Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to all readers

Happy New Year to all readers.

The days are getting longer, at least in this part of the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Who decides what's news?

Today in Dublin on four occasions people asked me for money.

It would seem there are more and more people begging in the Irish capital.

Not a word these days about the bond holders hovering as vultures over the skies of the still free PIGS.

Why is that? Who determines these things? Who decides what will be news?

Though Interesting to see how a call from Guido Westerwelle could make Hungary think again about its planned law on curtailing freedom of the press. Something positive about EU but would they have listened to Micheál Martin?

Friday, December 24, 2010

One of BBC's great broadcasters

The death of the BBC's Brian Hanrahan is for this blogger poignant.

He was special - everything about him - his words, his voice.

Started out studying maths, changing to politics.

On the demise of Hönecker, he said: He damned up his people, but in the end was damned by them.

Never wise to presume, but can one presume he was educated by the Jesuits?

He was born in March 1949.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas, Nollag shona duit, frohe Weihnachten, buon Natale, Roždestvom Khristovym, sinni kualoq, natale hilare

Happy and holy Christmas to all readers of this blog.

It is snowing heavily in Dublin 2. Does this mean that we never again want to hear a single word or song about a 'white Christmas'.

The usually simple way of getting to and from work every day has become a real drudge.

And this weather is more or less all over Europe

US soldier harshly treated - same old story

United States Private First Class Bradley Manning is in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia.

Manning is believed to have leaked the ‘collateral murder’ video of a US Apache helicopter killing 11 people in Baghdad in 2007, including two Reuters journalists.

Manning is kept in his cell for 23 hours each day, is barred from exercising in his cell on the grounds he might injure himself, and is under constant surveillance.

As a child it is reported he was teased for being gay.

The young man joined the US Army which at the time had a complete ban on gays. His father kicked him out of his house when he learned he was gay.

The story of Private First Class Bradley Manning is replicated in every seminary, in every place where young men are studying for priesthood.

Hopefully, church authorities and the Vatican will carefully examine the painful story of Bradely Manning and learn lessons from it.

The phenomenon of Bradley Manning is such a perfect fit for so many aspects of what is happening in the clerical state.

President Barack Obama has lifted the ban on gays joining the US Army.
That means the issue has the possibility of no longer being taboo, it need no longer be ‘covered up’, it need no longer be a secret.

It is that deathly secrecy that is doing so much harm to the church. And all the lies too. The cover ups and the terrible unhappiness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sixty nine years earlier 23 degrees colder

Ireland is experiencing the coldest weather in decades. Last night a temperature of minus 17 Celsius was recorded in the west.

This blog is read in the Russian cities of Moscow and Saratov.

In December 1941 the Soviet Army was fighting the Germans in temperatures of minus 40 Celsius.

In that weather and ill-prepared, the men and women of Stalingrad, now Volgograd, helped save the world from the barbarism of Nazi Germany.

A German infantryman wrote to his family, "Animals flee this burning hell of a city...the hardest stones do not last for long. Only men endure."

Chuikov sought to minimise the German advantage in firepower by instructing his men to close with the enemy and seek hand to hand combat at every opportunity. The Wehrmacht would then be unable to call in airstrikes or artillery without hitting their own men. The Blitzkrieg tactics which had enabled them to conquer much of Europe were useless, and the battle for the city was now reduced to hundreds of small unit actions.

Stalingrad and Kursk were defining moments in the defeat of Germany.

There is no central committee of truth

This column appears in today's IN&M regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane

Rathgar Road in Dublin, linking Rathmines with Rathgar, has to be one of the finest roads in the country’s capital. It is approximately two kilometres long and links the south side of the city with Terenure, Rathfranham, Tallaght and Ballyboden. Before the days of ring roads and motorways it was one of the roads out of Dublin to the south.

There are some fabulous houses on the road. It boasts a Catholic and Presbyterian church. And a long list of famous people have lived on or near the road.
I have been traversing the road for over 50 years and most of the time on a bicycle.
Last Thursday just as I was about to head up the road from the Rathmines end I noticed a young woman cycling in front of me. Her bicycle was clearly too small for her. It was in bad shape, no oil on the chain, a buckle in the back wheel. And yet she was going at great speed.

It was between 6 and 7pm and miserable weather to be out on a bike. As I was passing her I noticed she was not from these parts. Before we got as far as the Catholic church, which is half way up the road we were chatting away to each other.
She was from south east China, not too far away from Hong Kong.

Zhong Ping – not her real name - is studying accountancy in Dublin and has been in Ireland over five years. Except for the rain she loves the place and the people.
I asked her for her opinions on Liu Xiabobo, who was recently conferred with the Nobel peace prize.

We began a great political conversation. Her English is fluent. I was asking myself how many of our Government ministers speak Mandarin the way she speaks English. I can only guess.

I was somewhat slow to talk about anything political because on previous occasions I have found how Chinese people with whom I spoke were somewhat reticent to get involved.

Zhong Ping was delighted to talk politics. Nor was she afraid to speak her mind. And in her opinion over half the Chinese people are annoyed and irritated with the Chinese Government for not allowing Liu Xiaobo to attend the award winning ceremony in Oslo. She also expressed her annoyance with how the Chinese government does not permit freedom of speech.

“In Ireland you are allowed say what you like about your government and that’s great but something we cannot do in China,” Zhong stressed. And it is something that greatly annoys her.

I commented on the size of China with a population of 1.6 billon people. When I remarked that shortly it would be the greatest power on earth, she was proud to remind me of China’s old name – The Middle Kingdom.
And just as we arrived at the top of the road, close to the Presbyterian church, she was turning right and I was going on straight. But before we parted she gave me her email address and hoped that we would have more to say to one another about Chinese politics.

At the award winning ceremony in Oslo, actor Liv Ullmann read a speech of Liu Xiaobo. Here is a paragraph from the speech she read:
“Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity and suppress truth.”

It was easy for me cycling up Rathgar Road on a winter’s evening talking to an engaging Chinese student about what life can be like in a dictatorship. But just as Zhong turned right, it dawned on me how many of us in the western world speak our mind, how many of us really speak what we believe.

Of course we don’t. We are all the time watching out to make sure that we say and do is the right thing so as to please our masters and bosses. And that’s whether they are bosses or bishops.

True, we don’t have censorship, nor are we subject to the terror that is a reality in dictatorships but it would be naive to think that our world and our society epitomises freedom of thought and speech. Of course it doesn’t. Ask WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

We admire those who speak their minds, that is, provided it never upsets our little worlds. Once that happens we do all in our power to dismiss them as mavericks.
I am intrigued how there can be such a uniformity of thought in corporations and institutions.
In the church too, there can be a worrying homogeneity.

The job of the priest is to tease out the truth, but always in the context of the time and environment in which she or he lives.

Reality is not concretised in conformity, so how then can truth be subject to strict conformity? There never can be a central commmitte of truth.

The Chinese Communist Party argues that it knows best what is for the good of China and the Chinese people. But isn’t that what every boss and manager says. And isn’t there sometimes a culture within the churches that leaders and priests, not only claim to know what is best for the people but they might also claim they have a direct and exclusive link with God.

Leadership, whatever its form is bedevilled with difficulties.

Wherever in the world or whatever the ideology, there is no perfect way and we have to be on guard to keep the dictators at bay – whatever their creeds, styles or beliefs may be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Relativism helped expose nasty secrets

The latest chapter of the Murphy report paints a far more positive picture of Cardinal Desmond Connell than was said of him in the media in the past.

Cardinal Connell has always come across as an honest and good person, who suffered greatly.

By trade he was a philosopher and teacher. A man who was obviously liked by his students.

It is reported today that the pope is again linking the paedophilia issue with relativism. That is a most worrying and contentious issue. Paedophilia has been an issue in the clerical church long before the 1960s.

What the 1960s brought about was a greater openness, an openness, which in turn began to throw light on some of the dark secrets within the clerical church.

In chapter 19 of the Murphy report. Msgr Gerard Sheehy is reported to have written concerning a meeting where they were discussing Tony Walsh: "Bishop Walsh made the outrageous suggestion that the archbishop should inform the civil authorities about Fr Jovito's (Tony Walsh) homosexual orientation".

It is extremely doubtful that the late Gerard Sheehy was influenced by relativism.

It is also worrying to see how Gerard Sheehy is so ill-informed re paedophilia.

It is not in conformity with reality or the truth to link relativism with criminality.

It is also worrying to read reports that there are priests in senior positions who were first made aware of the crime through the media.

There are aspects of priesthood and sexuality that are constantly swept under the proverbial carpet.

The clerical church is still refusing to discuss in any sort of meaningful way. It still is a matter of 'hush', 'say nothing'.

Is it possible that the Irish 'cute hoor' syndrome has its origins in clericalism?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Instructions from the monsignors

This blog tries to avoid the first person of the personal pronoun.

This is exceptional.

Back in the early 1970s letters would arrive from Archbishop's House concerning clerical behaviour. Everything about the letters, from the address to the final signature was pompous, pretentious and arrogant.

I can recall reading one of those letters and asking who did the author think he was.

Back then I imagined. Now I know

I believe that style, that mind set has not changed, maybe getting worse.

The monsignors and tribunal men

The monsignors and canon lawyers being mentioned re all this horrible stuff are the same men who sit on church marriage tribunals. It is shocking and perverse.

And that mentality is not changing.

Hush, tell no-one, stay silent

In a news report on Tony Walsh the two words 'hush up' are used. Words and ideas, a style and philosophy that is so much part of our church. And still is.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jessie's welcome home is always infectious

This column appears in today's regional IN&M newspapers

By Michael Commane
The first thing I do when I arrive home is to say hello to Jessie. When I opened the door on Thursday of the big freeze I was horrified to see that she was limping and could not put her left foot on the ground.

She has been getting arthritic for the last 12 months or so and the cold spell hit her hard and affected her in such a way that she was not able to put her foot on the ground. Nevertheless, the moment she saw me her face lit up and she seemed to forget about her pain.

She has been finding it more and more difficult to walk. She is beginning to show her age. In October she was 13. Okay, you know now that Jessie is my labrador dog. And that night I arrived home, along with her face ‘lighting up’ she was frantically wagging her tale

It was the sort of night that you would not ‘put a dog out’ so I had no choice but to allow her stay indoors. And just as I had my back turned she was on the couch, cuddled up and heading for sleep. How could I ever try to get her off that couch?

Jessie arrived at my door 12 years ago. A young couple with small children decided she was probably too big and knew that I was looking for a dog. So in she came.

In the early years she got me into much trouble. In those days she was so gentle and placid but whenever she saw a cat, a hen, a rabbit or any small animal she was out of control. She sort of became notorious in the village. She killed a few hens, a pet rabbit and a guinea pig. At one stage it was so serious that the local sergeant gave me a warning. Naturally in every case I apologised to the victims, well not quite the victims – their owners. The victims were dead.

One or two people were cross with me and understandably so, but most saw the funny side to it and were gracious in their loss.

On one occasion when I was walking in unknown territory and she was off the lead she was suddenly gone and then I heard this terrible cry. She ran out of a yard with a hen in her mouth. What could I do? I eventually got the hen from her and before I could catch her she was back into the yard and another hen was gone. I tracked down owner Jamie Wrenn, who was amazingly understanding about it. I subsequently left a few bob in a local hostelry for him. It became known as ‘Commane’s blood money’.

The following summer I did reparation for the hen incident and went on the annual Jamie Wrenn walk from Castlegregory in West Kerry to Tralee. Proceeds went to the oncology unit at Kerry General Hospital. I did the walk twice and on both occasions Jessie accompanied me.

The late Jamie Wrenn, who had been diagnosed with cancer, did sterling work in collecting funds for the oncology unit at Kerry General Hospital.

I have to admit people have been very forgiving re her misdemeanours. I am even lucky enough that anytime I am away she is walked and dined.

The two of us have walked all over Ireland and we are still swimming in the Atlantic together but the days of long walks are over. And that’s terribly sad. She just does not have the energy or the inclination any longer and the idea of her assailing a rabbit or hen is now just a memory.

These days as I have no option but to think of her eventual demise I am amazed at how close a relationship one can have with a dog. It has also struck me how ‘wise’ and ‘knowledgeable’ a dog is. Okay we are told they cannot reason but I have a hunch my dog probably knows me better than I know myself. She plays all sorts of tricks on me. She knows exactly what psychological strings to pull so that I will pamper and spoil her. And is she loyal.

Her licence was due for the last month or so and last week I paid my €12.70 fee. Went to pay by cheque in a post office to be told cheques not accepted – either cash or an AIB laser card. Sort of bizarre. Right now my hope is that Jessie will get the full year out of her licence. Alas I’m not too sure.

In philosophy class we were told all animate beings have souls. Although French philosopher Descartes saw animals as machines and did not have souls. I have enough trouble coping with my own reality, existence and ‘mortal coil’ to ask any sort of deep questions about what happens dogs when they die.

Then in theology class we were told that what marks out the uniqueness of the human soul is its immortality. But I cannot help thinking that animals are far wiser and more knowledgeable than we could ever imagine. Jessie certainly is.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Private companies make a killing on the elderly

Irish television RTE last evening aired a programme on the work of caring for elderly people. The findings are shocking.

The carer's industry is not regulated. It was pointed out that if you want to set up a company to care for the elderly there is no regulator, whereas if you keep kennels that is regulated.

It would seem that the Minister for the Elderly, Áine Brady said last evening she believed that regulating the industry was not the solution. This morning on RTE Radio 1 she said the business needs regulation but did not know when her government would do this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nothing paradoxical about Maciel

Reading Peter Seewald one can't help but ask, in humility and respect, does Pope Benedict understand or perceive the reality and mentality of the Legionaries of Christ. He talks of Maciel as a mysterious figure. The pope says it was only in 2000 did they have any concrete clues. People were asking serious questons 35 years ago. Maciel has created a monster. There was nothing 'mysterious' about Maciel or his organisation.

Truth complements freedom

Freedom of Expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.

- Liu Xiaobo

Saturday, December 11, 2010

WikiLeaks takes oxygen from masks

Interesting how US intelligence and authorities know more about Irish church matters than the so-called People of God on the island of Ireland.

It is laughable and profoundly sad and annoying. But neither new nor surprising.

WikiLeaks are about to break a story on a US bank.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ellsberg says yes to WikiLeaks

Vietnam war hero Daniel Ellsberg has given his support to WikiLeaks. Vatican and Ireland in latest US embassy cables. A word or thought on it all from the Vatican?

Statues before police officers

What can one say about a prime minister who first speaks about the despoiling of a statue before injuries to members of the police? And so it was with the Eton educated David Cameron.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The apparel oft proclaim the man

Some months ago there was a picture of young Legionaries of Christ walking on a beach in Kerry. It was a contrived picture – young men down on the beach in touch with nature and yet they were dressed immaculately. I live close to the Atlantic and am often at the beach, either swimming or walking. I have never ever seen people dressed in such attire on that beach or any beach.

Polished shoes are not for those beaches and any man who wears such shiny shoes on a beach has to be screaming out some message that cannot be in kilter with the world with which most of us inhabit. How come the Legionaries of Christ all dress in uniform-style clothing? They are not police or army personnel.

At the time the picture appeared the founder of the Legionaries of Christ was hitting the headlines for all he wrong reasons - allegations of child sex abuse.

What is this link between fundamentalist/hard line conservatism – maybe pseudo conservatism - and immaculate grooming? It is not just a clothes thing, there is something else about it that is simply repulsive to observe.

Shakespeare talks of how ‘the apparel oft proclaim the man’.

Frankfurter Rundschau on Assange

Assange and freedom Comment in today's Frankfurter Rundschau

Die Festnahme des Wikileaks-Gründers Assange zeigt vor allem eines: Nicht die Regierung in Washington, sondern der kriminalisierte Julian Assange steht heute in einer großen amerikanischen Tradition: des unerschrockenen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Information.

Das Ansehen der USA hat Schaden genommen durch die von Wikileaks gesteuerten Veröffentlichungen vertraulicher Dokumente. Das ist wahr. Es begann im April mit dem obszönen Video der Hinrichtung unbewaffneter Männer in Bagdad. Es endete vorerst mit den offenherzigen Berichten der US-Botschafter.

Größeren Schaden aber nimmt das Ansehen der USA jetzt, da sie versuchen, Wikileaks und deren Kopf Julian Assange mundtot zu machen. Die USA verraten einen ihrer Gründungsmythen: die Freiheit der Information. Sie tun das in einem Moment, da sie erstmals seit dem Kalten Krieg die Herrschaft über die weltweite Information zu verlieren drohen. „Der erste ernsthafte Informationskrieg hat begonnen“, schreibt der US-Bürgerrechtler John-Perry Barlow. „Das Schlachtfeld ist Wikileaks.“

Mastercard und Visa haben Zahlungen an die Enthüllungsplattform Wikileaks gesperrt. Visa Europe habe alle Zahlungen ausgesetzt, um einen möglichen Verstoß gegen die Geschäftsbedingungen zu prüfen, erklärte die Firma am Dienstag. Ein Mastercard-Sprecher sagte, Grund für das Vorgehen sei die Regel, wonach Kunden gesperrt würden, die „illegale Handlungen direkt oder indirekt unterstützen oder erleichtern“.

Das Internet-Bezahlsystem Paypal hat ebenfalls Zahlungen an Wikileaks gesperrt. Wikileaks kann nun noch über Banküberweisungen oder auf dem altmodischen Postweg Geld erhalten.

Die Schweizer Bank Postfinance hatte am Montag ebenfalls die Schließung des Kontos von Wikileaks-Gründer Julian Assange bekanntgegeben. Als Grund nannte die Bank falsche Adressangaben. Hacker und Sympathisanten von Wiki-leaks-Gründer Julian Assange griffen daraufhin offenbar die Postfinance-Webseite an – diese war dadurch stark verlangsamt.

In Deutschland muss Wikileaks derzeit keine Einschränkungen fürchten. Ein Sprecher des Regierungspräsidiums in Kassel relativierte am Dienstag einen Bericht des Handelsblatts, dem zufolge der Wau-Holland-Stiftung als weltweit größtem Geldgeber von Wikileaks die Aberkennung ihres Steuerprivilegs drohe. Zwar sei an die Stiftung eine Mahnung wegen eines fehlenden Geschäftsberichts geschickt worden – dies habe aber nichts mit Wikileaks zu tun. Die Wau-Holland-Stiftung bezeichnet sich selbst als Stiftung im Umfeld des Chaos Computer Clubs. Sie soll laut Medienberichten rund 750000 Euro an Spendengeld eingenommen haben. Assange hat angeblich eine „Lebensversicherung“: Mehr als 100000 Unterstützer weltweit haben eine verschlüsselte Datei erhalten.

Laut Medienberichten ist „insurance.aes256“ 1,5 Gigabyte groß und enthält alle 25000 US-Depeschen. Demnach enthält das Paket die Original-Unterlagen ohne Auslassungen, darunter unveröffentlichte Dokumente zum US-Gefängnis Guantanamo. Auch explosive Papiere der Bank of America sollen dabei sein. Er hat recht. Mit der Doktrin des „Free Flow of Information“ haben die USA für Jahrzehnte die Informationsflüsse und einen großen Teil ihrer Inhalte dominiert. Sie besagt, dass jedermann das Recht hat, überall und ohne Einschränkung Nachrichten zu sammeln, zu übertragen und zu verbreiten. Das war eine famose Doktrin, solange allein US-Unternehmen die Macht, die Mittel und die Logistik hatten, diese Freiheit zu nutzen.

Das hat sich mit dem Internet schon tendenziell geändert. Julian Assange und Wikileaks aber sind die Ersten, die die Macht des Netzes gegen die USA einsetzen. Deshalb werden sie so gnadenlos verfolgt. Nicht die Regierung in Washington, sondern der kriminalisierte Julian Assange steht heute in einer großen amerikanischen Tradition: des unerschrockenen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Information.

The obfuscation, lies and bluster of elites

In yesterday's Guardian newspaper John Naughton writes, "Western political elites obfuscate, lie and bluster - and when the veil of secrecy is lifted, they try to kill the messenger."

The article deals with the WikiLeaks controversy. He concludes, " Our rulers have a choice to make: whether they learn to lives in a WikiLeakable world, with all that implies in terms of their future behaviour; or they shut down the internet. Over to them.

This is a fascinating controversy and it gets to the centre of so much nonsense that is touted about re confidentiality.

It certainly is a controversy that anyone who is serious about preaching the Gospel has to be aware of and have an opinion on.

The opening quote from Naughton applies so perfectly to so many organisations in different forms and shapes. Of course I am thinking of the hierarchical church and its total brilliance at obfuscation among the so-called 'elites'.

Wikileaks is an amazing paradigm of and for our times.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rafto award goes to Mexican Dominican bishop

Dominican bishop Jose Raul Vera Lopez from Mexico was presented in November with the Rafto Prize for 2010 in Bergen, Norway. This is a highly prestigious award, which is given each year to someone who has done outstanding work for justice in our world. Four previous winners later went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Below is Lopez's acceptance speech. A great sign of hope within the Dominican Order.

It was a great surprise to me to be informed of this acknowledgement, and I am conscious of the fact that this demands greater consistency and compromise on my part.

However, within me I find a mix of happiness and pain. The reason for this is simple: This award would not have been possible if Mexico was not lacerated by violence; by the impunity with which delinquency occurs; by an absence of law enforcement; and by complicity at different levels of government that, by action or omission, has led to this situation whereby my compatriots remain not only in utter poverty, but also face uncertainty as to whether there will be a tomorrow.

The absence of the judicial bodies in the persecution of crimes committed by criminal groups prevents the disruption of the framework of complicity that the members of these organisations have established with people in positions of power in the political sphere, be they executive, legislative or juridical; with functionaries of the administrative bodies of the juridical system and public security, with companies and financial groups that do their money laundering.

“Death”, “fear” and “impunity” are, unfortunately, three words that nowadays prevail in the vocabulary of Mexicans. The “war against organised crime” is a fight until death, where, in a mere four years of the current governing regime, the number of deaths officially recognised has reached almost 30 thousand.

This means that as the members of the criminal gangs are assassinated, be they senior bosses, middle ranks or armed wings, testimonies that might have been used against civil servants, businessmen and bankers, or those responsible for financial centres that are accomplices of the criminal underworld, go to the grave with the death of every one of them. This way, these people not only are not brought to trial, but also keep feeding the criminal potential of the groups that appear more powerful every day, encountering a Mexican State that we see as weaker and incapable of confronting them.

There is also another sort of impunity covered up by the government: “Pasta de Conchos”, the name of the mine that left 65 coal miners buried. The miners were working under terrible safety conditions. Five days after the accident, the company “Industrial Minera México” (IMMSA) of “Grupo México”, and the federal government, suspended the rescue operation. When it was resumed, two bodies were recovered with signs of asphyxia. The company once again stopped the rescue operation a mere one hundred fifty metres from where the workers were.
Not only the corpses, but also justice, was buried there. To hinder the rescue is to maintain impunity, to show insecurity and to demonstrate that they let them die.

Another case of impunity is the decision by the president of the Republic, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, to close the electrical power company “Luz y Fuerza del Centro”. This left forty-four thousand men and women unemployed, and was done illegally by presidential decree, with no recourse to the National Congress, and backed by the National Supreme Court of Justice. Even though the company belonged to the public sector, the State did not find a solution for the company, blaming it on the company’s alleged poor administration, when the real reason was that they wanted to eradicate the Mexican Union of Electricians (SME), an independent union.

The impunity with which actions are committed by organized crime has strengthened these delinquent groups, they have multiplied, and they have started to diversify the crimes they commit. One such diversification is the kidnapping of migrants. Most of the victims are people from Central America and some South American countries who cross the Republic of Mexico seeking to reach the United States, in search of work. The perpetrators of the kidnappings are members of organized crime cartel “Los Zetas”, people who earlier formed the armed wing of “Cartel del Golfo”. In just six months of the year two thousand nine, there were almost ten thousand (9,758 kidnappings of migrants recorded; also unpunished. This has now denounced as a “humanitarian tragedy”.

Voices continue to rise calling for the end of this fiction of the “war against
organised crime” to stop being fictional, and for the implementation of a strategy that attempts to let justice prevail over the warlike strategies. The families of the victims of violations of human rights by the hands of the army in this war, as well as the disappeared persons whose numbers grow at an alarming level every day, keep claiming for justice.

Through my work as a preacher in collaboration with groups that defend human rights, I have witnessed how the dignity of the people is attacked with impunity in different spheres and different geographical areas of Mexico: paramilitarisation of the indigenous regions of the country, institutionalized violence against the indigenous peoples of Mexico: in states like Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Chihuahua, amongst others. These people’s lives are constantly harmed and peace is constantly interrupted here. Among the members of the indigenous communities there are political prisoners, persecuted for defending the land, the water and the forests. Other activists in the country also suffer persecution, prison and even death. Freedom of speech is limited in Mexico and various journalists have paid with their lives for having upheld this liberty.

Torture as part of the legal process and in prisons is a constant in our country. In Coahuila, we have attended to women raped by members of the Mexican Army, as well as people from groups of diverse sexual orientations that have been segregated, assaulted and beaten.

Impunity is the current characteristic of the administration of justice in Mexico. Even in cases that are apparently solved for those seeking justice, reparation of the damage is non-existent, nor enforcement of judgments. International recommendations are not implemented, and there is no punishment for the violators of human rights in the State itself.

The Rafto Foundation could have been mistaken in choosing the right person for its 2010 Prize, but they were not wrong in choosing Mexico to denounce before the international community the terrible situation of systematic violations of human rights by the Government against men and women who are citizens of our country.

Thank you very much.

Terrible injustice meeted out to deserters

On Sunday evening German television station, Phoenix, aired a programme on soldiers who desert.

They gave short histories on the subject in the US, Soviet/Russian and German armies.

They showed a clip of Richard Nixon commenting on soldiers, who deserted during the Vietnam war. His words would make a person with any sense of moral standards simply sick in her or his stomach. Nixon was the criminal, the deserters the heroes.

But what seems beyond belief is the reality that it was only at the beginning of the 21st century that Germany offered an amnesty or pardon to soldiers who deserted from Hitler's Wehrmacht.

Is this really possible? And what has the world done about it? Nothing and if it has, it has kept amazingly quiet.

Isn't it another metaphor about how those in power and control play all the games according to their rules. And those who kowtow to it all smile their way through life, always on the side of the ruling elite. Whether in State or church.

To think that the brave men and women who refused to support Adolf Hitler were penalised by the Federal Republic of Germany until they were almost dead is appalling. And most of them by then were dead.

To think people who ran away in fear and turmoil from what they might have seen, whether in Stalingrad or at Auschwitz, were later punished. To think that drafted soldiers from Bochum or Dresden or wherever were treated as quasi criminals is simply unimaginable. It is extraordinary and deserves world comment.

The US are not far behind in their moral poverty. And of course we in the West have always been told about what happens/happened in the Soviet/Russian army.

Where have the churches been on this issue?

Why, can someone please explain why.

A butcher at the gates of Stalingrad was treated in a kinder way than the man who could not bear what he saw and ran away.

Does it mean that the deserters were denied German army pensions? Simply incredible.

And all the yes men, the ones who stand around and make sophisticated clever arguments to justify things. And I have seen them first hand within the hierarchical church. The stooges with their silly canon law and theological arguments packed neatly under their arms. Pathetic.

An official at the German embassy in Dublin has confirmed the veracity of the television programme. He was most pleasant and seemed upset and ashamed about it. He was born in the former GDR.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

God bless Julian and WikiLeaks

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has called for the execution or life imprisonment of Julian Assange for his WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has been made possible because of modern technology. This has to be an important moment in our history.

Of course the authorities would pull the trigger and say people’s lives are at stake. A former British diplomat commented yesterday that truth is never the problem, rather lies. Well said Mr Diplomat.

Anyone who has anything to do with truth should be out dancing on the streets celebrating WikiLeaks.

The nonsense, the bluff, the pseudo importance that characterises people with ‘secrets’.

How often have I heard, ‘You cannot be told the full story’ or some other humbug. That allows people hide behind their pathetic power. And they have elegant and sophisticated ways of putting one in her or his place if they persist in asking questions.

And WikiLeaks applies to preaching the Gospel too. I have often found myself sitting in pews and wondering long and hard whether or not the man talking the words actually believes what he is saying. I have seen too many men preach nonsense and lies covered in humbug.

The bluff and nonsense that can so easily be preached - and done in such a 'holy way'.

It is worth noting that Fox calls for Julian’s execution. Funny that because it always seems to me that it is the right wing brigade and fundamentalists of whatever hue, who speak out of both sides of their mouths.

WikiLeaks is the antidote. Long live WikiLeaks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No sight of an Irish journalist

German television station ARD screens Presse Club on Sunday mornings. The programme deals with national and international issues. The panel is made up of four journalists – every week different personnel.

Sunday’s programme dealt exclusively with the Irish problem.

Usually when an international issue is discussed a journalist from the relevant country is on the panel and naturally they speak German.

Sunday’s programme had no Irish journalist on the panel. Was that because they did not look for one or was it that there is no journalist from a national newspaper in Ireland who speaks German?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Der Spiegel on David Berger's opinions

This is the article that appeared in Der Spiegel re David Berger. In many ways it is sensational but alas, accurate.

Harte Worte vom Ex-Herausgeber eines konservativen katholischen Magazins: Der Theologe David Berger behauptet im Gespräch mit dem SPIEGEL, ein "großer Teil der katholischen Kleriker" sei homosexuell. Berger sieht eine Verbindung zwischen verdrängter Sexualität und Schwulenhass.

Hamburg - Der Theologe David Berger, der als korrespondierender Professor für die Päpstlichen Akademie des heiligen Thomas von Aquin in Rom arbeitete, verlangt im Gespräch mit dem SPIEGEL ein Ende der kirchlichen Schwulendiskriminierung: "Es muss anerkannt werden, dass ein großer Teil der katholischen Kleriker und Priesteranwärter in Europa und den Vereinigten Staaten homosexuell veranlagt ist."

Dabei gehe "die größte Schwulenfeindlichkeit in der katholischen Kirche von homophilen Geistlichen aus, die ihre Sexualität krampfhaft verdrängen", meint der inzwischen von seinen Ämtern zurückgetretene Berger. "Offensichtlich werden diejenigen, die ihren Trieben nachgehen, besonders heftig abgelehnt, wenn man die Veranlagung bei sich selbst so schmerzhaft unterdrückt."

Der Theologe, der heute als Gymnasiallehrer bei Köln arbeitet, outete sich im April dieses Jahres, nachdem der Essener Bischof Franz-Josef Overbeck in der Talkshow "Anne Will" während der Debatte um sexuellen Missbrauch Homosexualität als widernatürlich und Sünde bezeichnet hatte. Über seine Erfahrungen in der Kirche hat Berger ein Buch geschrieben, das unter dem Titel "Der heilige Schein. Als schwuler Theologe in der katholischen Kirche" diese Woche erscheint.

Theologe Berger wirft seiner Kirche eine Wagenburgmentalität vor: "Die Angst vor der Welt, vor einer verdorbenen gottlosen Zivilgesellschaft, von der man sich abgrenzen will", führe in eine Isolation und seinen Erfahrungen nach auch zum "Schulterschluss mit Evangelikalen, Bibelfundamentalisten und extrem reaktionären Kräften".

It's the sycophants who landed us in this mess

This column appears in IN&M Irish regional newspapers today.

By Michael Commane
Once I turn on the radio in the morning at 7 it is non-stop bad news about Ireland. Yes, there is a turn-off switch on the radio but that’s analogous to the unwise person who never opens her or his bills when they arrive in the door.

No matter how painful, surely it is important that we know what is happening and why. At last we might now be afforded the opportunity to begin to search for the truth and speak it.

The majority of commentators are up in arms with what is happening in the country. Across the entire spectrum from Joe Duffy callers to the established commentators there is a palpable anger.

Hold on a second. The vast majority of these commentators were telling us some short time ago that we should all go with the flow and they were explaining their reasons with pie charts and PowerPoint. Please give me a break.

There are very few people who ever stand up against those in control and power. It’s not easy to criticise our bosses.

I happen to be a Dominican priest albeit on the fringes. It is natural that I am interested in church life and hierarchical politics. At this stage of my life I know the reality that I am going nowhere on any sort of promotional greasy pole. That’s due to my own inabilities and my refusal to be a good sycophant.

Last December a Capuchin priest, Fr Owen O’Sullivan wrote an article in The Furrow magazine on homosexuality

It was reported in the Irish media that the Vatican has banned Fr O’Sullivan from writing after he suggested homosexuality is ‘simply a facet of the human condition’.

When it comes to banning the written word one thinks of countries such as Burma, China, North Korea and the former Soviet Union and its satellite States.

If you belong to an organisation you are expected to follow the party line. If a politician writes critical material about her or his party it is likely that they will run into trouble with authority. But no political party in a democratic society will admit to banning any member from expressing opinions critical of the party.

Banning someone from expressing her or his opinion is not appropriate in a democratic society. It is certainly not appropriate in a church, which claims to preach the Word of God and is in constant search of truth.

Every society has its norms of behaviour. And in every society the people in control make sure to secure their positions. Some do it in more subtle ways than others. That’s the way of the world.

All my life I was led to believe that our Civil Servants were a special sort of people – the mandarins in Merrion Street knew best and deserved our respect. I have met one or two departmental secretary generals over the years but the idea of questioning a word of what they said was simply not possible. It would have been considered down right rude and even silly.

They make sure we treat them with reverential respect and pay themselves ridiculous salaries.

If our Civil Service was a shadow of what I hade been led to believe how come they never had the conviction or courage to stand up to politicians and speak their mind. They were and are complicit with the mess we are in now.

I don’t claim to be a prophetic person or any different from the ordinary Joe but 20 years ago I asked for an open and honest discussion within the Dominican Order on all matters relating to sexuality. Noting happened and my comments were put down to, ‘ah that’s Michael at it again’.

The support and honesty of a number of friends made the difference.

There is something profoundly wrong with the relationship between the governed and those who govern, between the people in charge and those who are on the margins. And that too is the way of the world.

I’m tired, frustrated and angry too at how people in power and control do their damndest to surround themselves with the best type of sycophants, who know exactly how to massage the egos of their masters and mistresses.

In these dark days we should place great value in the support we get from our friends, who are willing to speak the truth to us.

In this column last week I wrote about how we Irish seem to have a facility to take so much on the chin and are experts at criticising behind closed doors. In a similar way we seem to have a special talent in saying one thing in public and something very different in private. That’s so in all sectors of our society.

I have seen first hand the trickery that goes on among the priestly class. But that goes on in all groups and classes.

I cherish my friends, the ones, who in good times and bad have told me what they believe and have told it to me in charity and honesty.

I have worked as a journalist, a teacher, a press officer, a factory worker and a priest and all I can say is that I have been fortunate to be blessed with great friends. Systems and what they do to people scare me.

Peter Seewald on Pope Benedict

Peter Seewald's book 'Light Of The World' has been published.

If it is anything on his two previous books on Pope Benedict then it is a must. Those two books are simply a fantastic read.

The headline about the book in today's Irish Times is, 'Pope links failure to tackle abuse with 1960s reform'. In the article journalist Paddy Agnew quotes a passage where the pope quotes the Archbishop of Dublin on how he told the pope that ecclesiastical penal law broke down int he 1960s.

That is true but it 'broke down' right across the Catholic Church.

But it would appear to me that there is an underlying issue here that the church simply refuses to discuss. Maybe it cannot.

Human sexuality is a complicated piece of equipment. It is mysterious, it is sacred. From my experience having spent most of my life close to the clerical state it seems there can be something unsound, something worrying, something far too secret about what happens when a group of men live together.

Of course there are amazing priests, who do extraordinary work. But when things go wrong there seems to be little signs of protective/caring/truthful mechanisms to help solve the situation.

And I come back to what I have said for now over 25 years there is link between some sort of sexual orientation that seems 'different' from the norm and an obsessive interest in ritual. It is also mixed with a worrying misogyny.

The behaviour and style that goes on at many of the Latin Mass celebrations has to worry any ordinary person. It has little if anything to do with prayer.

And I can give chapter and verse to support that belief and feel the time is coming to do so.

For the pope to single out Ireland, if he does, is a little worrying. The horrible abuse 'stuff' is not exclusive to Ireland or the US. The worry that I had about Ireland in the mid 1970s were worries that I was forced to consider in Germany in that same time.

There is a problem out there, an issue that the church continues to refuse to discuss. And it is real and it must be discussed.

I believe the problem is getting worse.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

German theologian says many priests are gay

German theologian David Berger in 'Der heilige Schein' (The Holy Illusion), which appears on bookshelves this week argues that widespread homophobia in the Catholic Church stems from a large number of closeted priests.

Berger is an expert on Thomas Aquinas and former publisher of a Catholic magazine.

"It must be acknowledged that a large number of Catholic clerics and men studying for priesthood in Europe and the United States are homosexually-inclined," Berger told 'Der Spiegel'.

"The worst homophobia in the Catholic Church comes from homophile priests, who are desperately fighting their sexuality," he says.

Berger's book looks like an important read.

'The Irish Times' quotes, "As a teenager, I found myself drawn into conservative Catholic circles that included German aristocrats and industrialists. I had to listen to despicable remarks, praising Hitler for having homosexuals imprisoned and murdered in concentration camps."

When someone says or writes something that substantiates or corroborates what a person suspects or believes it is natural that one is 'fortified' in their beliefs.

It seems what Berger is saying is accurate. I have not yet read the book so comment here is based on what has been written in 'Der Speigel' and 'The Irish Times'.

The link to Der Spiegel is,1518,730287,00.html

Of course there is nothing wrong with being gay. But when homosexual men are forced to deny their sexual orientation surely there is a problem. And if there is a 'disproportion' of gay men who are priests, surely then too there is an issues that needs to be discussed.

For many years I have been struck with the link between gay priests who have an obsessive interest in ritual and all things conservative, gossip about clerical appointmentd, the nonsense of Vatican politics.

Chapter and verse to support that argument.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In the long term bans and dishonesty don't work

Last Saturday’s Irish Times carried a report written by Patsy McGarry about a Capuchin priest, Fr Owen O’Sullivan, who, it reports, has been banned by the Vatican from writing.

It is reported that the Vatican has banned Fr O’Sullivan from writing any more of his writings after he suggested homosexuality is ‘simply a facet of the human condition’.

This follows an article on homosexuality by Fr O’Sullivan in The Furrow last December.

When it comes to banning the written word one thinks of countries such as Burma, China, North Korea, the former Soviet Union and its satellite States.

Of course if you belong to an organisation you are expected to follow the party line. Or are you and should you?

If a politician writes critical material about her or his party it is likely that she or he will run into trouble with authority. But no political party in a democratic society will ever admit to banning any member from expressing opinions critical of the party. The party whip might be taken from them.

Banning someone from expressing their opinion is not appropriate in a democratic society. It is certainly not appropriate in a church, which claims to preach the Word of God and is in constant search of truth.

Fr O’Sullivan’s analogy with what it means to be Irish makes for interesting reading.

Wondering out loud, one might well be tempted to ask what about the orientation of those who issue the banning orders. As the church constantly says there is nothing wrong with orientation but what happens when men are forced to deny their orientation? And that is something the hierarchical church continues to do.

The clear and open dishonesty that follows on is profoundly sad and greatly worrying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We do all our criticising behind closed doors

This column appears in today's regional Irish newspapers of IN&M

By Michael Commane
Are we Irish hardwired to sit down and take it all on the chin without ever objecting – at least never in public and where it matters?

In one of my first columns in this space I wrote about a problem with so-called tamper-proof milk bottle seals. The problem still exists and in the last few weeks I have managed to open a number of bottles without breaking the seal.

Some months back I brought the matter to the attention of Lidl and they followed it up and told me the manufacturer was going to improve the seal. I telephoned them last week and told them it was still possible to open the bottle without breaking the seal. In the course of our conversation they told me that I was the only person who had brought this matter to their attention. That flabbergasted me. It is really incredible to think that there is milk and cream out there on shelves which is in bottles that are not tamper proof. I am also amazed and flabbergasted that I am the only person in Ireland who has contacted Lidl on this issue. I also seem to be the only person in Ireland who has contacted Tesco and Dunnes as well. Is that really possible? But we Irish seem to take it all on the chin and say or do nothing.

Is it this sort of mentality, this sort of frame of mind that has us in hock? I’m beginning to think so.

When I showed the bottle to a manager in a Dunnes Stores shop, he curtly dismissed me and told me more or less, so what. He pointed out I had used the cream so how in heavens could I be looking for a replacement.

The bottles are simply not tamper proof, which means they are not safe. There is nothing stopping some sort of deranged person from tampering with one of the bottles. And then what would be the outcry?

Last week a journalist colleague visited me in Dublin. We were waiting for the Luas in Milltown at morning rush hour. The first tram arrived. It was crowded, indeed, so crowded that there was no space to get on. Though it did seem to me that if people moved down the central aisle more passengers could get on. Within minutes the next tram arrived and again it was crowded, especially around the doors. And again there was potential for people to pack in better down the aisle. We managed to get on but no-one was willing to ask the people in the aisle to move in closer. I passed a comment to my colleague and she was mortified that I would say anything and worse still if anyone overheard me complaining. There we go again. The Irish don’t complain in public.

But I have since noticed while travelling on the Luas there are not enough rails and supports onto which passengers can hold. The tram operator, Veolia need to be informed that there is need for more hand grips on the Luas. Who will tell them?

Two weeks ago when I went to buy two rollsin a shop in Dublin. I was surprised to see that they had jumped in price from 39 to 45 cent. I was slow to mention the increase but did ask the assistant why there had been an increase, especially in these times when we are all earning less. I was not happy with the reply so I went off to speak to the manager who was most reasonable and helpful. The following week I was back buying two breakfast rolls. They were selling at their old price of 39 cent each.

See how we can change things.

I’m no economist but anyone with eyes in their head has to be aware of how so many things are wrong in this little island of ours. But somehow or other we are afraid to speak out. We are afraid someone might laugh at us or say something nasty to us.

I remember when benchmarking was introduced saying to myself that it had to be crazy. Where were we going to get the money to pay all those wild increases? Naturally, I had no say. But gosh, I know now where we got the money. We borrowed like mad and now we are in hock.

The mantra said close the sugar factories. We did, all four of them over the years. And now we are being told, oops, that might have been a bad thing.

When last did Ireland have a leader, a prophetic and wise person who truly deserved the title of taoiseach.

And whose fault is that? Your fault and my fault. We are all too timid. No point complaining and criticising in whispers and in secret. We’re experts at that.

And it’s that that has helped destroy the State and the church.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A church of two images

Saturday's Irish Times in its Weekend Review carried an interesting interview with Bishop Willie Walsh.

In the piece Bishop Walsh speaks about clerical sex abuse and points to the age of many of the victims and their gender. The retired bishop is saying something of profound importance and hopefully the hierarchical church will listen to what he is saying.

And then there is the archbishop in Belgium, whose spokesman has resigned. He commented that the archbishop is like someone who is driving the wrong way up the road and argues that all the other cars are going the wrong way.

A wonderful metaphor.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An alleged crime fuelled by alcohol

The story of the radio DJ who is alleged to have committed an offence on an Aer Lingus plane makes it on to all the Irish newspapers today.

There is a photograph in 'The Irish Examiner' of the man driving a motorbike with no helmet. Surely that is an offence.

Not for a moment trying to ameliorate anything concerning the alleged crime, it's yet again another tale linked to alcohol abuse in Ireland.

The alleged act is an appalling crime and the comments made by Pat Kenny are unfortunate and most inappropriate.

Of course it is all linked with terrible arrogance and the idea that there are classes of people to whom the law does not apply. What was it the elderly US lady said about those who pay their taxes?

Why not tell us the drink consumed, the makers of the drink, the shops who supplied the drink?

The metaphor of the crowded Luas

Yesterday I travelled by Luas from Dublin's Milltown to Harcourt Street. It was morning rush hour and the trams were filled to capacity. People were packed together around the doors.
It was impossible to board the tram.

The next one came within seconds. It too was crowded but there was some room. Again, people were packed around the door areas. But down the aisle it was clear to see that people could move closer together so as to allow more people to board. But no-one said a word. They simply allowed it be so.

Something about the Irish, we take so much, say nothing and then when we go home, or in our own private space criticise.

Is that part of the reason why the IMF are about to board a Lufthansa service from Frankfurt-am-Main to Dublin?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey

Henrik Ibsen's 'John Gabriel Borkman' is running in Dublin's Abbey Theatre at present. It has been adapted by Frank McGuinness and stars Fiona Shaw and Alan Rickman.

The banking aspect to the theme makes it apposite and relevant in today's Ireland.

Well worth seeing.

Is it saying that all forms of happiness are ultimately delusional?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Loki Schmidt dies at 91

For most of us our view or appreciation of politicians is garnered from what we read and see on television about them. We never really know much about them, who they are and what they think. We are all fed PR and spin.

Probably it is analogous to that horrible modern 'role model' expression that every celebrity is expected to have.

While we might find the role model idea as a load of bunkum, most of us probably deep down have our heroes.

In today's Irish Times there is a photo of Helmut Schmidt at the funeral service of his wife Loki. The pain and sadness expressed in his face must be a real and true depiction of the loss he has experienced.

As an ordinary punter, an outsider looking at the world of politics, it was clear that the tough German chancellor, the man who had no time for nonsense had an extraordinary relationship with 'Loki'. They were an inseparable pair and that bond is so well captured in the picture. That can't be PR, spin, whatever.

Helmut Schmidt must have loved Loki, who died on October 21 at 91 years of age.

They had been married for 68 years. They married in 1942. The groom, an officer in the Wehrmacht had returned from the Russian front.

In their home in Hamburg there is a photograph of a children's party from 1929. Loki had won a cherry eating competition against five boys. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that turned into a great love story.

The micro sneaky increases no one talks about

We are all being told to expect to earn less. We are all being asked to sacrifice. We are all being told that we pay ourselves too much.

All true.

On Saturday I bought a breakfast roll. It cost 45 cent - an increase of six cent on the previous week.

Today I travelled by Luas to work. The fare from Milltown to Harcourt Street was €2The last time I travelled on that section the fare was less.

And not a word, at least I have read or heard nothing about the Luas increase. I have no control over the macro economics but if you and I decided these increases are simply not fair then why aer we all so silent.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Googling can be another word for plagiarisng

The article below appears this week in the Irish regional newspapers of Independent Newspapers.

A person who has a twitter address tweets. Anyone who uses email sends and receives electronic mail. If you have broadband it means you can stream quite easily. People are uploading and downloading. Websites are part of everyday reality. You can choose your own server and can also have a domain name. Skyping is a great way to make cheap phone calls. And then everyone is googling. The world is full of googlers. I nearly forgot to mention apps.

Have I excluded anything? I hope not. Never mentioned iPhones and iPads. What about virtual reality? And then there is a matter of how many dpis in the jpg.

Modern jargon, buzzwords and cutting edge technology. What do you think?

Earlier this year a young German woman was awarded a prestigious prize for a book that she wrote. It transpired that she turned on her computer, maybe even or Iphone and “researched” much of the material. What she really did was plagiarised or in more understandable terms, copied or “cogged” much of the material she later presented as her own original thought.

When she was confronted on the issue, her simple reply was that that’s the way of the world today and that her work represented a new genre in modern literature. Anyone who sits down in front of a blank page or screen and has the discipline to write thousands of words deserves praise and respect.

Some weeks ago I picked up a recently published book.

I’m sure the author is widely read and is familiar with literature from the medieval period, the classics, theology, philosophy, Anglo-Irish and modern Irish literature. Somehow or other I find it hard to get my head around the idea that anyone could have such a wide and universal appreciation of literature.

The book, sorry, almost every page, had references to Goethe, Joyce, Kipling Thomas Aquinas, Socrates, Aristotle, biblical tags, St Francis de Sales, Scott Fitzgerald, Madeline L’Engle, TS Eliot. Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Just two more, WB Yeats and Kathleen Morris.

I became enraged reading it and threw it on the floor. Why? Is it possible that the author could be at home with all these authors – and there were many more – that he had the facility to dip into their thought and use it as back-up in explaining his argument? Pace Goldsmith’s village schoolmaster, wondered “that one small head could carry all he knew”. (OK, I admit it, I googled that, but just to check that I had it right).

Or is it that it was an exercise in internet searches? Because you can google anything. It really is as simple as that.

Some weeks before I read the book I heard someone say that she constantly tweets, skypes, emails and texts. And then came, what for me was the bombshell, she said that when she could not think up something to say, she would download material from other people and then tweet it, email it, send it via SMS and maybe even skype it.

Back in the 1960s UK computer firm, ICT, built a large building near Dublin’s Harcourt Street to house their new computer. I remember being shown around it and really could not take in what it was all about. I just knew that the computer people, who worked and managed it, were very clever. Yet the machine, which filled that room had probably less capacity than the smallest modern laptop. Of course it is truly extraordinary.

When I was in my 20s I messed about with telephones and while living in Rome helped install a crossbar telephone exchange with automatic dial-up telephones in individual rooms. It was all mechanical stuff that required wire strippers, a soldering iron, screwdrivers and hammers too to assemble.

Today I can hardly turn on an iPhone never mind download apps. These days 12 and 14-year-olds do all that sort of stuff with amazing ease.

I’m always asking myself who are the geniuses who develop, design and implement this amazing technological hardware and software too.

Is it that we should all take it for granted and just simply use it? Of course there is no going back. That’s clear. But I have to say I for one am nervous about how googling can make plagiarising or simple copying respectable.

Modern technology has given us extraordinary possibilities. It is changing the face of the earth. And yet there are one billion people without enough food to eat today and we in the West are in one hell of an economic mess.

Not a word of this googled but I did read it to a friend who told me that Brendan Behan described reality as an illusion caused by the absence of alcohol. So what’s virtual reality?

And the reality is I am emailing this column to the editor.

Interesting how someone who uses twitter is not a twit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Report to point finger at German foreign service

An historical report to be published this week will show the link between the German foreign service and the Nazi party.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in an interview on German television on Sunday evening said the report was worrying and would be carefully studied.

The report points to a link between the foreign service of the Federal Republic and former Nazis.

The genesis of the report goes back to the period of Joschka Fischer as foreign minister when he prohibited an obituary of a West German diplomat to be published because of his links with the Nazis. His ruling was set aside by the foreign service and the obituary appeared.

The father of former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, Ernst von Weizsäcker, while state secretary under Hitler reportedly told a Swiss ambassador in 1938 that, “The Jews will have to leave Germany, otherwise they will, one way or the other, be simply confronted with their own destruction’.

von Weizsäcker was ambassador in Switzerland when Thomas Mann wrote an article in a Swiss newspaper critical of the Nazis. In a report to Berlin, he recommended that Mann be stripped of his German citizenship.

If what this report has to say is true, then it is shocking. And yet in another sense not at all. Institutions, whatever their hue will always do what they can to survive.

And then to think how we doff our caps at those in power and authority.

In the current economic disaster in Ireland there is so far little criticism of our civil service. These are the women and men who since the foundation of the State have been considered the ‘mandarins’. They are often referred to as the ‘permanent government’

They receive preferential treatment, paid phenomenal salaries.

Was it that they simply kowtowed to their political masters or was it that they were incompetent?

One way or another they were and are simply part of the nomenclature.

Can anyone ever reach a position of the most insignificant power without selling their soul in some way or other to the institution which feeds them, church or State?

It is a shocking reality.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time to cut out all the waste and stop calling rail passengers customers

The piece below appears in the regional newspapers of IN&M today.

By MIchael Commane
My father was born in 1909, before the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and five years before the outbreak of the First World War.

It was another world, different times. I’m old enough to remember the arrival of electricity at my grand-uncle’s farm in Tipperary in the late 1950s.

Maybe it was because it was something new for him but my father for all 95 years of his life never understood why people would leave a light on in a room if there was no on in the room. Indeed, many is the row we had about it. In my ignorance at the time I would point out that it costs as much turning on and off lights and anyway leaving lights on help make our environment more positive. Silly I.

I have a wheelbarrow at home, which my father repaired well over 20 years ago. It still works and is in great use these days when I am raking up the autumn leaves in the garden.

My father wasted nothing. Washers and screws were a protected species that were safely stored in jars in the shed. When it came to fixing things such as a wheelbarrow the necessary material for the job was always at hand.

Back in the 1950s he built a pathway to park his car, 50 years later it is exactly as it was on completion. Not one single crack in the cement.
Up to very recently I fixed all my bicycle punctures. If he knew that I was now leaving the bike down to a bicycle shop for them to throw out the punctured tube to replace it with a new one he would turn in his grave.

For the last 20 to 30 years it was considered silly, mean, old fashioned to fix things. It was the era of throwing things out. We invented the skip.

When one looks back in history to think of those inventions that were significant in the affairs of mankind, most of us will mention the wheel.

Maybe the advent of the skip had its inevitable progression to the €35/€50 billion banking disaster that has led us to chronic bankruptcy.
It has been the bankers, the PR gurus, those slick and fast speaking exquisitely groomed women and men who ‘explained’ that waste, profligacy and actually skips were moving Ireland ‘forward’.

They won the day and the debate and we all realised the folly of keeping, saving and repairing. So we kept all the lights on, wasted as much as we could and anytime we needed money we borrowed it from those polite people in the bank. This was the new order and it was only fools and morons who were not ‘up-to-speed’ who were sadly ‘missing the boat’.

It went great for years and years. And then smack, it all collapsed.
It’s hard to change people’s ways. Naturally the movers and shakers still want to see us all as consumers – people/clowns who buy their products and make them rich or at least give them a few bob to offset their loans and debts.

Last week while shopping in a supermarket I was buying a loaf of bread. The display date was the previous day. Guess what, the bread would have to be binned. I asked to see a manager and it was explained to me that they could not sell me the bread. After some words between us I was given the bread, free of cost.

How much is wasted every day in our State?

Recently the Minister for Finance pointed out that anger will get us nowhere. He probably is right. It certainly will not get us out of this mess. But standing up to so many mad mantras that have been spewing out of the mouths of clowns might well bring us back to earth and get us to begin acting in a way that simply follows the rules of common sense.

Why in God’s name should we not fix a puncture, turn off a light in an empty room and stop wasting food?

Have you ever noticed how those slick and fast speaking exquisitely groomed women and men insist on calling us customers. At Heuston Station the PA system keeps telling us we are customers. I hate it because I am not a customer. When I am on a train I am a passenger and not a victim of marauders trying to pick my pockets.

It’s that nonsense that has been part of the ingredient that has led us to where we are. We have manufactured our own disaster and sadly allowed ourselves to be fooled so easily. And guess what, we are not going to change. Gombeen men and women that we sure are.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Arrival of Deutsche Bahn ICE in London's St Pancras changes European travel for ever

Today an Inter City Express of German Railways (DB) arrives at London's St Pancras International Terminal.

It is naturally an historic day in the history of European railways.

It is a test train and schedule services are due to begin in 2013.

German Railways have concluded their takeover of Arriva.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Catholic newspaper refers to 'irrational and bigoted comments' on Irish Times website

Why is it that so many Catholic newspapers give an impression of oozing with anger?

This week's Irish Catholic has page after page condemning the media.

The current issue of Alive refers to those who leave comments on The Irish Times website as being bigoted, virulent, irrational, extremist and thuggish.

That same newspaper criticises Amnesty International and makes unfortunate comments about the salary paid to its CEO.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

World cameras on miners as they see daylight

The Chile miners have stolen the hearts of thew world.

I have seldom if ever watched morning TV and yet this morning I was glued to the TV watching the scene at the mine.

The first miner in his press conference above ground stressed the importance of love and spoke about a man's love for his wife and children. He also spoke about his belief in God.

BBC News 24 certainly was an antidote this morning for RTE Radio 1 News and the travails of taoiseach Brian Cowen

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Metro North should be binned now

The controversy concerning the metro to Dublin Airport grows.

I am neither an economist nor a politician but it seems the building of such a metro is simply an extravagance that we cannot afford or need.

Why not build a spur from the Malahide line to the airport? There is already a tunnel linking Heuston to Connolly stations.

Irish Rail seem to argue that the tunnel is not a runner as there is not enough platform space at Connolly. It sounds far too weak an argument Why not develop Connolly?

Michael O'Leary is right, there is not need at all for Metro North.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Irish media catches up on events in Stuttgart

Eventually an Irish newspaper carries the story of the demonstrations in the German city of Stuttgart.

Today's Irish Times carries the story about the protests against Stuttgart 21.

The IT says the police used pepper spray, water canon and tear gas. Police authorities in Baden Wuerttemberg deny that their officers used tear gas.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stuttgart blackout in Irish media

It seems there is not a word in the Irish media today about the demonstrations in the German city of Stuttgart.

Yesterday the prime minister of Baden Wurttenberg said that the project has to go ahead because the decision has been made by the legitimately elected parliament. He argued that Germany is a constitutional democracy and no demonstration could alter that. He went on to say that the police were called out to protect the building site where work had begun on Thursday.

Anyone who saw pictures streaming out of Stuttgart will have been moved by what they saw. The attire of the German police will have shocked people all over Europe.

Angela Merkel is so far supporting the B-W prime minister but cracks are appearing in Berlin.

And not a word in the Irish media of tens of thousands taking to the streets in Stuttgart.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Police confront Stuttgart 21 demonstrators

Yesterday tens of thousands of citizens of Stuttgart came in direct confrontation with the German police.

For weeks now there has been a dispute going on in the city concerning the development of Stuttgart 21. This is the project that plans building a new main rail station underground.

A growing number of people have been demonstrating against the project arguing that it is a waste of money and not at all necessary.

Last night it came to a major confrontation. The first trees were knocked. The people demonstrated and over a thousand German police responded, with pepper spray and water canon. Anyone who has seen the confrontation on television is surely moved by the ferocity of the police action.

The demonstrators came from right across Stuttgart society, pensioners, elderly women and men. They were not rowdies - indeed similar people to those who demonstrated 21 years ago in Leipzig.

One woman who was there spoke with passion of the brutality of the police and shocked that this could happen German citizens on German soil.

And this to happen in the days celerbarting the 20th anniversary of German re-unification.

It is interesting to compare what is happening in Stuttgart and the passion of the people with how we in Ireland are responding to our economic apocalyptic situation.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tea Party clerics

Fr Simon Sleeman OSB - his mother has been in the news of late - was on the John Murray Show on RTE Radio One this morning. It made for interesting listening.

Well worth a listen. I bet Simon Sleeman is not a Tea Party man.

How much can you tell from a person's voice?

The Tea Party people are flying. There seems to be many similarities between them and a new mood within priesthood.

I see Newt Gingrich - the man who has spent years campaigning for 'solid family values' has been married at least three times and left one of his wives in quite extraordinary fashion.

Come to think about it the Tea Party people and the men of Latin have a great deal in common.

Climbing Mount Brandon on a clear day

The column below appears in all INM regional titles in Ireland today.

By Michael Commane
It’s well I was not up partying until the small hours on the Friday after the Junior Cert results were published, as it would have made for a tough day ahead.

Although I had not been to bed until 01.00 or so I was down to school on my bike for English class at nine. But before getting to the classroom the school principal sidled up to me and asked me if I would accompany the transition year up Mount Brandon. It was 08.50 and planned departure time was 09.15. It meant I had to dash home, make a sandwich, get clothes for the mountain and put on a pair of boots.
We were at the base of the mountain circa 09.45. Our guide was there waiting for us and we set off at 10.10.

There were 16 of us, 14 students, our guide and yours truly. It must be about 10 years since I was up the mountain. While I am on a bicycle every day and do a fair share of walking and swimming, I am 61 and it had been some time since I had been out climbing.

Before getting off the bus I did say to the students that I did not want to hear one vulgar word on the mountain.

They had received their Junior Cert results on the Wednesday and as you can imagine, they were full of the joys of life. None of them had been up the mountain before so I presumed we would be pulling and coaxing some of them up to the top. Nothing of the sort. I was flabbergasted with how fit they were and somewhat embarrassed that it was I who had to be pulled and coaxed. Well not really. But still they were as fit as fiddles.

It was a perfect day. We could see for miles and miles. Yes, I know we have gone metric but miles are far more descriptive than kilometres in this context.

We got to the top at 12.30 where we had our lunch and took a 30-minute break.
They really were a special group of students. It has often struck me with young Irish students how they seem to have little or no interest in anything to do with nature or art. It seems as if everything is a bore for them and all they want is a McDonalds and a shopping spree. The moment we reached the top ridge on Brandon I heard one of the 15-year-old students express his wonder and awe at the sheer beauty of what lay all around him. It really was a great moment.

The entire operation was really a magical experience. Everything went perfectly. Maybe it had something to do with the professionalism of our guide Noel from Irish Adventures in Dingle. He was most impressive and had that gift of being totally in control and yet at the same time managing to merge so perfectly with the young people he was guiding up the mountain. Never once during the walk did he have to shout or discipline anyone. That was probably a mixture of the attitude of the group and the guide’s professionalism.

We arrived back in the car park at the base of Mount Brandon at 14.50. Mission accomplished. We had been to the top of the second highest mountain in Ireland. At 952 metres (3,123 feet) on a day of blue skies and not a sign of a whiff of wind. Incredible good fortune.

On the pole at the top of the mountain was a red and white flag blowing ever so gently. Some of the group were not at all happy. It was two days before the All-Ireland. I tried to explain that it was good for the game to spread around the honours!

The behaviour of the students was impeccable. Never once during our five hours on the mountain was there a hint of misbehaviour. Of course they are not saints. No one is. But I was greatly impressed with both their attitude and behaviour. I was impressed with their fitness and their support for one another. No one was left behind, well maybe, except for me! Nobody sulked. It really was a perfect day.
Our school is a small 130-student school in West Kerry. I have taught in in a number of schools and am forever impressed with the good nature of the vast majority of our school-going students.

But there is something special about this school in West Kerry. Maybe it is that it is a small school. No doubt economists and politicians will tell us that schools have to cater for large numbers so as to be viable. Surely it is a matter of what is best for the children.

And to boot our school is not a fee paying school.
Not once in the course of the day did I hear one bad or vulgar word. They kept their word. That too is important.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hints of a hankering for yesterday's style

How the world changes, or does it?

Back in the Ireland of the 1950s a priest called almost every day to a professional couple. It eventually dawned on the lady of the house that father was calling for his daily glass of whiskey. He called most days at 11am.

On one occasion he was asked if he would deliver a parcel for the couple. He replied that he never carried parcels.

Fast forward to today and try to understand the priest who when he is asked to wash dishes explains that his hands are the hands of an ordained minister.

Of course there are amazing, hard working priests. But the worry is that there seems to be a terrible hankering for the old ways of the 'parcel-style' priest, especially with the men who play Latin.

Simply a story with a lovely ending

The piece below appears on the front page of today's Irish Times.

THE FOUNDER of the Sisters of St Joseph, who will be canonised as Australia’s first saint next month, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1871 after exposing a paedophile Irish priest, it has been revealed.

Australian television has reported that Sr Mary MacKillop discovered that children were being abused by Fr Patrick Keating in the Kapunda parish near Adelaide in south Australia.

She told Josephites director Fr Julian Tenison-Woods about the abuse. It was then reported to the vicar general and Fr Keating was sent back to Ireland, where he continued to serve as a priest.

Fr Charles Horan, a Galway man who was a colleague of Fr Keating, swore revenge on Sr MacKillop and her order. After only four years as a nun, she was excommunicated by Adelaide’s bishop Laurence Shiel, who was originally from Wexford.

She was turned out on the street with no money and nowhere to go.

Five months later, though, on his deathbed, Bishop Shiel instructed that Sr MacKillop be absolved and restored.

Fr Paul Gardiner, who has advocated for Sr MacKillop’s canonisation for 25 years, said Fr Horan had been working for Bishop Shiel and had urged him to break up the Josephites. When Sr MacKillop, who was then aged 29, refused, she was banished from the church. “She submitted to a farcical ceremony where the bishop had . . . lost it,” Fr Gardiner said.

“He was a puppet being manipulated by malicious priests. This sounds terrible, but it’s true.”

In 2009, 100 years after Sr MacKillop’s death, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide publicly apologised to the Sisters of St Joseph for her wrongful excommunication.

“On behalf of myself and the archdiocese, I apologise to the sisters . . . for what happened to them in the context of the excommunication, when their lives and their community life was interrupted and they were virtually thrown out on the streets . . . This was a terrible thing,” he said.

After being reinstated by the Catholic Church, Sr MacKillop became known for her work with disadvantaged children, female ex-prisoners and prostitutes.

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995 following a Vatican decree that in 1961, a Sydney woman was cured of leukaemia through Sr MacKillop’s intercession. The second miracle required for sainthood occurred in the mid-1990s when a woman sent home from hospital to die due to inoperable lung and brain cancer was cured.

The family of Cork man David Keohane, who was beaten almost to death in Sydney in 2008, said his waking from a coma in Cork University Hospital in March last year was due to their praying to Sr MacKillop.

“All we can really say is that faith in Mary MacKillop helped them to get through this,” Steve Carey, a Keohane family friend, said at the time.

Sr MacKillop, who was born in Melbourne to Scottish immigrant parents in 1842 and died in Sydney in 1909, will be canonised by Pope Benedict in Rome on October 17th.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ominous whispers at Irish Rail

Blogging is a notorious vehicle for spreading unfounded rumour and general gossip. It gives crazy people a chance to go public.

The following item may well be 'unfounded rumour' and 'general gossip'.

Is there something terribly amiss at Irish Rail?

Among the workforce there is unstoppable gossip about the condition of the new fleet of trains that Irish Rail bought from CAF in Spain.

The original design allowed for a cab and power unit at each end. Irish Rail modified the train to allow them to attach their GM locos to the train. It means the train unit is a push pull operation.

The story among many of the workers is that it is not working and the modified train is digging up the track.

Certainly it is fact that they have had to modify the bogies.

Staff who have to walk through the train are complaining that because of the rocking, it is now becoming a health risk.

The trains are far too unstable on the track as per current running.

And the other whisper is that the company is right now haemorrhaging.

Anyone notice how the on board cleaning has been terminated?

Are there many Anglo Irish Banks in Ireland?

A better logic needs to be applied to their online sales. You can travel on the 09.15ex Tralee Heuston train for €12. If you buy a ticket to Connolly from Tralee on the asme train using the same online booking system the charge is over €60.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From ECB to London with a DB ICE

On October 19 an Inter City Express of German Railways (DB) will arrive at London's St Pancras International Terminal.

It is expected by late 2013 trains will be running between Frankfurt-am-Main and London. Journey time will be under four hours. And then it will be on to Berlin.

German Railways is State owned as is the track.

New man in charge of Dominican Order

Bruno Cadoré, the new man in charge of the Dominican Order has his roots in the West Indies. His grandfather emigrated to France from Martinique.

According to someone who has met him, he combines simplicity with a deep wisdom.

He says about the new man, "He combines a lovely simplicity with a deep wisdom. I like most of all his good human qualities, yes, Christian qualities. After his novitiate he spent some time in Haiti. He says that it was where he first began to appreciate what the Gospel is about.

The nonsense of queueing

This article appears in Ireland today in the regional newspapers of Independent News and Media.

By Michael Commane
Cycling in Dublin last week close to midnight I spotted a queue outside an Xtra Vision shop. I was cycling from Heuston Station to the south side of the city. It wasn’t just late and dark, but it was also wet and windy and there they were standing in a queue. I could not believe my eyes and kept cycling. Curiosity got the better of me so I stopped and asked two young ‘fellas’ what was up. They were not in the queue but across the road and were clued in to what was going on. They told me that those outside the shop were queuing to buy a new computer game that was about to be launched. I expressed my bewilderment to the two ‘fellas’ and they also thought it hilarious and expressed what a weird sight it was, especially because of the night that was in it. It was 15 minutes away from midnight on a wet windy autumn night in Dublin.

This queueing business has developed a whole life of its own. Or has it?
Back in the boom times, remember those days, there were queues for knock-down bargain-price houses. The houses were selling for well under €1 million!
Some months back I spotted not a small queue outside an Aldi shop. It was about 30 minutes before the shop was due to open. The ‘queuers’ had obviously seen there were special offers about to go on sale and they wanted to be in first to get their hands on them.

What struck me was that none of those in the queue looked particularly happy. You would imagine they would be a type of ‘professional queuer’ who made it their business to pick up bargains wherever available and that they should be full of the joys of life and delighted with the great bargains they pick up. Not so at all. I was also struck by their dress. There was nothing special or elegant about how they were attired.

The phenomenon of Aldi and Lidl offering special bargains alongside their usual groceries seems to have given men the possibility of becoming shopaholics.
A friend of mine has a roomful of unopened gadgets bought at Lidl and Aldi. I have designed a new modus operandi for myself when I am in these shops. If I spend more than ten seconds thinking about buying a particular item, then I don’t need it and walk on.

That’s not always easy.

But the queues are around a long time. Those early New Year bargains that begin on December 26 get people planning their queue strategy on Christmas Day.
Just examine the money that is spent on advertising and you would want to be a fool to think that we are not all influenced by smart slogans no matter how single-minded we might think we are.

And then once you are hooked on some brand or other it is most unusual to change.
It’s easy enough for me to scratch my head and wonder at people queuing in the rain and wind at midnight but one way or another we are all children of the world of advertising.

When I was a child the clothes label was inside the garment and if it appeared on the outside it would be a source of laughter and derision. These days it has to be on the outside. Not just on the outside, but screaming at you. Free advertising for which the customer pays.

And then there are all the various brands and branding. Companies spend large sums of money branding their product. In my childhood, branding had all to do with sheep.
The times they are a-changing. Of course things are forever changing and that’s the way of the world. But just as we are asking serious questions these days about where our leaders and bankers have brought us, is it not time to ask some questions about the world of advertising? Have we all been driven crazy by an ephemeral quicksand that is silly beyond words.

To queue for a computer game at midnight in the wind and rain has to be a nonsense.
And then I was back thinking again about my own childhood and how people queued in church pews to go to confession. Is there simply something in the human psyche that forces us to queue and look for those fleeting bargains whether in terra firma or in the sky?

Every time I see a queue at an ATM I think back at the confession queues. Can I dare ask the question whether or not we are better off queueing at an ATM or outside a confessional?

One way or another queueing at midnight in the wind and rain in autumnal Ireland has to be crazy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pope Benedict talks of Newman the priest

Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in Birmingham today. At the Mass John Henry Newman was beatified.

Pope Benedict began his sermon by referring to the sacrifice made by the people of Britain in defeating nazi Germany. It was a moving and poignant introduction to his words. He spoke about how the writings of Newman are relevant for the teaching of faith today and how Newman saw the importance of the link between faith and reason.

He concluded by referring to Newman the priest, who cared for the sick and the old and how they turned out in large numbers to attend his funeral.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kasper, Pope Benedict, the razzmatazz

British television is giving extensive coverage to Pope Benedict's official visit to Scotland and Wales.

The more one reads and sees about the visit surely the more confused one becomes.
How much of my Catholic faith, the faith I inherited from my parents, a numbers game?

What is Walter Kasper saying? Is this all choreographed high diplomatic strategy or is it style from an organisation that is inept?

And then there is something sad about Dr Paisley and his demonstration.

Do all the Catholic spokespersons appearing on television and radio really believe all of what they are saying?

The razzmatazz that seems such an integral part of the visit seems so far removed from faith, even from what Bavarian born Josef Ratzinger believes.

It's confusing.

The piece below is from a Guardian blog.

Cardinal Walter Kasper's sudden diplomatic illness tells us almost as much about the Vatican's real plans as his undiplomatic remarks to a German news magazine. In an interview with Focus, he said that "an aggressive new atheism has spread through Britain. If, for example, you wear a cross on British Airways, you are discriminated against."

Kasper is normally one of the Vatican's more diplomatic and emollient figures. He spent years negotiating with the Church of England. He was the man the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, rang up in a rage when plans emerged for a mass defection to the Roman Catholic Church of Anglican opponents to women priests.

Yet he was also the man who in 2008 urged the Anglican communion to take a stand against homosexuality. And his remarks fit into a conservative view of Britain, one which would have appealed to John Henry Newman in his conservative moods. And it is Newman who the pope has come here to beatify.

Britain today, said Kasper, is "a secular and pluralist country. Sometimes, when you land at Heathrow, you think you have entered a third world country."

The standard liberal remedies for the church's decline hold no attraction for the cardinal. "Look at the Protestant churches," he said: "They have married priests and women priests, too. Are they doing better? The Church of England has also taken on terrible problems with these developments. I wouldn't wish those problems on my church."

This is not only stupefyingly tactless, and wrong (the Church of England has 600 priests in training, half of them women; the Roman Catholic church has 39 priests in training), it is also bizarre, in view of the pope's initiative last year to welcome married Anglican clergy, if they are opposed to women priests.

The Church of England, Kasper believes, has been brought to the point of schism and collapse by compromise with the spirit of the age. He says: "There is a crisis of values and direction in western society which has its roots in the Enlightenment, and was given added impetus by the radical movements of the 60s. And because the churches live in this society, their faith is weakened."

This view will horrify many English Catholics. For the liberals in the English church, the reforming Second Vatican Council of the 60s opened the church to learning from the outside world, and the last two popes have attempted to drag down again the iron shutters which once kept the church distinct. But to Pope Benedict and his circle, the council showed it had learned all the necessary lessons of the 500 years since the Reformation. Now it is time once more for the world to learn from the church.

This view has a certain lunatic consistency. By blaming almost everything wrong with the church on liberalism and acoustic guitars, it pushes into the future any consideration of whether things will get better when those have been extirpated. It sets up the Catholic church as defender of European identity against Islam, and against secularism. The restoration of the Latin mass is also, partly, an attempt to restore Europe to its Christian roots by establishing a living ritual that appears to go back centuries.

All this, I think, is what the Vatican really believes it is up to, and Kasper just blurted it out. What his sudden mysterious illness adds to the picture is that it is determined that there should be no diplomatic incidents on this trip – and that it still has no clue how to avoid them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not a good day for Ireland

On the day that tens of thousands of Irish young people receive their Junior Cert results and an agency of the State will advise them and their parents not to abuse alcohol, the taoiseach appears on the front page of every Irish newspapers looking and sounding inebriated.

Brian Cowen seems a decent, intelligent and good man but that he has to tell us that he was not drunk is a sad day for Ireland.

How many nurses, teachers, plumbers, farmers, doctors, all of us who are paying the new hardship levy, could stay partying until 03.00 and have a work engagement at 08.30 that morning?

What does it say about those who are out batting for him?

The comments from the Minister for Justice are simply not acceptable.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The terrible and absurd redundant apostrophe

The Irish Times has in recent weeks done a series on spotting errors. They published their results in yesterday's paper. And they had the good grace to spot their own errors too.

The sentence below with nine words has two typos/grammatical errors appears on a website. Irish Dominican website.

Please also have a look at our others video's

And why uppercase priest, chapter, province? After all we don't uppercase plumber, meeting and county. Are priests, chapter and province different from the rest of the human race?

The man from the Bundesbank

The link below is well worth a read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rooney makes it in The Star and Alive

Yesterday's Irish Daily Star carried a story on soccer ace Wayne Rooney on its front page.

"Apart from red-faced Roo, fame-hungry vice girl Jenny Thompson scored with 13 other soccer aces - six defenders, three midfielders and four stirkers". One of two paragraphs on its front page.

This is the same Wayne Rooney who recently appeared on a lead page of Alive newspaper. Alive is a fundamentalist style right wing newspaper that says it is Catholic in content.

Alive pictured Wayne Rooney with a Rosary beads around his neck and in the blurb the reader was told what his faith meant for him.

In the current issue of Alive there is a short piece on a poll taken in Germany showing that the Germans want to leave the euro and put the Mark back in their pockets.

The newspaper is a collection of hate pieces that are most disturbing. Anytime it can find anyone or anything that seems to support its 'cause', they appear as some sort of role models.

Every page of the newspaper contains hate stories and many of them are wrapped up in a sexual context.

Thankfully there is a statment at the bottom of the front page distancing itself from the Irish Dominican province.

Featured Post

No comment from bishop

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