dead than alive, and sap up your energy rather than renew it."
And "Mass so often is like an endurance test".
They are interesting comments from a columnist who is considered to be on the side of the church.
It often strikes me attending Mass in various churches how bad the liturgy can be.
Yes, it's easy to see the glass half empty!
But there is seldom any serious attempt given to improving our celebration of the Eucharist and our preaching.
Oh yes, there is the daft brigade, who are into liturgical lap-dancing. More about that later. But there is little or no incentive or drive to get us praying and preaching in a way that makes sense for us all.
Breda O'Brien also makes a most incisive point about the stranglehold of priests on the church.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Right versus left

The Tablet carried a fine article on the Polish Catholic radio station, Radio Maria.
Why is it that most Catholic institutions that become popular are usually extremely conservative - even 'zany' in their pronouncements?
It seems always to end up with people having the perception that if you are Catholic then you are right-wing to the point of being 'zany'.
Categorising people into right and left does not help. But there is a some sort of link between 'far right-wing' people and a form of 'pseudo zealotry' that is most worrying. Is the same phenomenon on the left wing? Not sure. Maybe 'liberation theology' in South America is an example.
Maybe this will explain what I am trying to say. If a 'right-wing' priest gets up and talks nonsense it seems he will not get into any trouble with authority. But if a 'left-wing' man preaches nonsense he will be set on immediately.
I have seen some 'right-wing' publications in Ireland that border on libelling people and yet they seem to be untouchable.

Featured Post

No comment from bishop

The editorial in the current issue of Kerry's Eye.