Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kohl stresses importance of EU and recalls how evil spirits of the past are not at all banished and can easily return

Derek's Scally's piece in today's 'Irish Times' on what former German federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl has to say on the EU is well worth a read.

FORMER GERMAN chancellor Helmut Kohl has said euro zone tensions have revealed that Europe is still haunted by “evil spirits of the past”.

Dr Kohl suggested the real danger to the European project was not bailouts, such as the second aid package for Greece backed by German MPs yesterday, but “faint-hearted” and “hand-wringing” politicians.

Despite the challenges and the passage of time since the end of the second World War, Dr Kohl said the original intention behind the European Union – to unite the continent in peace – remained as relevant as ever.

“A look beyond one’s nose into history shows: the evil spirits of the past are in no way banished, they can always return,” he wrote in the Bild tabloid yesterday. “That means: Europe remains a question of war and peace, and the idea of peace the motivation behind European integration.” The original visionaries of EU integration – Monnet, Adenauer and Schumann – were aware of the challenges their integration project would bring, he said, but had not allowed themselves be distracted by details or nay-sayers. That can-do attitude was lacking in today’s EU politicians, according to the chancellor of German unity.

“To those who show doubt in the crisis, I ask them: where would we be in Europe today if we had succumbed to the faint-hearted and hand-wringers and not pushed through the great European idea, against considerable opposition?” he asked.

“The future doesn’t belong to the hand-wringers – rather those with a clear goal in their eyes. We cannot allow the current discussion and the crisis situation in Greece to lose sight of a unified Europe. The opposite is the case: we need – above all now – more and not less Europe.”

It is not the first time Dr Kohl has intervened in the debate. Last year he criticised Angela Merkel – without mentioning her by name – by complaining Berlin’s EU policy left unclear “where Germany stands and where it wants to go”.

Monday’s Greek vote in the Bundestag was given a mixed reception in Germany yesterday.

Allies of Dr Merkel called it a policy success for the government; the opposition suggested the ruling coalition was showing signs of bailout fatigue after the German leader failed, for the first time, to get an absolute, “chancellor”, majority behind the latest bailout.

“Merkel’s authority has been severely damaged,” said Frank Walter Steinmeier, parliamentary leader of the opposition Social Democrats.

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Whatever the pain we simply have to cope - we do

The piece below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
I was back in West Kerry for the weekend and on Sunday afternoon I called to a family I know. In the garden little eight-year-old James was playing football and asked me if I would play ‘goals’ with him. Sad to say, that a 62-year-old man did his damndest to beat the little boy in goal scoring. But it was great fun. I might have ruined the best pair of shoes I have, so what.

Later sitting down at table with his Mum and Dad and two older sisters something came up about death. Maybe I had mentioned, that earlier in the month it was 24 years since my mother had died. I must have asked how long it was since the man of the house’s mother had died. The moment I mentioned that, little James seemed to get somewhat confused and said to me in a low voice I should not be talking about the death of his Dad’s mother as that might upset his father.

We changed the subject. But it certainly stopped me in my tracks. The topic of death confused the little boy. He really had no words for it. Do any of us? It is the grim reaper. When I was teaching religious knowledge in school I would regularly begin the year by pointing out that there was only one thing we could say with certainty about every one of us in the classroom. And that was of course that we were all going to die. It’s something no-one avoids.

We read and hear about people being killed on the roads, people being killed in tragic circumstances and then we see on our television screens death and destruction around the world. These days the graphic images from Syria tell the horrific story of people dying horrendous deaths.

Of course there probably is a natural way to die but death comes in myriad forms and certainly we never know the day nor the hour that it will strike. And yet, we always seem to cope. Of course we all cope in different ways.

On Sunday Finance Minister Michael Noonan buried his wife. She had been tragically struck down many years ago suffering from Alzheimer disease. It must be two years ago since Mr Noonan spoke openly on television about his wife’s condition. I remember at the time being greatly impressed with him and how he told his story. It was in many ways a terrible tragedy for him and his family and yet he coped. People manage to cope and survive in the most unspeakable conditions.

Driving back to Dublin on Monday I called to visit a man I know for the best part of 40 years. Some weeks ago he suffered a stroke and is now unable to use his left hand and leg.

He is in hospital and anytime I have visit him he is in a wheelchair. His life has changed and most probably he will never know life again as he knew it in his health. I try to visit him at least once a week and every time I leave the hospital I am confounded with the thought – how would I cope with something like that happening me. It really scares me.

And yet this man whom I visit has really flabbergasted me with his attitude and his ability and intention to get on with his life as it now is. He is a man whom I know can easily trip off the caustic or acerbic word. He is well known for his quick phrase and is indeed never slow to take hostages with his words. Although, behind his words, there has always been a kindness and decency that the words might sometimes hide.

These days visiting him in hospital is really a moment of inspiration for me. Yes, it scares me when I realise how fragile we all are but I also see how people cope and can indeed be amazingly gracious and inspiring in their coping.

It really is astonishing how we get on with our lives, never really knowing what’s around the corner.

I write these words within 24 hours of little James telling me not to talk about death and visiting a stroke victim in hospital and all I can do is think of the Psalm: “Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord, Lord hear my voice! O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading." (Psalm 129)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not a whisper about difficulties with priesthood

It would seem there is little if any attempt to 'improve the lot' of priesthood, in spite of all the spin and PR.

There are serious issues with priesthood about which there is not a whisper. Priesthood thinks it is special and that it is 'different' to the rest of the world.

Priesthood is riven with jealousy about which there is never ever an overt word spoken.

And then the lies, dishonesty, subterfuge, nonsense that follows. And don't even dare to begin to talk about the world of sexuality and priesthood.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicago cardinal not to dine with Taoiseach

Hopefully any suggestion that Cardinal Francis George has turned down a reception to the Irish meal in Chicago on March 16 has nothing to do with Irish policy not to have a residence ambassador in Rome to the Holy See.

Over the last 20 years the Catholic Church has stressed that there is no one corporate church that is universally responsible for what its priests do and don't do.

That's a dodge and if the absence of George is because of the Irish position, then the church seems to be contradicting its own position.

It seems there is appearing worldwide within elements of the church a rabid conservatism that is as worrying as any of the fundamentalist forms that show their ugly heads in other religions.

Friday, February 24, 2012

No name for the man with the rosary beads

It's usually the small things that tell the story.
In the current issue of 'The Irish Catholic on page eight there is a picture of the new papl nuncio blessing a man's rosary beads.
The caption gives the full name of the nuncio plus his middle initial and not a mention of the name of the man whose rosary beads are being blessed.

Terrible journalism. But far more than that, telling the world in a loud and clear fashion that clericalism is alive and well in Ireland.

On page seven David Quinn attacks the editorial in last Saturday's Irish Times. The editorial dealt with religion and secularism.

What exactly is 'secularism'? Surely it is a good thing to live in a secular state.

People who seem to attack the march of secularism remind one of para militarists - an Armalite in one hand and a ballot paper in the other.

The word 'faith' seems to be touted about by the 'holy classes' as some sort of 'superior reality' to the world most of us inhabit.

And then one sees church 'dignitaries' living lives that match up to the best life-styles that could be possibly matched to anything in the secular world.

It takes secular money to fit out these bishops and cardinals in the finest of clothes and the best of gold.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Listening post that hands out wise words

Interesting letter in today's Irish Time re Irish embassy in Villa Spada.

A chara, – There has been some mention in your coverage of the embassy to the Vatican controversy of the value of the Holy See as a “listening post”.

In 1988 I was appointed the representative of the UN Human Rights Commission Western Group to visit Cuba on a six-person mission to report on the human rights situation in that country. The Western Group comprised Western Europe, US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. I was grateful to our own foreign minister Gerry Collins TD for confirming that my status for this mission would be independent of the Irish government’s direction. The others, representing the other regions of the world, were in varying degrees disposed to taking direction from the government in Havana.

I took it as my mission to measure the situation on the ground against the standards set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various UN Commission declarations.

Before embarking I visited the foreign ministries in Madrid, Bonn, London, Paris and Washington DC to try to learn from the respective experts as much as I could of the findings of their own embassies or third party representatives (eg Switzerland for the US) in Havana. I also visited the two “foreign ministries” in Rome, those of the Quirinale and the Vatican. I spoke also to the representatives in Geneva of the capitals I could not visit and to many others.

With one exception these sessions were a waste of time. In effect my interlocutors either officiously avoided committing their governments in any way and were uninformative or, as in the case of Madrid, were heavily propagandist in favour of the Cuban regime (reflecting the tendency of the then socialist government of Spain) or, as in the case of Washington DC, were propagandist on the other side.

The best sessions by far took place with Cardinals Casaroli and Silvestrini the two senior Vatican officials at that time. They had both perfectly understood the potential of and the limits on the role of the United Nations in its mission.

They were extraordinarily well-informed. They neither demonised nor in any sense minimised the grave problems that the regime in Havana presented to the church and its community in Cuba and the thrust of their briefing was positive in suggesting ways to explore practical and graduated improvements which might be made. They did not confine themselves to the direct interests of the Catholic Church but ranged over the whole field of human rights in its UN dimension. They did not direct me in my duty as an Irish Catholic (as curiously Fidel Castro, a theologian manque, tried strenuously to do in two private sessions I had with him during the mission). The depth of their knowledge of how the Cuban regime functioned and how the UN might be useful left all other foreign ministries looking either completely politicised or inadequate or frankly ignorant.

Before visiting the Vatican, where I also had the honour of a brief meeting with Pope John Paul II, I had the benefit of an outstanding pre-briefing at the eponymous Villa Spada from our very wise Ambassador Dillon and from a then senior official of the Holy See, one Diarmuid Martin. They both told me I would get a uniquely valuable briefing in the Vatican. They were right.

All of this was in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The visiting mission produced a bland 100-page report, and a minority report (of 1,000 pages) which was more critical, from the undersigned.

I am sorry to say that we did not achieve much for the people of Cuba back then, but I believe and hope that there are better days ahead of them. – Is mise,

Dartmouth Square,
Dublin 6.

Two Colombian priests hire their own assassin

Of course it takes all types and sizes to make up the world and all its varying groups but the story of the two young Colombian priests who arranged their own killing is particularly and profoundly sad.

The two men hired criminals to kill them after they lost their nerve when attempting to throw themselves off a cliff.

The two men were gay and one of them had Aids.

Again, that sort of sad event happens across the world across all groups and professions.

Had their bishop or provincial ever sat down and spoken to them about their lives?

The church uses the title 'Father' for their ministers of religion. Bishops talk about their 'brother' priests. Sometimes it really is a great game of tomfoolery.

An old priests who retired in recent years, after a long and powerful ministry, told this writer just this summer that his bishop would never dream pick up the phone to say hello to him.

There is a real dysfunction in priesthood and signs are that the difficulty is not exclusively an Irish phenomenon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Catholic Church is far from being a victim

It is reported that the Association of Catholic Priests has objected to comments made by Miriam O'Callaghan that 'Prime Time Investigates' be awarded a prize for the work it has done.

The ACP is objecting because of the Prime Time libel case, which RTE lost in the courts.

Why should Ms O'Callaghan not say what she said? If the programme series has done good work over a period of time, why should it not be awarded a prize?

Why does the Catholic Church feel that it is a permanent victim of hurt and attack? It really is a preposterous type of thinking.

The Catholic Church, better said, some people in the church, think that it deserves a special place in society.

The institutional Catholic Church in Ireland has been in trouble because of the cover-up, its arrogance, its attempt at being 'above the law'.

With the new property tax will a single presbytery, a single church residence pay the tax? Obviously not as the church is registered as a charity.

There are so many ambiguitites right across every aspect of church life. It's for those reasons that so many people are understandably angry with the church.

The church should stop pretending it's a vicitm. It is anything but.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Germany is in a better place this evening

Seven hours after the resignation of German federal President Christian Wulff most commentators are referring to the moral imperative for the action Wulff has taken.

It certainly puts into relief Irish bishops and provincials who dodged every arrow to remain in their jobs.

This evening Germany is in a better place.

The same cannot be said about the Irish Catholic Church. And that there is no active and real opposition within the church must mean that the apparatchiks have free rein to do as they wish. And that's more or less what is happening.

There is a photograph in the current issue of The Irish Catholic of the new nuncio to Ireland with religious sisters. The picture and the caption tells a great story of where our church is.

Merkel plans for a cross party candidate

At 11.30 Angela Merkel thanked Wulff and his wife Bettina for his period as Federal President.

She announced that there will be efforts made to nominate a candidate for the post who will be accepted by all the major political parties.

President Christian Wulff announces his resignation

At 11.00 German time German Federal President, Christian Wulff, announced his resignation.

Germany was not willing to tolerate any longer the perception that the man was not trustworthy.

Maybe the Irish could learn a lesson from this story and the church too. Probably not.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Christian Wulff presidency in its dying days

It looks this evening that the German Federal President is about to resign his post.

It has been a relentless battle between the office of the Federal President and the media.

The question in Berlin this evening is how much damage the presidency of Christian Wulff is causing Angela Merkel.

Wulff's predecessor, Horst Köhler, an outsider in the world of politics and a banker by trade also resigned.

Wulff is a Catholic in a second relationship.

This evening on German television he was filmed during his current visit to Italy dining with Italian Dominicans. Might some say the kiss of death?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Columnist argues there is no need for embassy in Vatican

Vincent Browne's piece in today's Irish Times on whether or not Ireland should have an embassy to the Holy See in Rome is a good read.

Jesuit priest Peter McVerry is quoted in today's media as calling for the closure of the embassy.

What to do?

It is a most interesting topic. It is worth noting that in the middle of one of the worst economic crisis we can spend time talking about whether or not to close an embassy to a tiny state. Is that what the Vatican is? Hardly.

It is also worth noting how the current US pre-election environment is shaping up. The comments of some senior US church figures are interesting and deserving of attention.

A journalist based in the US has commented that dealing with church matters is like 'walking on eggshells'.

What is it about the church in world politics? Maybe a more worthwhile question might be, who are the officials who represent the church?

Is it always an issue of right versus left? Not at all. It works differently in the church.

Observing the words and style of these men, one can get some idea of the confusion, the secrecy, the politics that ensues.

MI5, CIA, Mossad, BND, FSB all readily admit that the Holy See has the best intelligence service in the world. What does that say?

Salary comparisons don't really add up

The German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel earns €19,705.68 per month. Added to that is the cost of security detail and an official residence.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny earns €16,666. He also has a residence in Dublin at his disposal and security detail is paid.

The population of Germany is 80 million. The population of the Republic of Ireland is five million.

It's highly unlikely that someone who plays for Rovers Football Club in Tallaght earns 84 per cent of what his counterpart in Bayern Muenchen earns.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

'Nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so'

The piece below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
What would you do if you found a €10 note on the ground? I think it's fair to say that most of us would pocket it.

What would you do if you found a €50 note, €500 note?

And of course it matters too where you might find the money. I imagine most of us if we found a €500 note outside someone's house would enquire as to whether someone in that house had lost it. Or is it always a matter of 'finders keepers'?

I must have been only six or seven when I found a £1 note on the road. My father insisted I put a note in the local shop announcing that a 'sum of money' had been found. Luckily for me, no one claimed the money and I was allowed keep the £1. That was a lot of money in the mid 1950s.

The daughter of a friend of mine some weeks ago 'mislaid' her smart phone. She is fairly certain that it 'disappeared' on campus, probably in a lecture hall. So far it has not turned up.

When something like that happens it naturally makes one suspicious and it is inevitable you begin to suspect everyone in your circle. It's not at all a nice feeling.

A work colleague of mine was cycling home from work last week when another cyclist caught up with him and asked him had he dropped some money. My colleague checked and no, he had lost no money. It turned out that the cyclist had found €35 and was hoping to find the owner. Such a story naturally is uplifting and restores one's belief in people.

I cycle a lot and if I found €35 on a Dublin cycle path `I am fairly certain I would keep it? Would that be wrong?

It's clear that it is wrong to break into someone's house and remove valuables and property that do not belong to you. But what if I fiddle my taxes?

Or what about if I buy an airline ticket and somehow or other the airline fails to debit my account for the sum, should I bring it to their attention? Would you?
I think it's fair to say that an awful lot of us have something of an elastic conscience when it comes to our day-to-day attitude or behaviour regarding money.

For instance I would never think of stealing something out of a shop, on the other hand if it happened that I did not pay a bus fare, not in a million years would I think of returning the money to the company. Why not? Is there any difference in the two scenarios?

It's seldom if ever that I have heard ministers of religion pronounce in any categorical way that the slightest deviation in money matters is a matter of 'grave sin'.

So how is it when it comes to matters dealing with sexuality there is such 'certitude' and 'clarity' when it comes to the most minor deviation away from what is considered correct and proper?

Every few months there is the reliable chestnut about some priest somewhere or other who refuses to give Communion to someone because he or she is a non married parent or is divorced. And yet I have never heard of someone being refused Communion for defrauding the Revenue or for not paying their employees a 'just wage'.

What at all is the basis of morality? Has it something to do with 'doing on to others what we would like done unto ourselves?

Is there an objective morality? Can we pick and choose?

The abortion theme is now becoming part of the US election campaign. Yes, I believe that life is sacred but how come that so many of those who are vehemently opposed to abortion seldom if ever say a word about capital punishment?

What makes something right or wrong is an intriguing subject.

Shakespeare in Hamlet writes, "Nothing either good or bad, but thinking make it so". No, there's something more to it than that. What do you think?

That day I found that £1 note my father was adamant that I try find the owner, whereas my mother, I think, would have let me keep it. They were both good people with great moral values.

In Psalm 4 we read, "When I call, answer me, O God of justice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

More revelations about President Wulff

The Wulff story rolls on. More free holidays, mysterious mobile phones and the discovery of new friends in the film industry.

All so similar to the Bertie drama but unlike the Irish, it seems the Germans are not yet ready to let their current Federal President off the hook.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Great piece by Timothy Garton Ash

Timothy Garton Ash writes a brilliant piece in today's Guardian where he argues that Angela Merkel needs all the help she can get.

He quotes from Thomas Mann who in 1953 in Hamburg appealed to students to strive for "not a German Europe but a European Germany".

Ash points out how this stirring pledge was endlessly repeated at the time of German unification.

He goes on to point out that toay we have a variation that few foresaw: a European Germany in a German Europe.

Need for root and branch examination

Today we hear that the Irish bishops have been in disagreement with one of the papal visitators regarding the child sex abuse scandal in Ireland.

Some weeks ago we heard that the Roman visitators requested that new doors be placed in Maynooth.

And most likely there will never be a word about the real causes of the scandal and the cover up.

If the institutional church were really intent in examining the underlying causes of all that has happened, by this stage far more incisive questions would have been asked.

No doubt many of the visitators are genuine and good people but is that enough? Doubtful.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Comment number 21 on TP McInerney blog post

Another comment has been published on the TP McInerney blog post

Nothing 'magical' about Christian ministry

The piece below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

There is another comment on the TP McInerney blog entry. To read it, click on to 'older posts' and scroll down.

On January 19 a Dominican colleague of mine died in a Dublin hospital.
Fr Pat ‘Tom’ McInerney OP had been in hospital almost continuously since August. The hospital is near where I live I so managed to call to him most days.

I had developed a routine: arrive home from work, get the dog and head out for a walk and then on the way home, make a slight detour, tie my Labrador, Tess to a bicycle stand and visit Tom.

The visits were always short. He had difficulty breathing and I wanted to get home and settle in for the night, light the fire, read my book and watch the news.

Since his death I have learned that he had a most aggressive form of cancer. He knew all about it but never once did I hear him complain. I have been flabbergasted with the man’s fortitude and bravery. He never spoke to me about his illness except on one or two occasions when he went into spasm when I was there.

I first met Tom back in the late 1960s when I went to live in the Dominican Priory in Tallaght. He taught me for two semesters but his main work was at RTÉ Radio, then known as Radio Éireann, where he was a producer of programmes.

Of course I had known that he had worked in RTÉ but I was never aware of the pioneering work he had done there. He played a major role in introducing talk radio at the station and was the first producer of the Liam Nolan Hour. He was involved in a myriad activities at RTE, including early work on cable television.

Back in the late 1960s I was greatly impressed with the man. He was much older than I – 20 years of a difference but when I was in my 20s, someone in their 40s was ‘old’. So when I began visiting him in hospital I was, in many ways, rekindling an older 'friendship'.

Indeed, back in the ’60s he had given me a Velo Solex. It was an unusual type of motorised bicycle. You pedalled like hell and then with the help of a lever, let the engine down on the front wheel.

In hospital he reminded me that I never gave it back to him.

These days passing the hospital I am inclined to make a detour off the road and walk through the gates. But no, there is no sense to that. Tom is dead. He’s gone from us.
Death is the only certainty. It comes to us all, in so many different ways.

I miss him. I cried on his shoulder. Even in his great illness, he listened to me and always gave me good advice. I burdened him with my troubles and worries and he was there to listen and help.

In last Sunday’s Gospel we read about how Jesus cured people, who were sick and his mission in life was to preach the Good News.

Tom’s death and that Gospel have set me thinking about life and death and how we manage and handle our lives and also how we manage sickness and death.

The idea of ever attaching any sort of ‘extra natural' powers to priestly ministry is something that has always made me nervous. There is nothing ‘magical’ about Christian ministry. Alas, it’s a cliché or trap into which it is so easy to fall.
Surely we help bring about the first signs of God’s kingdom by being kind in our words and deeds with other people and by our prayers too.

But ‘grace’ flows in two ways too. In my limited experience of visiting people who are sick or fragile, I have always come away realising that I have gained in knowledge or understanding through my encounter with that person.

I’m thinking out loud right now, but I wonder when we use 'holy-sounding' words are we not at times simply looking for a cop-out. What do you think?

I miss Tom. I’m left with fond memories. There are things I would love to say to him. It’s too late for that now.

I cling on to those words in the funeral ritual, 'life is not ended but changed’.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A most unhealthy cocktail

Ireland's rugby team failed yesterday playing in a game sponsored by RBS and in a stadium called 'Aviva'.

RBS and Aviva. And no-one raises an eyebrow

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What happened the Jews can never be forgotten

This evening The Günther Jauch programme on German ARD television screend a round table discussion on German attitudes towards the Jews.

Included on the panel was Anita Lasker Wallfish, who as a child inmate in Auschwitz played the cello for Mengele. Another panelist was actor Christian Berkel, who played an SS doctor in 'Downfall'.

All the panelists were the children of victims of the Nazis.

The discussion highlighted attitudes today towards Jews and they all agreed that it must never be forgotten what was done. They also stressed that it is so dangerous to categorise Jews as if they were all in the 'one pot' (Bad English). They pointed out that we are all humans and how dangerous it is to talk about Jews, Christians, Germans.

Within the last few months an Irish priest speaking at Mass, referring to the child abuse scandal in Ireland, commented that a member of the Irish Government is an atheist and another member of the Cabinet is a non-practising Jew.

An appalling comment.

Fortunately, the priest's Order immediatlely appologised for his comments. And then some months later the priest is 'promoted' within his Order.

What to do?

It seems the institutional church is almost incapable of speaking in a clear and unambiguous way. That is of course if the subject matter is not sexual behaviour.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A thread of similar ideology is made manifest

The question is did Stalin copy the institutional church or does the institutional church copy Josef Stalin.

Stalin and his henchmen refined it to a fine art the phenomenon of making people they did not approve of into 'non-persons'. They were stripped of everything, but not even Stalin could take away their integrity.

It seems elements in the institutional church, the lackeys, the 'liturgical lap-dancers', the men of so-called 'orthodoxy', use every trick in the game to ridicule those they have deemed 'non-persons'.

At least Stalin never claimed any of the 'God stuff'.

Irish Times obituary on TP McInerney OP

The obituary below appears in today's 'Irish Times'.

More comments have been posted on the original blog reporting his death. To read them simply scroll down and click on to 'comments'.

Fr Pat ‘Tom’ McInerney OP, who has died aged 81, belonged to that group of men known as “worker priests” - priests who lived and worked in the secular world while carrying out their missions. The concept was developed by the French Catholic Church in the 1940s and spread elsewhere, although it never became as widespread as in France.

Pat McInerney was born in Roscrea. His father, Michael, had joined the Garda Síochána in 1922. His mother, Sheila Drennan, was from Roscrea. He was educated at CBS Abbey School in Tipperary town.

In 1947 he declined a university scholarship and worked for a few years in the civil service in Dublin.

He joined the Dominican Order in 1951. The custom then was that when someone joined religious life they were given a new name, and Pat became “Thomas” - however, he continued to be known personally as Pat.

While working in the Civil Service he wrote a letter home to his parents telling them that he had met a Dominican in St Saviour’s Dublin and was thinking of joining the Order, “I came to realise that I should become a member of the Dominican Order. It seems to offer everything I am looking for, and much besides.”

He in turn in his wisdom and gentle spirit gave to the Dominicans a unique understanding of priesthood that is remarkably needed today.

He studied theology at Le Saulchoir in Paris, where he was ordained a priest in 1957. He taught theology at the Benedictine Abbey in Glenstal and in the Dominican House of Studies at St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght. In 1962 he went to Nagpur in India where the Irish Dominicans had been asked to staff a seminary. Due to ill-health he returned to Ireland the following year and moved to Tallaght, which was to be his home for the rest of his life.

In 1970 he joined the staff of what was then Radio Éireann, based in the old studios in the GPO in O’Connell Street, Dublin. He started his career there as a radio producer in Features and Current Affairs under Donncha Ó Dualaing who was then head of this department. Later he moved to the Donnybrook studios where he joined his fellow Dominican, the late Romuald Dodd, who was religious affairs adviser at the station.

Pat McInerney worked on a wide range of programmes across the RTÉ radio schedule, with a particular interest in factual and current affairs programmes. He made a major contribution to reshaping Irish radio as the originator of the Liam Nolan Hour in 1970 when he was one of its founding producers; the other was Michael O’Donnell. Before this programme started, there was very little speech on RTÉ Radio in the mornings. Round-the-clock radio (so-called at the time) had begun in 1968 with an initial morning schedule that consisted mostly of music. The Liam Nolan Hour was the first attempt at daytime current affairs outside the newsroom and it morphed into Here and Now, then Day by Day, and now the Today with Pat Kenny Show.

In its day, the Liam Nolan Hour sounded fresh, new and quite unlike anything else on Irish radio.

In the early 1970s he was seconded to the office of the deputy director general, John Irvine, where he worked as a special assistant. This work included conducting relations with he Broadcasting Review Committee; cable development and radio development studies; aspects of legislation; aspects of responses to the Complaints Advisory Committee; corporate planning and special assignments and papers for the RTE Authority, director general Tom Hardiman and the deputy director general. These were perhaps his happiest times in RTÉ; the role played to his clarity of thought and analytical skills. He enjoyed being at the centre of things.

He returned to the radio division in 1976 where he became the first editor of the “Brief Series”: Adminbrief, Mediabrief, Eurobrief and Northbrief, which in time developed into the strands Looking North, Looking South and Looking West.

His work on the Papal visit in 1979 was one of the high points of his career in RTÉ. He was a clear-minded editor of a complex outside broadcast operaton.
He remained at RTÉ until his retirement on August 27th 1995, and continued to work for the station on a consultative basis for some time afterwards.

He had none of the vestiges of clericalism, and he never expected any sort of preferential treatment back in the days when such behaviour was often par for the course.
He is survived by his sisters Eileen and Tess, brothers Michael and Noel, nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews.

Fr Pat ‘Tom’ McInerney: born August 26th, 1930; died January 19th

It's the ordinary things that matter

The piece below is the 'Thinking Anew' column in today's 'Irish Times'.

It certainly could not have been winter as it was still bright at seven or eight pm when I called to a colleague, who was in hospital. That particular evening I managed to bring my dog around to the window outside his room so that he could see her. He was delighted to see the dog and during the next five months regularly asked about her, indeed, told me to say hello to her from him.

He had been in hospital more or less continuously from then until last month when he died.
And all during that time I called to see him most evenings after work. It became part of my routine at the end of my walk with my dog. I’d tie Tess to a bicycle stand and drop in for a ten-minute visit.

It seemed as if my Labrador knew the daily ritual and was always ready to wag her tail when I appeared at the hospital door after my visit. I first met the man in 1969 when he taught me but had little or no contact with him since 1974.

Now when I pass the hospital it seems strange not to go in to see him. But that’s life and the only one certainty we are assured of is that we will all die. There are no exceptions.

In tomorrow’s Gospel (Mark 1: 29 – 39) we read how Jesus at the beginning of his preaching ministry heals a number of people. The word gets around of his powers and so it is understandable that his disciples mention to him that, “everyone is looking for you”. He answers them, “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.” (Mark 1: 38)
I have never been easy when any hint of a suggestion is made that “extra natural” powers might work through the hands of a priest, especially when visiting the sick. Magic can never be part of the vocabulary of anything to do with Christian ministry.
When it comes to saying anything about God we really have to be extremely guarded and careful. It’s far too easy to launch into a flight of fantasy.

But surely when we, through our words and actions and our prayers too, show kindness to one another, especially towards those who are fragile, vulnerable, weak and ill we are in some way or other making it possible for God’s presence to be experienced in the world about us.

All good and healthy relationships operate in both directions and anyone who has any dealings with another person will always be aware that “grace” flows in a two-way system.
From my limited experience visiting the sick I can categorically say that on all occasions I have been the person who has “gained” from the experience.

In the five months that I have been visiting my Dominican colleague in hospital I have been inspired by his fortitude and bravery, and his wisdom too.

And I am always struck with how people face difficulties, how people face illness and misfortune. Has it something to do with God’s grace? Maybe it has. But once we are there for one another, the possibilities for goodness are really limitless.

Visiting that man for those months showed me that Christianity is primarily about our relationships with one another and then with God. But the God we know is the Jesus of the New Testament who spent his short life supporting and helping people, especially those who were the vulnerable and fragile in society.

No doubt there is a place for dogma and orthodoxy but the pillars that give life to Christianity are our relationships with other people. After my friend died last month someone observed that it was through his humanity that his holiness came through.

Wise words. It is in our everyday lives, in the ordinary things that we do that we have the possibility of contributing to making God present in our world. And very often God’s grace is present to us in places we least expect. In the very ordinary things we do, day-in, day-out.

Michael Commane OP

Irish Times obit on TP McInerney OP

There is an obituary on TP McInerney in today's Irish Times.

There is also another comment on this blog.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Never miss a chance to discover what it's really like

We regularly complain that when we call for information on some issue or other we are routed to places far away.

Today this blogger called a service provider. The call was routed to Egypt. Conversation ensued and the person in Egypt assured his enquirer in Dublin that the football violence was most certainly the work of the Egyptian secret service on order from the Government in Cairo.

Next time you call a service provider why not ask them where they are and ask them about conditions in their country, in their work place.

Maybe after all we the people can play an important role in helping create a better world.

Another tribute to TP McInerney OP

Another comment has been posted on the late TP McInerney.

Scroll down to the appropriate blog entry to read comment.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Willy Brandt Airport opens in June

Irish people who have flown to Berlin in recent years have arrived at Schönefeld. Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair use the airport.

It is the old main airport in East Berlin. It was the airport in which Gorbachev greeted the former GDR leader Erich Honnecker to tell him it was time to change.

Interflug was the main carrier that used the airport alongside Aeroflot.

Anyone who has flown there knows it is a clapped-out airport.

On June 3 a new Berlin Brandenburg airport will be opened on the site by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

It will be known as Willy Brandt Airport. Willy Brandt was Mayor of Berlin before becoming German Chancellor. He was Mayor of Berlin when Kennedy made his famous visit to the city.

The new airport is costing in the region of €3 billion.

The airport is approximately 18 kms from Berlin Mitte.

The ariport will be served with high speed ICE trains.

The ariport straddles the states of Berlin and Brandenburg.

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