Monday, December 31, 2012

Angela Merkel quotes Greek philosopher on negotiations

Before the main news bulletins this evening, German television stations carried German Chancellor Angela Merkel's New Year's Eve address to the German people.

"Fifty years ago this evening 'Dinner for One' was first performed in Hamburg, It was the first day of the German Football League. In 1963 John F Kennedy said his famous words: 'Ich bin ein Berliner' at the Wall in West Berlin. Also that year Germany and France signed the Elysée Treaty. For France Charles DeGaulle signed and Konrad Adenauer signed on behalf of the German people."

She quoted Adolf Kolping's line on how people who show courage create a brave society.

"Every day families carry out extraordinary acts of kindness towards their children and family members. Trade unionists and employers help create an environment where people can work in security and respect. They make our communities human and successful.

"Germany is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate since the unification.

"Next year is not gong to be easy, economically it is going to be more difficult than 2012.

"In recent days I met a 10-year-old boy who was born almost deaf. Now as a result of great medical progress he can enjoy listening to an orchestra.

"I also met a woman who underwent major heart surgery and is now living a normal life. Just two examples of the the results of our scientific progress.

"Research in our country means jobs and security.

"We have to balance our books and our economy has to be returned to financial rectitude. We need patience and the crisis is far from over. We still have not learned all the lessons from the banking failures of 2008. Our reforms are working but there are very difficult days ahead.

"In these days we particularly remember those who help make our country a secure and safe place to live, our soldiers and police, who serve our country, especially those who are on service abroad."

She quoted from a Greek philosopher, who said, "Courage* is at the beginning of negotiations and happiness at the end."

"Ideas and innovation help make our country a progressive, human and successful society.

"I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year and God's blessing."

*The German word for 'courage' is 'Mut'. But the German word for 'anger' is 'Wut'. In Frau Merkel's address it would be quite easy to think she had said 'Wut' rather than 'Mut'. At least for the hard of hearing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The TV charm of Moya Doherty

Occasionally one comes across something on TV, watches it for a second or so and then says, gosh, this is great television.

She is a woman who is known and recognisable to most Irish people. I had heard her name regularly and often, knew something of her work, but knew nothing about her.

On the RTE News Now channel late on Christmas night Mike Murphy was interviewing Moya Doherty.

I repeat, I know nothing about her but her screen performance on RTE was simply spectacular.

Her clarity, her articulation, her charm, how she spoke about her parents, some of the best I have seen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

German archbishop speaks out on social issue

The Archbishop of Freiburg and President of the German Bishops' Conference in his Christmas address said that there should be no taboo on behalf of the German State in placing higher taxes on the rich.

Archbishop Zollitsch would be considered to be one of the more liberal German bishops.

What senior Irish cleric has said something similar this Christmas?

Christmas past and present

I remember the Christmas Santa brought me a bus. It was fitted with battery operated lights. I spent most of that day down on my hunkers 'driving' the bus around the floor. It so happens that right now I'm sitting in the room in which I unwrapped the parcel that contained that bus.

And all the blather I have heard between that day and now. Of course I have heard good words too. But.

My late parents always come to mind at Christmas. They were completely different to one another. My mother burned her bra before Irish women were wearing them and Dad was a gentle soul. That's not to say Mum was not gentle and my father was not strong-willed. Anyway, what's 'gentleness'? I have met the biggest hoodlums, who in the common estimation of 'men' were 'gentle' and 'kind'. The 'holy' ones too.

The main 'thing', maybe the only 'thing' I know about holiness is the lives my parents lived.

Earlier this year a senior cleric referred to the hard work and holiness of a priest. I was fascinated by the comment and spent many hours thinking, laughing, comparing the 'holiness and hard work' of the priest with the holiness and hard work of my parents.

For me the moral of the story was and is, we priests need to be careful with our words.

In the name of my parents and in their memory, happy Christmas to readers of this blog.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Madonna of Stalingrad

An icon of the Madonna of Stalingrad hangs in the Gedaechtnis Kirche in Berlin.

It featured significantly among the troops of the Sixth Army in the days before Christmas 1942. The army was encircled by the Soviet Army.

On Decembr 23, 1942 it was officially announced that the rescue attempt by Manstein's army had failed. It would be another two months of senseless slaughter before Paulus surrendered.

One million dead, 90,000 German troops were taken prisoners of whom 6,000 survived and returned to Germany.

Soldier Rocholt was one of the last prisoners-of-war to return home from the Soviet Union in 1954. But he decided to detrain in East Berlin and live in the GDR.

Later he returned to Fulda to his fmaily and rediscovered his belief in God, which he had lost in Stalingrad.

He along with a number of survivors from Stalingrad made an annual pilgrimage to the cathedral in Trier where they prayed to the Madonna of Stalingrad.

Do we, the citizens of the EU, ever appreciate our good fortune?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The madness of blind 'obedience'

These days 70 years ago on the Volga there were those German soldiers who knew the game was up and realised the stupidity of the leadership in Berlin. They had the sense to realise they had been fooled and duped and were naturally angry with their situation.

Their letters home tell the story.

And there were those who continued foolishly to believe that Hitler would rescue them from their plight.

Sad to say it, but they were clowns, misguided men who placed such idiotic trust in a crazy leadership, a leadership that was all spoof, rhetoric, sometimes even fine sounding words.

And many of these men had given it their all. They were not all bad men. How could they have been? But of course there were the nasty ones there too, who found protection in the midst of all the madness and stupidity.

But outside the world of Nazi Germany ordinary women and men, both inside Germany and internationally, knew it was all a sham, bad stuff too.

Maybe the moral of the story is to appreciate and respect the ordinary good sense of the 'ordinary' people. And always be suspect of authority.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crossings gone and no need for the Kursbuch

Berlin rail station, opened in 2006, is
on the site of the old Lehrter bahnhof.
In the mid 1980s I lived in Berlin, Moabit to be exact. It was a 15 to 20 minute walk to West Berlin's main rail station at Zoologischer Garten. It must have been one of Germany's most run-down stations, at least stations served by Deutsche Bundesbahn, now called Deutsche Bahn. Clever Germans, they managed to keep the DB brand. Ironically the former communist GDR continued to call their railway Deutsche Reichsbahn, DR, German Kingdom Railways.

DB was not allowed bring its ICs or ICEs into West Berlin. Nor were they permitted to haul their trains with DB locomotives. All trains in and out of Berlin were pulled by Deutsche Reichsbahn locomotives. Trains from and to West Berlin from the Federal Republic had to have their locos changed on the German German border. Marienborn/Helmstedt, Gerstungen/Bebra, Probtzella/Ludwigstadt, Schwanheide/Buechen are those rail crossings on the inner German border that will be etched in my memory for ever.


Trains could be held at these crossings for long periods of time and if the two Germanys were in dispute then no-one was in a hurry to give the train clearance.

And the loco change happened before the train arrived in the station. That change happened in no-man's land.

The barriers, the Vopos in their green uniforms, jackboots and peaked caps. And then the portable tray/bag they carried with all their official documents as they moved from passenger to passenger. That very special East German look to make sure you were the person whose picture was on the passport. The loud speakers welcoming rail passengers 'auf dem Territorium der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik'.

It's all gone. Marienborn, all of them gone. And Friedrichstrasse, sanitised beyond belief.
For years and years one of the last things I did when leaving Germany was to buy that huge magic book, Das Kursbuch - the complete rail timetable for all DB traffic, national and international. Indeed, on one occasion a DR loco driver gave me a DR Kursbuch, which I still proudly possess. And probably never do it again; travelled from Hamburg Altona to Dortmund in an ICE loco on a quiet Sunday morning.

The GDR is gone and all the information that was in that Kursbuch, which I spent hours upon hours reading and studying is no longer needed, maybe not even available. It can all be checked on the DB app.

Right now I can see that ICE 848 is due to leave Berlin Hauptbahnhof, a spectacular building, at 13.35 and will arrive at Frankfurt-am-Main Airport in four hours 35 minutes. Just one change at Frankfurt-am-Main HBF.

That's life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In the US they are tragedies, in Pakistan mere bug splats

Obama has said nothing about
the drones killing children
Yesterday's Guardian has a not-to-be-missed piece on US drone attacks in Pakistan. The article is written by George Monibot.

He talks about Barack Obama's words at Newtown Connecticut. He argues that what applies to the children in Connecticut murdered by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a somber American president.

The people who operate the drones, according to Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as 'bug splats', "since viewing the body through a grainy green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed".

Obama's counter-terrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that "you've got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back".

For John Brennan, Obama's counter-terrorism assistant, the people of north-west Pakistan are neither insects nor grass: his targets are a "cancerous tumour".

Monibot writes: "Beware of anyone who describes a human being as something other than a human being".

It certainly puts a new perspective on Baracak Obama's words and tears in Connecticut.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Getting language right - what's the significance?


I have a letter from a priest where he writes its'.

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

By Michael Commane

A Dominican colleague called me last week to point out that I had misused the word ‘pious’ in something I had written for a national newspaper.

I think I can call him a friend so there was a bit of banter between the two of us. I immediately made for the dictionary.

The sentence he was quibbling about ran, “That’s why so much pious talk is cant and humbug.”

He argued that I was pious.

As so often is the case with English words, the word has many meanings. My Collins dictionary gives two meanings for pious, 1, religious or devout, 2, insincerely reverent; sanctimonious. Now, does that not make the word meaningless as both those meanings seem to express opposite or at least mutually exclusive ideas?

In my job working in a press office I am regularly using the dictionary and I am amazed at how confusing the English language is. Is bi-monthly twice a month or does it mean every two months? My dictionary says: 1, every two months, 2, twice a month. But a bimonthly publication is published every two months.

Did you know that flammable means readily combustible. But that’s exactly what inflammable means too.

Are you confused? I certainly am.

And before I write another word and still on the letter ‘f’, did you know that ‘fulsome’ means excessive in an offensive or distasteful way. But it has a second meaning, ‘extremely complimentary’. Can it get more confusing than that?

And ‘presently’ does not mean ‘at present’. It means in the immediate future. RTE’s Morning Ireland always uses the word in its ‘pure’ sense. Those of you who may remember David Hanly presenting that programme will recall how he always used the word to indicate something that would happen in the immediate future. The Morning Ireland team have, or should that be ‘has’, remained faithful to Hanly.

I spotted that horrible redundant apostrophe on Sunday – ‘Christmas tree’s’ for sale. For the life of me, I do not understand how someone can make that mistake. Why throw in an apostrophe just because the word is plural?

It seems ‘it’s’ is a bogey word with many people. When is it ‘its’ and when is it ‘it’s’? I know a priest who never gets it right. But he developed a clever compromise and decided to put the apostrophe after the ‘s’, so he writes its’. He has a penchant for boxing clever (or should that be ‘cleverly’. And it has done him no harm at all.

It’s almost impossible to go into a supermarket without spotting ‘1000’s of items ....’ Why in heaven’s name an apostrophe? It should not be there. It is plural. End of story.

And then there are those who write ‘He lived in the 1960’s’. Can anyone explain to me the reason for that apostrophe?

The late Con Houlihan once quipped that a man who will misuse an apostrophe is capable of doing anything. The same law I think applies to the apostrophe.

And then whether it is ‘me’ or ‘I’.

‘It’s me’ has become so widespread that it now seems to be the norm. A new book on the shelves this month has the title ‘Catholicism and me’. Why the use of the accusative case when it is clearly the nominative case?

Maybe all grammar is in process and changes with use? I’m not too sure about that.

It is now becoming more and more common for RTE journalists to mix up the past participle of the verb with the simple past tense - I heard a reporter say some weeks ago, ‘They done it’.

Okay, I can hear you say, ‘so what, who cares’. And there might well be a point to that. But how would you react if someone came along to you and said, ‘Me am going to town today’? You’d be puzzled.

But there is more to it than that surely. How many people are inclined to make judgements on people the moment they hear their accents? And when those same people intersperse their sentences with ‘I done this and I done that’ people quickly form opinions, right or wrong.

Is language, accent, the words we use a giveaway?

It’s my last column here before Christmas, so happy and holy Christmas to all readers. And by the way had I said Xmas there would be nothing secular about it at all as the ‘x’ comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as ‘Christ’

Prosperous New Year too.

Different rules for different people

On Saturday evening in an inner-city church in Dublin at the beginning of Mass the celebrant made what he thought was a smart comment about the colour of the vestments he was wearing - pink. The comment was distasteful and inappropriate and not at all funny.

At the funeral Mass of Paidi O Se in Ventry today one of the many eulogists interspersed his words with 'Christ'.

That's all fine. And the funeral Mass was a real community celebration. But how many of us have heard tales of priests refusing family members to speak at funeral Masses.

And the comment of the priest in the Dublin church will go unchallenged. No one will dare say a word. It would not be polite.

The world well knows there are two rules one for the rich and one for the poor.

And certainly right now within the Irish Catholic Church those who control and are in positions of 'authority' seem to be able to do as they wish. And do it with such arrogance.

Might the lesson of it all be, 'Cast a cold eye on life on death, horseman pass by'.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

German obsession with Jews

Interesting if disturbing piece in today's Irish Times.

Derek Scally, the paper's German correspondent, reports on the new controversial book on Germany by Israeli born Tuvia Tenenbom.

Tenebom is a self-confessed Germanophile.

A woman in Bavaria tells him that "everything in America has something to so with to do with Jews". A nun informs him: "All over the world the Jews are united."

He argues that a terrible collection of cultural cogs clicked into place for Hitler in Germany: overbearing righteousness and naivete, a love of absolutism and consensus groupthink rather than individual decisions and personal responsibility.

Tenenbom believes these 'cogs' still whirr today - ouf of sync for now but not necessarily forever.

He concludes: " I have always thought great things of the Germans .... and I always defended them when people said they were Nazis.

"I didn't think that this book would contain more than three pages about Jews if at all .... but the obsession with Jews here is frightening. I so much wanted it not to be that, but this is what it was."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Information and tweaking

Word verification has now been enabled on this blog. Also under consideration is to block anonymous comments but no decision yet made.

This blog is read in 138 cities around the world. It is blocked by the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and some months back a letter criticising work by the author appeared. The letter was written by the then parish priest of Cahersiveen, who has now been appointed bishop in Cloyne.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The late Mick Cleary and all the nonsense

The late Fr Mick Cleary
The words, sentiments and behaviour of some of the clergy people as shown in last evening's documentary on RTE Television must leave people wondering about the Irish church.

The appearance of Michael Cleary, his silly words, ridiculous attire, his adoring fans and all the nonsnese that surrounded him and many of the clerics was profoundly sad.

It is also interesting to compare the attitude of many the clergy people of that time with the attitude of many of the current commentators, who appeared on the programme.

Is it possible to replace the word attitude with 'arrogance'?

But surely anyone who is out and about 'shouting' about their take on anything, whether it is religion, morality, ethics, that crazy word, 'evangelisation', anyone, who sets himself/herself up as a 'guardian' of how things should be are really all 'templates' of the likes of Mick Cleary.

The strident, the dogmatists, the functionaries come and go, usually full of their own importance.

Mick Cleary, his roman collar, his silly black fake leather coat with the fur collar is most likely the same old game as those who prance about in religious gear in the new attempt to appeal to the adoring crowds.

Is there any difference? All making themselves noticed.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TV thriller highlights our subjectivity

Difficult to know if Carrie's love/lust
for Brody is all for the good of the CIA?
This column appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane

The current US espionage thriller, ‘Homeland’, which is showing on RTE Two on Tuesday evenings, is the highlight of my week. How sad can you get?


For those of you who are not watching ‘Homeland’, putting it as simply as possible: it’s about US Army Sergeant, Nicholas Brody who was captured while on service in Iraq. He converted to Islam and became a fanatical follower of Abu Nazir, who plans to hit the US. Brody is to play a pivotal role in the attack.

A US drone mistakenly killed a group of children, including Nazir’s son. The ‘incident’ was kept under wraps. The episode plays a significant role in Brody’s conversion to Islam.

Brody comes back to the US. A plan is put in place to kill a number of high-ranking people, including the US Vice President. Brody funks it and the CIA get him on their side. He becomes a double agent. There are so many angles, sides and corners to it that you would really need eyes at the back of your head to follow it.

At times it seems xenophobic. But it also highlights the CIA as not being too worried about obeying the rule of law.

The main CIA character, Carrie Mathison has a tryst with Brody. At this stage I'm not sure whether or not it is genuine love/lust or for the sake of the CIA. She also happens to be bi-polar. It’s interesting to see how her bosses at the CIA treat her when this becomes evident. Her protector Saul Berenson is always there to help and support her. So far he’s the wise counsel in the series. But last week he falls victim to mysterious double dealing.

The CIA, at least according to ‘Homeland’, has no problem living by the rule of deception and lies. Of course, it’s all for the greater good and honour of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Brody’s wife, Jessica and Carrie are very good looking women. I’m sure many of the men are too.

There are so many silly scenes - CIA agent Carrie, chasing a helicopter in a field in the middle of nowhere. The death of the VP is caused by a remote control attack on his pace maker. Surely a warning there for anyone who has a pace maker. I joke of course.

In a previous episode, a number of terrorists shoot up CIA personnel. They come in, blazing submachine gun fire. And believe it or not Peter Quinn, a central CIA figure, bleeding from the mouth, miraculously walks away.

So what is it about it that has me glued to the screen on Tuesdays? Suspense, the goodies versus the baddies, the aura of secrecy, interesting characters. But it is also bizarre and somehow or other there is something about the bizarre that forever attracts us.

Maybe after all it is xenophobic. At least so far the goodies are the Americans and the baddies are the ‘foreign terrorists’. You are led to believe that the nastiness and ugliness of ‘the goodies’ is bearable and deep down they mean to do the right thing. So far all the ‘baddies’ seem to be from the Middle East or Americans who spent some time there.

Anyone who has been following what is happening in real life to US army private Bradley Manning is bound to look at the world of power and politics with a jaundiced eye. Manning is in jail for over two years since he was accused of intelligence leaks to the WikiLeaks website. As a young man he was bullied because of his sexual orientation. In the last two years he has spent long periods of time in solitary confinement. And this is not a television series. It is for real

How we are all children of our environment never ceases to amaze me, whether it is to do with our family, our school, our town, our religion, everything.

It is the prophet and the bravest of the brave who dare attempt to look out over the parapet.

Maybe, in some amazingly artistic design, ‘Homeland’ wants us to see how we all suffer from terrible bias, subjectivity and brain washing.

After this there is to be another series; number three. OMG.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Forty-five TV minutes with Merkel

On Monday evening German television screened a fascinating 'What makes Merkel'.

The prgramme began showing the German Chancellor in her spacious office in Berlin.

On one occasion during the euro crisis she cancelled a meeting with Federal State premiers and spent hours in her car in Berlin calling EU ministers. Photo journalists were expecting her to call at a certain place, instead her car passed at great speed.

It went on to describe how she wheels and deals behind closed doors and tells another story in public and in parliament.

It cited how she dealt with the euro crisis in 2010 and how she handled the loan to Greece. And then the referendum in Greece, which she heard about through the press.

It showed how Merkel supported Sarkosy in the run-in to the French election. He lost and Merkel would pay the price.

The prgramme explained how Merkel did not get her way at the EU Heads of State in 2011. It was Hollande's first EU meeting.

German civil servants had decided that if Greece were to leave the EU it would be catastrophic for the EU and Germany. Just in those days Samaras visited Merkel in Berlin. But Merkel was still saying publicly that Greece could leave the EU.

At one stage in the crisis, Jens Weidman, head of the Federal German Centrall Bank was on the verge of resigning.

Peer Steinbruck, the SPD chancellor candidate for the 2013 elections recognised that the situation in Europe is now far more stable than in 2010.

The 45-minute programme never once mentioned one word about the situation/crisis in Ireland.

GOP's bedfellow

Maureen Dowd's piece in today's Irish Times is a good read.

Well worth comparing her picture of the GOP with some aspects of right wing Catholic thinking.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Straightening the way


A great day's cycling from Tallaght to Donard and then a
climb to the top of Lugnaquilla and cyle back to Tallaght.

Today's Irish Times Thinking Anew

By Michael Commane

If I were asked what were the great memories of my early days in the Dominican Order I would immediately say the introduction I got to cycling and walking in the great outdoors.

Indeed, before joining I did cycle to and from school and spent the summer holidays in the country, but the idea of cycling 100 kilometres or more in a day was foreign to me. So too were expeditions that meant climbing mountains more than 1,000 metres high.

The excitement, the annoyance, the sheer toughness of a day’s hike is an incredible experience. The same goes for a long cycle. The next uphill climb fills one with fear and trepidation. Then the downhill and speed of it is nothing but sensational. And the same goes for getting to the top of a mountain. Pure exhilaration.

In tomorrow's Gospel we read those familiar lines: “A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight! Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth, and all humanity will see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3: 4 - 5)

When one has spent six or seven hours walking in rough terrain a magic wand that would fill in valleys and straighten hills would be much appreciated. But that’s not the way it is. And no one ever goes out on a day’s walking ever hoping or expecting something like that to happen.

As Christians we believe that after death all the mountains are straightened out and the valleys filled in but before that final call we are destined to experience every sort of turn and curve, sudden climb and sharp descent. It’s the way of the world.

There is something in the adage that life is a valley of tears. Maybe that hits us more forcibly as we grow older. Young healthy people consider themselves almost indestructible. But all we have to do is look about us and see the suffering that exists in every nook and cranny of the world about us.

Every night on television we see horrific pain and slaughter meted out to people, irrespective of age, gender, geographical setting.

One in five children in Ireland goes to bed hungry and one in seven people in the world has not enough to eat. There’s no need for such suffering and yet it happens.

Individually each one of us is called to play our part in straightening the roads, filling in the valleys and levelling the hills. Of course there is never going to be perfection on this earth of ours. But that does not mean we should not try to fix things, making things better for those who are in pain and suffering, for those who are mistreated and misunderstood.

The one who cries in the desert is the precursor of Jesus. Far too often it is inconvenient to listen to the prophet, to listen to the person who is talking out of synch with the prevailing fashions.

There is nothing level and smooth about the world and the lives we live.

Constantly we are challenged to go a step further, to take risks, to walk the unexpected road, all the time trying to understand things better so that we can come to the help and assistance of others.

Advent is a fitting time to see the world as it is, with all its pain and suffering and joy too. In many ways you could say it is similar to that feeling on the mountain. That’s why so much pious talk is cant and humbug. But we believe in paradise, there the valleys are filled in and the mountains levelled.

We are taking part in in a process. In the meantime we take the good with the bad, all the time trying to improve things, especially for those less fortunate.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Concern award for Hillary Clinton

Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest international humanitarian organisation, today awarded US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with its inaugural Fr Aengus Finucane Award for Services to Humanity.

The CEO of Concern, Tom Arnold, presented Ms Clinton with the award in front of an invited audience, which included members of Fr. Finucane’s family, at a special presentation in The Helix, Dublin.

Fr Finucane worked with Concern from its earliest days in Biafra in 1968 and served as Chief Executive from 1981 until his retirement in 1997. He was Honorary President of Concern US from 1997 until his passing in October 2009 and contributed immensely to building the Concern organisation in the US.

In presenting the award to Secretary of State Clinton, Concern CEO Tom Arnold said: “Concern wanted to find an appropriate way to honour the life and work of Fr Aengus, taking into account the wishes of his family. We decided to institute the Fr. Aengus Finucane Award for Services to Humanity and we’re delighted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to accept the Inaugural Award.

“The reason Concern want to recognise Secretary of State Clinton with this award is because she has put development at the heart of US foreign policy. In particular, she has put a huge focus on policies to improve nutrition for pregnant women and children. Her leadership on this issue has inspired other political leaders to introduce policies which will improve the lives of tens of millions of women and children. The US and Irish governments have worked closely together to promote this noble cause.”

“The whole purpose of Fr Aengus’s life was to improve the lives of others,” Mr Arnold added. “He had a passionate commitment to the education of girls, seeing this as the foundation for the future well- being of families and the wider society. It is therefore entirely fitting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the Inaugural recipient of the Fr Aengus Finucane Award for Services to Humanity.”

Ms Clinton spoke inspiring words and concentrated on human rights, stressing the importance of treating women and girls with equal dignity with men and boys.

John Bruton launches book

Former taoiseach John Bruton launched John Maher's book, Catholicism and Me at the Dominican Priory in Tallaght last evening.

Mr Bruton spoke about being a Catholic and how important it is for us to be public about our faith. He said he could not imagine that could not be a God.

He also referred to the current abortion discussion that is taking place in Ireland.

The book is a compilation and Mr Bruton referred to many of the contributors in hsi address.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Balderdash and piffle

Apologies for spelling and typographical errors on this blog.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whether we stand or kneel; probably best to laugh

Isn't it always the little things that give us away. Sometimes they may not be so 'little at all'.

During Mass in a church in Newbridge at the weekend the presiding priest berated the people for not adhering to the new liturgical rules, which he pointed out, are now one year in operation.

"We were chastised for not standing or kneeling at the appropriate time. And it was the way he said it. I'll certainly let him know what I think," the comment of someone who was at the Mass.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A strange mix of title and dress

In most Irish newspapers today there is a picture of Sister Mary Teresa Grogan.

Yesterday the Mercy sister was found not guilty of indecent assault charge,

The 62-year-old woman had been accused of indecently assaulting seven girls at a primary school in the midlands more than 35 years ago.

Sister Grogan joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1966 as a 16-year-old girl.

She was given the name Sister Peter.

The picture in today's papers shows an elegant woman but somewhere or other in those eyes there seems to be a sadness. Maybe even fear.

She is wearing a black coat, red scarf and carrying a hand bag slung over her left shoulder.

Has anyone asked how come a girl of 16 is taken off to live a life that, at least, is strange. And then to be given the name of a man. She was given the name Sister Peter.

And no one blinked an eye.

The women were given the names of men and the men were asked to go about dressed as women.

What in God's name has all this to do with the Gospel.

Surely an aberration.