Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Police notified

This blog has received two anonymous inappropriate and libellous emails. The police have been notified.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pending report to be horrific

Below is an article by Patsy McGarry on the report on the Dublin archdiocese due for publication this week.

Is it possible for the clerical state to reform itself? There are far too many signs at hand to suggest it is not happening. Indeed, the increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life may well be an ominous sign of the failure of any sort of root and branch change.

Travel around the country and read some of the newsletters/parish bulletins that are being produced. There is a palpable arrogance suggesting that priests 'know' the mind of God.

And there is still an attitude which is quite common which suggests the 'media' is against the 'church'.

Will there ever be an open and real discussion on priesthood, what it can do to people?

Cover-ups exposed in Dublin report will shock most

RITE AND REASON: The Dublin Archdiocese report will have a profound impact on the Catholic Church’s authority in Ireland, writes PATSY McGARRY

OVER COMING days we are likely to witness something definitive where the Catholic Church in Ireland is concerned. Publication of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation report is expected to confirm much, but it will shock even more.

This shock factor is unlikely to be centred on the abuse stories involved, or on their scale.

Following the Ryan report last May, it might be said that the Irish public has become almost inured to such depravity. But it is the scale of the cover-up in Dublin and the moral audacity of senior clergy involved which is likely to shock most of all.

Words such as “immoral” and “amoral” are expected to be on round-the-clock call among descriptions of the activities of the Dublin church authorities.

Indeed, stronger language may be employed as it becomes clear that the Catholic Church in Dublin operated a jurisdiction within a jurisdiction based on one consistent rule: protect the institution at all costs.

Those costs included the exposure, and indeed sacrifice, of vulnerable children, again and again, to predatory abusers.

There has been nothing like this Dublin inquiry, anywhere, before. The Ferns inquiry, which is nearest in character to Dublin, involved 26 priests and two bishops. The Dublin inquiry has involved a sample of 46 priests and 19 bishops, including four archbishops.

From what is known, its findings are damning. Bishops in Dublin moved priest abusers around from parish to parish, again and again, in most instances informing no one in the parishes, even its priests, of the newcomer’s proclivities.

In most such instances, too, they moved the abuser priests into poorer, working-class areas, where people were more trusting and less likely to ask questions and where, as elsewhere, it was the children of the most devout who were taken advantage of.

At one time it is known, for instance, that three such abuser priests were posted to one working-class parish on Dublin’s northside. In another Dublin northside parish, the presbytery was shared by one priest child abuser, a second priest and the latter’s mistress.

Nowhere before has Catholic Church authority been held to account on such a scale by a statutory body, on any issue. The irony that this should happen in Ireland will not be lost on many.

The likely exposure of a moral vacuum at the heart of Catholic Church authority in Ireland’s largest diocese will have a wider resonance. It will make it difficult to accept that this was a feature peculiar to the Catholic Church in Dublin or in Ireland.

The impact of the findings for the Catholic Church’s authority on this island are likely to be profound. The immediate effect of such large-scale betrayal will be renewed and radical focus on the role of bishops as patrons where Catholic primary schools in Ireland are concerned.

But that is not all. Its implications for the future of the clerical church in Ireland are grim.

We saw yesterday that the Bishop of Kerry, Most Rev Bill Murphy, has warned that “it is no exaggeration to say that, in the coming years, the church in Ireland will not survive without a committed and involved laity”.

He continued that it was “very likely” that by late next year some parishes in the Kerry diocese will be without a resident priest. And that is now.

Although there has been a rise in the number of first-year seminarians at Maynooth this year, it is the exception which underlines a rapid fall-off in vocations to the Catholic priesthood. There is no reason to believe that the Dublin report will halt that trend.

We are witnessing an unseemly end to a form of Catholicism which has been dominant in Ireland since shortly after the Famine. The Dublin report is likely to hasten that decline considerably.

That this has been brought about by the church authorities themselves, more than any outside influence, is another lesson in the consequences of abusing power.

It is, too, another powerful illustration of the corruption towards which such unchecked power leads.

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Wir sind das Volk to Wir sind ein Volk

Twenty years ago this week Erich Honnecker was in the last days as secretary of the SED. On October 18,1989 he was replaced by Egon Krenz. He too would quickly bite the dust.

Bloodshed had been avoided at the last moment at the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig. The head of police had asked Berlin for instructions. Berlin remained silent.

It was the last days of the GDR.

The openness,transparency and honesty of all that happened at the church in Leipzig stands out in stark contrast to all that was hidden, anonymous and nasty about the Stasi.

Canterbury versus Doncaster

Below is a report of what the Archbishop of Canterbury said at Southwark Cathedral. It appears in today's Irish Times.

In the current issue of Alive! the new Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, is reported as saying, "I'm not green and I'm not conned by global warning".

The editor of Alive! is constantly arguing that the media has a 'liberal' agenda.

Would it be more correct to say that Alive! has an agenda that panders to misfits.

The thoughtfulness and gentleness of the Archbishop of Canterbury surely are more attractive and meaningful, and maybe even Christian, than the words of the new Mayor of Doncaster.

Alive! seems to be filled with cheap shots. It is a nasty publication.

PEOPLE SHOULD use the climate change crisis as an opportunity to become human again, setting aside the addictive and self-destructive behaviour that has damaged their souls, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in London yesterday.

Dr Rowan Williams told an audience at Southwark Cathedral that people had allowed themselves to become “addicted to fantasies about prosperity and growth, dreams of wealth without risk and profit without cost”.

The consequences of such a lifestyle meant the human soul was “one of the foremost casualties of environmental degradation”.

“Many of the things which have moved us towards ecological disaster have been distortions of who and what we are and their overall effect has been to isolate us from the reality we’re part of. Our response to this crisis needs to be, in the most basic sense, a reality check,” Dr Williams said.

“We need to keep up pressure on national governments; there are questions only they can answer about the investment of national resources. We need equally to keep up pressure on ourselves and to learn how to work better as civic agents.”

Earlier this year Dr Williams said God was not a “safety net” that would guarantee a happy ending and human pillaging of the world’s resources meant the planet was facing a “whole range of doomsday prospects” that exceeded the results of global warming. Humanity faced being “choked, drowned or starved” by its own stupidity, he said, and he compared those who challenged the reality of climate change to the courtiers who flattered King Canute, until he proved he could not command the waves by going to the seashore and trying to do so. – (Guardian news service)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Newspaper yarns

The story below is the result of a clairvoyant, who has been contacting newspapers about 'visions' he is experiencing.

The newspapers are enjoying the fun and naturally it is a a great yarn.
Is this where Irish Catholicism finds itself?

Thousands wait for Knock apparition

THOUSANDS GATHERED at Knock Shrine, Co Mayo, yesterday hoping to see an
apparition of Our Lady.

Overheard on the Luas

Overheard on the Luas today.

Two students with 'mid-Atlantic' accents talking about the experience of studying in Dublin, the advantages of having coffee bars nearby and the general good value of food and beer available to students.

The conversation changed to the Air Corps accident on the Galway Mayo border on Monday evening. One of the two students began to chuckle and laugh at the event. Someone on the Luas reminded them that two men had been killed in the accident. One of the students replied, "I was not talking to you."

The Green Line Luas was crowded. Not a word from anyone except from the man who challenged the comment.

The student did reply that he was not talking to the man. Can you have a private, out loud conversation on a packed Luas?

Irish bishops at Council

This concluding paragraph from a review of "The Irish College, Rome, and Its World" [Catholic Historical Review 2009/4] may interest readers.

The most startling statements are made in the chapter on the college and Vatican II. Michael Smith, the present bishop of Meath, who was a student during this period, offers some very frank insights into the Irish hierarchy of the time. He states that the Irish bishops did not expect the Council to last long nor make any impact on the life of the Church, said very little at the Council itself and did not try to communicate what was happening, did not seek briefings from theologians nor from other bishops, had a minimal relationship with the Irish journalists assigned to the Council, and only encountered their fellow Irish-born bishops at a dinner toward the end of the Council.

The letter of the Council came to Ireland, but not the spirit. The Irish College is no longer full of Irish seminarians.
[Fergus O'Donoghue S.J.
Irish Jesuit Archives, Dublin]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two German Dominicans

A German television station in a two series programme has profiled two Dominicans. One, Georg Severin, has left the Dominicans to marry a woman and Rufus Keller remains a Dominican.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stasi operatives sent packing

During all those meetings in the Leipzig church and the events that led up to the fall of the wall, it is most unlikely that Pastor Führer would ever have been anonymous or called himself 'P O'Neill'.

No doubt the Stasi operatives were anonymous with codenames and hidden identities.

There is a profound sadness and emptiness about people, who hide behind anonymity. There is a hopelessness about it.

Why does it happen so often within church organisations?

The miracle of October 7, 1989 in Leipzig

Article below appears in today's Irish Times - great piece about how a seed is sown

Remembering how the fall of the Wall began in a Leipzig church

LITTLE CHANGES within the walls of Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche, the 12th-century Romanesque church of St Nicholas.

The walls here remember Johann Sebastian Bach’s premiere of the Johannes Passion on Good Friday in 1724 – and they remember the night 20 years ago when 2,000 people, excited and terrified, gathered here to do something extraordinary.

After 40 years in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), a four-decade lock-in of daily humiliations and falsified elections, they refused to be intimidated any longer.

Clutching their courage in their candles, they filed out of the church and began to march. It started a chain reaction that, exactly one month later, toppled the hated Berlin Wall.

“Without October 9th in Leipzig, there would not have been a November 9th in Berlin, I’m sure of that,” says Bettina Schuster, a 40-something woman with long brown hair and kind eyes, sitting calmly in the church where it all began 20 years ago.

“I had a young son, I was a teacher, I really shouldn’t have come here but I just felt I had to.

“It felt so great to finally speak openly about our frustrations, to listen to others. There was a feeling of security and peace here, even though there were police outside allowed to shoot if necessary.”

The long road to 1989 began in 1981 as peace prayer evenings organised by the Nikolaikirche’s pastor Christian Führer in 1981 in response to Cold War arms race.

The group had connections to Vaclav Havel in Prague and Solidarity in Gdansk, but was crippled by public apathy. Five years in, the Monday night gatherings were attracting just four people.

“I was ready to give up but one of the people attending said, ‘If we give up, then there is no hope any more’,” remembers Pastor Führer, then as now a lively, spiky-haired man, instantly recognisable in his jeans and denim waistcoat.

“Then I remembered the parable of the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds that can still grow to provide shelter for many.”

He carried on into what had become the era of perestroika in the Soviet Union. In East Berlin, the elderly Politburo was in denial about the need for reforms. In Leipzig, the pastor could sense the longing for change.

People wanted to talk about free elections, their longing to travel freely, and his church became the safe haven for their discussion.

“The people had been silenced, by fear and the secret police, we provided a space for them to discuss taboo topics,” says Pastor Führer.

In 1988, he watched attendance at his Monday prayer meetings grow – eight, 80, 100.

The meetings got a shot in the arm on September 4th when a group of young people emerged from the Monday meeting to hold up a banner reading: “For an open life with free people.”

A West German television camera outside filmed the scene, including how a Stasi agent ran forward to snatch the banner. For the first time Germans, east and west, saw pictures from Leipzig. A week later, the Nikolaikirche was full.

Pastor Führer was jubilant but nervous: would the meetings remain calm as the pressure continued to build?

“I reminded people of the Sermon on the Mount – love your enemy – and hoped they would take this message of non-violence with them from the church.”

The critical turning point came on October 7th, 1989. In East Berlin, GDR leader Erich Honecker welcomed Mikhail Gorbachev for the 40th anniversary of the GDR, a last hurrah for the ailing Politburo chief and his regime.

In Leipzig, meanwhile, nervous policemen broke up the official anniversary events in the main shopping street with a baton charge.

“They surrounded us, moving in to hit us and drag people away,” remembers a tearful local woman Birgit Scheffel.

“Old people and children were trampled. Things were really on a knife-edge. We all wondered whether the next Monday demo would stay peaceful or turn bloody.”

By the evening of Monday, October 9th, nearly all churches in Leipzig had joined the demonstrations. Outside, the atmosphere was charged.

Stasi officers had been sent in as agents provocateurs to stir up trouble and justify a police intervention. Pastor Führer knew none of this but feared the worst as he emerged from the Nikolaikirche.

With an extraordinary 70,000 people behind him, the nervous pastor led the march around the Leipzig ring road.

Faces illuminated in candlelight, they chanted for freedom: “Freiheit! Freiheit! Freiheit!” To their amazement, they completed a circuit and returned, unhindered, to the Nikolaikirche.

“I was so overwhelmed that I was incapable of thinking anything except that, because the police had not intervened, the GDR was no longer the same as it had been,” remembers Pastor Führer.

Today, he has his own theories about why things remained peaceful.

The police were prepared for everything, a police officer told him later, but not for candles and prayers. Frantic calls from Leipzig to Berlin seeking permission to intervene went unanswered.

Two decades on, Pastor Führer has retired from the Nikolaikirche. As the official anniversary machine grinds into life in Berlin, he is happy to retell the other story of 1989: about the revolution that came from his church in Leipzig.

“For most of these people, after the Nazis and the communists, Jesus never existed,” he said. “It’s nothing short of a miracle that they understood perfectly his message of peace.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inaccurate and offensive comments

What is it about marriage and matters related to sexuality that seem to give a significant number of priests a drive and mission that is palpable in its ferocity?

In a parish newsletter this week a priest devotes three columns to the Sunday Gospel. The Gospel on Sunday was about divorce.

In the piece, the priest writes: “Two people ‘married’ by a judge are not married in the eyes of God.” How the priest can see into God’s eyes is surely confusing.

Catholic theology and the law of the church clearly says that a marriage between two non-baptised people in a registry office is a valid marriage. Is what the priest is saying contrary to Catholic teaching?

The tone of the three columns is not helpful and no doubt has the potential of alienating many good people who are in ‘irregular relationships’

In that same newsletter there is a note about a 'Novena of life'. A sentence runs “Abortion has turned the womb into a tomb and women into killers.”

Again such a comment has the potential of hurting many people who are genuinely in search of God.

A similar tone was evident among a number of priests in the run up to the Lisbon vote.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Anonymous ad in today's Irish Independent

On page 8 of today's Irish Independent there is an advert advising people to vote No in tomorrow's Lisbon referendum.

It will have to go down in the history of advertising as one of the most bizarre. But it is terribly funny.

Amazing lines in it. It tells us Dia Láidir. It talks about infected water in Galway in 2007 and a Freemason-determined EU Parliament.

It is hilarious. But what is disturbing and worrying about it is that it is anonymous and most likely has many sympathisers within the clerical church. It really is scary.

Should a national newspaper carry an anonymous advertisement?

Is the ad blasphemous?