Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Priestly spoof

How can 'closeness to Jesus' be linked to priestly ordination?

The old line 'custom and practice' is worth calling to mind.

In these last days I have heard horrific stories of priestly behaviour. I always suspected it but never knew till now. Now I know.

When I hear people talk about 'closeness to Jesus' it reminds me of so much spoof and lies that I have heard year after year, both at an institutional and individual level.

I have had enough of the spoof and humbug.

That clerical spoof, humbug and pious nonsense seems to be in the ascendancy in places right now.

To talk or mention any link between 'closeness to Jesus' and priesthood is extreme arrogance and such an insult to my parents and parents all over the world.

The tools of intimidation and fear might be far closer to priesthood than 'closeness to Jesus'.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vatileaks give an insight as to how it is

There is a story in today's Irish Independent about leaks at the Vatican.

"It's open warfare, with everyone against everyone else. Those doing it are doing it to protect the Pope. There are those opposed to the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. And those who think that Benedict XVI is too weak to lead the church. And those who think that this is the time to step forward."

That's a quote from an Italian newspaper interview with an anonymous source.

And that's the story that could be told of every diocese, every religious order and congregation.

Is it all one big sad pantomime?

We need someone to keep tabs on us

What's the big fuss in the EU keeping tabs on us?
 This column appears in thsi week's INM regional newspapers in Ireland.

By Michael Commane
On Thursday we vote in the Fiscal Treaty referendum.

Have you decided how you are voting and if so what made you come to that

Twenty two per cent have not made up their mind.

Some polls say that the turnout on Thursday could be as low as 50 per cent. All the polls say the Yes side are at present in the majority but that the gap between the Yes and No voters is closing.
I sat down last week to read the Treaty. In places it's like the new Roman Missal - almost impossible to understand. There are sentences with over 100 words.

Still not happy with what to do, I read The Independent Guide to the Fiscal Stability Treaty. That made more sense to me. Then there is the A4 sheet folded in three called The Stability Treaty. There is no indication who has published it. But it is obviously on the Yes side as it argues that it is necessary to ratify the Treaty. I must say I would like to know who published it. Does the presence of the harp means it is a Government publication?

All three documents have been delivered to every household in the country. All three documents have been printed in both Irish and English. The Independent Guide is available in Braille and in large text format through NCBI. It is also available in Irish Sign Language on the websites of the Irish Deaf Society and I'd love to know how many people have sat down and read all three documents. It would be interesting to know how many people have read all three documents in the Irish version. I have watched some of the TV coverage, even some of the
fighting on the Vincent Browne Show.

On Friday the chairman of the Referendum Commission, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney was on Morning Ireland. Unfortunately I only caught the end of it.

But what I heard was clear and informative - the clearest of what I have heard since the campaign began.

The 19-page Stbaility Treaty pamphlet carries two introductory pages. These two pages are clearly suggesting to the reader that a Yes vote is the preferred outcome of Thursday's vote. I'm wondering are those two pages appropriate in the pamphlet?

And then in Saturday's Irish Times there is a letter by Fr Edmond Grace. Fr Grace is rooting for a Yes vote. He is a Jesuit and a man I admire.
Certainly in a General Election it would be unusual for a priest to get involved in party politics. Or would it? I've decided which way I'm voting on Thursday. But I'm asking myself, how I came to my decision. Have I been brainwashed? I hope not. And then I wonder what exactly is democracy, how democratic is our system? Who are the real people who control and decide how things should be? No doubt big business and the banks have a significant say in how things are ordered and done.

I know nothing about economics. When it comes to math, adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying is about the limit of my mathematical skills, so when the Treaty writes the following I'm lost: "where the ratio of the general government debt to gross domestic product at market prices is significantly below 60% and where risks in terms of long-term sustainability of public finances are low, the lower limit of the medium-term objective specified under point (b) can reach a deficit of at most 1.0% of the gross domestic product at market prices;" (Article 3 1. d).
I also have to admit that I am over the moon with the idea of an integrated and united Europe. I remember when I got my first EU passport and my first EU driving licence I was so thrilled about it.

The reality that so many of our young people have access to study and learn apprenticeships in other EU countries is simply fantastic.

Didn't the English authorities in Ireland play a significant role in the development of Maynooth College so that Irish priests would not be influenced by European thought. We know the results of that.

I first went to Germany in 1972. Back then Ireland was far far away from Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich. Two years later I went to study in Rome - an extraordinary privilege back then.
That's all changed. Today thousands of students spend some time studying in other EU cities.
I'm no economist but I do know that I can't spend above my means. And if I do I'll come a cropper.

We have to balance our books and that there's an outside agency or authority keeping an eye on us is surely a good idea. We live in times where we are always insisting on regulatory authorities.
So what's the big fuss in the EU keeping tabs on us?

We have been profligate for long enough. And whatever happens on Thursday there are severe cuts ahead for all of us.

Is it not better that we have the support and cooperation of the EU in as full a way as possible?
Whatever you do, at least go out and vote.

And just as I finish writing this I hear Shane Ross has announced he is voting No. I'm certain now what way I’m voting.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Comments posted to blog

Comments have been posted to this blog today. So far they have not been published. Is it possible for those who have posted the comments to leave a contact. The contact will not appear on the blog. Thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Comments sent and lost

In the last 24 hours two readers of this blog wrote comments for publication.

One comment was on the most recent post and the other comment was on a post written in the last few days.

Unfortunately, both comments were lost - my error - so I would be grateful if they could be resent.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Important that people know

The story that Garry O'Toole told on radio today about George Gibney is interesting from many angles.

Certainly it showed the bravery of Mr O'Toole to do what he did back then. At the time he was a young man and naturally was ambitious in his swimming pursuits. Gibney was in a position of authority and people tended to believe him.

Why is it that 'spoofs' are so readily believed, even respected and treated in high esteem?

Will it ever be known the full damage that Gibney inflicted on Ireland's young swimmers? Will it ever be fully appreciated the harm he has done?

When someone in a position of authority, who is sexually perverse or is a chronic sadist, and acts out his perversity on others, is it or can it ever be measured the damage - it is usually a he - that he causes to people and future generations? Indeed, entire organisations or institutions may be damaged

The damage may well not end at the person's imprisonment or death. And in that sense it is important that there is transparency and full disclosure of what actually happens and goes on.

In such cases, freedom of information overrules any laws or rights to privacy.

Is that not so?

Brave words of Garry O'Toole

Garry O'Toole gave an account on the Marian Finucane Show this morning of his ordeal in outing Irish Olympic swimming coach George Gibney.

A brave man who was and is willing to speak the truth in an open and unvarnished way, even criticising an organisation to which he belonged. Eloquent too.

Well done and maybe even ironic on this day.

Unlocking our doors

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

A few short years ago who would have dreamed that the western world would be in such turmoil?
The political dream of the European Union is experiencing difficult days. But it is important that we stand back and recognise that our relationships one with another are not based solely on monetary concerns.
I think it's fair to say we are all hoping to hear our leaders speak to us with words of hope.
We need to be reminded of the hope and inspiration of the founding fathers of what we now call the European Union.
We need to be inspired by the words and deeds of our leading politicians.
Is it true to say the older one gets the more difficult it is to be inspired by the words and actions of national and world leaders?
And then of course there is always the danger that a demagogue will appear on the scene and lure us to catastrophe.
It's difficult to pinpoint what it is that makes a person into an inspirational figure. It's difficult to put shape on it.
Great orators have a unique charism. They have an aura or spirit about them. We talk about the spirit of a nation, a football team, a school.
We all know how it feels when spirits are high and alas we also know what it means when we are down in spirit.
Buying my newspaper on the day that Katie Taylor won her gold medal in China, her victory was the first thing the young man behind the counter said to me.
Her success has lifted the spirits of the nation, even those of us who know little or nothing about boxing.
On the evening on that same day in Munich a young Chelsea supporter,
interviewed for television said it was the best day of his life.
The spirit indeed can be ephemeral, a moving target, elusive, nevertheless there is a real side to it. In some way it can help banish fear. 'Spirit' can give us courage, it can give us an entire new outlook on life. Success breeds success. Unfortunately the converse can also be the case, failure can have a downward spiralling effect on us.
Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. It is one of the great feasts in the Christian calendar. It is at the heart of Christian belief. And it is interesting in all the current 'controversy' over church issues there is not a word spoken in dispute about tomorrow's feast.
Jesus appears to his disciples. "In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ …. (Joh 20: 19)
His appearance transforms their fear into joy and peace.
Of course we close and lock our doors to feel secure and protect ourselves. But imagine an environment where there would be no need to lock doors and install CCTV.
In the perfect world, in the preferred environment, there would be no need to lock our doors.
Fortunately we live in a society that respects human rights and allows for freedom of expression. We are privileged people to live in an open pluralist society.
On Pentecost Sunday the Risen Lord clearly shows to his disciples the futility in hiding behind closed doors. In the long run it never works and also, it is never the way to get to the truth or to preach the message of the Risen Lord.
One is reminded of President Roosevelt's injunction, 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself'.
The feast of Pentecost is a timely reminder to us to open our minds and hearts so that we can listen to the Word of God, see the presence of God in our world and try our best to live out the message of the Gospel in hope and joy in a spirit of fearlessness.
Those who appeal to our fear have really nothing to offer us. Entrenchment, isolation and xenophobia can never be conducive to the ways of the Spirit.
The Spirit of Pentecost invites us to be people in search of freedom in a
spirit of openness and truth.
It’s worth noting that subsequent to the appearance of Jesus, the
atmosphere of fear and worry changes to one of joy and peace. It is in that context that the Holy Spirit is made manifest and presented to the world.
Michael Commane OP

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Death of Irish Dominican

An Irish Dominican, Cyprian Candon, died today at lunchtime in St Saviour's Priory in Dorset Street, Dublin.

Fr Candon was aged 92.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Parking system at Heuston has been changed

Heuston parking
New parking system adds problems for travellers

Is there any explanation to Irish Rail's new car parking arrangements at Heuston Station?

The new system, which is in place at all Irish Rail stations in the State request the driver of the vehicle to buy a ticket for the number of days the car will be parked on site and then leave the docket on view in car window.

What happens if one decides to leave the car in the car park for an extra period of time?

How much did it cost to change the system?

Thilo Sarazin back in the news

Sarazin back in news with new book
Thilo Sarazin's new book,'Europe does not need the Euro' is highly criticised in today's Frenkfurter Rundshau.

The German daily newspaper argues that personal resentments are mixed with inaccurate arguments and incorrect statistics.

Sarazin's previous book made the headlines because of how the book dealt with what it means to be German.

Thilo Sarazin worked at the Bundesbank and was a member of the SPD.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jesus tells us he has conquered the world

Anyone who reads today's Gospel about how we find peace and the fact that Jesus tells us he has conquered the world must find it difficult to understand the anger and xenophobia in the current issue of the free sheet 'Alive'.

Alive newspaperAnd all the negative comments about the EU make for painful reading.

In the June issue of 'Alive' one reads: "vulnerable sections of our society are being walloped by foreign imposed 'austerity measures'.

Obviously a snide comment at a 'foreign influence', yet on every page of the newspaper there are examples of the wonderful doings and carry-on of foreigners, whose behaviour obviously impresses the editorial team.

When 'Alive' berates the media for having an agenda does it not strike the editorial team that it has one incredible agenda of xenophobia and almost hatred,

For a free sheet that is constantly attacking taxes at national and EU level it is quite ironic that it avails of charity status to claim back money from Revenue.

It is difficult to understand why a free sheet such as 'Alive' should have charitable status.

In small print at the bottom of Page One 'Alive' carries a 'health warning' pointing out that content does "not necessarily represent the views of the Irish Dominican Province'.

Hopefully the nastiness and anger expressed in the free sheet represents the views of very few Irish Dominicans.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vincent Browne's Bible references

Vincent Browne's piece in yesterday's Irish Times makes for interesting reading.

Will it be discussed in any sort of open, honest and significant manner in priories, presbyteries, houses of studies?

Or will 'groupthink' reign?

Most likely the latter.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Heavy losses for CDU on Rhine and Ruhr

Significant victory for the SPD today in Germany's most populated state, Nordrhein Westfalen.

The Pirate Party on their first elections in NRW have managed to scale the five per cent benchmark, which means they have won seats in parliament.

Die Linke did not make the five per cent which means they are out.

It is the worst election ever for the CDU in NRW.

The FDP have increased their vote from two to eight per cent under the direction of Christian Lindner

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another delay for Ber Airport

The opening of the new Berlin - Brandenburg Airport has been delayed again.

The new opening date will be in October, probably to coincide with the introduction of the winter timetable.

More embarrassment for the states of Brandenburg and Berlin.

It means plans for the closure of Tegal and Schönefeld have to be put on hold and aspects of chaos reign at the two airports.

Russians recall victory over Nazi Germany

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

It's been a week of commemoration and celebration across Europe. On Wednesday it seemed as if all of Russia was in Red Square attending the victory parade in honour of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
Earlier, newly elected German President, Joachim Gauck attended a celebration in the Netherlands marking the day the country was liberated from Nazi Germany.
Sixty seven years ago this week the world breathed a sigh of relief. Nazi Germany had been defeated, the gates of concentration camps had been thrown open.
In the months and years that followed, the world heard of the terrible evil that hed been perpetrated.
At the trial of Adolf Eichmann one of his interviewers was quite shocked at the demenaour of the man. He was expecting to see a monster but what he saw was just an 'ordinary man'.
We have also learned of the extraordinary stories of the remarkable goodness and love carried out by people during that time of evil and turmoil.
It's important to recognise that goodness and love just as evil and hatred are not the exclusive 'property' of any group, class or nation. Nor are they characteristics that are locked in to any particular timeframe.
In tomorrow's Gospel Jesus tells his followers: "If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete." (John 15: 10 - 11)
Later in the passage he tells them that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends.
The passage concludes, "My command to you is to love one another".
One coud really say that the words of Jesus are simply shocking in their simplicity and clarity.
There are no ifs and buts about it. We have been asked by Jesus, the Word incarnate to love one another.
And it's empty rhetoric to dream about times past and difficult situations in which we think we would rise to the plate.
This very day each one of us has the opportunity and indeed the privilege to accept the 'command' of Jesus and make it our business to 'love one another'.
It might well sound abstract to say that God is love, it might also sound almost 'pious' to say that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. But if we could really make that idea our own, there might be the possibility that when we are criticisng or being nasty to another person, we might just stand back and realise that the person we are attacking is a creature of God.
Of course people do evil and terrible things and there is never a question of accepting or lying under wrong doing. But the challenge is to answer the command of Jesus - to love one another.
It's easy to be kind and gracious towards those we like. It is another matter altogehter to extend our kindenss and even charm to those who annoy and upset us.
But isn't that one of the extraordianry massages of the New Testament that we are asked to give a special place in our hearts and minds for those who are marginalisted, those who are not part of the beautiful set. And that's never easy.
It's worth noting, in these days when Euroepan cities celebrated the victory over Nazi Germany, Europe is experiencing difficulties and poor people are suffering as a result of the financial and economic crisis. In this turmoil too we have to be particularly gentle and kind to the weakest and marginalised. And that surley can only be done in a meaningful and worthwhile manner in the spirit of the founding fathers of what was then known as the Common Market and now the European Union.
As the followers of Jesus it is our task, our privilege to inccarnate love in the world, in our surroundings, just as he did, even when it is costly.
Michael Commane OP

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A great one liner

"I'm profoundly optimistic about nothing"

Francis Bacon

Stalin's address on May 9 1945

Comrades! Fellow countrymen and countrywomen!

The great day of victory over Germany has arrived. Fascist Germany, forced to her knees by the Red Army and the troops of our Allies, has admitted defeat and has announced her unconditional surrender.

On May 7 a preliminary act of surrender was signed in Rheims. On May 8, in Berlin, representatives of the German High Command, in the presence of representatives of the Supreme Command of the Allied troops and of the Supreme Command of the Soviet troops, signed the final act of surrender, which came into effect at 24 hours on May 8.

Knowing the wolfish habits of the German rulers who regard treaties and
agreements as scraps of paper, we have no grounds for accepting their word.

Nevertheless, this morning, the German troops, in conformity with the act of
surrender, began en masse to lay down their arms and surrender to our troops.

This is not a scrap of paper. It is the actual capitulation of the armed forces of Germany. True, one group of German troops in the region of Czechoslovakia still refuses to surrender, but I hope the Red Army will succeed in bringing it to its senses.

We now have full grounds for saying that the historic day of the final defeat of Germany, the day of our people's great victory over German imperialism, has arrived.

The great sacrifices we have made for the freedom and independence of our
country, the incalculable privation and suffering our people have endured during the war, our intense labours in the rear and at the front, laid at the altar of our motherland, have not been in vain; they have been crowned by complete victory over the enemy. The ago-long struggle of the Slavonic peoples for their existence and independence has ended in victory over the German aggressors and German tyranny.

Henceforth, the great banner of the freedom of the peoples and peace between the peoples will fly over Europe.

Three years ago Hitler publicly stated that his task included the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the severance from it of the Caucasus, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Baltic and other regions. He definitely said: "We shall destroy Russia so that she shall never be able to rise again." This was three years ago. But Hitler's insane ideas were fated to remain unrealised -- the course of the war scattered them to the winds like dust. Actually, the very opposite of what the Hitlerites dreamed of in their delirium occurred. Germany is utterly defeated. The German troops are surrendering. The Soviet Union is triumphant, although it has no intention of either dismembering or destroying Germany.

Comrades! Our Great Patriotic War has terminated in our complete victory. The period of war in Europe has closed. A period of peaceful development has
been ushered in.

Congratulations on our victory, my dear fellow countrymen and countrywomen!
Glory to our heroic Red Army, which upheld the independence of our country
and achieved victory over the enemy!
Glory to our great people, the victor people!

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell fighting the enemy and who gave their lives for the freedom and happiness of our people!
J. Stalin.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New German airport misses take off date

The opening date for the new Berlin - Brandenburg airport has been postponed.

The airport will now be opened in September. But no date has been set.

The airport was due to open on June 3.

A major political crisis in the German capital.

Aiport Ber will not now be open for the busy summer traffic.

The Germans are not happy. The delay is due to problems with smoke alarms and certification.

Everyone's judgement needs to be challenged

Great piece in yesterday's Irish Times by a former editor, Conor Brady.

FOR EDITORS, broadcast managers and journalists, the most insidious element identified in RTÉ’s series of failures must be what the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland investigator Anna Carragher describes as the emergence of “groupthink.”

Like the proverbial giraffe, it is difficult to define. But we can recognise it when we see it. The late Irving Janis, the American psychologist who is credited with first identifying the phenomenon, described it as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group . . . strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

It is an immensely powerful force. And, as in the debacle at Prime Time Investigates, it can subvert the faculty of critical thinking. It can neutralise the qualities of accuracy, verification and authentication that ought be central to the editorial process and replace them with assertion, supposition and assumption.

It is most likely to emerge as a problem in organisations with a strong sense of mission or moral purpose. Media organisations by definition are immensely fertile fields for it. Journalists, for the most part, have idealistic impulses. They believe in noble causes. They usually know – or think they know – a lot more than they can print or put on air. The newsroom is the perfect “in-group” identified by Janis.

Working in stressed conditions with colleagues, socialising with them over irregular hours, often being immersed in each others’ stories, journalists can be easy prey to “groupthink”. And because it is rare enough for them to be publicly proven wrong in what they write or broadcast, many will tend to develop qualities of excessive self-confidence in their own judgment.

This phenomenon is by no means confined to the media. It can emerge in institutions where people have a sense of having a special mission, such as in churches, advocacy groups or indeed in law-enforcement agencies.

In the Garda Síochána during the 1970s, a cohort of highly-motivated, mission-driven officers saw themselves as having a duty to get results in the fight against crime and subversion. They saw themselves – not wholly inaccurately – as an elite group, thrown into the firing line against wicked and violent people.

Encouraged by some superiors, they adopted a mode of investigation in which assumption, intuition and inside knowledge – groupthink – displaced the force’s customary caution and reliance on conventional methods. The result was a crisis in the credibility of the Garda and the courts.

Ms Carragher’s report does not tell us why or how groupthink took hold in RTÉ. How did it become so entrenched in the station’s editorial processes? Why was it not identified and checked?

I encountered it at intervals when I was a newspaper editor. It would tend to emerge in the aftermath of a period of success. Perhaps we would have landed a series of important news “exclusives”. It usually afflicted people who were very good at their jobs and influential with their peers.

A sense emerged on occasion that such-and-such a journalist or section editor could do no wrong. After all, he or she had been so right so many times before. People in support roles felt unable to challenge their judgment.

Moreover, people above them sometimes had confidence in them because on so many previous occasions they had hit the bullseye.

I suspect that something rather similar happened in RTÉ. The news and current affairs division had come through a golden era under Ed Mulhall’s leadership. His courage and intelligence were beyond question and his judgment had been vindicated time and again.

The station had fought off legal challenges from Beverley Flynn. Fine investigative reporting had uncovered scandals in nursing homes for the elderly, irregular practices in the Lourdes hospital in Drogheda and elsewhere and in the sexual abuse of children in State care.

RTÉ news and current affairs was performing, hitting the targets. It was a place where journalists, researchers, presenters and others were proud to work, knowing that they were the elite of the station, that they were doing work that was critically important and that their reputation and influence preceded them.

It is the responsibility of top management to be aware that when one is at one’s strongest one may also be at one’s most vulnerable. This is the time at which hubris is likely to emerge. And it is the time when senior management has to be vigilant of danger.

Key personnel must not be allowed to remain in critical, pressurised posts for too long. Their particular vision, their strengths and weaknesses, become institutionalised. Chains of command and lines of report need to be altered with regularity. Otherwise relationships become mechanical and routine. Teams of people working together must be regularly broken up and regrouped.

When individuals start to say they can work together, knowing almost intuitively how each other will react and what they are thinking, then it is time to throw all the pieces in the air and start again.

And the last man or woman down the line – call that individual editor, director or whatever – has to be the leader and sternest critic of the team’s work. He has to challenge material, to interrogate it and to test it to destruction, especially when it has been presented by personnel with whom he has worked and trusted and whom he may even see as friends.

A complaint sometimes voiced in my years of editorship was that I put in too many checks and challenges into the editorial processes at The Irish Times. Some journalists on occasion felt aggrieved that their word or their judgment alone was insufficient to allow a report go into print.

There is an adage, said to have originated in the Chicago City News Bureau: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” If journalists move away from that principle and if those supervising them allow it to happen, can anyone be surprised when disaster follows?

Christian faith is a nuanced tapestry gentle too

This column appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane.
I can well imagine if anyone sees the name of Cardinal Seán Brady in this column they might well decide to move on and read something else.

I can understand so well. I found myself doing it when reading newspapers over the weekend.
Nevertheless, I'd like to make a few comments on church issues in this column, using the Brady controversy as a springboard.

I can hear people say that it's time the Catholic Church was closed down. I understand that. I can hear people say that this is yet another attack on the church. I understand that too.

My head is in a tumble. Turmoil reigns. But let me stop there for a second. My head has been in a tumble for long before any of this 'stuff' began to emerge.
I belong to a religious order, the Dominicans. I know little or nothing about the world of diocesan priests.

But I have always felt and thought that among priests there is a 'group think' thing that is profoundly unhealthy. All that gossip that circulates as to who will be the next bishop here or there is childish and painful.

But maybe that has happened because of the curious way in which bishops are appointed.
There is a problem with how authority, discipline and communion/fellowship
work within the institutional church.

There could be well an opinion abroad which seems to think that the church is one big monolith. It is anything but and right now it seems in serious difficulty.

I am a priest close to 40 years and never once has a superior or a bishop sat me down and asked me what I might think about church teaching on the divinity of Christ or what my views are on the resurrection. Indeed, I have never ever been asked what I think about the central issues of my faith.

It seems to be all taken for granted. And once a man is ordained a priest it is quite likely that he will never once in his priestly life be requested to attend a retraining course or study the most recent scholarship in biblical or theological research.

Yes, there are a myriad courses available for priests to attend so that they can up-skill themselves in theology, philosophy and pastoral care. I don’t think it is inaccurate to say that the vast majority of priests, once ordained, are almost a law unto themselves, that is, unless the proverbial hits the fan. Priests manage to run their own little fiefdoms in Ireland.

All the discussion at present surrounding controversy in the church concerns issues related or connected to sex, anything at all that might in the most tenuous way be linked to sexual issues: married priests, women priests, gay priests, and then the daily barrowful of horrific material dealing with clerical child sex abuse and the cover up.

There seems also to be an element of paranoia with church officialdom/bureaucracy concerning authority. Somehow or other it seems always linked to matters concerning sexuality. And yet a priest could interview a 14-year-old boy asking him the most outrageous questions and leave his father outside the door.

Who allowed those questions to be asked? Who compiled the questions? Any organisation that would allow such questions to be asked to a minor would seem not fit for purpose. And there it is again: the church seems to have an unhealthy attitude to all things to do with human sexuality. Had a woman been in that room that day those terrible questions would not have been asked.

Is it that when it comes to do with sex the church feels that if the genie is
let out of the bottle the world will fall apart and the centre will not hold?
These days we are still celebrating the season of Easter. As Christians we believe that Christ has risen from the dead.

What does that mean for you and for me? I’d much prefer that we would be discussing the various and different views and interpretations of our belief in the resurrection than so many of the topics that are not central to our faith.

On radio last week I heard a caller comment that if a priest has different views than the pope then he should leave and set up his own church.

Our Christian faith is a nuanced tapestry and to try to turn it into a ‘yes Sir no Sir’ command structure suggests an appalling vista, which would do great damage to the universal church.

In the meantime I’d love a bishop or a congregational superior to give me a call and ask what the resurrection means for me and how do I preach about it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

ACP meeting attracts over 1,000 people

Over 1,000 people attended the Association of Catholic Priests' meeting in Dublin today.

A number of people addressed the congress and people from the floor were given the opportunity to speak.

Fr Brendan Hoban spoke eloquently about the need for the church to be faithful to the Vatican Council and that the impetus would have to come from parish level.

There was strong criticism of the leadership of the church, the leadership in Ireland and at the Vatican.

There was no bishops' representative at the meeting.

And that too surely was an interesting statement. All during the clerical child sex abuse cover up the bishops have gone out of their way to stress that each diocese is independent. They were very much united today in their absence.

Many people today spoke of the institutional church's inability to tell the truth.

Two young people spoke stressing the importance of the job of the priest to obey the Magesterium.

A man who, as a child was abused in an institution, caused a slight stir when he spoke out of turn but he was evnetually allowed tell his story.

It was the first of such days and was a good start.

Allowing an open forum to such a large attendance can be unwieldy, which was the case at the afternoon session.

Among the attendance were parishioners, sisters, brothers, priests and 12 Irish Dominicans.

It is a start.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An incident on the Günther Jauch show this evening

An extraordinary event happened on the Günther Jauch Show this evening.

A man in the audience ran on to the stage. He was immediately removed by security. But show host Günther Jauch jumped up, said that they were not in Ukraine and demanded that the man be brought back to the show.

Amazing television.

Turbulent times as Jauch commented.

French, Greeks and some Germans vote

France has a new president. Schleswig Holstein will probably have an SPD Green government and the left and far right have large gains in Greece.

And Francois Hollande's partner, a renowned journalist, is spectacularly beautiful.

At 21.00 Irish time the SPD and CDU have 30 seats each in the new parliament in Kiel.

The Pirate Party are the political sensation of the evening.

It might be worth noting that one of the leaders of the Pirate Party, Johannes Ponader an artist by trade, claims unemployment benefit.

Mr Ponader studied theatre after obtaining the best possible results in his Abitur - final school exam.

Irish Tánaiste and Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore is in Paris. RTE interviewd the Tánaiste in Paris. An unfortunate clip with a puppet-style man standing directly behind Mr Gilmore. It was awful television.

Friday, May 4, 2012

RTE and Fr Vincent Twomey

Why does RTE treat Fr Vincent Twomey in such reverential style and take his words in such serious fashion?

A glimpse at institutional behaviour

The inquest of Gareth Williams has given the public a tiny glimpse of what goes on at GCHQ, MI6 and how the Met doff their hats to the masters at MI6.

Isn't it another example of an institution coming along and taking someone and then destroying them.

Two years ago, in the first public speech by a serving head of MI6 Sir John Sawyers said: "Secrecy is not a dirty word. Secrecy is not there to cover-up".

Yesterday he suggested MI6 had learned there were times when it should be open.

There is a belief that MI6 is above the law.

Ireland has not a have a tradition of a secret service but it does have a church headquarters in Rome.

Is it not a carbon copy of church and priests?

Maybe Ireland's church has been

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hats off to DLR's top class service

Yesterday Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council was informed that a public light near Orwell Road was out of order.

DLR had the light back working the following day.

An excellent service that deserves praise and compliments.

The shameful questions of a priest

That someone would ask a 14-year-old boy the questions that Brendan Boland was asked in the Dominican Priory in Dundalk is simply unacceptable. And that boy's parents were not permitted to attend the meeting.

If this is the case, as it seems to be, and people think nothing wrong has been done, then there might be reason to say that there should be a health warning with priesthood.

A system not fit for purpose

To think of the lore dished out to clerical students on the values of celibacy by many men who have the most suspect connection with their own affective aspects is worrying.

How many men involved with the formation of priests have no social graces?

How many of these men are spoofs and charlatans, who are in their jobs because they are considered to have a
'safe pair of hands'?

With a few exceptions, it seems people in charge of priestly formation are careerists, with little or no vision, who are embroiled in the nonsense of clerical shenanigans and gossip.

Ever spot that pathetic cleric with the perfect black suit, large roman collar and sparkling white cuffs? Nearly forgot, the shiny shoes. The cufflinks too.

It was the uniform of the Legionaries of Christ. What a bizarre name.

We now know a little of what their 'holy' founder and leader was about.

It fits.

A picture perfect story of fear

Last night on the Vincent Browne Show a cleric, defending Cardinal Brady, pointed out that a young priest back then and even today would be slow to knock at a bishop's door and remind him of something.

What a picture perfect story of how pathetic leadership in the Catholic Church is.

People are afraid. Surely that means that it was and is a culture of fear.

The church does sycophancy and fear well.

Had the then Fr Brady knocked at his bishop's door back then, would he be a cardinal today? Most unlikely.

The secrecy and fear the surrounds the appointment of bishops in the church needs urgent revision.

All organisations do sycophancy and fear well. But the church is the 'people of God'.

Something very wrong with priestly formation

It's as clear as the nose on one's face that there is somethng profoundly wrong with how the church 'forms' its priests.

There is something profoundly worrying about the 'attitude' to formation.

There is something profoundly wrong with how church authorities appoint people to care for men studying for priesthood.

There is nothing one can do about the past. Maybe we can learn from it. But the Catholic Church seems impervious to what has happened.

Indeed, there are many in the church who genuinely believe that the church is being attacked.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Authority of its nature oppresses

Is all authority of its nature a force for oppression?

The idea that an adult could talk to a 14-year-old boy and ask the child's father to stay outside the room has to suggest that the relationship was one of power, the oppressor interacting with the oppressed.

And that the father of that child stayed outside the door surely suggests that the father felt he was in a relationship with a man who had power over him. Oppressor and oppressed.

Suggested reading: Die Heimkehr.

Is this the way of the world?

What would the Jesus of the Gospels say about all of this?

Never a word on divinity and resurrection

Is it just the world or is it something to do with the church?

Think of all the issues about which the church is in the news? Priests are in trouble for discussing women priests, married priests.

Other issues about which the church has definite views: contraception, homosexuality, divorce, abortion, IVF, stem research.

Every one of these topics is linked to sexuality.

The church is in great difficulty over its cover up in the area of clerical child sex abuse.

It has a real issue with closet gay priests.

When it comes to questions about the divinity of Christ, the resurrection, there is not a whisper.

Okay, the occasional priest might make the headlines for stealing money but seldom is there a Vatican word admonishing priests for speaking out or not speaking out on matters of justice and honesty.

A church that has caring for the marginalised as a significant part of its mission seems to have one of its central pillars wrapped around an obsession with all matters concering sex.


Something dark and worrying about priestly formation

How could any person talk to a 14-year-old boy, hear stomach-turning information and not tell his parents?

Did people ask questions? No not the anonymous ones, which appear on Vatican notes, but the honest questions decent people ask?

But all these stories, all this 'stuff' leads to the irrefutable reality that there is something greatly wrong with the formation of priests.

And it seems there is a new retrenchment taking place. The future looks bleak.

It might well be time for the Irish State to do a root and branch investigation into what goes on inside places where men are trained for priesthood.

Not a woman in sight in inquiry

A new oxymoron - a three priest inquiry into child sex abuse.

Imagine how different it all would be if one single woman had been in that room that day.

This is appalling and would the Irish Catholic Church simply stop obfuscating.

It's time to stop all the nonsense.

It's time to tell the truth and recognise that the Catholic Church does not do truth if it means letting down the side.

The institutional church has been hiding behind humbug.

These are the people who told young men studying for priesthood to observe 'custody of the eyes'.

The 'Posh Boys'

Fr Ted got it right in one

Because people in the institutional church spend their lives hiding and denying their sexual orientation it is not surprising that they have led us into this.

A priest cannot ask a question concerning the ordination of women but a priest does 'his duty' when he keeps crimes secret.

As Dougal would say: "It's mad Ted, isn't it?"

Another terrible story

Another morning, more allegations against the leadership in the institutional church.

Parents of children in danger of being abused not being told.

It is all horrendous.

The Roman man on radio talking about 'doing his duty'.

Would these Vatican men please stop talking about a 'learning curve'.

How come they never admit to being on a learnng curve when they talk about the most obtuse issues about which no one knows too much. How certain they are in deciphering the mind of God.

These Vatican people don't paint a nice picture.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Opel lost out to Porsche

The Opel and Porsche concerns were in competition to supply the German car market with a vehicle which would be affordable to the majority of Germans.

When Herr Opel was introduced to Hitler, he addressed him as 'Herr Hitler'.

Hitler was infuriated by this address as he expected people to address him as 'Mein Führer'. He walked away from Herr Opel and never spoke to him again.

The following week Herr Porsche received confirmation that his company was to build the Beetle.

Please, never upper case for the hoi polloi

This column appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By MIchael Commane
This might well be the end of me as a priest in the Holy Roman Catholic
Church. I sort of jest. Only ‘sort of’.

I was ordained a priest in 1974, the day the Germans beat the Dutch in the World Cup in Munich. Beckenbauer was the captain of the German team. I’m not well up in football but even the likes of me would have watched that game but because of ordination I missed it. And it so happens that a German Dominican colleague and friend came to Ireland to attend my priestly ordination.

I'm celebrating Mass quite a number of years. I think it's fair to say I have a strong voice and have no trouble reading. Actually, I’d go as far as saying I’m quite a good reader. I take care celebrating Mass. I've seen too many Masses celebrated in a sloppy and unprayerful manner. I have heard too many sermons, which have been nothing but piffle.

I make it my business to celebrate Mass in a devout and prayerful manner.
The new missal was introduced on the first Sunday in Advent, which was November 27, 2011. We are using the new book over five months.

Five months on I still have major difficulty using it.

It is a substandard work and I can’t help think that the same ‘secret’
people, who have silenced Irish priests are at least cousins of the people who have produced this book.

I am not going to discuss here anything to do with the theological aspect of the missal but I am going to say something about the English used in it.
The opening prayer is no longer called that. It is now called the
‘Collect’. Why change from ‘Opening Prayer’ to ‘Collect’? Which word is
more easily understood?

Many of these ‘Collects’ contain sentences with up to 60 words. It is well nigh impossible to spot the main verb. It is well nigh impossible to make sense of it. And if one has not read it at least twice before reading it at Mass he is sure to get lost in the middle of the sentence or more likely, run out of breath.

The word ‘offering’ has been changed to ‘oblation’. Again, so wonderful. In the second Eucharist prayer we now read about being in God’s 'face’. The old missal spoke about being in God’s 'presence’.

If anyone takes time to read the introduction to the missal they might
notice that ‘priest’ is spelt with an upper case ‘P’ but ‘people’ can only
manage a lower case ‘p’.

That really gives it all away and tells the story as it is. The ‘ruling
elite’ in Holy Mother Church have decided that they and their ministers
always deserve upper case letters whereas it is fine and dandy to treat the hoi polloi with lower case.

Some weeks ago I was at a graduation ceremony in Trinity College. On the walls of the hall were portraits of the great and the good who lived and ruled in Ireland in another era.

The entire ceremony was conducted in Latin. We were told it was an ‘old
tradition’. Wonderful. Indeed, it was a little ironic to hear those talking
in Latin, on more than one occasion mispronounce their words.

It was difficult not to think that holding a ceremony in a language the vast majority of people in attendance did not understand is a fine trick to let the world know that there is an elite class and there is a class that does not belong to the elite.

The current Leveson inquiry in the UK is a powerful example of how the elite always manage to mix with one another. How right Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries, was to refer to Cameron and Osborne as the ‘Posh Boys’.

The ‘Posh Boys’ exist in all groups. They seem to be in the ascendant in Holy Mother Church.

I believe the church is in real difficulty and I’m scared of those who are playing such a powerful role.

What at all has happened to the idea of the ‘People of God’?

Wherever the ‘Posh Boys’ are, is there an iota of a chance that the Spirit of the Lord can ever get a chance?


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