Thursday, January 29, 2009

Whether to excommunicate or not

Maybe it is that it is there somewhere and this writer cannot find it. But is the decree on the remission of excommunication latae sententiae of bishops of the Fraternity of St Pius X (January 21, 2009) in English on the Vatican web site?

Surely one is bound to think again and wonder about all of this. How come just some few short years ago someone is excommunicated and then 'hey presto' the excommunication is lifted?

And what is the truth about the bishop and his statements about the Holocaust?

Treating cyclists with contempt

It's sometimes easy to get the impression that the civil authorities in Ireland treat citizens in a most disrespectful manner.
Anyone who has cycled from Templeogue to Tallaght since Christmas will understand.
There are cycle ways on both sides of the roundabout on the Templeogue Tallagh road over the M50. Should you take the cycle path to the left side of the roundabout then you are assured of running into difficulties. As soon as you are over the motorway you meet an iron fence prohibiting you to go any further in the direction of Tallaght.
This cyclist decided to follow the cycle way to the left and ended up in Firhouse. Not a funny story at 21.30 on a winter's evening.

Why could South Dublin Council not erect signposts for cyclists using the route? Not at all. Who cares about people on bicycles? Certainly not South Dublin Council if one is to judge them by their actions

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Catholic school identity

The article below appears in Tuesday's Irish Times.

The archbishop makes some interesting comments. The teaching of religion in our schools is a little akin to the Irish programme. We spend years at Irish and religion and what do we know at the end of it?

But can someone explain, what is a 'catholic education'? A

Anytime one hears the expression there is always the fear that it is an introduction to a right-wing attack on modern catholic catechesis.

Does a myth exist in Ireland which attempts to portray middle class religious run schools as 'Catholic'?

Why is it that so few schools have picked up on the programme offered for both Junior and Leaving Cert students at examination level. These programmes at least introduce young people into the history of religions. It makes available to them some sort of explanation of the various world religions. And yet far too few schools, Catholic schools avail of the programme.

Is it true to say that when it comes to talking about a 'Catholic education' it is far too easy to be glib in what we say.

How can one explain to a 15-year-old the idea of the incarnation or the resurrection. And what does one say on a Monday morning at 09.00 in a third year class about infallibility? How can one comment about how one day someone is excommunicated and some years later the excommunication is lifted?

While there are excellent religious books available, teaching religion in the school context is not an easy task.

What sense does it make to talk or use the word 'God' in the current climate to young people in an academic setting?


Archbishop Martin says Catholic school identity at risk


CATHOLIC SCHOOLS must not water down their identity to conform with a more pluralist society, the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin said yesterday.

At a conference to mark the first Catholic Schools Week in the Republic, Dr Martin said the Catholic school system had its rightful place within a multicultural society.

“Pluralism does not mean watering down identity. Indeed, a Catholic school which waters down its identity waters down its real contribution to society and renders itself useless,” he said.

“The survival of Catholic education in Ireland will not depend on it fitting in to an overall pluralist secularist philosophy, but on it being fully Catholic, bringing that specific contribution of the message of Jesus Christ to society.”

He said it was not about a Catholic school system attempting to dominate an entire system. It was “a temptation which was, and I think we have to say, still is there, due to the historical development of the Irish education model”.

Dr Martin said a Catholic school must never be “just a narrow Catholic ghetto, cut off from or worse still hostile to the world around it. Christianity can never be exclusivist or elitist.”.
The archbishop also questioned the success of Catholic schools in passing on the faith to young people.

“What are we to say about a Catholic school system and catechetical programmes which have produced the numerically largest cohort of unchurched young people in recent Irish history?” he asked.

“Irish young people are among the most catechised in western Europe, with religious instruction right through primary and secondary school, and yet we cannot say that they are among the most evangelised.

“Indeed, the biggest challenge that I, as archbishop, see for the church in Dublin is precisely that of the evangelisation of young people and their insertion as true and committed members of a believing and worshipping community.”

Dr Martin also encouraged parents and teachers to speak about faith to their children when they began to challenge issues.

“Rather than engaging in that dialogue, parents and teachers can be tempted to think that it is best to leave it up the young person alone to find his or her way regarding faith,” he said.
“And I think parents lose their nerve, perhaps because the church has let them down by providing very few services to help them in their task as religious educators.”

While this is the first time Catholic Schools Week has been celebrated in the Republic, it has been marked in the North in recent years. In a homily prepared for the week, Fr Martin Delaney of the diocese of Ossory noted that the special week was more common in countries where the Catholic Church and Catholic schools were in a minority. “Traditionally, nearly all schools in Ireland were either Catholic or at least were religious-run schools,” he said.

Bishop Leo O’Reilly, chair of the Bishops Commission for Education, said it was important that Catholic schools became more conscious of their identity as the schools system became more pluralist.

Catholic Schools Week, which has the theme: Catholic Schools – A Vision for Life, continues until Sunday. Events have been organised in schools around the State to mark the week which concludes on Sunday with a special Mass in Lucan which will be televised by RTÉ.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Bus and rail fares have increased by 10 per cent since January 1. That means a monthly return fare from Tralee to Dublin is now €81.50 and a single bus journey from Tallaght to the city centre is €2.20.


Dublin Bus is considering cutting back on services having just bought a fleet of new buses.


Irish Rail is building new track between Dublin and Hazel Hatch and has opened a number of very styling rail stations on their southern line out of Dublin. Was there need for such lavish stations? And as for the new double track, is it now necessary? Could they have eased their capacity problems by introducing reversible running as far as Newbridge. Such a system would have needed new signalling but it would have been far cheaper than the current programme.


Surely an underground to the airport is a madness. Why not build a spur from the Malahide line to the airport?


The rail station at Farranfore is approximately one kilometre from Kerry Airport. There has never been a murmur of building a line right to the door of the airport. Such a project could entice passengers from Cork and Tipperary to use the airport.


Ireland has paid its managers and politicians high salaries. The ten per cent transport increases will have little effect on the top earners.


The line on the Jim Larkin statue in Dublin's O'Connell Street is surely a piece of universal wisdom; "The great seem great because we are on our knees. Let us arise".

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'Quiet fidelity'


Cardinal Sean Brady has rejected calls for the resignation of Bishop John Magee.

The archbishop said in Killarney yesterday that he knows John Magee for almost 50 years and has found him reliable and dependable.

In a wide-ranging talk he said, "Our first thoughts should always be for those who have suffered abuse. The scandalous behaviour of some clergy has caused immense pain to them and their families".

Had it not been for the "quiet fidelity of thousands priests and religious in the last years the impact of the scandals would have been even more damaging than they have undoubtedly been," he went on to say.

Archbishop Brady is a most kind and friendly man. While working on The Irish News this writer interviewed him and found him most gracious and pleasant. So in that context the above quote is somewhat puzzling.

How could the damage done to victims been 'less damaging'? And the expression 'quiet fidelity' is most worrying. If it refers to the truth that's fine, but if it refers to the hierarchical institutional church it is worrying.

Has there not been far too much 'quiet fidelity' to the church? Is it not exactly that 'quiet fidelity' that has caused so much pain and suffering.

When John Magee was appointed bishop in Cloyne there was much controversy about his nomination. Indeed, at the time many people asked pertinent questions to which there were never any satisfactory answers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snooze time almost over

On December 10 this blog began a snooze period.

The snooze is about to end and the blog is due to be back in publication some time next week.

Happy New Year to all readers.

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