Friday, September 30, 2011

Yet another exciting website entry

Another exciting website entry from one of the provinces of the Dominican Order. Note spelling.

This is really not acceptable or even fair to the organisation.

Entry is in italics.

Friday 26th week
Today is Friday of the twenth sixth week of the year; the Church also keeps the memory of St Jerome on this 30th day of September.

How dare a priest say a word about poverty

Middle class white privileged people have no idea what it is like for those who are poor and are forced to eke out an existence.

How in God's name can a minister of religion say a word about poverty when they are positioned millions of miles away from anything to do with the word.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

And another day of exciting news

Yesterday this blog commented on long rambling sentences on websites operated by the Dominican Order.

The piece below, in italics, is today's entry on the website of one of the provinces of the Dominican Order.

01 January 1970


The Dominicans take great pride in their preaching and communication skills.

Of course it may not be fair to make such criticism, especially in public. But it is important to highlight the complete dysfunctionality that is being experienced right across the institutional church.

The website issue is small, almost incidental, but it is a powerful metaphor for what is happening.

The public is bombarded with the great pomp and ceremony of ordination and profession ceremonies and all done in such a flurry. One wonders what's behind it all.

There is something seriously wrong.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A terrible tale of evil and terror

This evening German television - ARD - screend a film of what life was like in the former GDR for those who refused to accept the terror of the German Government in East Berlin.

The simple bravery of ordinary people and the nastiness of the institutional people.

It also forces one to realise that between 1933 and 1989, governments in Berlin ruled through terror and the most evil of deeds.

Nothing in Europe in the 20th century can be compared to the terror of what Nazi Germany and the Ulbricht/Honnecker governments perpetrated.

All the money in the ECB/EZB and the Central Banks of the EU could ever compensate for what happened on German soil for from 1933 to 1989.

Done by Germans to Germans.

Anyone who might be interested in streaming the programme - title is 'Jenseits der Mauer'. And it was on ARD, today, September 28 at 20.15 German time.

Long rambling sentences

While it may not be polite to criticise another's writing, it is difficult not to overlook the following sentence.

It is on the home page of the Dominican Order's webpage. An opening sentence with over 100 words.

It is difficult to understand that an organisation that says it is dedicated to 'preaching' can do this sort of thing.

Some of the Order's websites are simply ludicrous - so poor that this blog simply ignores the material - content, grammar, syntax. At times the irrelevancy is embarrassing.

But one would imagine the flagship of the Order could do better than this.

Here's the sentence.

The Master General Fr. Bruno Cadoré decided to reactivate the International Bureau of the Dominican Family with the following objectives: to animate collaboration and coordination of new potential projects among the Dominican Family, in order to make the Gospel be Good News to everybody and everywhere, and to do this together; to foster mutual understanding of expectations of each branch of the Dominican Family; to continue in common the celebration of the Jubilee Novena of our Order, with its annual themes; to discuss any other task that is deemed useful for the mission and life of the Dominican Family today.

And the entry below, from one of the provinces of the Order, really catches the reader's imagination.

Wednesday 26th week
28 September 2011
Today is Wednesday of the twenty sixth week of the year; the Church on this 28th September also keeps the memory of Dominican Saints Dominic Ibanez...

Different words and tones at different venues

It seems Pope Benedict said many things during his four-day State visit to Germany.

In Erfurt he expressed concern for the growing fundamentalism in the Christian churches.

In Freiburg he spoke about the dangers of lukewarm belief. He also made reference to the importance of Catholics staying loyal to Rome.

It is interesting that what he said in Berlin and Erfurt was exciting - he spoke with an openness and respect for the world.

And then in Freiburg it was the 'usual preaching' of dos and don'ts that never inspire.

The audience in Berlin and Erfurt was different from the 'faithful' in Freiburg.

The diplomats and 'church watchers' might have an explanation. but is it all a clever game of chess?

Has all this something to do with a form of relativism? Relativism is something Pope Benedict abhors.

Indeed, a funny old world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scottish saying does not tell the full story

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

By Michael Commane
When I was a novice, back in 1967, our novice master often quoted a Scottish saying, suggesting if people were to sweep outside their own hall-door, then all would be well and fine.

At the time, it made a lot of sense. But these days, I’m not too sure. In fact, that Scottish saying might not even be all that Christian. For example, what happens with those not able to care for themselves?

I work in the press office of the aid agency Concern and through my job I’ve learned something of what life is like for the billion people around the world who don’t have enough food to eat. I’ve learned, too, something of the heroism of so many people who live their lives on a daily basis against the odds.

Agencies like Concern do extraordinary work in helping the poorest of the poor around the world. Not just sticking plaster initiatives but putting in place long-term programmes that allow people both to claim their dignity, by being responsible for how their country develops and flourishes.

We all know there are serious problems in the Developing World. The current drought in the Horn of Africa is shocking and the response of the Irish public has been truly amazing.
And then last week I read three statistics that quite genuinely made me fall out of my standing. Every household in Ireland throws out €1,000 worth of food every year. That’s the equivalent of €20 a week. As Father Dougal would say, 'that's mad'. And so it is. It’s also annoying and disgraceful. Supermarkets throw out thousands of euro worth of food every week. So also do hotels. And health and safety rules forbid them to give the food away for free or at a reduced price.

The second statistic was 46.2 million. What does it represent? It’s the number of United States citizens who exist below the poverty line. I’m no US basher. But when I saw that figure I simply could not believe it. And then to complement those 46.2 US citizens, the government in Washington spends over €26 million every day on the wars it is currently fighting.

Is the world gone mad? In those ways, I think it is.

Last Tuesday morning, at 01.00 Irish time, officials in the State of Georgia applied a lethal injection to Troy Davis. There has been much controversy about the safety of his conviction for murdering a policeman. Witnesses have retracted their statements. Some have claimed intimidation. And yet, this black American man - a poor man - was killed, in what many think is the world's most sophisticated country. Justice or revenge? Will the Pro-Life lobby take to the streets about this ‘lawful’ killing? I’d love to think so, but I doubt it. Will they have gruesome pictures of the dead man in their newspapers and magazines? I doubt somehow or other.

We all know about the places in the world where life is a hell: children cannot go to school, few have enough to eat. We read about how cheap life is in the ghettoes; in cities where children are routinely rounded up and ‘Disappeared’ because of their appalling crime of poverty.

But when we hear about what passes for ‘life’ in the USA, ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’, then really, all I am able to do is scratch my head and admit that this world of ours sure is a strange place.

Sweep in front of our own doors? By all means. But this time, over 40 years on, let’s not forget our neighbours’.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Powerful pictures from Erfurt

Powerful pictures from Erfurt this afternoon.

Interesting to know what Christian Wulff and Angela Merkel said to the episcopal gliterati in the former Augustinian church.

It was in Erfurt that Willy Brandt spoke to the large crowd as the Stasi looked on.

And then later it was Erfurt born Hans Dietrich Genscher played such an important role in the days and months before the fall of the Wall.

And Erfurt is not too far from the Wartburg where Luther translated the Bible.

Bundestag falls silent for Pope Benedict

The link below is from today's Frankfurter Rundschau. It is on Pope Benedict's visit to the Bundestag. Interesting and enjoyable to read.

"Anspruchsvoll und nachdenklich" oder letztlich nichts Neues? Die Papstrede dominiert heute die Leitartikel der deutschen Zeitungen - und erhält viel Lob. Benedikt XVI. habe mit dem Herzen gesprochen, meint die Leipziger Volkszeitung. Die Frankfurter Rundschau lobt dagegen vor allem das Geschick des Papstes. [dlf]

The above is from ARD "The Pope's address in Parliament dominates today's editorials and receives much praise.

"Benedict XVI spoke from the heart, the Leipziger Volkszeitung writes. The Frankfurter Rundschau praises the skill of Pope Benedict.

The Pope also said in his speech: " We Germans have seen how power became divorced from what was right ... how a highly organised band of robbers were capable of threatening the whole world."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pope Benedict arrives in Berlin

Pope Benedict arrived in Berlin- Tegel at 10.16 German time.

He has been guest at Schloss Bellevue where he was welcomed by President Christian Wulff.
The President welcomed him home - Willkommen zu Hause Heiliger Vater.

The following paragraph from ARD makes for interesting reading.

Wulff betonte, Kirche sei keine Parallelgesellschaft, sondern lebe mitten in der Gesellschaft. Deshalb stelle sich auch immer wieder die Frage: "Wie barmherzig geht sie mit den Brüchen in den Lebensgeschichten von Menschen um? Wie mit den Brüchen in ihrer eigenen Geschichte und mit dem Fehlverhalten von Amtsträgern?" Damit spielte er auf den Missbrauchsskandal in der katholischen Kirche an und auf die Situation wiederverheirateter Geschiedener, die ihn auch persönlich betrifft.

The Pope will address the Federal Parliament this afternoon. It will be the first time a pope hasa addressed the Bundestag.

The land of the free and the brave - but not for all

This morning at 01.00 Irish time Troy Davis was put to death by lethal injection in Atlanta in the US State of Georgia. The lethal oinjection njection was administered by officials of the State of Georgia.

There are 46.2 million US citizens living in poverty according to a census published two weeks ago.

Soldiers no longer need to lie about who they are

Don't Ask, Don't Tell - the US military's 18-year ban on openly gay and lesbian service personnel - has officially been repealed, ushering in a new era for the country's armed forces.

In a statement on Tuesday President Barack Obama welcomed the end of a policy that he said had forced gay and lesbian members to 'lie about who they are'.

While the US military or indeed any military could ever be considered at the vanguard of 'good practice', President Obama's comment is interesting.

Is what he said true? And if it is what can bishops, cardinals, provincials, archbishops, a pope think of these words?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A lot of talk about unqualified math teachers

The piece below appears in this week's IN&M regional newspapers published in Ireland

By Michael Commane
The schools are all back into full swing and the third level colleges are slowly cranking into action.

Leaving and Junior Cert results are history and it’s back to ‘normality’. At least for most people.

Four years ago I got a call asking me if I would fill in teaching German for a teacher out on maternity leave. It was great to be back in the classroom. When the teacher came back the principal kept me on teaching English and religion. It’s the job I like best and I managed to keep the job for four years.

My luck ran out at the beginning of this school year and due to all sorts of numbers, permutations and combinations I am no longer in the classroom.

I miss it and am sad about it. That’s life.

Because of my own teaching experience and link with the school system I have been listening closely to the current debate going on about the number of math teachers in our schools, who are not qualified to teach the subject.

That sort of a story is grist to the mill for the media. It’s really sensational. And naturally too. The idea that someone could be out there teaching math and not qualified for the job sounds completely daft. Imagine a non-qualified engineer building a bridge or a non-qualified doctor operating on someone. It doesn’t bear thinking.

But as you and I know, nothing is as simple as it looks.

I began full time teaching on the Department of Education payroll in 1980. Teaching with me, were two fellow Dominicans, who were teaching math and science. Two gifted teachers, who gave their students a love of their subject and also produced outstanding results.

One of these men had all the required qualifications and was a brilliant teacher.

The other man was the late John James O’Gorman, who had been a student at the North Monastery in Cork and had obtained a university scholarship on his Leaving Cert results. Instead of taking up the place at university, he joined the Dominicans and later did post-graduate work in theology. On the strength of his theology degree he did his Higher Diploma in Education in Maynooth and then went teaching math and religion.

He had a brilliant mind and his first love was always math and science. But his only qualification in the subject when he set out teaching was Honours Leaving Cert. He later went on to do a doctorate in computer science but during all the years he was teaching at second level he had no qualification for the specific subject of math.

He blazed a trail and between the two men every year there was a string of As in honours math. There were two streams doing the honours course. And close to two thirds of the students came away every year with an honour in math.

Of course John was some sort of exception. But when I hear these days all the emphasis placed on qualifications all I can do is think back to John O’Gorman. He was just a natural and because of all sorts of reasons not relevant here, he never got to study math at university before his post primary teaching.

After his stint at post primary teaching he went on to do a doctorate and spent the rest of his short life teaching computer science in the University of Limerick. And there too he excelled.

Not for a moment am I arguing that people should not be qualified for the task at hand. But, as in so many areas of life at present, maybe we are too quick to lock ourselves into straight jackets.

And that mentality can easily stymie initiative and imagination.

Indeed, there is a school of thought that teachers are born not made. There is something in that.

When it comes to doing an audit in our schools, hopefully those doing the examining will look at the broader picture.
And there sure is a broader picture. Nothing is ever as simple as we think it is. And if we think it is, then really, we don’t know what we are talking about.

The Pirate Party - children of Marx and Microsoft

The piece below is from today's Frankfurter Rundschau on the Pirate Party.

In Sunday's election in Berlin the party won more than five per cent of the vote, which means they now have seats in the Berlin parliament.

Obwohl das Internet die Vision einer neuen, gerechteren Welt beflügelt, erkennen die Piraten – nicht Linke oder Grüne – als Erste die politischen Potenziale des Netzes.

Die Piratenpartei sollte man ernst nehmen, findet Harald Jähner.
Foto: dapd Die Piratenpartei sollte man ernst nehmen, findet Harald Jähner.
Foto: dapd
Aus dem Stand fast neun Prozent Wählerstimmen für die Piratenpartei! Mehr Sitze im künftigen Abgeordnetenhaus als ernsthafte Anwärter vorhanden! Wer da nicht „Ist ja irre!“ ausgerufen hat, wird wohl auch nicht überrascht sein, wenn seine Frau plötzlich drei Meter groß geworden ist.

Nun kann man sich fragen: Was ist das für eine unernste Stadt, die neun Prozent ihrer Stimmen solchen Anfängern gibt? Kann denn noch ein Spaß genannt werden, was man jetzt fünf Jahre lang ernst nehmen muss? Ja, man sollte es ernst nehmen und hätte es viel früher tun müssen aufseiten der Linken und Grünen. Obwohl das Internet von Beginn an geradezu romantische Visionen einer neuen, gerechteren Welt beflügelt hat, haben sich Linke und Grüne nie mit den politischen Potenzialen des Netzes beschäftigt. Wissen für alle ist Macht für alle – solche Parolen überließen sie obskuren Hackern. Die Piraten dagegen sind Kinder von Marx und Microsoft, die sich von beiden zu emanzipieren versuchen. Es ist die einzige Partei, die auf das Faszinosum des Internets eine andere politische Antwort hat als Misstrauen und Kontrollbedürfnis. Ihr fulminanter Erfolg rührt daher, dass sie die euphorischen Gesellschaftserfahrungen, die viele mit dem Internet machen, in ein, wenn auch diffuses, politisches Programm überführen.

In ihrem Namen führt die Partei den etwas kindischen Kern ihres Programms: im Weltmeer des Internets nach Belieben jagen zu können und Beute zu machen ohne zu bezahlen. So wie das Meer mitsamt allem, was darauf herumschwimmt, in Piratenaugen für alle da ist, die gut fechten können, erscheint vielen heute das Internet. Man hat sich daran gewöhnt, gratis herunterzuladen, was den Produzenten viel Mühe, Zeit und Geld gekostet hat. Vielen wird es schlicht geraubt, andere geben freiwillig ihr Wissen und ihre Arbeit her, wie etwas die rund 10.000 Wikipedianer, die sich intensiv um die Pflege dieses Netz-Lexikons kümmern. Sie folgen wie unzählige andere dem sozialen Lockruf des Netzes, wo eine egalitäre Gesellschaft erstaunlicherweise vor allem eins macht: Spaß.

Share, das englische Wort für Teilen, ist eines der am häufigsten gebrauchten Worte der Netz-Euphoriker. Sie teilen ihr Wissen, ihre Erlebnisse, ihre Erfahrungen mit schlechten und guten Hotels, ihre Film- und ihre Plattensammlung. Sie teilen ihre Vorlieben und Abneigungen, ihren Zorn, ihren Spott, ihre Wünsche für ein gutes Leben. Communities, soziale Netzwerke, Freunde – das digitale Netz steckt voller sozialer Idyllen, die zu den realen Geschäftsverhältnissen dort schlecht passen.

The apparel oft proclaim the man

The current upheaval among Austrian clergy is gaining momentum. It will spread.

Some of the 'hot spots' according to the current issue of The Tablet is the giving of Communion to divorced people in a second marriage - all the usual suspects.

In the coming days Pope Benedict will be in Germany. He has been invited by the German President, Christian Wulf. He will also be the guest of the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Worwereit.

President Wulf and Mayor Worwereit are practising Catholics.

The German President is a divorced man in a second relationship and the Mayor of Berlin is an openly gay man.


If anyone leafed through the pages of the current Irish Catholic they may have noticed two pictures; one of some Roman cardinal dressed up in idiotic clothing - some vestment that trailed the ground longer than any woman's bridal dress, the other picture was of young Legionary of Christ students.

If a picture tells anything, then surely these two pictures tell one that the people in these pictures carry government health warnings - take nothing they say with a grain of salt.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Worwereit welcomes papal visit and pirates in Berlin

This evening Guenther Jauch asked the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Worwereit what he thought of the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict to Germany and Berlin.

Worwereit is a practising Catholic and an openly gay man.

The mayor answered in a most positive and gracious manner and was looking forward to Pope Benedict's visit, pointing out that the pope is also a head of State. He sees it as a great occasion for the city.

Worwereit was re-elected mayor of the German capital today.

The losers were the FDP, who are the smaller party in the Federal Government, and the Left Party. Winners were the SPD and Green party. The CDU increased their vote.

It means the new Berlin Government will be an SPD coalition with either the CDU or the Green Party.

The Pirate Party won more than five per cent of the vote which means they have seats in the new parliament.

Poll shows German support for Greece

In a poll commission for the Guenther Jauch programme on German television this evening, 55 per cent of Germans are in favour of financially supporting Greece in the current crisis. Fortyfive per cent are opposed

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Row rages over Pope's address in Bundestag

Pope Benedict's address to the Bundestag on Thursday will be boycotted by a number of parliamentarians.

And while German parliamentarians argue whether of not Pope Benedict should address the Bundestag, a debate goes on in Ireland whether or not the media is anti-Catholic. Then there is the discussion about the dangers of advancing secularism.

Surely it makes for far better living when we live in a secular state.

A radical message

Below is the 'Thinking Anew' column in today's 'Irish Times'

We can pull anything out of the Bible to back up our claims, beliefs, hunches, prejudices. And that’s a real problem when it comes to our reading of any text. But it is all far more complicated with the Bible as it is a compilation of texts written a long time ago.

But tomorrow’s Gospel reading (Matthew 20: 1 – 16) can only be described as amazingly apt and indeed timely for the days that are in it.

It is the story of the workers who are all paid the same fee/wage whether or not they worked the same period of time.

Naturally those who work a full day are  annoyed when they find out that those who work for a far shorter period of time are paid the same amount.

The paymaster argues that it’s his business how much he pays his workers and the people who worked all day were paid the deal that was offered them.

“Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
It is a Gospel that has often perplexed me and reading it one could think that the boss can do what he likes.  But tomorrow’s Gospel is in many respects a part of a wonderfully woven tapestry that is forever and always explaining how Jesus is forensically on the side of the poor, marginalised and less well-off.

It really is at the centre of the Christian message. It is this amazing conviction of Jesus that makes the Gospel, the Christian message and the living out of it something so radical and probably even contradictory.

Of course there is always the question of fairness and probity. Reason tells us that someone who works five days a week  deserves to be paid more than someone who works two days with similar skills. It is understandable that someone with a highly technical and skilled job earns more than someone less skilled.

But we Christians have been mandated at our peril to take care of the weak and fragile, the less well-off in our society.

We  get angry at dodgers and people who fiddle the system. Only last week there was a TV programme highlighting some of the scams perpetrated by people who unlawfully claim unemployment benefit.

We get annoyed with those who abuse our social welfare system. It’s important that the State clamps down as well as it can on all forms of abuse across all social strata.

It is easy for us to take for granted the social welfare systems that are in place across the European Union. Certainly we should be proud of the advances that have been made in this area over the last 50 to 60 years.

And  Christianity has played a role in forming social policies that have helped the less fortunate in our societies.

But one thing is certain, we can only call ourselves followers of Christ if we pay special attention to the needs of those who are forgotten, poor and marginalised in society. It is not for us to decide the whys and ifs of the poor. It certainly is our obligation to care for them.

Once we begin to use pejorative terms for castigating those who are less fortunate than we, we are on the slippery slope of doing exactly what Jesus spent his time preaching against.

It is not always easy to side with the poor and the forgotten. But it is exactly that what Jesus talks about in tomorrow’s Gospel.

We find ourselves in uncharted waters. In the days and months and years ahead it will be extremely easy to search out scapegoats, whoever, wherever they are.

Never forget the why or the how, but the scapegoat and what we might be tempted to call their ‘ilk’ are first on the list when it comes to the love and mercy of God.

It might well be difficult to tally that with our inclinations, our mentalities, the wealth and pomp of the Church, but it is as simple as that, even if it is an extraordinary contradiction.

The day we lose our compassion and sensitivity for the weak, poor and fragile we lose a central ingredient of the Christian message.

The God of mercy, who casts his eye on the people the world might despise, also invites us to be kind and gracious to the poor.

It is an extraordinary calling and we have every reason to cherish and live it. Those who are last shall be first …

Michael Commane OP

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hidden money at Freidrichstrasse and direct to Krakow on a used CIE rail voucher with Deutsche Reichsbahn

There is a report in today's Irish Times of Angela Merkel opening an exhibition at the former customs clearing building at Freidrichstrasse.

Friedrichstrasse was the main crossing point from West to East Berlin.

The exhibition has on show memorabilia of the former GDR period.

On St Patrick's Day 1985 I crossed into the GDR at Freidrichstrasse en route to Krakow in Poland.

Tucked away in a pocket in a shirt in my bag I had East German currency, which I had bought on the black market in West Berlin. I had bought the money at 1:11, whereas the 'official rate' was 1:4. And the daily 30DM compulsory change rate was computed at 1:1.

To my great surprise the border guard asked me to open my bag and began to search through my clothing. I was scared to death and thinking fast. Had an idea; quickly mentioned that it was Ireland's national day and began talking nonsense about Ireland's freedom fight. The guard became distracted and suddenly closed my case.

God bless St Patrick.

Later that morning a group of us took the S-Bahn to Ost Bahnhof, which was then the premier rail station of the German Democratic Republic, and boarded a train for Poland.

Close to Frankfurt an der Oder, the GDR Polish border, the train checker asked for my ticket. I had an old used CIE voucher, om which I had erased the Irish destination and written over it, Berlin, Haupstadt der DDR nach Krakau.

At first the checker was mystified. I remonstrated to him that I spoke neither Polish nor German, only Irish.

He called the train chief, who looked most officiously at the ticked. After a few moments, looking and sounding important, he nodded his head and all was well.

Another great lesson on the stupidity of 'important people'.

Berlin to Krakow worked out at something like 15 cent.

A most enjoyable rail journey. And so sweet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Faulty design with lock on dublinbikes

Anyone who uses dublinbikes be particularly careful with the inbuilt locking device.

It is a spring-loaded chain device, which is attached to the basket on the front of the bicycle.

If you remove the device, especially in any sort of quick or careless manner it can very easily 'jump up' and hit you in the face.

The force of it could easily damage an eye or break a tooth.

It has happened. So be careful.

Priests' group supports Edward Daly's call

The piece below if from today's Irish Times.

PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

THE ASSOCIATION of Catholic Priests has supported calls by the former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly for a removal of the compulsory celibacy requirement where Catholic priests are concerned.

The association’s founder member Fr Brendan Hoban said yesterday: “It is one part of our platform. The vocations situation is one thing, but it is also important as an issue.

“In 10-15 years’ time it will be a drastic situation [where priest numbers are concerned] and there is no plan B.”

He said many Catholic priests were “mesmerised” by the Vatican’s recent creation of a new personal prelature for disaffected married Anglican clergy, now recognised as Catholic priests.

“They cannot understand how the rule can be ignored or disposed with in cases and yet not be acceptable generally,” he said. Writing in the July 2009 edition of Furrow magazine, Fr Hoban forecast that priests “will have effectively disappeared in Ireland in two to three decades”.

In his memoir A Troubled See , which will be published this evening at the University of Ulster in Derry, Dr Daly writes that “something needs to be done and done urgently” about removing the compulsory celibacy requirement for Catholic priests.

The former bishop says he hopes “senior members of the clergy and laity make their views more forcefully known” on the matter, “views that are often expressed privately but seldom publicly”. He believes “there should also be a place in the modern Catholic Church for a married priesthood and for men who do not wish to commit themselves to celibacy”.

In his book, Dr Daly is critical of how Irish bishops are selected, and says he is “very happy with the liturgy and language of the Mass as we now have it”.

He was “deeply disappointed” by an experience of celebration of the Mass in Latin some years ago, which he found “ lifeless and somewhat meaningless . . .”

He notes that “bishops who served in the dioceses of Ireland for the last 100 years have been largely drawn from a small elite group within the priesthood”.

He estimates that, in the 20th century, “more than 75 per cent of bishops were appointed from less than 20 per cent of the priests” and that these latter “were engaged” or “have spent most of their priestly lives engaged in full-time teaching (at second and/or third level)”.

He himself was the first bishop of Derry in the 20th century not to have been president of St Columb’s College there.

He and other bishops “who had served exclusively in parish ministry . . . were a tiny minority” among the Irish bishops.

He was bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993. It is his impression “the powers-that-be in Rome had always considered . . . teaching and orthodoxy in teaching were primary, and that parish pastoral experience was secondary”.

He believes the type of education gained in parish ministry “cannot be replicated in an academic environment” and “would venture to suggest that the academic common room or dining room is, in most cases, at least a step removed from such mundane experiences”.

He believes “the virtual absence of pastorally experienced clergy in positions of authority in the Irish church” helped inhibit renewal promised by Vatican II.

“While much could be learned from a background in teaching or academic studies or senior positions in the Holy See or as major superiors in religious congregations”, it is his view that “there is also a great deal that can be learned in the university of the parish”, he said.

“There should be a preponderance of priests from parish pastoral backgrounds in the ranks of bishops,” he said, and more of these should be in the 35 to 50 age range.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Errors and clarifications

This blog apologises for giving an incorrect name in an RTE Prime Time investigates programme. The blog referred to a Fr Kevin Byrne when it should have been a Fr Kevin Reynolds.

A headline last week should have used the word hidebound and not highbound.

Again, apologies.

This blog is only too delighted to be informed of all forms of mistakes and errors.

Dublinbikes is two years old today

Over two and a half million journeys later, dublinbikes celebrates its second birthday today.

During this time dublinbikes has been recognised both here at home and internationally as one of the most successful bike share rental schemes in the world.

Long term members have grown to over 37,000 with short term subscriptions topping the 25,000 mark.

A great example of what we can do.

Former Derry bishop calls for married priests

Retired bishop of Derry, Edward Daly, calls for married priests.

Interviewed on RTE Radio One this morning he spoke about priests who left ministry during his term as bishop. He said many good men left to marry women with whom they had fallen in love.

He said he had lived a happy and full life but if he were 24 today he was not sure what he would do.

Bishop Daly says: "Something needs to be done and done urgently and I hope that senior members of the clergy and laity make their views more forcefully known, views that are often expressed privately but seldom publicly". Italics are those of the blogger.

And it's not just the words said in private. So often the words that are never said.

For a retired Irish bishop to express such an opinion is certainly an important moment in the life of the Irish church.

It will be interesting to see in the days and months ahead will any Irish bishop make a comment.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jauch makes efortless move to serious TV

ARD, one of Germany's two public broadcasting TV stations, featured this evening a new political talk show hosted by well-known TV personality Guenther Jauch.

The first show made for great viewing.

The panel included a former defence minister, the CEO of Springer publishing house, the mother of a Bundeswher soldier killed in Afghanistan, two opponents to the war in Afghanistan.

The programme dealt with the 9/11 attack and the role of German soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

Earlier in the week the programme commissioned a survey on what Germans think of the Bundeswehr commitment in Afghanistan.

According to the survey two thirds of Germans would like to see an immediate withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan.

Up to now Guenther Jauch has worked with RTL and been more associated with light entertainment.

The programme begins at 20.45 Irish time Sunday evenings.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hidebound ideas might be getting unstuck

Rumour going about that the new Roman missal is being recalled due to binding problems.

If the rumour is true, there is a great irony to it. It's funny.

So much of the problem is about what's not said

Today's Irish Times tells an interesting story about the position of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

On page eight Patsy McGarry writes on the tardiness of the church to play a significant and trusting role in its response to the diocesan reports.

On page 10 Breda O'Brien criticises the Taoiseach for his Dail speech.

Breda O'Brien quotes a taxi driveer: "Well, you can prove anything with facts..."

Great quote in the context.

As someone who has been 'hanging about' inside the instiutional church for close to 40 years, anyone who says anything about the church has to realise it's what the church does not say that is always significant.

Within the hierarchical church there is a mindset that is almost impossible to explain.

It might be like any mindset that has been in a position of privilege and control for generation after generation. And far too many good people succumb to the comfort zone of such a mindset.

In many ways it is difficult to articulate the reality but all the time it seems most of the commentators have very little awareness of such a mindset.

An idea might be for an agency to do an audit of the Irish church - a universal audit, not just of financial significance.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Parochial news for an insular media

An Irish media outlet reported that the Karlsruhe judgement concerning Bundestag bailouts was 'tight'.

The ruling was a seven to one judgement.

It seems there is not a word in any Irish media outlet on Tuesday's gas turn on near Greifswald. The event is of major European economic importance.

And very little reporting on the priest who has won his paternity case. This is a major news story.

Instead we read in all our newspapers about three Irish woman on holiday in Portugal who are robbed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paternity test clears priest of RTE accusation

Earlier this year an RTE Prime Time Investigates programme accused Fr Kevin Reynolds, a Mill Hill priest, of statutory rape by fathering a child with an underage Kenyan girl.

Fr Reynolds has undergone a paternity test, which has proved negative.

This man's reputation has been destroyed.

Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE, has done the man grave harm.

In May he agreed to step down from his ministry in the parish of Ahascragh in Co Galway, while the allegations against him were being investigated.

Of course this is a shocking story and RTE has done the man a terrible wrong.

Did his religious congregation simply go along with what RTE said and 'disown' the man?

A spoksman for Mill Hill said that their investigation was still continuing.

Houston, we have a problem.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From Russia with gas and all under the sea

Russian Prime Minister Wladimir Putin turned the tap today on the new gas pipeline which flows under the Baltic Sea.

The pipe delivers gas directly from Russian oil fields to Germany. The gas comes ashore near Greifswald, which was once in the territory of the former GDR.

The pipe is 1,224 kilometres long and cost €8.8 billion to build.

Both historically and economically, it is a most significant day in the history of both countries.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Austrian priests might offer some hope

The current 'dispute/uprising/revolution' taking place among the clergy in Austria shows hopeful signs.

Forget about the issues at stake, but maybe the hope is that priesthood might actually be capable of telling the truth and being open and honest. It might mean priesthood has the ability to stop talking out of both sides of its collective mouth at the same time.

There is a profound dishonesty in priesthood. It is almost incapable of speaking the truth and acting the truth. And this leaves men in a extraordinary dysfunctional state.

Something might at last be about to happen. Small steps, hope. Is it really possible that glimpses of truth and real words with meaning might come about.

The bluff, the nonsense, the deceipt, the holy ridiculous words from pulpits cannot go on and on.

I know an old kind good priest who is now retired. He lived a His bishop has never ever picked up the telephones to say hello, thank you, like a cup of tea.

When does priesthood ever really make any effort to live the Gospel in parishes and communities. Today a man said to me re a priest, 'he's there, he says Mass, he has never once said hello to me'.

We really are a laughing stock and so full of humbug.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Frank Duff did extraordinary things

The book review below appears in today's 'Sunday Business Post'

By Michael Commane
Finola Kennedy's 'Frank Duff - A Life Story’’ opened my eyes to an inspirational man.

Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary in 1921 Today's Ireland might well look on that organisation as an old-fashioned, unusual sort of pious grouping, which sells holy books and prays the Rosary.

This man did extraordinary things, thought out amazing projects and was light years ahead of his time.

Referring to the role of women when the Legion began in Africa Duff said: “The status of women was altogether depressed at the time. It was generally held that women should have no public life, and in fact should not open their mouths in mixed assemblies. Note this: immediately after the start of the Legion, the male members brought in the women. Then the women gravitated into officerships." Frank Duff wrote this memo to the Jesuits in 1934.

It's to my shame that I knew nothing about Frank Duff before reading Finola Kennedy's story of a man, who in 1968 said: "It is sheer folly for the white race to take up an attitude of superiority towards the others because in fact they are not superior.”

His Legion hostels came about in the face of grinding poverty and neglect in Dublin. He stressed the importance of mixing prayer and action.

He was, in many ways, a child of his time and so he gave full and total loyalty to those in charge in the Catholic Church. Nevertheless he had the vision and sense to challenge Dublin archbishops Byrne and McQuaid.

Archbishop Edward Byrne simply did not understand Duff and he was unable to see outside the clerical world. He made it difficult for Duff, as did his successor, John Charles McQuaid, in the early years. Both men refused to allow Mass to be said in Legion hostels and simply had little or no faith that those who were not priests could be involved in an intelligent way in Catholic action.

For whatever reason, whether out of fear, obedience or even faith, Duff was at all times loyal to the man in Drumcondra.

One of the first things Dermot Ryan did when he was appointed archbishop in Dublin in 1972 was to apologise to Frank Duff for how he had been treated in the past by his predecessors.

Duff's abhorrence of industrial schools makes him of course most relevant today. He was opposed to unmarried mothers being separated from their children and argued that if the church was so opposed to abortion so too must it object to babies being taken from their mothers.

He was one of the brightest of his generation as a schoolboy in Blackrock College and later he proved his intelligence and diligence as a civil servant. He retired as an Assistant Principal Officer in his 40s to concentrate on Legion of Mary work

He was close to senior civil servants and politicians, including the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Maurice Moynihan whose brother Anselm was a Dominican.

There are threads through his life, which crop up in the book, which led me to have a special interested in the man.

He was a life-long cyclist. His first Irish teacher was a German. He knew many Dominicans and enjoyed Dominican hospitality. I'm cycling 57 years, teach German and happen to be a Dominican.

Duff attended the Second Vatican Council as an auditor and for all 97 days of his Roman sojourn stayed with the Irish Dominicans in San Clemente.

It is through the influence of WT Cosgrave that Duff gets to have his say at the Vatican.

Today the Legion of Mary continues its work on all five continents with four million members.

It is still active in Ireland but it is well under the radar of fashion and celebrity status

The author suggests that his success was linked to his perseverance, maybe stubbornness, something that in old age did him few favours in propelling the organisation into a very different world than the world he was born into on June 7, 1889

Finola Kennedy opened for this reader a treasure that could so easily have been missed.

It was Duff’s claim that: “We are all called to be saints.”

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