Thursday, March 31, 2011

Son of an infamous man

Earlier this year 'The Independent' (UK) ran a story about a German ex priest who was alledged to have sexually and physically abused children while working in a school. He denies the allegation.

As a young priest he worked in the Belgian Congo. He later requested to work in Argentina. His request was refused.

He returned to Germany, retired from priesthood, had a serious road accident near the Spessart, married an ex Dominican sister.

He is now in his early 80s.

He was baptised Adolf Martin Bormann, later known as Martin Bormann.

His father, Martin Bormann, was Adolf Hitler's secretary.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pitched by leprechauns for leprechauns

What is it about Ireland? We seem doomed before we begin.

On Saturday our soccer team played in Dublin.

The pitch was in a shocking state. This on a brand new stadium. That same evening the Germans played in perfect conditions in a stadium near Mainz. It was like a carpet and Dublin was a dump. And not a word from the well paid FAI officials.

Who allowed that happen on Saturday in Lansdowne Road. Sorry we are not allowed call it that name.

A land of leprechauns.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A theology of contrition

The article below found its way on this blog. Again too long for this medium but well worth a read.

By Herbert McCabe OP
It is very odd that people should think that when we do good God will reward us and when we do evil he will punish us. I mean it is very odd that Christians should think this, that God deals out to us what we deserve.

It is not, I suppose, really odd that other people should; I suppose it is the commonest way of thinking of God, for God tends to be just a great projection into the sky of our moral feelings, especially our guilt feelings. But I don’t believe in God if that’s what he is, and it is very odd that any Christian should, since
there is so much in the gospels to tell us differently. You could say that the main theme of the preaching of Jesus is that God isn’t like that at all.

Take the famous parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). In this, the younger son goes to a distant country far from his father and squanders all his father’s gifts in debauchery and generally having a high old time. After a bit he sees himself for what he is, so as to say, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”

What his sin has done is to alter his whole relationship with his father; instead of being a son he now should be treated as one who gets his wages, gets exactly what he deserves. But there are two things here; there is the fact that this is what his sin has done, and there is the fact that he recognises this. To make sure you see that this is the crucial point of the story, Luke has it repeated twice. The vital thing is that the son has recognised his sin for what it is: something that changes God into a paymaster, or a judge.

Sin is something that changes God into a projection of our guilt, so that we don’t see the real God at all; all we see is some kind of judge. God (the whole meaning and purpose and point of our existence) has become a condemnation of us. God has been turned into Satan, the accuser of man, the paymaster, the one who weighs our deeds and condemns us.

It is very odd that so much casual Christian thinking should be a worship of Satan that we should think of the punitive satanic God as the only God available to the sinner. It is very odd that the view of God as seen from
the Church should ever be simply the view of God as seen from hell. For damnation must be just being fixed in this illusion, stuck forever with the God of the Law, stuck forever with the God provided by our sin.

It is the great characteristic of sinners that they do not know that they are sinners, that they refuse to accept and believe that they are sinners. On the contrary, they have found all the ways of justifying and excusing themselves. The whole conversation in hell consists of the damned telling each other how it is all a terrible mistake and they should not be there at all because they are righteous and virtuous. The desperate boredom of this must be the pain of hell, but the thing that constitutes hell is that God can’t be seen. All that can be seen is this vengeful punitive God who is Satan.

The younger son in the story has escaped hell because he has seen his sin for what it is. He has recognised what this does to his vision of God: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands” (Luke 15:19). And, of course, as soon as he really accepts that he is a sinner, he ceases to be one; knowing that you have sinned is contrition or forgiveness, or whatever you like to call it. The rest of the story is not about the father forgiving his son, it is about the father celebrating, welcoming his son with joy and feasting. This is all the real God ever does, because God, the real God, is just helplessly and hopelessly in love with us. He is unconditionally in love with us.

His love for us doesn’t depend on what we do or what we are like. He doesn’t care whether we are sinners or not. It makes no difference to him. He is just waiting to welcome us with joy and love. Sin doesn’t alter God’s attitude to us; it alters our attitude to him, so that we change him from the God who is simple love and nothing else, into this punitive ogre, this Satan.

Sin matters enormously to us if we are sinners; it doesn’t matter at all to God. In a fairly literal sense he doesn’t give a damn about our sin. It is we who give the damns. We damn ourselves because we would rather justify and excuse ourselves, and look on our self-flattering images of ourselves, than be taken out of ourselves by the infinite love of God.

Contrition or forgiveness (remember that it is we who forgive ourselves) is almost the exact opposite of excusing ourselves. It is a matter of accusing ourselves – for now the sons of man (people, human beings) have power on earth to forgive sins, power to recognise sin for what it is and so abolish it. Contrition, or forgiveness, is self-knowledge, the terribly painful business of seeing ourselves as what and who we are: how mean, selfish, cruel and indifferent and infantile we are.

The younger son recognises a truth: that his sin had made him into a wage earner, one who gets his deserts. And in the simple recognition of that, his sin is no more. Contrast him with the elder son: “I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command” (Luke 15:29). Even though he is law-abiding and not debauched like his brother, he has not seen God for what he is. He thinks of himself as a wage earner. He thinks that he should collect his pay packet from God and demand what he deserves.

Jesus presents us here with the frightening possibility of the virtuous and carefully lawabiding man who, because he is concerned with himself, with his own merits and virtues, and what he thinks he deserves, cannot see God any more than the profligate (who at least had a good time).

The younger son was in some ways in a happier condition, for it was fairly easy for him to see himself as depraved, ungrateful and selfish. His sins were fairly easily recognisable as sins. The older brother is in a more subtle danger, and a greater one. God and his love were hidden from the younger one by the almost childlike pleasures of the flesh. God is hidden from the older one by pride, the speciality of Satan.

But of course it isn’t really easy for either of them; in fact it is impossible for both of them. Once you have deluded yourself with sin, once you have shut yourself off from God (rather than letting yourself be destroyed by his love, destroyed and remade, crucified and raised from the dead), once you have hidden his love from you behind your protective barrier, your blindfold of self-flattery, there is nothing at all you can do about it.

It is by the power of God, by the love of God coming to him even while he was in sin, that the younger brother became able to see himself for what he is; and this is contrition, this is forgiveness.

Never be deluded into thinking that if you have contrition, if you are sorry for your sins, God will come and forgive you – that he will be touched by your appeal, change his mind about you and forgive you. Not a bit of it. God never changes his mind about you. He is simply in love with you. What he does again and again is change your mind about him. That is why you are sorry. That is what your forgiveness is. You are not forgiven because you confess your sin. You confess your sin, recognise yourself for what you are, because you are forgiven.

When you come to confession, to make a ritual proclamation of your sin, to symbolize that you know what you are, you are not coming in order to have your sins forgiven. You don’t come to confession in order to have your sins forgiven. You come to celebrate that your sins are forgiven. You come to put on the best
robe and the ring on your finger and the sandals on your feet, and to get drunk out of your mind, because your blindfold and your blindness have gone, and you can see the love God has for you.

Being contrite, self-aware, about your sin is the same as believing in the love of God, smashing the punitive
satanic God and having faith in the real God who is sheer unconditional love for you. You could say that it is your faith in God’s undeviating love for you that lets you risk looking at your sins for what they are. It’s OK,
you can admit the truth about yourself. It doesn’t matter: God loves you anyway.

To admit your sins is to proclaim your faith in God’s love for you personally. Telling your sins to the Church in the sacrament of confession is just a form of the Creed; you are saying: “I am really like this and all the same
God loves me, God doesn’t care about my sins, he cares about me.” God is just infinite, unconditional, unalterable, eternal love – and his love is for me and for all sinful people. That is the single statement that we make in the Creed.

The above is a chapter taken from Faith Within Reason by Herbert McCabe OP (1926-2001), published by Continuum (£16.99).

Problem is not just bricks and mortar

There is a story emerging that the church visitators to Ireland have made a recommendation that Maynooth be closed.

The visitation is being conducted in the usual church secrecy.

Of course the visitation will be a useless operation like all other hierarchical visitations. There will be elaborate window dressing but no one will ever dare cross that line that spells taboo for every person who has a role of leadership within the church.

Currently there are growing potential disasters developing within the church - right under the noses of priests, bishops, cardinals, pope and nothing will be done.

The problem in the church has nothing to do with buildings.

The dishonest hegemony that exists with the church has to be disassembled long before bricks and mortar are taken down.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Church could learn from State inquiries

To watch a replay this evening of a senior civil servant comment on the granting of the mobile telephone licence over 16 years ago is laughable.

At least the State has the competency and nous to hold inquiries.

There is urgent need within the hierarchical church for a number of inquiries. No organisation can examine itself. It is so shockingly clear.

And we baptised Christians allow them get away with it. Simply, it is terrible and depressing.

Call for new traditionalist Mass

With the introduction of the new missal later in the year does it mean that the curent Mass will be considered traditionalist? If so, will it be possible for the creation of a new 'traditionalist' group who might be granted some sort of 'dispensation' to celebrate the 'traditionalist' Mass.

If it was not so sad, it would be all so funny. And to think that a cardinal who was a friend of the dictator Pinochet had a hand in the new English translation adds to the bizarreness of it all. Of course it is irrelevant how good his English was. These gentlemen know the mind of God in such a spectacular way that allows them pronounce on all matters relating to God.

It is shocking and depresing. Hopefull the people of God will send them all running come the introduction of the new English missal in Advent.

Inspirational and uplifting television

RTE screend an interview with the abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Patrick Hederman, on Sunday evening. It was the Would Your Believe series and the interviewer was Gay Byrne.

It was refreshing and spiritually uplifting to hear and see a man speak about his faith in what seemed open and honest words.

There was a gentleness and honesty about the interview that is so obviously missing in Catholic publications of late.

So much of what appears in Catholic media at present sounds so angry and primitive. There seems to be a real gap between what is said and what is lived.

Fr Hederman's comment about those who appear to know the inner architecture of hell was most insightful and funny too.

Thank you to RTE, Gay Byrne and Fr Hederman.

It was also worth noting how he approved the current religious studies curriculum in Irish primary schools.

The influence of the 'bells and smells' crew

This is too long a document for this medium, neverthelss it may interest readers.

It will be formatted in stages and apologies for US spelling.

But the tale tells a profoundly sad story. It has been evolving over the last 20 to 30 years. And there are aspects to what is happening that are far worse than liturgical madness. It is simply shocking.
The headline on the story is taken from the text

Is the New English Version of the Mass A Betrayal of Vatican Council II? Published in July 2009 by Catholics for Ministry by Paul Collins

As far as the ordinary Catholic is concerned, the first and the greatest achievement of Vatican Council II (1962-5) was the vernacular liturgy. Nothing that the Council did impacted on parishes, communities, laity and priests to the extent that the
translation of the Mass and sacraments into English did. While there was a difficult period of transition in the late 1960s, the new liturgy has been widely accepted by Catholics across the English-speaking world.

The liturgical changes, however, were even more significant: in historical terms Vatican II brought about the most radical reshaping of worship that had ever been attempted in the history of Catholicism. And this re-structuring has been astonishingly successful. The vast majority of ordinary Catholics embraced the changes with genuine enthusiasm, and they are now part of the essential fabric of what it means to be Catholic.

Part of the reason why Catholics have been so accepting of the changes is because the prayers and words of the liturgy make sense to them: they are using an English idiom that gives expression to their innermost convictions and spirituality. The text has become their prayer and while it is not perfect, it is in tune with the culture and the mentality of the people for whom it was intended. To take it from them now would be to deprive them of a core element of their faith.

Those who rejected the liturgical reforms constituted a tiny minority. This was shown up at the Council itself: in the final vote 2,147 bishops voted for Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II's document on worship, and only four bishops
voted against it. For dissenters the renewal of worship became the most potent symbol of what they saw as Vatican II's compromise with the modern world. They saw it as an abandonment of the sacred and mysterious elements of worship, a loss of the
so-called 'vertical' aspect of the liturgy.

They perceived the English translations to be banal, untrue to the original, insufficiently sacred and commonplace, and they were constantly critical of what they saw as liturgical excesses.

Certainly mistakes were made and the occasional baby was thrown out with the bath water. But this was the biggest change ever attempted in the history of Catholic worship, and what is extraordinary is how quickly the Catholic community
integrated the changes and, in retrospect, how few misjudgments occurred.

The model for the tiny reactionary rump was the so-called 'Tridentine Mass', more accurately the 'Mass of Pius V' because it comes from the missal this pope issued in 1570; the Council of Trent had already concluded in 1563. While the schismatic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his followers were the most extreme of these reactionaries, others who remained within mainstream Catholicism fought tooth and nail to retain the Latin liturgy and to oppose the English translation. They claimed that they were trying to preserve the sacred character of worship: they were horrified at what they described as at best an uninspired and dull English text and at worst a betrayal of the tradition.

Many saw the changes as surrendering to Protestantism and some reactionaries went in for the most outrageous character assassination, attacking those they considered to be responsible for all that had happened as vandals and barbarians. In other words, reactionary Catholics turned the liturgy in a battleground, a symbol of everything that horrified them most about contemporary Catholicism. They knew that if they could persuade the Vatican to roll back the liturgical reforms they would have won a symbolic victory over the other 'excesses' of Vatican II. They are now very close to succeeding in their aim.

In the next year or so a new, more literal translation of the English used in worship and especially in the Mass is going to be imposed on priests and Mass-going Catholics in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the US and the UK. In
fact, there has been a rather arcane process going on since 1998 and even since the close of Vatican II in 1965. This activity has understandably tended to slip under the radar of most Catholics, but it will certainly impact on all who still go
to Mass.

However, we need to be absolutely clear: this is not just about tweaking the English translation to introduce a more 'sacred' feel to liturgical rhetoric. It is really about the acceptance or rejection of Vatican II. No matter how apologists for new
translation try to present it, this is essentially about the meaning of Catholicism in contemporary culture, about the nature of the church and about where you stand on the role of the Council.

Essentially those pushing the new English translation say that what they are doing is 'reforming the reform'. The phrase actually comes from the Sri Lankan Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, previously secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) in the Vatican, now Archbishop of Colombo. He argues that what happened after Vatican II often veered away from the intention of the bishops
at the Council. Speaking about the liturgy specifically Ranjith says: 'Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum (towards the people), Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation".

Ranjith offers no evidence for his claims that the liturgical vision of Vatican II has become distorted, but this view is now the dominant one in Rome, especially since the advent of Benedict XVI who expressed views like this long before Ranjith.

To get some perspective on all this we need to backtrack a bit. On 4 December 1963, at the end of the second session of the Council the bishops finally passed the Constitution on the Liturgy. It was necessary to have the Latin texts translated
quickly. The English-speaking bishops immediately set up a commission to carry out the work of translation, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL),
representing eleven national bishops' conferences: Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa and the United States. While based in Washington, DC, it is important to emphasise that ICEL's line of responsibility was explicitly to the bishops' conferences of the whole English-speaking world, not to Rome and the Vatican's CDW.

The role of Rome was simply to approve the work carried out under the guidance of the English-speaking bishops. This was later to become a real bone of contention.

As the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (issued by the Post-Conciliar Commission on the Liturgy on 3 April 1969) emphasized the translator's task was to find a 'faithful but not literal' English equivalent of the Latin and that 'the unit of meaning [was] not the individual word, but the whole passage.' Further 'the prayer of the Church is always the prayer of some actual community assembling here and now. It is not sufficient that a formula handed down from some other time or region should be translated verbatim, even if accurately, for liturgical use. The formula must become the genuine prayer of the congregation and in it each of its members should be able to find and express themselves.'

This is called the 'principle of equivalence' and no doubt Ranjith would say that it was something 'never contemplated' by the Council. What Ranjith forgets is that this principle was articulated by the Commission actually set up by the bishops themselves at Vatican II to do the practical work in the process of renewing the liturgy after the Council concluded. He also ignores the fact that the present vernacular liturgy is not so much a 'modernisation' as it is an attempted return to
the ancient and traditional way in which the liturgy was celebrated in the early church.

It is also an unequivocal expression of the kind of collegiality mandated by the Council because it involved the English-speaking bishops in developing the language that was to be used in countries where the most widely used language on earth is spoken. That is why I want to emphasize that this is not just about tampering with a translation but is essentially about the acceptance of rejection of the all the Council represents.

The translation work was done quickly and introduced in stages so that by the beginning of the 1970s the whole of the Mass and sacraments had been translated into English and an English lectionary had been prepared. Working on the principle of dynamic equivalence the ICEL translators' didn't translate the Latin literally. While remaining faithful to the sense of the original Latin, they tried to find the nearest genuine contemporary English equivalent that both sounded elegant, could be spoken with ease, and above all that prayerfully raised the mind and heart to God. This was a difficult process.

Much of the work of ICEL was extraordinarily successful, but there were some problems: repetitions, at times a lack of elegance when texts descended into prosaic English and a lack of sensitivity to inclusive language.

Nevertheless the translation was widely and even enthusiastically accepted by the vast majority of mainstream Catholics throughout the English-speaking world. The great strength of the translation was its accessibility. Yet it still retains a prayerful, respectful approach to God. And it is the only text known to all Catholics under middle-age; it has been the language of worship since the late 1960s.

It was always envisaged that the English translation needed to be revised, and in 1981 the English-speaking bishops and ICEL began a careful revision of the whole process which aimed at improving the translation by giving it a more poetic,
elevated, sacred feel. At the same time there was a realisation that inclusive language also needed to be introduced. Work progressed throughout the 1980s and 1990s and by the late 1990s a Revised English Missal was ready.

Meanwhile the political ground in the Vatican had already shifted dramatically. Up until the mid-1980s the CDW didn't oppose the work of ICEL and recognized that it was the responsibility of the English-speaking bishops' conferences.

But from 1984 with the advent of the John Paul II papacy (1978-2005) the senior personnel at the CDW gradually changed. A series of cardinals prefect of the CDW (the
German Paul Augustin Mayer, OSB (1984-88) and the Spaniards, Eduardo Martinez Somalo (1988-92) and Antonio Javierre Ortas, SDB (1992-96)) showed little sympathy for the
Vatican II vision of the church, let alone tolerance for a vernacular liturgy under the control of local bishops' conferences. Mayer said publicly that ICEL needed to be
restructured and redirected.

But the real crunch came when the Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, a friend of the military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and who presided at the general's funeral Mass, was appointed cardinal prefect of the CDW in 1996 by John Paul II. He came to the CDW right at the time when ICEL was ready to submit the revised English liturgy to Rome for a recognitio, an approval for use throughout the English speaking
world.

Also at this time the centralising process that had come with John Paul II was well under-way and Romanita, the Roman-Vatican view of the world, was re-asserting itself with a vengeance. It was intolerable to the bureaucrats of the Vatican, and particularly to people like Medina, that English speaking bishops' conferences were making decisions about the English used in the liturgy.

Bishops were there to do what Rome wanted. What is also significant is that at this point not one of these cardinal-critics of ICEL was a natural English speaker,
nor is there any evidence that any of them spoke English with any facility.

I've already mentioned the tiny rump of Catholics who continued to reject the new liturgy. Nevertheless they have had an influence that far transcends their numbers. As older reactionaries died, they have been replaced by younger people, particularly young men, who are attracted to 'bells and smells' and an extravagant, dressing-up style of worship.

Many of these are technologically literate and have elaborate web-pages that reflect their point of view. They are also politically savvy in that they know how to influence Rome. This is because they have worked out how to make their views known to sympathetic and influential decision-making prelates in the Vatican, including in the CDW. For decades they have been bombarding Rome with complaints about the new liturgy and in Mayer, Martinez Somalo, Javierre Ortas and above all in Medina they found allies and supporters.

Austen Ivereigh has correctly pointed out that 'To traditionalists, ICEL had become the symbol of the Church's sell-out to fallen modernity, the target of wealthy American traditionalists who had the ear of Rome' (The Tablet, 17 January 2004).

But Medina didn't need convincing. As soon as he got to the CDW he set about systematically dismantling the whole liturgical renewal. His strategy was clear: if he could bring the English-speaking bishops to heel, the largest linguistic group
in the Catholic world, he would have no trouble bringing the other language groups under Roman control, including his own Spanish-speaking world. A key element in
achieving this was the need to replace the basic techniques of translation as set out in The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, such as dynamic equivalence, with other principles that fitted in with Medina's own priorities.

So on 20 March 2001 the CWD issued Liturgiam authenticam (LA). This is an instruction on the principles of liturgical translation which was meant to replace The General Instruction on the Roman Missal. Medina claimed that John Paul II had asked the CDW to prepare LA, but these were the declining years of Pope Wojtyla and the Curia was doing pretty much what it wanted to do. LA actually reflects Medina's views - and those of the liturgical reactionaries - rather than the views of mainstream liturgical scholars and ordinary Catholics.

The former editor of The Tablet, John Wilkins, in an important and detailed article in Commonweal on the liturgy wars says that LA did not recommend, 'it commanded. It
insisted that translations follow an extreme literalism, extending even to syntax and rhythm, punctuation, and capital letters. The clear implication was that in this way it would be possible to achieve a sort of “timeless” English above the change of fashion, a claim reminiscent of that made for the Ronald Knox translation of the Bible, which today is so dated that it is not read except as a period piece' (Commonweal, 2 December 2005).

Medina was supported by the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who had made it clear for many years before his election to the papacy that he thought that vernacular Masses were to blame for the drop in church attendance and vocations to the priesthood. He offers no empirical evidence to support this contention. He has also often expressed concern about the loss of a 'vertical' dimension to the liturgy. Ratzinger says that
much contemporary liturgy has lost a sense of reverence and a deep consciousness of the presence of God. He feels that nowadays we are far too concerned with the community and human relationships. As he said at the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, 2005, just before he was elected pope: 'How often do we celebrate only ourselves without even realizing that Jesus is there.' What he is doing here - as he so often does when arguing - is overstating the case. That is, while there is
some truth in what he says he goes to the other extreme and dichotomises the situation as though we were faced with an either-or choice. He sets up a straw man and then destroys it.

So given this tendency it is perfectly understandable that, when he became pope, Ratzinger had the CDW push ahead with the revision of the English liturgy.

LA aimed at replacing all previous post-conciliar texts which set out the principles of liturgical translation. A kind of 'overview' put out by the CDW itself describes Medina's time at the Congregation as 'a new era in translation of liturgical
texts.'

LA shifts the emphasis from making sense in English to a focus on a literal rendering of the Latin. In other words, it constitutes a shift from in emphasis on the prayer of the congregation to a focus on the centrality of the Latin text. It
says that translation 'is not so much a work of creative inventiveness as one of fidelity and exactness in rendering the Latin texts into a vernacular language.' No care or sensitivity is shown for the praying people or their needs. It's as though
the Latin text had a priority call on God's attention, and unless the English follows that text literally the prayer of the priest and people goes nowhere.

LA is especially critical of any attempt to integrate inclusive language into the translation: 'The abandonment of these terms [i.e. pronouns that refer to both male and female] under pressure of criticism on ideological or other grounds, is not
always wise or necessary.' You can't even get around it by using 'men and women' for the Latin homo. 'The expression of such inclusivity may not be achieved by a quasi-mechanical change in grammatical number, or by the creation of pairs of masculine and feminine terms.' LA also maintains that 'Translations must be freed from exaggerated dependence on modern modes of expression and in general from
psychologising language. Even forms of speech deemed slightly archaic may on occasion be appropriate.' No clarification is offered as to what 'psychologizing language' might mean in this context.

All this certainly sounds more like 'ideology' than a care for the prayerful expression of worship by the community gathered at Mass. It assumes that there is such a thing as timeless English, a moment when the language was somehow perfectly adapted to the sacred. In the process of trying to discover this, the proposed new translations actually fall into the trap of using a kind of pseudo-mid-Victorian English rather than more modern modes of speech. It is the kind of English that a minor nineteenth century romantic novelist might have used on a bad day. The language that results from LA is not so much sacred as pompous and affected. Since hardly anyone now prays in Latin, is it really appropriate to
make that the norm for prayer in a living language like English? Only someone besotted with ideology could think that.

The English-speaking bishops' conferences and ICEL fought very hard against the CDW's putsch, but this led to long-term and experienced ICEL personnel, particularly Dr John Page, the executive secretary, being increasingly marginalised by the Congregation in the late-1980s and 1990s. The final result was that Medina refused a recognitio to the revised English Missal in 2002. Page resigned that same year after 22 years as head of ICEL and thirty years as a translator of liturgical texts, as did ICEL chairman, Bishop Maurice Taylor of Galloway, Scotland.

After they left, the subversion of ICEL began. Taylor was replaced by Bishop Arthur Roach of Leeds and a new executive secretary was appointed, Father (now Monsignor)
Bruce Harbert, a priest of Birmingham archdiocese and a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism. Previously he had been highly critical of the work of the old ICEL and was associated with pressure groups in the UK who wanted a restoration of the Latin Mass. Former staff left. Under Harbert ICEL became increasingly secretive.

Previously, proposed translations were publicly available, but in 2002 a complete
revision of all ICEL's translation work began in secret.

The result was that ICEL no longer sought 'the advice of poets and other writers, but only of patristic scholars. The language is to be distinctively Catholic, sacral, Roman; as the mind and heart are raised to God, they should be sure to stop off in Saint Peter's' (Austen Ivereigh, The Tablet, 17 January 2004).

ICEL was to be assisted and guided by Vox Clara ('Clear Voice'), a committee appointed by the CDW, of generally conservative-minded English-speaking cardinals and bishops with a couple of moderates like Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster thrown in to give the appearance of balance. Vox Clara was chaired by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney another outspoken opponent of the old ICEL approach; it was public knowledge that Pell was unhappy with ICEL's work under John Page and his colleagues and that he favored the insertion of a more 'vertical', sacred tone in the English liturgy. Vox
Clara's precise function was never really clarified, but it seems to have been a kind of reference group that assessed the translation work of the reconstituted ICEL.

As the new ICEL worked their way through the ordinary of the Mass they sent out their work to bishops' conferences for comment. Many bishops were very unhappy with the suggested changes. The bishops sent in many corrections, amendments, criticisms and suggestions. They could foresee what was ahead in terms of pastoral acceptance by priests and people. But no one in Rome was listening and their advice was usually ignored. The CWD apparently couldn't care less what happened pastorally.

As the new translation went through its various phases and the bishops sent in their comments and criticisms, the whole process was meant to be kept secret and ordinary Catholics were excluded from the loop, although in an almost comic 'investigative piece' in the London Catholic Herald (14 October 2005) the paper reported that a copy of the supposedly secret Mass translation was being offered for sale on EBay with the Herald claiming: 'Finger of suspicion points to Australian ex-priest with liberal sympathies.' The liberal ex-priest's identity still remains unknown.

Medina retired from the CDW in October 2002 and was replaced by the Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze. Arinze was joined as Secretary of the CDW in 2005 by the Sri Lankan Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the former Bishop of Ratnapura who, for a year and a half had been papal nuncio to Indonesia.

In June 2009 he was appointed Archbishop of Colombo. He was the bishop who was behind the brief excommunication in 1997 of Father Tissa Balasuriya, the Sri Lankan theologian. Ranjith quickly emerged as the real power-broker in the CDW. From the perspective of ICEL at least both Arinze and Ranjith were English speakers, but they continued to follow the policies of their predecessors, particularly Medina. As we saw Ranjith believed that there needed to be 'a reform of the reform', that is the reforms of Vatican II had gone too far and they need to be further reformed along more conservative lines. For Ranjith the liturgy is the natural staring point in this process.

And just when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse at the CDW, in December 2008 after the retirement of Arinze, Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the former archbishop of Toledo, as Prefect of the Congregation. Llovera is close to Pope Ratzinger; in fact his nickname in the Vatican is 'Little Ratzinger', a reference to his height and rigid orthodoxy. He is a former head of the Spanish Bishops' Office of Doctrine, a former member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and a fierce opponent of 'relativism'. In July 200 Ranjith was replaced as secretary of the CDW by the American Archbishop Augustine di Noia, OP, also a former official of the CDF under Ratzinger. Di Noia has obviously been appointed by the Pope to drive through the changes to the English translations.

He might also have been appointed to assist in the process of receiving so-called Traditional Anglicans back into union with Rome, but it should be noted that he, along with Llovera, has no specialist background or training in liturgy.

The new English text of the Ordinary of the Mass was gradually and often unenthusiastically approved by the English-speaking bishops' conferences, with the US conference being the last to pass it. Following this on 23 June 2008 the CDW gave the new text an immediate recognitio.

The text only includes the Ordinary of the Mass: the penitential rite, the Gloria, creed, offertory, Eucharistic prayers, acclamations and other prayers and responses used in the daily and Sunday celebration of Mass.

The rest of the missal remains to be translated and approved. This process has begun and Australia's Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn is the Chairman of the
Roman Missal Editorial Committee for ICEL as well Chairman of the International Commission for the Preparation of an English-language Lectionary. The CDW wants bishops' conferences to begin a 'pastoral preparation' for an introduction of the new translation of the Mass in 2010.

A foretaste of what might happen pastorally was provided when, in a misunderstanding some South African parishes started using the new text in late-November 2008. It was met with widespread rejection by Mass-going Catholics. The South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern Cross reported in an editorial that 'the anger of the people in the pews and many priests (and some bishops) seems to be rooted not so much in what they feel are anachronistic and clumsy translations - vexing though they appear to be to many - but in what they see as an arbitrary imposition of liturgical values
that are foreign to them by faceless bureaucrats in Rome.'

In an 18 January 2009 letter to The Southern Cross, Bishop Kevin Dowling, C.SS.R., of Rustenburg in the north-west of South Africa, said that his first reaction to the new texts 'was that it was a purely arbitrary decision to demand that the
English text had to faithfully represent the Latin in the first place, that many of the changes made no sense, and that some of the formulations were simply bad English.'

A full copy of the new ICEL text of the Ordinary of the Mass is available on the web page of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web site. The US bishops plan to spend the whole of 2010 training priests and liturgical ministers in the minutiae of the new text. They intend to introduce it into parishes in 2011. Australia is to follow a similar time-table.

In order to get some idea of what is ahead I want to examine the proposed changes that not only impinge on the celebrant and ministers but that also impinge on the whole congregation.

Catholics will be pulled up short right at the commencement of Mass if the priest uses the greeting 'The Lord be with you', because the new response is 'And with your spirit' replacing 'And also with you'. Of course this is a literal translation of Et
cum spiritu tuo but it is meaningless in modern English. What precisely is 'your spirit' in this context? It sounds almost 'new age' or like the psychobabble condemned in LA. Since thisresponse recurs several times throughout the Mass people are going to be constantly struggling with 'And with your spirit'.

The Mass begins with the Penitential Rite which ICEL now calls the 'Penitential Act' because the Latin uses the word actus. So right at the beginning we see this principle of literalism at work.

The text of the 'I confess' will change with the insertion of the word 'greatly' for it to read 'I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned …'. Does the word 'greatly' indicate that everyone present is guilty of serious or mortal sin? And in case that was not enough emphasis on sinfulness, ICEL have added 'through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault' to the text of the 'I confess'. This kind of overly dramatic repetition is inappropriate, even embarrassing in contemporary English. It may work in an operatic, romance kind of language; it doesn't work in the more phlegmatic, matter-of-fact forms of speech used by English speakers. So far there seems to be only one other option for the penitential rite. Previously there were
eight different options.

The Gloria has also undergone a rewrite as the following comparison shows:

Present form of Gloria
Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you
thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father.
Proposed Form of Gloria
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King. O God, almighty Father. Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen. Amen.

There is a kind of modesty and lack of pretentiousness about the Gloria we use at present. It is characterised by directness and an economy of words. While it is hardly high poetry, it follows the rhythms of contemporary English without awkward verbal juxtapositions.

In the new Gloria the kinds of problems we are going to have with the rest of the new text become apparent. You have the feeling that the word order has been changed just for the sake of following the Latin literally. For instance 'Peace to his people on earth' becomes 'and on earth peace to people of good will'. There is no
apparent reason why this has been changed except to follow exactly the order of the words in Latin (et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis). 'God' is no longer simply 'God' but becomes 'O God'; 'only son of the Father' now becomes 'only begotten son' a meaningless theological gloss for most Catholics. Repetitions are introduced: 'you take away the sins of the world … you take away the sins of the world'.

When we come to the Eucharistic Prayer, again there are changes made simply for the sake of change. At the beginning of the Preface when the celebrant says 'Let us give thanks to the Lord our God' the congregation now replies 'It is right and just', when in the old formula we said something that actually made sense in a conversational dialogue: 'It is right to give him thanks and praise'. In the Sanctus the Lord is no longer 'God of power and might', but 'Lord God of hosts', whatever
'hosts' might mean for those not trained in the rhetoric of biblical warfare.

In the actual Eucharistic Prayers there are a whole series of changes with which priests are going to have to deal.

However, the most contentious change with implications for all Catholics is in the actual words of the consecration of the wine. The old formula was: 'This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and ever-lasting covenant; it will be shed for
you and for all'. This expresses the clear, constant and unequivocal teaching of the Catholic Church that Christ died for all, that his death has a universal impact without exclusion.

But this has been changed in the new translation to 'For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal
covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many'. Why the 'cup' becomes the arcane word 'chalice' is anybody's guess, but what is most worrying is the change from saying that Christ died for all, to saying that he died for many. The reason given is that this is the accurate translation of the Latin pro multis. While that is correct linguistically, it is totally incorrect theologically and probably heretical. This is about a central plank of Catholic belief that is especially important nowadays - the universal salvation won by Christ.

Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania discusses this in some detail in an article in The Tablet (3 February 2007).

Trautman refers to a commissioned piece in the official periodical of the CDW itself, Notitiae (May 1970, pp 138- 140) by the expert exegete and linguist, Max Zerwick, SJ, where the Jesuit clearly states: 'According to exegetes, the Aramaic word which in Latin is translated pro multis ['for many'] means pro omnibus ['for all']. The multitude for whom Christ died is unbounded, which is the same as saying Christ died for us all.' Zerwick concedes that the Bible uses the phrase 'for many', but that in the Semitic mind this phrase clearly meant 'for all'.

But he argues that this is not clear to people today so that pro multis should be translated 'for all'. This leads Bishop Trautman to challenge the CDW and Benedict XVI to explain what the translation 'for many' means, and he asks them to justify why they have allowed what is essentially a distortion of a central tenet of Catholic belief: the universal salvation brought about by Christ.

As he says: '"Many" does not mean everyone. On a pastoral level we must have from the Vatican a better rationale for this major change than what has been given … We need a pastoral approach. How many people in the pews will hear a universal inclusive meaning in "for many"?' This is a vivid example of the result of the literalism adopted by the CDW: essentially they end up with a translation that is at best misleading, at worst, heretical.

It has been claimed by apologists for the new translation that 'many' means 'all' in this context. That immediately suggests that if that is the case why introduce the word 'many' when it actually means 'all', the word you already had in the text in the
first place! According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary the word 'many' means 'a great number', whereas 'all' means 'the whole amount', 'without exception', the lot. It has even been suggested that the Vox Clara committee took this issue of translation to Benedict XVI and he assured them that the English word 'many' really meant 'all' in this context.

While his theological acumen is undoubted, Pope Ratzinger's mastery of the English language surely has serious limitations, especially when compared to the authority of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

When we get to the Our Father the simple, straight-forward words 'Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us' becomes the pompous 'At the Savior's command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say'.

At the Communion it is no longer sufficient to say 'Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed'. In the new version the congregation will be expected to say: 'Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed'.

Again one is faced with the question of the purpose of this. Sure, it refers back to the centurion who asks Jesus in the gospel to cure his servant, but why is this complexity introduced which obscures the meaning?

Bishop Trautman gives voice to the kinds of questions that occur to anyone who has read the new ICEL translation: 'In evaluating the translations we need to consider whether the texts are both understandable and proclaimable, and whether they use a word order, vocabulary and idiom of the mainstream of English-speaking people. If these texts are to be the prayers of the people, are they owned by them and
expressed in their language? The texts include new words such as "consubstantial to the Father" and "incarnate of the Virgin Mary", while words in the various new Collects include "sullied", "unfeigned", "ineffable", "gibbet", "wrought", "thwart".

Do these texts communicate in the living language of the worshipping assembly?' These are the real pastoral questions that the proponents of these changes
have to answer.

Priests, of course, are faced with many other changes. Some of the changes in the Eucharistic Prayers (EP) are worth examining - although it is clear that EPs one and four are not used very often these days in parishes, even on Sundays.

There is a real sense that they have not been 'received'. The reason seems to be their length and complexity.

The whole process shows that very few in the hierarchy are listening to ordinary Catholics. This whole exercise has been driven by an ideological coterie who not only know nothing about the lives of ordinary Catholics, but who really have no concern about the pastoral needs of people in parishes, schools and other communities. The whole process has been carried on by so-called experts in secrecy.

Never once have the ordinary faithful been consulted. Nothing has ever been openly 'road-tested' in a real parish. If this is meant to be the prayer of the people then surely the people ought to have been asked what they think. All the decisions have been taken at the top level by bishops' conferences and in Vatican offices and Vox Clara committees. The pastoral irresponsibility of those in the Vatican and elsewhere who have driven this process is mind-blowing.

My own view is that this exercise will be a disaster pastorally. It will simply put people off and be perceived as a meaningless change with no credible rationale. The historyoutlined above shows that this whole process has been ideologically driven by a tiny, unrepresentative minority who are insensitive to the real needs of the Catholic community and who, at heart, reject the Second Vatican Council. Worse,
they are ideologues who don't care about what happens, they are not interested in how many more people are driven out of the Church by the pomposity of what is essentially a failed attempt to create a kind of perennial, 'sacred' language.

The tragedy is that this will alienate more Catholics right at the time when we are struggling to involve people from Generations X and Y. But even worse than the proposed new text is the process through which this translation was imposed on the church.

It was done in secret and dominated by those determined to abandon the translation we use at present. The faithful were never consulted. So it remains to be seen if this imposed text is ever fully accepted.

Commentators such as Austen Ivereigh concede that the new ICEL translation may work, but he warns that 'it is also conceivable that the new missal will prove a disaster, stuffed with archaisms and artificiality, reeking of a restorationist putsch, reflecting a fundamentalist response to modernity …

History may record that at the precise moment when liturgical translation was finding its own better balance between enculturation and fidelity, a fearful Rome intervened aggressively, alienating experienced liturgists just when they needed them.'

I return to where I started. Essentially this whole exercise is rooted in a rejection of Vatican II and all that it achieved for Catholicism. At its core it is driven by those who want to 'reform the reform' out of existence. Perhaps the time has come for those of us who are still actively committed to Catholicism to make a stand and reject outright this exercise in nostalgia which will make it even more difficult to hand on the faith to coming generations.

Copyright: Paul Collins and Catholics for Ministry.
This pamphlet is published by Catholics for Ministry, PO Box 4053, Manuka. ACT. 2603Copies may be downloaded from the CfM web site at www.catholicsforministry.com.au

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japanese names of destruction

This article appears in today's INM regional Irish newspapers

By Michael Commane
The place names Sendai, Fukushima Minamisanriku and Ras Lanuf are all new to me. I never heard of them before, I knew nothing about those places or what went on there. And now, I have a little idea of the horror and pain that the people in these towns and cities are experiencing.

Fukushima and Minamisanriku have been devastated by the tsunami that has hit Japan and Ras Lanuf is a town in Libya where fierce fighting has taken place between Gaddafi’s army and those opposed to him.

In our school staff room on Friday I noticed a young trainee teacher watch online the breaking news about the Japanese earthquake. It looked as if she was close to tears as the horror of what was happening began to unfold.

And then when I came home from school and turned on the television I too found myself greatly upset with what was happening. Certainly the television cameras and all the other modern technology brought the horror of what was unfolding directly into our homes.

In this column last week I wrote about the wonders of modern technology and how ‘scary’ a modern smart phone is.

With all our technology at our fingertips when nature decides to unleash its might on us we are left helpless, hopeless and incredibly vulnerable.

Watching the power of that water last Friday roll over buildings, cars, everything in front of it, forced me to stand in front of the television mesmerised beyond belief.

And just as I write this, reports are coming in that a town has disappeared. Trains are missing. A nuclear power station has gone on fire. They are talking about meltdowns at nuclear stations.

And in Libya we see scenes of people shooting and killing one another. This time the pain and devastation is manmade, but also savage and cruel, leaving people dead and maimed. Lives destroyed forever.

Things are bad in Ireland. People are worried and nervous what lies ahead as our economy collapses and we owe sums of money beyond our understanding.

But in the scale of things this is no Ras Lanuf, Sendai or Minamisanriku.

That savage water that inundated Japan on Friday swept away everything in its way. It had not mercy and showed no mercy. It wreaked extraordinary damage and that in a country that was so prepared for such an event.

Something on that scale forces us to realise how fragile and vulnerable we all are. Those waters were completely indiscriminate. They took no account whether one was young or old, rich or poor. They just crushed on, relentlessly.

Seismologists, geographers and meteorologists know why these things happen and we all say we know the power of nature but watching it on television gives it a whole new reality. What must it have been like to have been engulfed in it, in those milliseconds before it crashed in on top of people and destroyed their lives forever?

In so many ways it is an imponderable how the world, life, society does not implode on itself. And yet it all keeps going and we manage. Even in the most horrific of circumstances we get up again, dust ourselves down and get back to business.

It would be an unwise person who would say anything other than we are all amazingly fragile. We might go about our business oblivious to what might happen, but we all know that just around the corner anything is possible.

Nature can throw what it wishes at us and it is only a fool who could think that he or she is impervious to the might and force of nature.

In a short period of time we have seen terrible floods in Pakistan, the 2004 tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti and now this catastrophe in Japan.

No matter how often nature shows its all-powerful card we are easily lulled into some sort of lethargy or laziness that helps us forget how we can be thrown about and devastated by mother nature.

Is there some sort of parallel about how we use and speak about the notion of God?

Maybe there is no God and the world is just what we see, experience and live.

On the other hand, just because we don’t see or understand God, is that good enough reason to say there is no God?

We might well make a cliché of God but just because we might think we manage without God, is really no reason or cause to dismiss the idea out of hand.

Just as the power of nature is ultimately unknown and surprising, in a similar way the reality and presence of God is mysterious and mystifying,

I’d be slow to get rid of God or dismiss the idea out of hand.

There are too many clues out there for me to be able to deny the existence of God.

I’m inclined to say I’m far too fragile and vulnerable to dare say there is no God.

Television networks are saying it will cost in the region of €80 billion to clean up after the tsunami in Japan. And that’s less than we have borrowed.

Nevertheless, next time we have a cold spell or severe rains and winds we should go easy on hyperbole.

I’ll leave it at that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Germans close down seven nuclear stations

Alle sieben bis Ende 1980 in Betrieb genommenen deutschen Atomkraftwerke werden vorübergehend vom Netz genommen. Dies kündigte Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel am Dienstag an. Endgültig abgeschaltet wird der Atommeiler Neckarwestheim 1.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Locomotive drivers strike in Germany

26,000 lokomotive drivers strike in Germany.

They strike to protect drivers working on 'quieter' lines and companies.

Veolia is in the frame. Veolia runs Luas. In Ireland deal between unions and rail company prohibits strike action.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Telephony charges need more transparency

This article appears today in the Irish regional newspapers of INM.

By Michael Commane
In 1975 I helped install a telephone exchange in the Dominican Priory in Rome. It was a second-hand cross bar exchange. Mechanical bits and bobs jumping and moving all around the place. And it was big.

Back then it was not possible to telephone Ireland directly from Rome. Another world, another time.

When my family got a telephone in the early 1960s in Dublin it was a big thing and just some short years before that there were still single digit telephone numbers.

When phones first appeared in trains, people queued up to call those collecting them that the train was either on time or late. A phone in a train now seems and sounds antiquated.

I imagine over 90 per cent of people who read this column have a mobile phone.

It really has been an extraordinary story of technological progress.

Last October I bought a smart phone – an Iphone. It was a quantum leap for me as before that I had an ancient thing that no young person would be seen dead with.

The Iphone is mind-boggling. I can use it as a telephone, a camera, internet facility.

I can download applications, commonly called apps. These magical ‘things’ allow me listen to any radio station anywhere in the world, watch TV stations. I have Dublin bus timetables on it. It has is a satellite navigational system. This machine is ‘scary’. It is pure magic.

Not so long ago at all I was mesmerised, maybe annoyed, to see people surfing the net on their smart phones on the Luas. No, I’m not doing it, but I understand now. It’s addictive.

But, and there is always a ‘but’ in this valley of tears of ours. And the ‘but’ has of course to do with how telephone companies must be making an awful lot of money on us and do we actually know how much we are spending.

When I changed over from an ‘old-fashioned’, ‘conventional’ mobile phone to the IPhone I knew it would cost more to use. I was a prepaid customer and decided to stay in that category but upped my monthly payment from €20 to €30. Along with the normal telephony deal it gave me 250 megabytes usage of data each month. I quickly discovered that that was not adequate. I decided to change to bill pay and for the same price I was told I would receive monthly one gigabyte of data. So I changed over

I did the change over via the telephone and was told it would take three to five working days. It took over a week and in the meantime I was charged a punitive rate for accessing data.

When my package did change over the telephone company forgot to add the data bundle.

Every day for six days I called customer service. It was a head-wrecking experience of pressing buttons, listening to voice prompt, eventually getting through to a human voice. I have given my address, telephone number and date of birth in those five days a zillion times. I feel far older than on the first occasion I gave my date of birth.

Eventually everything seems to be in place and the telephone company has ‘credited’ my account for data usage during the interim period.

How many people are so careful or parsimonious enough to keep on top of all this?

Some weeks ago I wrote in this column a review of Hans Fallada’s 'Alone in Berlin'. Since then I have read more of his novels, including 'Little Man, What Now'. It is a critique of what life is like for the small, unimportant people, especially in times of difficulty.

The dice is always stacked against the poor and fragile in our society. To say anything else is humbug, a type of pseudo jargon fed to us from the ruling classes.

And on that point I have to admit these days I keep saying to myself that there will hardly be a priest in the land, who will know the first thing about the current recession that is sweeping the country. How can anyone empathise with the poor and fragile if they never have a chance of knowing what it means to be anxious and worried about where the money for telephone and electricity bills is to come from?

Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn comments in 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' that a man who is warm can never understand a man who is cold.

I could not begin to tell you the level of frustration I reached in my communication with the telephone company.

What must it be like for people who are constantly being pilloried and feel alienated, lost and angry, people who simply are not cheeky or articulate enough with their case?

Technology is great but the price of it needs always to be transparent, customer friendly and properly regulated.

After all, communications is about understanding and empathising with other people.

Isn't it ironic, with all our instant messaging, so many are so alienated.

A funny old world.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Liturgial lap dancers in the ascendancy

It is difficult not to be intolerant with what is happening in the Catholic Church at present.

It seems the church, the church of the people of God, is being hijacked by an ideology, by a group of people.

It has to be a nonsense for a priest to come out to the altar wearing a 'pixie'. It is disturbing to see an altar server lift the priest's vestment.

This has nothing to do with language or theology. It is linked to other issues, which are worrying and disturbing.

What is happening it profoundly upsetting and is there a church leader willing to speak clear and prophetic words about what is taking place?

It is like a creeping paralysis that has to turn the church into a most 'unusual' place.

And how could anyone ask the Vatican to do the investigation? It is shocking.

And all the silence and yet people know and say nothing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Guttenberg supporters take to the streets

A simall number of Germans took to the streets today in support of retired defence minister Gittenberg.

There is no accounting for taste. But it is unfortunate that the Germans on another occasion were euphoric about a cheat and liar who was also in charge of their army.

People knew Fallada knew

From the first days that church authorities began to make statements about the horror of child sex abuse this blogger was of the opinion most of what they were say was close to humbug.

In the past this entire phenomenon was swept under the carpet and today church authorities continue to do that albeit in a new manner using new tools. The only reason why they are speaking is because they were caught.

In a current issue of a religious magazine a priest, who is involved in this issue, tells his readers that people were simply not aware of what was happening, nor were they aware of the results and damage of such behaviour.

I have always thought that to be inaccurate and simply not true.

In 1938 Hans Fallada published ‘Wolf  Among Wolves’. In this book he tells the story of an adult sexually abusing a minor. It is is a copybook account of so much of what we have learned and read about in recent years.

Fallada explains in precise detail the thinking of the perpetrator and the horrific damage it does to the victim.

After Violet is abused she observes her abuser, “ Raeder went to the cupboard. He unlocked the cupboard and placed the glass inside it. That is how men are! He was not always a murderer, normally he was a very ordinary citizen, and it was that that made him so dangerous....

“When she saw him, scarcely three yards away, kneel down on the little stage visible only to herself, and pray, he who just before had put his hand around her throat – when she reflected that perhaps he was thanking God for being allowed to do that to her – then Violet could contain herself no longer but jumped up and ran into the night.

“She ran through the garden, on and on, and up a grass ridge between the fields. Her breast heaved. She felt as if she must run away from it all, from herself and everyone, and she threw herself down and gazed at the sky, whose impalpably deep background made the stars twinkle all the more brightly.(Melvillehouse page 511)

Hans Fallada knew exactly what was going on and wrote about it.

Popes, cardinals and bishops, who say they did not know are greatly damaging the meaning of words when they talk as they do.

It is impossible to listen to them.

Stop. Please.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blogger and blog dismissed and blocked

Whether it is cause for shame or pride it is difficult to know.

This blogger was dismissed/removed/re-assigned from the Dominican Community in St Saviour's Dublin because of his 'opinions and attitude'.

This blog has now been blocked from a country. The country will not be named out of deference for the internal affairs of that country.


It is interesting that in both cases those who did the dismissing and blocking are right wing, reactionary groups. In one case akin to the German defence minister who resigned yesterday. Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg pretended he stood for 'old values'. He cheated and lied. He was outed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deep in the ground under a sycamore tree

My faithful companion of 12 years is dead.

Jessie, a labrador bitch, was put to sleep yesterday.

The loss is real and the pain too. Carrying her into the vet in Dingle yesterday was heart wrenching.

A friend, who had cared for Jessie on the days that I was not in Kerry, came with me.

We buried her under a tree in the garden.

It is amazing the relationship that can develop between a dog and a human.

She was an amazing animal. As a young dog, full of fun and adventure, she did get me into some trouble but over the years she was always there beside me.

When I would arrive home late on a Thursday night, she would show her face.

Earlier when Dad was alive he would say that she knew when the car pulled up at the door.

In the last few months she developed cancer of the bone, which spread to the lung and right to the last day she wagged her tail.

She was gentle and kind. Never sly or mean. Yes, opportunistic when it came to 'stealing' food.

Nature is simply amazing.

Leave it at that.

At last German defence minister resigns

It must be a new day for every German soldier, especially the women and men serving in Afghanistan.

Karl Theodore Freiherr zu Guttenberg has resigned as German defence minister.

Germany can again hold its head high. It is a good day for Germany, the EU, democracy and the free press.