Thursday, October 23, 2008

Direct copy of what appeared on this blog

Imitation is said to be the best form of flattery. Then again copying is simply plagiarism.

The website 'Clerical Whispers' has an obit of the late Fr Austin Flannery. Here it is.

See it anywhere before? It is of course lifted verbatim from what appeared here on Tuesday.

It is worth noting that under the web title, 'Clerical Whispers' are the words, Fides, Libertas, Fides.

It is the perfect example of how words can mean nothing even when it comes to church issues. Maybe, specifically when they are 'church words'.

Fr Austin Flannery OP died of a heart attack Tuesday 21st October 2008, at Kiltipper Woods Care Centre, Dublin 24.Austin was born in Tipperary on January 10, 1925.

He joined the Dominican Order in 1943 and ordained a priest in June 1950.Immediately after the War he studied in Oxford with Dominicans from other European countries, including Dominicans from Germany.

This was an attempt at reconciliation by the Order and the English Dominican Province. Also with Austin in Oxford was Fr Finbar Matthew Kelly, who is now in the Dominican Priory in Kilkenny.Austin was one of the most well-known Irish Dominicans of his time.During and after the Vatican Council he made available in English all the documents from the event.

At the helm of Dominican Publications, he was in a position to make available a wide range of religious publications to the general public.He broke away from the clerical mind set of his time and spoke in a language that was appealing and made sense in a changing Ireland.

Austin had the great ability of making life-long friends with people across a wide spectrum of beliefs and ideas.He had a great love for the Order and felt at home at St Saviour's in Dublin where he spent most of his Dominican life.Some years ago German Railways named one of their InterCity trains after St Albert The Great.

It was something Austin took great pride in and any time he met anyone with German connections he would make it his business to tell them about it.Austin was well respected by his Dominican colleagues and those who lived with him speak fondly of a man, who was gracious and kind.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fr Austin Flannery OP

Fr Austin Flannery OP died of a heart attack today at Kiltipper Woods Care Centre, Dublin 24.

Austin was born in Tipperary on January 1, 1925. He joined the Dominican Order in 1943 and ordained a priest in June 1950.

Immediately after the War he studied in Oxford with Dominicans from other European countries, including Dominicans from Germany. This was an attempt at reconciliation by the Order and the English Dominican Province. Also with Austin in Oxford was Fr Finbar Matthew Kelly, who is now in the Dominican Priory in Kilkenny.

Austin was one of the most well-known Irish Dominicans of his time.

During and after the Vatican Council he made available in English all the documents from the event.

At the helm of Dominican Publications, he was in a position to make available a wide range of religious publications to the general public.

He broke away from the clerical mind set of his time and spoke in a language that was appealing and made sense in a changing Ireland.

Austin had the great ability of making life-long friends with people across a wide spectrum of beliefs and ideas.

He had a great love for the Order and felt at home at St Saviour's in Dublin where he spent most of his Dominican life.

Some years ago German Railways named one of their InterCity trains after St Albert The Great. It was something Austin took great pride in and any time he met anyone with German connections he would make it his business to tell them about it.

Austin was well respected by his Dominican colleagues and those who lived with him speak fondly of a man, who was gracious and kind.

May he rest in peace.

Apologies that there is not a picture of Austin posted with this blog.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On the margins of a conference

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed a conference at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on world hunger organised by Concern Worldwide today.

Also speaking at the conference were former Irish President, Mary Robinson and world famous economist Jeff Sachs. Concern's CEO Tom Arnold introduced the speakers and Taoiseach Brian Cowen addressed the conference via a video link. He was unable to attend because of EU commitments in Brussels. The Minister for Overseas Development, Peter Power also spoke.

He told the conference that the bonuses paid to Wall Street bankers last year was more than the sum of all money spent in the same year to help alleviate poverty in the developing world.

This is Concern's 40th year in operation and the conference was part of the year-long activities organised to mark the special year.

Among the attendants at the conference were two young school-going students. Kate Nevin and Ryan Woolley were winners of an essay-writing competition and part of their prize was meeting Kofi Annan at the Royal Hospital earlier in the morning.

They were at the fringes of the conference, but were two amazingly bright young people, full of enthusiasm and with such a zest for life. Their intelligence and goodness was radiant and inspiring.

Their contributions will not make the national headlines. They had no advisers or speech writers with them. Their accompaniers were their proud parents.

Also present was businessman Deni O'Brien and he was able to take time out to say some nice words in private about an Irish Dominican, Stephen Doyle, who died some months ago. Mr O'Brien stepped in and was of great help to Stephen at one stage during his illness.

The stories that add value to all our lives. They are on the margins with no fanfares attached.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Comments of an African bishop

A leading Catholic bishop in Africa says he'd obviously vote for the Democrat. The National Catholic Reporter describes Bishop Onaiyekan thus:

A past president of the African bishops’ conference, Onaiyekan is widely seen as a spokesperson for Catholicism in Africa. During the synod, he was tapped to deliver a continental report on behalf of the African bishops.

Via Rocco, here's his statement on pro-lifers and Obama:

“Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that it’s killing innocent life,” he said. “I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent.

“If my choice is between a person who makes room for abortion, but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesn’t support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death,” Onaiyekan said.
“It’s a whole package, and you never get a politician who will please you in everything,” he said.

“You always have to pick and choose.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some questions make no sense

On Tuesday in 'The Rite and Reason' column of The Irish Times, Fr David Keating, chaplain at Waterford IT argues that there is no need for concern over a shortfall of priests in Ireland.

The Letters to the Editor page of The Irish Times today carries a number of letters on the topic.

Is there a shortage of accountants, solicitors, engineers in Ireland at present? The engineering industry has been saying that there is a worry re the number of young people studying honours maths and physics in our schools.

Is there a shortage of poets, novelists, writers in Ireland today?

Even the question makes little sense. Maybe if we compare Ireland to the 1950s and 1960s when priests had to be exported, there is a shortage. But to that comparison we should be most grateful.

Back in the 1960s it was impossible to walk down Dublin's O'Connell Street without bumping into a bevvy of roman collars. It was a madness.

Sacramental priesthood can never be a numbers game. But anything that helps dismantle clericalism has to be a gift from God.

I have spent many years teaching at post-primary level. Last year and this year is my first occasion teaching in a post-primary school that is not managed by the Irish ecclesiastical church and where the principal is not a priest or a sister. I don't miss the absence of priest or sister.

My school principal is a good man and a good principal. Indeed, I would put him in the list of best principals, with whom I have worked. And what is most striking is that there is none of the terms such as 'Christian ethos' or 'Catholic school', which I heard so much about in other schools but never really understood and maybe seldom saw.

He and a Jesuit school-principal are top of my list.

What is always needed is a presence of good and moral people.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Days at the Abbey

Beckett's Happy Days, at present running in the Abbey Theatre as part of the Dublin Theatre festival, is superb.

Fiona Shaw leaves you with no opportunity but to listen and wonder at every word Beckett writes.

The stage scenery is perfect.

The emptiness, the bleak waiting, the nothingness of reality, the making fun of anything that might seem important has to jolt anyone who ever attempts to talk about reality or God.

Sitting through the play I was forced to laugh at all the certitudes I have ever heard from a pulpit. Beckett paints a frightening but great picture of reality. And in that context how can anyone ever say a word about God?

Can one dare say a word about God through the eyes of faith, but is that a cop-out?

On or off track

Mix of rail and politics. Third pic down.

Worshipping false gods

OPINION: The events of recent times require us all to reconsider the economic choices facing us, writes DAVID BEGG

FOR THE last 25 years we have been told that the twin phenomena of globalisation and the financial system underpinning it are unalterable. Free markets, we were told, are possessed of an inherent and irresistible logic and the state must not interfere. Economists, politicians, academics, commentators and business people of the neoliberal persuasion foreclosed all debate about the subject.

But that liberal dogma has now been turned on its head by the need for massive state intervention in the banking system, not least in the United States, the very citadel of capitalism.
Let us be absolutely clear. This crisis was caused by greed and recklessness in our own country, on Wall Street, in London and in other major financial centres. Senior executives permitted speculation on a huge scale on investments they ill understood. Speculators have exacerbated the serious rises in fuel, food and raw materials.

The losers are many and include workers in the industry and, more generally, pensioners, families, firms seeking investment capital, and all of us as taxpayers now bailing out banks. It will take years to recover the money - if we manage to do so - and our future ability to fund high-quality public services is now jeopardised.

Friedrich Hayek, widely recognised as the progenitor of neoliberalism, published his most famous book, The Road to Serfdom , in 1944. By coincidence a Hungarian socialist, Karl Polanyi, published The Great Transformation in the same year. While Polanyi's work celebrated the New Deal in the US precisely because it placed limits on the influence of market forces, Hayek's book insisted that the New Deal was the road to perdition.

Although he identified himself as a socialist, Polanyi had profound differences with economic determinism of all varieties, including Marxism. In the cold war era there was little room for Polanyi's nuanced and complex arguments.

Hayek, on the other hand, went on to be a tireless advocate of market liberalism in Britain and the US. He inspired such influential followers as Milton Friedman and was responsible for the policies of deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation pursued by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Over time, they deconstructed the last vestiges of the New Deal, leaving us with the catastrophe we have today.

Polanyi's central thesis is that self-regulating markets never work. To his mind their deficiencies are so great that government intervention becomes necessary, and that the pace of change is of central importance in determining these consequences.

Polanyi's great attraction lies in his concern to advance both freedom and social justice. He believes that allowing the market to control the economic system was a fundamental error because it meant no less than the running of society as an adjunct to the market. Instead of economy being embedded in social relations, social relations are then embedded in the economic system.

The most obvious manifestation of this in practice is the treatment of labour, which is really human beings, as a commodity. Polanyi points out that human beings are not a product made for sale. Nevertheless, upon the fiction that labour is a commodity is the whole market system organised. It is therefore based on a lie.

Unfortunately, under the pressure of globalisation, Europe has been moving in the direction of the US model and, in truth, Ireland and Britain are part of that Anglo-Saxon construct. But the events of recent times require us all to reconsider.

The problem we have to transcend is that many intelligent people have put their faith in the idea of self-regulating markets as piously as others put their trust in God.

Now that this god has failed, perhaps people will have the freedom to see things more clearly again, reclaim responsibility and organise the future in more promising terms.

• David Begg is deneral secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and is a governor of The Irish Times Trust
© 2008 The Irish Times

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beckett at the Abbey

This article is in today's Irish Times.

The author of this blog was at university in Cork with Fiona Shaw and has the distinction of giving her a cross bar on one occasion to an English lecture at the college!

Living with Beckett and his words for 18 months, in performances from London to Greece to New York to London, forces one to go beyond language to the silence we all must face, writes Fiona Shaw

A WOMAN, "about 50, well-preserved", is how Samuel Beckett suggests Winnie, the heroine of his play Happy Days , should appear. So when the part was proposed to me 18 months ago, I was appalled, thinking at 48 that I was a woman "about 40". It is in these vanities, the gap between our self-preservatory illusions and reality that Beckett's genius captures actor and audience alike.

I struggled to meet Winnie, feeling that I was not allied to Beckett's sensibility. The writing reared up and resisted what normally happens when I make friends with a text. Usually I can find a line, a phrase or an image that reminds me of the poetry of my own life. I often find my childhood in plays and, no matter how far away the story or period, I hear my early self in the words, like a noise from a cave, but this was hard to learn - Beckett has taken phrases that sound like real speech, yet they disintegrate just as the images form. The effect on the hearer is genius: instead of frustrating the audience, he keeps them on tenterhooks hoping that the launch of the next phrase will make sense of what has gone before. The play's form and content are the same - pointless hope - so the audience rides the play in the very rhythm of its telling.
Every morning before rehearsals I met our stage manager, who drilled me inch by inch before the painstaking rehearsal period began. We played badminton in the coffee breaks so that my circulation would not prematurely seize up, and I spent Christmas Day in Cork drilling lines.
By the time we opened at Britain's National Theatre I was a thing of worry.

There began Beckett's first gracious revenge - to my surprise, the audience responded with so much humour, full of recognition of Winnie's plight, and she began to graft on to me.
The play has since travelled the world, a privileged way to develop the work and test its qualities against different cultures. We began in Epidaurus, Greece, by which time I had acquired a puppy who was taking over my life. He attended rehearsals and entertained us with his tilting head and earnest attempts to cope with me buried up to my waist in the mound. There was fierce debate in the Greek press as to whether a modern play should be performed on that ancient monument. At the time, I was more concerned with the difficulties of playing to a huge audience.

We anticipated 5,000 people, the population of a small town. But the ancients thought of everything. The acoustic of this remarkable amphitheatre is famous - an actor can stand on the stage and be heard whispering some hundred rows back, due, they think, to giant jars that sit under the orchestra.

My enthusiasm for the architecture was only tempered by the alignment between the burning images in Happy Days and the fires raging through Greece that week. During the press conference a helicopter flew over carrying a giant sack of water to quell yet another forest fire, and I thought of Winnie's lines: "Is it not possible, with the sun beating down, and so much fiercer down, things to go on fire never known to do so in this way, I mean spontaneous like."
That night, the ancient theatre had the quality of an etching of the human brain, a tiered slice that fills the eye. I felt the slide rule of time did not apply. I was entirely in the past and in the present at the same time - all the people who had sat there, in togas two millennia ago, now in T-shirts and jeans - but I felt the frisson as I hit the lines: "Might I myself not melt in the end, or burn, I do not mean burst into flames, but little by little be charred to a black cinder, all this visible flesh."

The following morning, in the hotel, local tourists were weeping. The hills outside Athens were burning, and within an hour our second performance was cancelled, as were all performances in Greece. Official mourning was declared. Theatrical tragedy had given way to the real thing. We promised to return.

On to Paris, where the French vie for the ownership of Beckett, then Madrid in the giant old slaughterhouses lit with the neon blue the new Spain has made its own - and despite the surtitles, the Spanish laughed. I stood under the statue of Lorca and thought there is nothing we can teach these folk about the incremental catastrophe.

Then to Washington and on to New York after Christmas, where the play came into its own. I had wanted from the start to go there. Americans have always been attuned to rhythm, having absorbed so many languages, and I felt that the ease with which they had taken the dark humour of Medea might again be there. Sure enough, they were so quick it allowed me to widen the gaping abyss in the play without having to underline it.

Then Amsterdam, where the first night was a sombre evening when Queen Beatrix came (a woman I had known only from stamp collecting!), but the following day the commoners seemed to enjoy it.

THIS SUMMER, we returned to Epidaurus. We drove past the healing scalps of mountains, past verdant forest saved by man-made scars cut into the land. I thought, if only we could do the same and limit damage in ourselves: the burned mind of Winnie making less and less sense ("This . . . Charlie . . . kisses . . .this . . . all that"). Where before I had embraced the play's universal significance, this year I was more personally chastened by it. Near the end of the play, Winnie has a revelation: "I used to say Winnie you are changeless because there is never any difference between one fraction of a second and the next."

For many years I might have said the same thing: most of the dramas in my life have been of my own making. But something of the play has caught up with me. I have suffered losses this year, among them a young Greek member of our team. Last June I went to the funeral of our director Deborah Warner's father, and in the same week my own father suffered a stroke, and after New York my little dog was killed. Winnie refers to these "little . . . sunderings, little falls . . . apart", and now I am chilled by the lines: "To have been always what I am - and so changed from what I was."

I learned this year that the theatre at Epidaurus was a later addition to a site that had been a healing place. The sick climbed the mountain, slept the night in tents, and in the morning could diagnose their own illness, the god Asclepius having visited them in the night to inspire them. The climb was part of the healing process, the acknowledgment that something was wrong. Perhaps this is what drives us to a theatre, to hear the sounds of our own mortality - and yet laugh.

We performed to 6,000 people. Beckett takes us beyond language to silence, the silence we all will and must face. We may find it holds desolation, but one feels that, against all odds, it holds promise. A week later I turned 50. Winnie and I have met.
• Fiona Shaw appears at the Abbey in the British National Theatre production of Happy Days , directed by Deborah Warner, from tomorrow until Oct 25 as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. Booking: 01-8787222

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And still not a word

On Tuesday, September 23 this blog contacted the Holy Faith Sisters asking them if they had made any comment on the late Eileen Flynn-Roche case.

The blog was told that there would be no-one available until the following Friday. The congregation so far has made no contact.

The banker and the priest

Eighteen years ago this Friday the two German states were united. October 3 is a public holiday in Germany to celebrate the date of unification. Some refer to it as 're-unification'.

It happened as a result of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. 20 years ago the world saw the fall of communism. Is the world now experiencing the collapse of capitalism?

In the East German city of Görlitz in summer 1985 a Protestant priest commented to me that the GDR was in collapse and that it was just a matter of time before it was all over. At the time I did not believe him

That same year in discussion with a senior banker in Ireland I raised the question what if the bank - his bank - collapsed. I was told it was impossible. At the time I did not believe him.

Featured Post

No comment from bishop

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