Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mesmerised by Messi

Knowing little or nothing about soccer I watched the Manchester United Barcelona game on Saturday evening.

It was simply an amazing game of football. It is obviously the sort of football that has made the game so popular and yet it is seldom to be seen.

It was 90 minutes of wonder and one had to be mesmerised by Messi.

Dublin's Dominick Street is a national disgrace

Maybe a blog is the perfect place to sound off, to complain to get angry.

This blogger is just back from calling on a friend in Dublin's Dominick Street.

Doors blocked up with monstrous material, homeless people sleeping in sheds designed as coal bunkers.

Close by is the Garden of Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth ll laid a wreath to the dead.

Closer still is the Dominican church. Inside the door a pamphlet with a 'personal' note from no less than the Vatican Secretary of State assuring those who take part in a rally for life that the Pope is personally praying fro them.

Beside the pamphlet is Alive.

Both the free news sheet and the rally pamphlet have not a word to say about the conditions of life for people on Dominick Street.

Nowhere in the church a word about the living conditions of the people who live in Dominick Street.

There has to be something wrong with this.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dr Hempel gave the salute and was in Nazi party

Today's Irish Times carries a letter by Ivor Shorts, pointing out how Dr Eduard Hempel was part of the Nazi machine.

Of course Dr Hempel carried out the orders of Adolf Hitler, was a member of the Nazi Party, gave the Hitler salute and complained to the Irish Government about a play showing at the Peacock, which told the story of a refugee from Nazi Germany.

The Irish authorities to their shame requested the Peacock to make changes in the play.

It is intresting how we are forever finding kind words and excuses for the middle management teams, people who look and sound 'refined'.

The late Dr Hempel was Adolf Hitler's agent in Ireland.

Pastor Niemoeller's poem comes to mind.

Imagine if every German ambassador around the world had refused to sell the Hitler story, what then?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The news of the rich for the rich and by the rich

The award of €80,000 to Rosanna Davison will come as a surprise to many.

Yesterday the Joe Duffy show carried a segment on the aggravated burglary at the home of well-known solicitor Gerald Kean and his partner Lisa Murphy. Mr Kean gave a minute-by-minute graphic account of what happened.

It seems the rings that were stolen are worth a substantial sum of money.

Then on today's newspapers both stories get prominent coverage.

It must strike people that the news we are told is the comings and goings of the rich and famous. It is only when the poor and marginalised commit crimes do we hear about them.

Nobody is interested in their pain and suffering.

There is something untoward, something not right about how both these stories have been played out in Ireland. Or is that simply what the media is about?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Similarities in observations travelling between Dublin and Tralee and Berlin Hbf to Leipzig

This is naturally for those who can read German.

It is a lovely piece about commuting between Berlin and Leipzig five days a week. Nearly as good as between Tralee and Dublin twice weekly.

Christoph Rieth ist Profi-Pendler: Ausgerüstet mit der “Schwarzen Mamba” der Bahn, einem grimmigen Blick und einem straffen Zeitplan legt der MDR-Redakteur täglich 400 Kilometer zwischen Berlin und Leipzig zurück. “Alles eine Frage der Organisation”, sagt Rieth, der mittlerweile viel in seinem Pendleralltag erlebt hat – und zudem Tricks für Bahn-Anfänger verrät.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof, 7:51 Uhr, Gleis 2. Man kennt sich. Die Namen der Mitreisenden weniger, aber ein freundliches, manchmal verschlafen wirkendes Nicken gilt als Begrüßungscode unter den Pendlern. Es sind Mitarbeiter vom Bundesverwaltungsgericht, Musiker des Gewandhausorchesters, eine Horde von Journalisten und Andere – alle im gleichen Großraumwagen. Es ist jedoch nicht die U- oder die S-Bahn, sondern der ICE 1607. Der Hochgeschwindigkeitszug schafft die 200-km-Strecke in knapp 60 Minuten nach Leipzig. 60 Minuten hin und 60 Minuten zurück. Manchmal auch länger, vor allem im Winter, bei Hitze oder Streik. Fünf Tage die Woche immer das gleiche Programm. In A leben, in B arbeiten.
Gerade auf dem Land ist Pendeln normal. Die Menschen leben in ihrem Dorf, gearbeitet wird in den nahegelegenen Städten und Zentren. Eben dort wo es Arbeit gibt. Das Phänomen ist auch in den Großstädten angekommen. In Berlin gibt es massenhaft Pendler die es tagtäglich nach Wolfsburg, Hamburg und Leipzig zieht. Die moderne Technik macht es möglich.
Warum tust Du dir das tägliche Pendeln eigentlich an?

Ich bin einer dieser Pendler. 35 Jahre alt, Familienvater, Redakteur. „Warum verlässt Du Berlin nicht und ziehst nach Leipzig?“, „Warum tust Du dir das tägliche Pendeln eigentlich an?“ – Fragen die mir oft gestellt werden und auf die es zahllose Antworten gibt. Eine davon ist natürlich die, die Familie nicht aus ihrem gewohnten Umfeld reißen zu wollen und irgendwo sonst anzusiedeln. Schließlich weiß ich nicht, wie lange ich in Leipzig arbeiten werde. Es sind auch egoistische Gründe. Ich lebe seit zehn Jahren in Berlin. Leipzig ist eine tolle und lebenswerte Stadt, aber in Berlin fühle ich mich zu Hause. Die entscheidende Antwort ist aber: weil es funktioniert! Man muss sich nur darauf einlassen. Ich mache das seit über drei Jahren und jedes Jahr werde ich besser, fast jeder Handgriff sitzt.

7.10 Uhr klingelt der Wecker. Startschuss für den genau optimierten Zeitplan. Duschen und anziehen bis maximal 7.30 Uhr. Kurzer Blick auf die Webseite der Bahn, ob der 7:51er-ICE auch pünktlich ist. Als Profipendler steige ich immer an einer bestimmten Fliese ein.Verabschiedung von der Familie und ab auf die Vespa. Wenn die Berliner Ampelschaltung mitspielt, schaffe ich es in acht Minuten zum Bahnhof. Am Haupteingang noch ein kurzer Blick auf die Anzeigetafel, Abwägen ob noch ein Kaffee zum Mitnehmen an der Espressobar drin ist. Danach quer durch den Bahnhof, beim Zeitungshändler noch etwas Aktuelles mitnehmen. Die Tagesschlagzeile entscheidet die Wahl. Dann auf die Rolltreppe und prüfen in welcher Wagenreihung der Zug einfährt. Das ist wichtig – denn als Profipendler kennt man genau die Fliese, wo die Zugtür hält. Kleiner Tipp: Beim ICE 3 steigt man immer im letzten Abteil der 1. Klasse ein und geht dann in die 2. Klasse. Dort befinden sich die meisten freien Plätze. Zeitung und Kaffee sind im Übrigen mein Zeitpuffer. Wird es mal richtig eng, dann muss ich darauf verzichten.

Während der Fahrt folgt immer das gleiche Ritual: Gangplatz suchen wegen der Beinfreiheit, Zeitung auspacken und grimmig schauen. Dann wird man von „normalen“ Reisenden nicht angesprochen, ob der Fensterplatz neben einem noch frei sei. Die Bahncard100 ist mein ständiger Begleiter.In der einen Stunde Fahrzeit schaffe ich meistens eine Tageszeitung, checke die wichtigsten Emails, arbeite ein wenig und für ein 10-Minuten-Schläfchen ist auch noch Zeit. Das alles wird nur durch ein kurzes Zeigen der Bahncard100 unterbrochen, die Late-Night-Talker Harald Schmidt nur die „schwarze Mamba“ nennt. Einerseits wegen Ihrer Farbe und andererseits, weil die Zugbegleiter ganz ehrfurchtsvoll stramm stehen.

Gegen 9.00 Uhr erreicht der ICE Leipzig Hauptbahnhof. Dort stand lange Zeit ein Fahrrad, mittlerweile die zweite Vespa, mit der ich zum MDR fahre. Rollerfahren macht ziemlich unabhängig, nichts ist nerviger als auf den öffentlichen Nahverkehr zu warten. 9.15 Uhr sitze ich am Schreibtisch. Kurz vor 18.00 Uhr ist im Normalfall Dienstschluss. Jetzt dauert es noch eine Stunde bis ich wieder in Berlin bin. Ich genieße diese eine Stunde, weil ich im Zug so herrlich abschalten kann. Wenn ich die Hauptstadt erreiche, habe ich den Arbeitstag verarbeitet. Als BackUp steht mir in Leipzig noch ein kleines WG-Zimmer zur Verfügung, das ich mir mit einem anderen Pendler teile.

Klingt eigentlich ganz o.k., oder?
Das war aber (nur) die Kür. Es gibt noch einen Pflichtteil, der sich auf improvisieren und reagieren beschränkt: Fährt der Zug nach Berlin pünktlich ab oder hat er eine Verspätung? Wenn verspätet, bleibe ich länger im Büro oder erledige ich am Bahnhof noch Einkäufe? Muss ich die Familie über die Verspätung informieren oder bleibt es im zeitlichen Rahmen? Kann ich die Verabredung zum Feierabendbier einhalten? Warten die Jungs beim Kicken mit dem Anpfiff?

Vor allem bei der Planung des Privatlebens wird der Fahrplan der Bahn ungewollt zur entscheidenden Grundlage. Freunde und Bekannte wissen schon, dass man sich mit mir am besten nach dem Fahrplan verabredet. Die Faustformel lautet dabei: Ankunft Hauptbahnhof Berlin plus 20 Minuten.

Kompliziert wird es erst, wenn die Bahn sich nicht an ihren eigenen Fahrplan hält. Verspätung, Ausfall, Streckensperrung und Umleitung habe ich alles schon mitgemacht. Dazu passend auch immer wieder lustige Durchsagen: Ersatzzug ist immer noch besser als kein Zug! „Unsere Abfahrt verzögert sich um 30 – 40 Minuten. Der Zubringer-Zug mit unserem Zugpersonal hat leider eine Verspätung“ oder „Unser Zug hat derzeit nicht genug Antriebskraft um über die Berge zu kommen. Wir müssen noch auf eine weitere Zugeinheit warten.“ Berge? Zwischen Berlin und Leipzig? Da fragt man sich dann schon, ob sich nachts die Kontinentalplatten verschoben haben.

Am nervigsten ist jedoch die Salamitaktik bei Verspätungen. Nur scheibchenweise in Fünf-Minuten-Häppchen verkündet die Bahnhofsdurchsage die wirkliche Abfahrtszeit, wobei Anzeigetafel, Durchsage und Bahn.de oft völlig unterschiedliche Angaben ausspucken. Aber Aufregen bringt eigentlich nichts. Ich beschwere mich selten und ertrage es einfach. Ein Mitpendler aus meiner „Reisegruppe“ zieht dagegen immer die Pöbelnummer durch und beschwert sich beim Personal über alles. Während ich denke, der arme Zugbegleiter kann auch nichts dafür, ist seine Theorie auch plausibel: der Herr Schaffner muss das aushalten, das gehört zu seiner Job Description. Mit unserer Good-Cop-Bad-Cop-Nummer fahren wir eigentlich ganz gut. Ich habe den geringeren Puls, er die besseren Informationen. Und manchmal tauschen wir auch die Rollen.
Christoph Rieth (mdr)

'Inside dealing' not exclusive to the stock market

An anonymous comment left of this blog last evening reads: "The points you make show that you have very little understanding of what the Church is".

Its content and anonymity is in so many ways a metaphor for what is amiss in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Once it is enunciated that 'you have very little understanding' then one is immediately put in her or his box.

It is a powerful silly put-down line that some church people have used for generations upon generations. It is as if they have confidential information about truth and God that is exclusively their property.

Of course it is profound humbug and arrogant piffle. It is a great line to protect oneself, to cut oneself off from the world - indeed, the world in which the Advocate is present.

It is ironic for someone to talk about a lack of understanding re the church on a day when the Irish police are about to launch an investigation into the behaviour of Irish priests in Africa.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Conversation is anathema to the church

Fr Claffey mentions the word 'conversation'.

Maybe indeed that is a word central to so much that goes wrong within the Catholic Church. There is little if any 'conversation' in the church.

There is no 'conversation' between bishops and priests, nor is there any between people and bishops.

Edicts are passed down.

There is little if any 'conversation' between priests.

Maybe it is because of the lifestyle of the priest but always close to the surface there is a lurking arrogance. It might well be simply inevitable or natural. After all a priest has no children or wife pulling at him, telling him what to do. He never has a child disturbing his night's sleep.

There is something terribly wrong within the state of priesthood at present. There seems no attempt by bishops or congregational superiors to address the troubled priesthood.

And then there is the silence, the deadening silence that kills all in its wake.

The new missal to be introduced in Advent - how many people have been asked to converse about it?

The Vatican 'inquisitors' who have been in Ireland - how many have been asked to converse with them?

Fr Patrick Claffey wonders about 'conversation'

In today's Irish Times Fr Patrick Claffey writes that the absence of any Irish bishop from a recent conference prompts a question as to where and when the real and urgent conversation can ever take place.

The church never wants any sort of meaningful conversation. It must always be in charge.

Huston, we have a problem

Anyone who saw RTE's Prime Time last evening and the follow up discussion with Fr Liam Alyward is forced to say there is something systemically amiss in the Catholic Church.

To think of the time , energy and money that is about to be spent on a new missal and then this, if it were not so tragic it would be laughable.

To any reasonable person looking at what is going on it surely must occur to them that the church has a problem and it is not address it.

It is simply that clear. Anything else is obfuscation and dishonest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not just bishops who are dysfunctional

Breda O'Brien in her column in Saturday's Irish Times commented that the Irish bishops as a grouping is a dysfunctional body.

It's good to see that the penny has dropped for Ms O'Brien. Hopefully she will now expand her vision and observe how dysfunctional the entire leadership of the Catholic Church in Ireland is.

Little if anything is changing in the Irish church.

The new missal is about to be introduced and some dioceses are going to run introductory programmes. Did it ever dawn on diocesan bishops to ask their people and clergy about the need for change. Has there been a sensible theological word about the need for change?

When church circulars can equate commitment to Christ with how much money one gives it is difficult to have hope in the Irish church.

When young men studying for priesthood give time and thought to the clothes they wear and when there is energy wasted on how best to prepare men to celebrate Mass in Latin then it really might seem we are doomed as people giving witness to the Word of God in society.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A moral story in Irish political life

It is interesting to look back in Irish political life and see how Garret FitzGerald was in favour of the State permitting divorce and allowing contraception and Charles J Haughey was opposed to both.

There is a moral in the story.

What makes a media outlet 'Catholic'?

An elderly woman in the west of Ireland commented to a friend at the weekend that she was going to stop her donation to Trócaire because she had heard that the NGO supported abortion.

Of course it is not true that the NGO supports abortion.

Trócaire CEO Justin Kilcullen has challenged Alive to withdraw what it said about the organisation.

Is it appropriate that the free sheet Alive be available in churches? There is also need for a far greater disassociation of the Irish Dominicans from the free sheet.

If Alive and similar newspapers/free sheets were anyway left wing in their ideology, church authorities would long ago have cried stop.

When is a newspaper allowed call itself 'Catholic'?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Propaganda is never exclusive to any one belief

This blogger had the opportunity to read the current number of the international English speaking edition of the North Korean State newspaper.

It is clearly a one-sided vehicle of State propaganda.

Reading it it is clear to see how the contributors write on how perfect everything is in North Korea.

Any oberserver of right-wing Catholic Church media is forced to see similarities with the North Korean newspaper.

The lack of any room for outside opinion, the absence of any sign of nuance, the 'absolute truth' of so many magazines, blogs, newspaper and newssheets is greatly worrying.

Sadly, it looks if such a trend is in the ascendancy in the Catholic Church at present.

Where are the wise theologians and wise men and women in the church, why stay so silent?

What is happening is alarming and indeed profoundly sad.

An occasion to bring a tear to the Irish

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were guest of honour this evening at a reception in Dublin Castle hosted by the President Mary McAleese.

Over 150 dignitaries attended.

Both Queen Elizabeth and President McAleese gave inspiring and thoughtful speeches.

It was poignant to see the First Minister of Northern Ireland and his wife present at the gala event in Dublin Castle.

And it was somewhat sad that former taoishig Liam Cosgrave and Garret FitzGerald were not in attendance. Mr Cosgrave is old and Mr FitzGerald is ill in hospital.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A feast for some of the commentators

Queen Elizabeth is coming to the close of her first day in Ireland. She looks like someone who is enjoying her visit. They certainly are a statement for the older generation; she is 85 and her husband is 90.

Just some short hours into the visit and it is clear that it is the commentators who are the real nuisance.

It's annoying when a professor of history at UCD uses the word 'fulsome' incorrectly'.
And it is done with the such fluency and bluff that really makes him so spectacular.

Mary Kenny goes on and on in that extraordinary annoying accent telling the viewers how much she knows about so much to do with Queen Elizabeth. We were told in the most profound fashion how Queen Elizabeth carries the State papers with her on all her foreign trips.

Of course Ms Kenny is quite entitled to change from left wing beliefs to an ultra right ideology. But one can't help but wonder who is the 'real' Ms Kenny.

Her writings in Catholic styled newspapers is a mix of nonsense and church gossip.

The woman seems to carry some sort of 'air' about her that appears to give her an 'authentic' conservaitve Catholic look.

It would be interesting to know what Queen Elizabeth thinks of all the commentators.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

German ambassador was Part of Hitler's team

Saturday's Irish Times caries a story about Liv Hempel the daughter of Eduard Hempel. who was German ambassador to Ireland during the Hitler years.

It is a lovely story of meeting up with old friends. But there is an underlying theme in the article that the German ambassador to Ireland was a good, dignified, refined man.

As much as the reader might like to think that, alas the reality tells us another story. Hempel was Hitler's representative in Ireland. Presumably he had to be in the party and also could never have told the authorities in Berlin that he was opposed to the mass murder of millions of people. If he did then it would be great to discover such evidence.

Far too many people stayed quiet and their stories helped allow the Nazi murder machine to roll across Europe.

Mr Hempel was part of the team, the German team, who committed terrible atrocities. Indeed, it is that middle management group that allowed Hitler and his evil to breathe.

It is that middle 'team' in all societies that let things happen,

Where was the Irish Civil Service when the politicians doing their madness? They were furthering their careers and promotional chances.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Apple has the perfect docking station

Technology is jumping forward daily.

I'm sitting on the 17.00 ex Heuston Tralee writing this. No longer do I have to try to work my fingers around the touch screen of the Iphone. I can now attach the phone to a keyboard. The keyboard is designed for an Ipad but its port is interfacable with the Iphone.

And while all that is happening there is also great bewilderment taking place.

A colleague at work had one of these and it is perfect for my needs. It may mean I will be able to dispense with my eircom landline.

I was told they were on sale at PC World in Jervis Street, which is about two kilometres from my Dublin office. I looked up the telephone book and dialled the number for PC World. Got through to an office in Chester and had trouble understanding the adviser.

I had a simple question: did PC World in Jervis Street have the item in stock. Without the sale code number she was unable to tell me. That has to be crazy.

I cyceld the two kilometres hoping that they would have them in stock.

Luck was on my side. WHen I asked could I open the box to have a look I was told it was not company policy. After a short pleasant discussion and becasue they had not one on shop display they agreed.

It really is a funny old world.

Church always runs for the lawyers

The report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children articulates so well so many aspects of the Catholic Church in Ireland today.

The headline on Patsy McGarry's piece on the issue reads; 'Latest actions show church is unreformable'.

And McGarry knows nothing about what is actually happening in the hierarchical church at present with the ascendancy of the new right wing.

It is looking bleak.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We are being ripped off by providers

This article appears in today's INM newspapers.

By Michael Commane
Do you know how much your last phone call cost you? Do you know how much you pay for a kilowatt hour of electricity? Do you know how much our national rail company charges you per kilometre?

And please don’t tell me that this is not linked to morality. It certainly is.

Last week I received a telephone bill for a landline. Checking through it I spotted that a five second call to a mobile at an off-peak time cost 17 cent. I called the telephone provider. I was told they would have someone call me back. Days later and I still have not heard from them. But I did my homework and have calculated; yes that is the price they charge. How can any telephony regulator allow that?

Checking my most recent mobile telephone bill I noticed it is more an advert for the phone company than explaining in a transparent way, how much I was charged for usage.

I decided to change my electricity supplier. I discovered that my most recent bill had been estimated so I called the provider and asked what the protocol is for having my money refunded to me. I was told that I would have to contact them in order to have my bank account credited with the appropriate sum. When I questioned the system I was told in a curt fashion that that was company policy.

Surely it should be their responsibility to return my money to me without my having to go and ask them. How can an electricity regulator allow such a practice?

Sometime ago Irish Rail introduced an online ticket purchasing facility.

I travel weekly between Dublin and Tralee so the online ticket service offered significant reductions. When they first introduced the service there was no charge for using your laser card but sneakily they introduced a €2 fee.

The fares remained at constant prices. The 19.00 Dublin Tralee train cost €20 plus €2 card fee and the 19.15 Tralee Dublin was at the bargain price of €12.00.You just had to book two hours before train departure.

They were great fares and were attracting more and more passengers – ‘customers’ as Irish Rail prefers to call us. The word ‘customers’ seems to say we are all friends in this business!

Scrolling through the Irish Rail website during the Easter holidays it was clear to see that everything had changed and changed utterly too.

It is now far more difficult to get cheap fares and the chances of getting anything under €38 are slim.

If you buy a monthly Dublin Tralee return at a station it is €81.50. A five day return is €72.00 and a single is €68.50.

There seems to be no link whatsoever between the distance covered and the price of the ticket. I once asked if there was a price per kilometre. Of course I did not get a reply. I think they thought I was odd or simply a troublemaker.

If the rail company increases its standard fares it has to ask Government but when it comes to internet prices it seems to be able to do what it likes. What has the transport regulator got to say about this?

And at the same time Irish Rail has introduced a no-nonsense ticket checking system. If you are caught without a valid ticket it is a €100 fine plus the price of the ticket. No excuses accepted and the people doing the job have obviously been given training on how to show no mercy. I know that from observation and not from personal experience!

So if someone comes along to me and asks is it sinful to dodge a rail fare or how wrong is it to develop some small scam where I can avoid paying for all my telephone calls, what in truth should my reply be?

I for one am weary observing how the little man is forever trampled under foot while the strong and powerful have all the dice in their favour.

Pope Benedict expresses great concern about the current philosophy of relativism. But are we not living in a world that is governed by relativism. Everything is up for grabs. There is no price per kilometre on the railway. There is no absolute price per minute when I telephone.

It appears the big corporations can charge what they like, make up their own rules as they go along – of course they do it all the time under the guise of good PR advice. In this scenario surely the little person can also claim grounds for a certain amount of leeway.

Am I preaching sedition? But if so, I don’t want to be patronised, judged or condemned by someone who has not a clue of the price of a kilowatt hour of electricity or how much a five second call to a mobile is.

Nevertheless, these days travelling by rail through the lush countryside of Tipperary and Cork and the magnificent scenery of Kerry, I realise how fortunate I am to be living in a most spectacular corner of the earth.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A long time late night voice on RTE Radio

Veteran RTE GAA correspondent Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin retired on Sunday after 62 years working with the State broadcaster.

In the last few days a large number of people have paid tributes to the man.

When I was a child - I must have been between seven and 10 I would get particularly anxious on a Sunday evening if I happened to hear Seán Óg's voice.

And the reason? His report was at 23.00 and if I was still awake at that time I would be upset that I was awake so late and should be asleep much earlier to be ready for school the next day.

Certainly an 'original take' on the great man.

My own father worked until he was 82, was swimming in the North Atlantic at 91 and died at 95.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The brave voices of the Scholls

Bavarian Television screened the life of Sophie Scholl this evening. A great young German woman who stood up against Hitler, his secret police, millions of Germans, authority.

She was one in millions. Is that always the way?

The well dressed officials and lawers with all the set answers. Is that always the way?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Greenest of grass and tallest of trees

On the down train. Dublin to Thurles in one hour nine mInutes - a personal record.

Tipperary is significantly greener than last Thursday.

Of course places are special because pf people. And that's so for me and Tipperary. But the greeness of Tipperary and its great trees stand out, make it special.

Meisner's decision must cause a great ripple

Cardinal Meisner of Cologne has removed teaching permission from David Berger to teach religion after the man publicly outed himself.

This is really at the centre of one great problem within the Catholic Church right now.

Has the cardinal made his decision because the man is gay or because it is now public knowledge or because he is gay?

If it is because he is gay then most seminaries around the world would be short lecturers. If it is because the story is gone public, then it is just a show game and total nonsense.

Here is the story as carried in today's Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.

Every bishop and every provincial must now confront this story and if they are honest and truthful they will object to the stand Cardinal Meisner has taken. It they want to be cowards then they will stay mute.

The cardinal talks about how it was impossible for Berger to remain credible. Really!

How can any bishop or provincial allow this?

Kardinal schasst schwulen Theologen

Der bekennende homosexuelle Theologe und Autor David Berger darf nach seinem Outing keinen Religionsunterricht mehr erteilen. Nach FR-Informationen entzieht Kardinal Meisner dem 42-Jährigen mit sofortiger Wirkung die „Missio canonica“.

Berger könne „nicht mehr glaubwürdig im Sinne der katholischen Kirche unterrichten“, heißt es in dem Dekret des Kölner Erzbischofs vom 2. Mai, das der Frankfurter Rundschau vorliegt. „Das Vertrauensverhältnis des Erzbischofs von Köln in die Glaubwürdigkeit von Herrn Dr Berger, in Lehre und Lebensführung mit den moralischen und gesetzlichen Normen der Kirche übereinzustimmen, ist zerstört“, so Meisner in der von ihm persönlich unterzeichneten Verfügung weiter. Berger erwecke den Anschein, in seinen Überzeugungen und seiner Lebensführung „von der katholischen Lehre und Disziplin“ abzuweichen. Die Begriffe „Homosexualität“ oder „schwul“ verwendet Meisner selbst an keiner Stelle.

Wie Bergers Schulleiter, Hermann Hammes-Therre vom städtischen Ville-Gymnasium in Erftstadt (Rhein-Erft-Kreis), der FR bestätigte, ist Berger auf Weisung des zuständigen Schuldezernenten von diesem Donnerstag an seiner Aufgaben als Religionslehrer entbunden – „ein Unding mitten im Schuljahr“, so Hammes-Therre. „Wenn schon, dann hätte man das mit Augenmaß zum Schuljahreswechsel umsetzen sollen.“

Berger selbst zeigte sich auf Anfrage enttäuscht und erschüttert. Der Entzug der Missio sei „ein schwerer Schlag gegen den Frieden innerhalb des Erzbistums sowie überhaupt der Seelsorge im Erzbistum“. Er kenne gerade auch aus der Erzdiözese Köln eine Vielzahl von homosexuell veranlagten Priestern, Priesteramtsanwärtern, Ordensleuten, Religionslehrern und anderen im kirchlichen Dienst Stehenden, „die mir ihre tiefe Dankbarkeit zum Ausdruck gebracht haben, dass ich ihnen Stimme verliehen habe.“ Berger zeigte sich zudem verärgert, dass Meisner ihm keine Gelegenheit gegeben habe, zu den gegen ihn gerichteten „pauschalen Vorwürfen“ persönlich Stellung zu nehmen.

Mit dem Entzug der Missio hat Berger nun auch die letzte Funktion innerhalb der Kirche verloren. Im April 2010 hatte er in einem Gastbeitrag für die FR einen bigotten Umgang der katholischen Kirche mit Homosexuellen angeprangert und seine Erfahrungen als Schwuler in der Kirche später in dem Buch „Der heilige Schein“ publiziert. Die päpstliche Thomas-Akademie in Rom erkannte ihm den Status als Gastprofessor ab. Offensichtlich sei Kardinal Meisner nun unter dem Druck „extrem reaktionärer homophober Kräfte“ in der katholischen Kirche eingeknickt, so Berger.

The men who wear Armani

Is someone in the church going to shout stop?

Reports in yesterday's Guardian about an Italian bishop wearing Armani vestments.

It has nothing to do with the price. It has all do do with a pervading madness about style and dress that is a disease in the church.

There is something most unhealthy developing within the clerical caste. It has always been there but it is taking on a whole new life.

I have been working in the public and private sector for many years and when I see the style and attitude of my work colleagues with what is going on in the church all one can do is cry.

Are provincials and bishops noticing it? But then they cry innocence when it comes to the Legionaries of Christ and their tomfoolery.

And guess what there is a link with this stuff and the crazy liturgy, including the new Missal about to appear.

A former master of the Dominican Order, Fr Vincent de Couesongle, once commented that he judged a community by the quality of its liturgical celebration. What would he think of the mix of Armani chasubles and all the pseudo theology?

And it is not only bishops who wear Armani. There are many others at it too. And that's the clothing style when the day-time 'cute clerical' gear is put in the cupboard.

Did the PR people know something when they told us that the devil may wear Prada?

This link is about an Italian bishop wearing Armani vestments.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/03/bishop-domenico-mogavero-armani-italy

People in positions of authority had to know

If it was clear to me living in Rome in 1975 that there was something amiss with the Legionaries of Christ and their behaviour, then it is baffling how people in positions of authority did not know about the congregation and its leader/founder.

It really cannot be possible that people close to Maciel did not know that he and his behaviour was a spoof.

And how can the Legionaries of Christ with an ethos of spoof and nonsense and weird sexuality be allowed exist within the framework of the church today?

And what is profoundly sad is that their 'ethos' is in the ascendancy within clerical institutions.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The defeat of Nazi Germany

On this date in 1945 on the western front Donitz sends envoys to the headquarters of Field Marshal Montgomery, at Luneburge Heide, and they sign an agreement, at 18.20 for the surrender of German forces in Holland, Denmark and northern Germany.

The Germans also agree to the Allied demand that German submarines should be surrendered rather than scuttled in the German naval tradition.

The surrender becomes effective on May 5. Meanwhile, in continuing fighting to the south, Salzburg is captured by American forces. Other units push into Czechoslovakia towards Pilsen.

On the eastern front German forces conduct rearguard actions, in northern Germany, in Czechoslovakia and Austria, as the bulk of the German forces attempt to disengage and reach the Anglo-American lines.

In Berlin Marshal Zhukov is told by Stalin that the last garrisons in Berlin have fallen.

Zhukov, the hero on the Volga, has realised what he told Paulus on that great river in 1942. And what the Russians told their people on mid-summer's day in 1941 has come to pass.

Two priests with alternative view on beatification

Two alternative views on Sunday's beatification ceremony appear in letter form in today's Irish Times.

One is by Fr Declan Moriarty of the Dublin Archdiocese. Fr Moriarty is affected by by Parkinson's disease.

And Fr Patrick McCafferty, with an address in Dublin's Rathmines, criticises Blessed John Paul concerning his attitude and approach to the clerical sex abuse issue.

Royal weddings and beatifcation ceremonies

The article below appears in today's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Mihcael Commane
On Friday a friend and I went by motorbike to Newmarket in Co Cork. The bike needed servicing so it was an ideal spring day to drive through the lush north Cork countryside.

Newmarket is a small town. On the main street there is a low size sculpture of Newmarket born writer Alice Taylor.

On the day there was only one show in town. Of course it was the royal wedding in Westminster Abbey and every television in the town was tuned in to the wedding.

On one occasion I joked to someone and asked what would the men of 1916 say about all this? I got the impression that my question was not appreciated. I was out the door before I could analyse the comment.

On the way home we called to visit someone in a nursing home. We were lucky to catch her as she had just returned from her daughter’s house where she had been watching the royal wedding on a wide screen TV.

And then, later that evening, I found myself watching a replay of the event on BBC.

Nothing to do with being for or against the Windsors, I’m just not in to that sort of thing. I’m inclined to ask who pays for it all and where and how ultimately do people with large sums of money amass such fortunes.

Nevertheless, I come out with my hands up and admit that I did watch much of the replay on Friday evening.

I was also wondering what the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who performed the ceremony, was thinking about it all.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, preached an impressive sermon. He quoted the great Dominican saint, Catherine of Siena, whose feast day it was and also my birthday. It is a quote well worth remembering: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Fast forward to Sunday morning and to the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

It so happens a Dominican colleague of mine was doing the commentary for RTE. I watched the greater part of the ‘event’. I switched channels as two German networks were showing it, as was ETWN.

On Saturday’s newspaper it had been reported that Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe would be attending the Vatican ceremony.

I’m sort of confused with the fast tracking of beatification for John Paul II but again I come out with my hands up and say that I watched most of the ‘event’ and listened attentively to Pope Benedict’s sermon. Because I have spent most of my teaching life teaching German I am interested in all things German and its people too. So Benedict interests me.

Sitting in my armchair watching the second spectacle within 48 hours I am again wondering what a cleric is thinking about – this time Pope Benedict XVI.

Between the royal wedding and the beatification ceremony billions of viewers were tuned in.

These events clearly attract worldwide attention. In both events cameras zoomed in and showed us people so emotional that we could see the tears slowly trickle down their cheeks.

The commentators at the royal event told us it was living proof of the respect in which the royal family was held. On Sunday at the beatification ceremony we were told that the crowds through their silence were showing the world the strength of their faith.

Is it as simple as that? Nothing in this crazy world of ours is simple.

I’ll put my cards out on the table straight away. I’m not too sure about royalty. I am never happy with people who put themselves beyond the rest of us and then go on and consider themselves with some sort of ‘divine right’ to sit on thrones and live in palaces.

I can’t help thinking of unacceptable levels of unemployment right across the UK, swathes of urban areas lying in ruins, people unable to read and write and then the pomp and ceremony of a royal wedding.

On Sunday watching the beatification ceremony I think of how the institutional church has dealt with so many issues of clerical child sex abuse. I think of how Pope John Paul seems to have handled the case of the leader of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Marcial Maciel Degolado It seems to be an unmitigated disaster. And what is most worrying is that it all seems to be covered up – all the time the underlying thinking is, the institutional church must never ‘cause scandal’. It’s that mantra that is the overriding principle.

Watching both events it struck me that they were really ‘spectator events’. The great masses were looking on in awe and jubilation as if they were adoring their lords and masters.

Okay, with the beatification there was a minimal or token participation of the non clerical world but watching the rows upon rows of clerics dressed in their finery it was difficult not to observe a great divide between the ‘rulers’ and the ‘ruled’.

I’m just wondering is that the way it should be either in State or church. But especially in church where our founder Jesus Christ was born in a stable and spent his life at odds with the ruling classes.

I’m just not so sure about all the pomp and ceremony. On the other hand maybe we need an excuse to be distracted from the terrible mess we are in.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unique GNR smelling buses

Anyone remember the old GNR buses that operated from Dublin's Eden Quay? They had an unique smell. The 15s operate from there now - from the other side of the road.

It's interesting to retrace your childhood steps and so bewildering without your parents.

Every shore and manhole north of Abbey Street is marked with yellow paint.

Hints of HRH. One can only presume MI5 and 6 are in town

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