Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mankind still needs God but not this behaviour

This comment is from a reader in response to the article by Joanna Moorhead.

Because of the sensitivity of the subject the author's name is not being published.

Joanna's article describes the feelings I felt when I left the church. I was abused as a child, not by a priest, but by an adult - and the adults chose to ignore my pleas in favour of their own defence.

The church did the same. I think Jesus would throw up if he saw his church.

And these men of power stand, at their discretion and judgement, between me and the Eucharist, to which Jesus invited "all of us"? It's a farce of man... And mankind still needs God but not this behaviour.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Silence reigns across the hierarchy

How are Irish bishops and congregational leaders reacting to all that is being written in these days on what is happening in the church?

Has there been one single intelligent honest comment from an Irish bishop or congregational leader?

On this rock we will rebuild our church

The article below is by Joanna Moorhead and appears in today's Guardian

The Catholic church is on its knees, and not in the way it would like. In fact, the last thing anyone would ask a bishop or cardinal about right now is prayer, or Christian witness, or how to live an upright, moral, God-trusting life.

Why would you, when all they seem to know about is covering up sex crimes, inappropriate behaviour among prelates, political infighting at the Vatican, and the existence of a clandestine gay cabal at the highest levels in Rome?

All of which is, for ordinary church-going lay Catholics like me, profoundly disturbing. How could an organisation that professes a direct link to Christ – “You are Peter,” Jesus told the first bishop of Rome, “and on this rock I will build my church …” – have gone so far off the rails that it now seems a power-crazed, untrustworthy and corrupt institution, out to save its own skin at almost any cost?

The people in the pews are reeling from shock: go to any mass at any church in Britain this weekend, and there will only be one topic of conversation in the porch afterwards. How did it come to this? What on earth has been going on in our church?

I am a little less surprised than many of my friends. I have been writing about the church, and observing it up close in Rome and in Britain, for 25 years. I have seen the politicking, the bitchiness, the in-fighting, the constant focus on who’s in, who’s out, who’s up and who’s down. I have been covering stories of ecclesiastical sex scandals for decades: they may be at a zenith now, but they’re nothing new.

And I have witnessed so many outrages that the only thing I tend to think now, when I hear yet another outlandish rumour, is that the more far-fetched it sounds, the more likely it is to be true.

So I am not as shocked as others, but I am angry: very angry indeed. Because my church – the church to which I and generations of my relatives have been giving their money, allegiance, and sometimes even (as nuns, monks and priests) lives has, quite simply, failed. It has failed to give witness, at an institutional level, to the gospel message with which it was entrusted by Christ. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,” he said: but the descendants of Peter, the bishops and cardinals of today, seem more intent on smashing the rock to pieces than building on it.

I am angry too because it seems to me – and, I think, to many of my fellow lay Catholics – that our church has come to be seen entirely in terms of the men who run it.

That, of course, is understandable: not only do they hold resolutely on to the reins of power, but they are also the ones who have perpetrated the crimes. One of the more unsettling moments of the pope’s UK visit in 2010, for me, was when he called on “the whole church” to atone for its crimes.

But those were not my crimes, Pope Benedict: I am not one of the ordained men who has abused children or helped cover up their abhorrent behaviour, and I resent being treated as one.

In fact, all around me I increasingly hear these words from my fellow Catholics: not in my name. These crimes that have been committed, this power that has been abused, this trust that has been betrayed: not in our name, Your Holiness, has it happened.

Guilt has dogged my church through the centuries, and it’s a guilt that has often been planted most deeply among the lay people: every week at mass for many years I have heard the priest in the pulpit reminding and cajoling and persuading us to go to confession, to repent, to bathe in our guilt and be freed from it.

Well, not this time: this guilt is not mine; this is the guilt of the hierarchy, the guilt of the priests, the guilt of the ordained men who run my church and who have been determined for centuries that they would not share the running of the church with anyone who was not one of them.

And therein, it seems to me, lies the real root of our problems. Because what has gone wrong with the church is, at heart, about a concentration of power in the hands of one tiny group. A tiny group of ordained, mostly Italian, men, when we are an enormous church of ordained and unordained men and women of all nationalities, from right across the globe.

If the Catholic church is to survive – and those churchmen in Rome and elsewhere who smile in their superior way, and say the church has had many crises in its history have not, I think, quite understood the measure of this one – then that power must be devolved.

Lay people – we, the vast, silent majority that makes up our church – are a gigantic, tragically untapped resource for leadership, for witness and for evangelisation.

In the 1960s the liberalising Second Vatican Council recognised that, and the best revolution in the history of Catholicism seemed to be under way, only to be snuffed out in its infancy, smothered by those ordained men who feared losing control more than they feared being part of a church that was out of touch, sidelined and irrelevant.

Lay women, the biggest group within the church, are the most silent of all silent majorities. Yet the women of the Catholic church are its backbone: its strength, its prayer powerhouse, its unseen workers. They are also, I believe, its wisdom, its common sense and its conscience.

If the Catholic church had done as most institutions have done over the last 30 or so years, and invited women to become its leaders alongside men, it would have discovered – as institution after institution has discovered, the world over – that it could not run itself properly without them.

I go to mass most Sundays but I couldn’t bring myself to go last weekend. This church isn’t the church I want to belong to.

My only sliver of hope is that, through the centuries, it has sometimes brought itself to the very brink of self-destruction and, at the 11th hour, managed to turn itself round and live to fight another day. Can that happen again? God knows. But of this I am certain: if the Catholic church is going to pick itself up it needs to make some very big changes indeed.

Trust the laity, share the power, open the pathways, make the mechanics transparent; and that’s just for starters. Oh yes: and read the gospels too. Was this the church Christ wanted? If not, let’s get back to that rock, and see whether we can build something much, much better.

Another voice on cardinal errors

In an article in today's Irish Independent Peter Standord writes: "It is impossible to sit in the pews and not be concerned by the present unhealthy state of affairs where a church that in essence preaches that homosexuality is wrong attracts and admits so many gay men into its priesthood".

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who is this really about?

Below is Mark Dowd's article, which appears in today's Guardian.

Clear accurate words. And nothing will be done to address the situation. Nothing is being done.

By Mark Dowd
I approached a director at Channel 4 back in 2000 with a proposal for a documentary on homosexuality and the Roman Catholic church. I had a simple pitch. "I want to show why my church is so anti-gay."

"And why is your church so anti-gay?," came back the obvious question. "Because it is so gay," I replied.

A furrowed brow invited further exposition. I then spelt out the logic. We interviewed clerics and ex-seminarians in the UK, US and Rome and uncovered a huge irony: the very institution that teaches that the homosexual orientation is "intrinsically disordered" attracts gay candidates for the priesthood in numbers way in excess of what one would expect, based on numbers in society at large. One seminary rector based on his own experience told me the number was at least 50%.

Gay Catholics like me will appreciate another irony with the news of Cardinal Keith O'Brien's resignation: that the very man whose trenchant rhetoric on the subjects of gay adoption and marriage has been brought down by accusations of improper same-sex behaviour from no less than four men who crossed his path in the 1980s, either as a seminary rector or as archbishop of Edinburgh. His decision not to participate in the papal conclave is not to be taken as an admission of guilt and he contests the accusations made against him. Nevertheless, it does raise some general questions about a possible relationship between the tone of anti-gay rhetoric and the identities of those who engage in such high-octane language on same sex attraction.

For our programme, Queer and Catholic, we interviewed two men from the English College in Rome who had fallen in love while training for the priesthood. In seminary they had tried to have open and frank discussions about homosexuality but were told by staff and many fellow students alike that this was not the done thing.

In the TV interview, one of them reported on the fact that it was frequently the very men who were out and about in Rome engaging in casual sexual acquaintances in the Monte Capitolino, a nearby park, who were often the most vehemently homophobic in the seminars on sexual ethics.

Building on this, the lesbian writer on queer theology, Elizabeth Stuart, in a fascinating deconstruction of "liturgy queens", made the observation that in her experience it was more often than not the very closeted clergy who deployed an almost neurotic obsession with the size and length of the altar cloth and ecclesiastical protocol as "their own way of dealing with their demons". We have to be careful of a simplistic reductio ad absurdum here. Love of aesthetics in liturgy does not automatically prove anything about one's sexual orientation. But I think Stuart had a point.

Of course, "inverted homophobia" as it has come to be known, doesn't only occur inside the Church of Rome. Colorado evangelical preacher Ted Haggard, married and father of five children, spent years assuring that LGBT individuals would be getting their fair share of hellfire and brimstone before his (male) lover spilled the beans. Republican Senator Richard Curtis, an opponent of gay rights legislation, had the misfortune to be caught with a young man on camera inside an erotic video store. Then there was George Rekers, Baptist minister and leading light of the Family Research Council, who had sloped off on a not-so-secret European holiday with a younger man.

The knee-jerk reaction is to scream "hypocrite", but I take a more measured view. The coming to light of these tales is a positive development. "Methinks the lady doth protest" is a well worn cliche, but from here on in, those who seek to cover their own guilty tracks by the uncharitable nature of their words know that a watching public is getting wiser to some of the unfortunate mind games that have been played out over the decades.

In the future, when as a gay Catholic I hear a senior cleric describing my orientation in hostile and uncompromising language, I might just want to ask a poignant question: is this really about me, or is it more about you?

Cardinal errors

Editorial in today's Guardian

The future pope Joseph Ratzinger dragged the Catholic church into the poisonous American presidential campaign of 2004, through a memo about denying pro-choice politicians communion. Its target was John Kerry, a sincere Catholic who nonetheless believed that the law should not dictate to women on abortion, and went on to lose to George W Bush (before popping up in London as President Obama's secretary of state). Three years later, in an outburst that also suggested abortions were resulting in "two Dunblane massacres a day", Cardinal Keith O'Brien attempted to unleash American-style culture wars on the UK, by questioning whether MPs supporting abortion rights should continue receiving communion.

It is only one expression of a notably unreflective priest's desire to build a narrow church – there was also, for example, the intemperate likening of embryology research to Frankenstein. Another manifestation – and one that seems poignant in the aftermath of the Observer's disclosure of allegations about "inappropriate acts" with younger priests, which prefigured his departure on Monday – was his trenchant denunciation of reforms to advance gay rights. After having opposed civil partnerships in the past, the cardinal – who was the archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews, and the leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland – last year pledged fresh funding for propaganda against gay marriage.

There is no Catholic monopoly on sexual scandal – as current events within the atheistically led Liberal Democrat party underline. It is also important to acknowledge that despite having been "resigned" (or, more precisely, "prematurely retired") by the Vatican, Cardinal O'Brien has contested the allegations, which is what the claims reported by the Observer remain. But, stepping back from the specifics of this case, one cannot brush off the evidence that Rome has a special problem with sex. In the Vatican itself, even if one discounts innuendo about Pope Benedict XVI's own proclivities as he hangs up his cassock, that cleric – who has denounced both homosexuality and masturbation as moral disorders – has indubitably been weakened by the perception that he looked away in some cases where priests abused boys. In the US and more particularly Ireland, the institution has been shaken by the failure of so many priests to live up to the chaste ideal that the church has long (though not always) imposed upon (most but not all) of its priests.

The caveats in that last sentence are important, since they indicate room for argument. Indeed, extending the married priesthood – beyond those reactionaries who fled the C of E in fear of women priests and yet brought their own wives with them – was a rare reform that Cardinal O'Brien backed. Suspend disbelief and imagine gay marriage being blessed and accepted within the priesthood too, and the church could legitimise the sex life of most of its ministry, reducing the scope of scandal to the minority of adulterers and paedophiles. Back in the real church, however, there is denial not only of all passions on the part of the priesthood but also of contraception in the maritally licensed love of the flock.

Theories abound about the possible way in which repression may foster sexual problems. Psychoanalytically, there is the potential connection between what is desired and what is denied. Theologically, some suggest that Catholic doctrines that have to be believed and yet which cannot be in any ordinary sense – think of wine turning to blood – may attract clergymen in denial about parts of themselves. More commonsensically, loneliness may turn to desperation, and eventually indecency. All of these theories are contestable and contested, but what cannot be contested is that the church has failed to manage, still less extinguish, sexuality by moralising decree. Instead, the papacy of Benedict has made inescapably thorny problems harder to solve. And Cardinal O'Brien has been caught by the spire of a narrow church that he helped to build.

An ironic touch to Keith O'Brien's 'sacking'

Mark Dowd is a writer, broadcaster and former Dominican student. He has an article in today's Guardian.

A quote from the article. "I want to show why my church is so anti-gay."
"And why is your church so anti-gay?" came back the obvious question. "Because it is so gay," I replied.

Accurate synthesis?

A sudden sensitivity to scandal

The excellent writing below appears in today's the Guardian.

By Andrew Brown
As O’Brien is accused of misdemeanours the Catholic church must review its damaging strictures on celibacy

They call it a resignation, but it looks to me as if Cardinal Keith O’Brien was pushed before he could even think of jumping. Only yesterday he was defending his position. Then we were told that the Pope was considering it. Now – miraculously – the cardinal has reconsidered.

In any case, this shows how very sensitive the Roman Catholic church has become towards sexual scandal. The long years of trying to tough out problems and of circling the wagons are over, at least in the developed world. Cardinals now get the same treatment as priests.

The other remarkable change shown by this is within the culture of the church. Priests now dare to complain about their superiors through the back channel to Rome provided by the Vatican’s diplomatic service. That is how these allegations were made. There was a time when complaining about your bishop or cardinal to Rome was a one-way ticket to a posting on Craggy Island. There are probably still a great many crimes or misdemeanours that a priest with a sense of self-preservation would hesitate to denounce his superiors for – but it seems that sexual abuse is no longer one of them. This is progress, though slow and belated.

Otherwise, the story illustrates the grotesque and humiliating difficulties that the Roman Catholic church has knotted itself into where sex and gay people are concerned.

If the allegations are correct, you would need a heart of flint not to feel some sympathy for the cardinal as well as for his victims. Celibacy is difficult and sometimes lonely for anyone. The traditional remedy for loneliness, in Scots and Irish Catholicism, involved medication with whiskey and manly bonding. If your inclination is in any case towards men this is not going to be very helpful. Getting drunk in an atmosphere of sentimental affection with the object of desire is a tough test in self-control. We should not be surprised if some men sometimes fail it.

Journalists and Guardian readers who never get drunk and have regrettable sexual episodes are entitled to completely unalloyed joy at the spectacle of a moralist revealed as a hypocrite. The rest of us should temper our delight.

Of course, the real problem is that the Roman Catholic church expects an entirely unrealistic standard of continence from its priesthood. Some priests can manage celibacy. The evidence from all around the world is that most can’t. They certainly can’t always. In the developing world the problem is largely one of priests having unofficial heterosexual families, as Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines – an outside candidate for the papacy – pointed out last week. In countries where that isn’t an available alternative, the priesthood becomes a refuge for gay men – especially in societies where homophobia is the public norm.

This fact adds irony to O’Brien’s denunciations of gay marriage. You can’t really expect better from a church that still hasn’t come to terms properly with heterosexual marriage, as its position on artificial contraception shows. There are many great Catholic feminists, some of them nuns. But you would never guess this from the official doctrine, which still proceeds as if marriage were something in which a man took the initiative, rather than a partnership of equals. And a church that can’t treat women as equals is certainly not going to be realistic about marriage between two men.

All Christians are called to be perfect, and in that sense all Christian moral doctrine is unrealistic. But there are some forms of perfection that are damaging to try for. The demand that all Catholic clergy should live as if sex were something that only ever happened to other people is one of those. It has outlived its usefulness and is now an engine of cruelty and hypocrisy. It’s a very great shame that O’Brien’s fall will be used by the Vatican’s enemies of progress to discredit his brave and sensible suggestion last week that the celibacy of the priesthood be reconsidered.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A quick review of March issue of 'Alive'

The March issue of the free sheet 'Alive' includes the following stories 'Society being destroyed by Equality agenda', 'Irish Times cods its readers yet again', 'Can society take suicide seriously, 'Nazi influence on today's movie world', 'Sweden: conditioning boys to play with dolls', 'Israel didn't want black immigrants having babies', 'Let's raise drink-driving limit'.

Then there is a story titled 'Why Herod comes to mind'. The story includes a picture of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Cardinal news makes it centre stage

If Keith O'Brien were an 'ordinary' priest working in a church and an allegation were made against him, his bishop would arrive, complete with ring and cross and probably in an upmarket car, speak at all Masses and move the priest out of his home.

It is appreciated that the current allegations are not against minors, nevertheless, it is interesting to see how the institutional church treats people in different categories in different ways.

How long more can the centre hold? Has it ever held?

Keith O'Brien has been a strong voice in criticising/condemning gay marriage. Allegations relating to inappropriate behaviour between him and young men have been made.

Does the hierarchical church not realise it has a problem?

The resignation of Keith O'Brien was the first item on the BBC main Nine O'Clock news this evening.

Then later this evening it transpires that Keith O'Brien has been 'sacked' by Pope Benedict.

A priest, writer for the 'Catholic Herald' said on this evening's Newsnight: "the Vatican curia is not fit for purpose".

Former Dominican comments on latest allegations

Mark Dowd, a former Dominican, said on BBC Radio Four news today: "It is an extraordinary time to be a Catholic, a bit of a mullarkey, if I might say."

First Minister Alex Salmond on the same programme spoke glowingly of the cardinal and how he respected his views and found him a great leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Keith O'Brien resigns

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

Yesterday young clerical students were arguing that the newspaper story was yet again another sign of an anti-church agenda.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Now the focus moves to Scotland

The breaking story of allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Cardinal Keith O'Brien is naturally a big story.

What is a bigger story is that the cardinal did not 'turn up' for Mass this morning and his alledged immediate dependence on lawyers.

The constant and permanent legal language that the institutional church is now using when it comes to sexual abuse is nothing less than pathetic.

It seems as if the church has found some sort of all-purpose screen that they think protects them and exonerates them from further damage. It's their damage limitation modus operandi.

When is someone going to stop and ask about the sort of person who receives preferential treatment within the church, right across the church, diocesan and religious.

If there is substance to the allegations against Cardinal Keith O'Brien then surely this is the time for a root and branch examination of what's happening in the Catholic Church, with special emphasis on the system used in the appointment/election of people in ledearship positions.

One priest complainant said, "The church tends to cover up and protect the system at all costs."

It's the same old pathetic story all the time.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Merkel's party shifts its view and BM win six one

The German CDU is in the process of easing its objections to homosexual marriage.

This comes after the ruling handed down from Karlsruhe earlier in the week concerning the rights of homosexual partners to adopt children.

And Bayern Munich won six - one today against Bremen, this their 1,000th game.

Friday, February 22, 2013

An elderly man begins to 'realise'

Cardinal Keith O'Brien says he would be 'happy' to to see priests being allowed to marry.

It is difficult not to be flippant. But it gets funnier with the passing of every day.

Irish readers will be aware of Charles Haughey talking about the 'core values' of Fianna Fáil.

It really is the same old cant.

How sad, how hurtful. The spoof.

Then again it might all be some kind of spin to take the attention away from the latest Vatican revelations.

If and when the lid blows off on that and we hear the truth, what then?

Might it happen now that Cardinal O'Brien will be investigated by Vatican officials? Will anonymous letters arrive on their desks on what Cardinal O'Brien is saying?

This writer lived in Berlin before the Wall came down. On its collapse it meant that anything was possible, anywhere and in any society.

....the dangers of the 'evils of relativism'.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

German Catholic bishops allow 'morning after' pill

An interesting piece of news.

Katholische Krankenhäuser in Deutschland dürfen vergewaltigten Frauen die "Pille danach" verordnen, wenn sie die Befruchtung verhindert und nicht abtreibt.

La Repubblica reports on Vatican gay lobby

"Gay lobby exercises an inappropriate
influence in internal Holy see affairs."
What's below appears on today's Irish Times digital edition.


Italian daily La Repubblica this morning sensationally claims that Pope Benedict's resignation was at least partly prompted by an internal report prepared by three senior cardinals, alleging that various lobbies, including a gay lobby, exercise an "inappropriate influence" in internal Holy See affairs.

The newspaper suggests that such was Benedict’s dismay when presented with the details of the report on December 17th that it hardened his long-meditated decision to resign. The internal report prepared by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi had been commissioned by Benedict himself.

He had ordered it in response to the so-called Vatileaks scandal which culminated with the arrest and subsequent conviction last autumn of the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, found guilty of having stolen confidential documents from the papal apartment.

In this morning's article, it is claimed that the cardinals reported that various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking the sixth and seventh commandments, namely "thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not commit adultery".

The "stealing" was in particular related to the Vatican Bank, IOR, whilst the sexual offences were related to the influence of an active gay lobby within the Vatican.

Last week, when presiding over the Ash Wednesday celebrations in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict spoke of "divisions" which "besmirch" the face of the church. In a famous homily at the 2005 Via Crucis Easter celebrations in Rome, just days before the death of John Paul II, the then Cardinal Ratzinger had spoken of the "filth" in the church, a comment interpreted by many as a reference to the worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal.

However, La Repubblica claims the cardinals' 300 page report speaks of "Impropriam Influentiam" on the part of various lobbies, some of them of a "worldly nature", reflecting an "outside influence". The Rome daily recalls the figure of papal gentleman, Angelo Balducci, accused three years ago of being a member of a gay ring active within the Vatican and involving choristers and seminarians.

The paper does not explain the source of its information on the cardinals report nor does it provide a direct quotation from any part of the report. Rather it claims that its findings are based on information received from an unnamed Vatican source.

A Vatican spokesman this morning had no comment to make on the allegations.

The Vatican and a culture of homosexuality

For over 30 years and longer, this writer has spoken openly and clearly about a closet gay clerical culture right across the Catholic Church.

Today we get clear glimpses from the Vatican what might be the reality.

Again, there is nothing at all wrong with being homosexual. But what has happened in the church is perverse. There is a real explicit link between closet gay priests, bishops and cardinals, who express an over attention to an orthodoxy that has so little meaning for people.

These same men give an attention to liturgical practice, which is most unhealthy.

Has it taken Pope Benedict to prize the lid on something that needs urgent talk and discussion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It seems not a whisper from church leaders

It's now over 24 hours since the Taoiseach spoke in Dáil Éireann apologising to the Magdalene women for the role the State played in their incarceration and brutal treatment.

So far it seems there has not been a word from any religious superior, bishop or archbishop, offering an apology for what the Catholic Church did.

In these chambers of horror women and girls were humiliated, deprived and told to pray.

Linking prayer with a chamber of horror must be unspeakable

It would be interesting to know if any anonymous or indeed non-anonymous letters were sent to the Vatican on what was happening in these places.

Were any sisters, clerics, bishops reprimanded by the Vatican for their behaviour?

Will there be any acknowledgement from the Irish Church, from the Vatican on what happened?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First hints of waste at Irish Water

Bord Gáis is currently posting to every household in the State a 16-page booklet on plans to establish Irish Water.

Eight pages are in English and eight pages in Irish.

It is a PR initiative. In at least three occasions the booklet tells the reader that no household on the public water system will be asked to pay water charges before 2014.

On every page there is repetition.

For further information the reader is given a 1850 number, no inclusion of an email address for further informaiton.

How much did this booklet cost to produce? How many people will read it? What proportion of those who read it will read the Irish version.

Every day we are being told the country is broke. How much did this booklet cost?

Surely an Irish version could have been deliverd to Gaeltacht areas and available in libraries throughout the State.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hospital poster that seems to tell a lie

'Today we are passionate about providing care of the highest medical standards, equally to all patients, regardless of their means.'

The above is a quote from a wall poster in St Vincent's Private Hospital.

As this writer attempted to take a photograph of the poster he was told it was forbidden to take photos in the hospital.

'... Regardless of means.' What happrns when words lose all meaning? Is that what a lie is?

Michael Harding publishes his cries

An extract from Michael Harding's 'Staring at Lakes' appeared in Saturday's Irish Times.

Had Michael remained a priest and written that book, what would his fellow priests and bishop say or comment?

And yet in so many ways the book is probably a handbook of the story of so many priests. Seldom a word about it.

Another facade or is it?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Living life in an artificial atmosphere

Institutional seminary life, at least when this writer was preparing for priesthood, was an 'artifical' type of existence.

A young man was taken away from his female and male peers. It was not the natural way to spend early manhood.

Aspects of the life were interesting, even exhilarating at times. We were introduced to things that may never have been possible in a different environment.

How many young Irish men in the 1970s lived in Italy or Germany and managed to learn to ski?

But to be 'removed' from the ordinary daily, nightly too, life of women has inevitably left its mark. And can it really be a good mark?

And then all the secrecy, those nods and winks when it came to anything to do with sexuality.

The UCD study on the issue needs careful study and open discussion. Hopefully, it will happen.

UCD study on seminaries and paedophiliac tendencies

Piece in today's Sunday Times on a UCD study that suggests seminaries 'ecacerbate' paedophile tendencies.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cheylabinsk student speaks excellent English

Ivan Fursov can't be more than 16 years old, yet he speaks good English.

He is a student in Cheylabinsk, which is approximately 1,500kms east of Moscow.

Ivan filmed on his mobile phone the asteroid, which was about the size of a double decker bus, that broke up above the city of Cheylabinsk.

Experts say it was travelling between 40,000 and 50,000km/h.

Cheylabinsk or Cel'abinsk is south east of the famous city of Jekaterrinburg and north west of Astana.

There are 11 time zones in Russia and Moscow is four hours ahead of Dublin.

Dublin priest supports Tony Flannery

According to today's Irish Times, Fr John Hasset has resigned as dean of the Maynooth deanery in protest against the treatment meted out to Redemptorist priest, Fr Tony Flannery.

"One the good guys, really a good man". A quote from somone who worked at UCD when Fr John Hasset was chaplain at the university.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another awful date to remember

On this date, February 15, 1941 the Nazi government in Vienna began to deport Austrian Jews to concentration camps in Poland.

The word 'professional' might need a health warning tag

Yesterday a colleague referred to someone as a 'professional victim'. It's not a complimentary term, nevertheless it does have meaning.

Is it possible, it is exactly that that happens/damages so many priests, in that they become 'professional moralists', with all its connotations?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Using the gentlest of words in mentioning God's name

Is the Catholic Church serious in preacing the Gospel to the world in which it finds itself?

Is it interested in talking to people in a language that makes sense and is understood by all?

Or is it more interested in glorifying in its own words and thinking that in all cases and circumstances it knows best?

Surely if the Gospel is to be engaging and authentic it has at all times to be sensitive to the needs and beliefs of others.

Pope's retirement is sure to benefit newspaper sales

In an article in yesterday's Guardian an argument was made that Pope Benedict had come to realise how unruly the Curia was and that he felt it was time for a younger, more energetic man take over the Petrine office.

One is tempted to ask what control or real power Benedict had when it came to the day-to-day running of the Vatican. What influence did he have in the making of appointments?

In yesterday's Irish Times Vincent Browne wrote a critical column on the church. Had a Catholic priest written the column would he be censored? And if so, why?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Remembering the bombing of Dresden

Today the city of Dresden recalled the bombing of the city, which began 68 years ago on February 13, 1945.

Allegations of slave labour at Amazon

If the latest allegations against Amazon are proved to be true then it is time for everyone who buys books from the company to think again.

The current allegations centre around the Amazon warehouse at Bad Hersfeld in Germany.

It is said that staff are paid low wages, their accommodation is constantly under surveillance.

The majority of the workers come from Poland, Spain and eastern Europe.

A terrible story of modern-day slavery.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tension between local authority and central control

  Arcbishop Charles Brown lays hands on Bishop Billy Crean
in the cathedral in Cobh. Bishop Crean 's will be the last
episcopa ordination in Ireland during the
pontificate of Pope Benedict.
The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
My clothes were washed by ‘Magdalenes’. When we were religious novices our laundry was sent out to a Magdalene Laundry. Is it good enough for me to say I had no idea about what was going on? It’s exactly the sort of thing so many Germans said about what happened between 1933 and 1945.

But why were the ‘superiors’ in convents and priories, and bishops all over the country not speaking out about what was going on. It’s never good enough to say that they were different times.

Did you know that up until late in the 20th century many women religious congregations were under the authority of the diocesan bishop? Believe it or not, but congregations such as the Mercy Sisters came under the jurisdiction of the bishop in the diocese in which they worked.

In this column last week I offered a quick explanation about certain aspects of how the Catholic Church works and how it is organised.

Did you know that in Ireland up until the early part of the 20th century parish priests had a vote in the appointment of a diocesan bishop? With the revision of the Code of Canon Law in 1917 this changed.

Today in some countries the State authorities are consulted on the appointment of bishops.

If one reads the ‘L’Osservatore Romano’, which is the official newspaper of the Vatican, the reader will see the episcopal appointments made by the pope. But not even the pope could personally know all the world’s bishops. Yes, the pope probably gives his approval to episcopal appointments but the decision has been made long before the pope signs any piece of paper.

From time to time the papal nunciature in Dublin circulates a form to diocesan priests asking them to draw up a short list of priests that they think are suitable to be made a bishop. The form also goes to a select number of priests, who are not diocesan priests, that is, priests in religious congregations and orders who are considered to be ‘wise men’. All that material is collated and compiled.

Whether any of that information is taken into account I don’t know. But whatever happens, and I have never yet met anyone who knows the exact procedure, the papal nuncio in Dublin sends a ‘terna’, three names, to the Congregation for Bishops and it is they who make the choice and recommend someone to the pope. Or they reject the ‘terna’ and ask the nuncio to come up with three different names.

The papal nuncio is the person the Holy See accredits to a country. The current papal nuncio/ambassador in Ireland is Archbishop Charles Brown. Most papal nuncios come from the Holy See’s diplomatic service but Archbishop Brown is something of an exception as he was not in the Vatican diplomatic service. Before taking up his current post he was working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

There is always talk within church circles as to whether the appointment of diocesan bishops should be more transparent and whether or not the local church should have a bigger say in such appointments.

The Vatican Council, which began 50 years ago last year, placed an emphasis on giving local churches more control. As in all organisations, there is always tension between local authority and central control. The Catholic Church is no exception.

Central control has proved at times in history to have been a positive aspect in the church. But there are also negative sides to it. Central control can make for an authoritarian and autocratic institution. On the other hand, if local churches have too much independence, the organisation can be easily splintered and divided. But one thing is certain, there is always need for dialogue, and open and honest discussion.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Priest expert sheds light on pope

A Benedictine priest, an expert this evening said of Pope Benedict: "He was the first pope to tweet".

'Wir waren Papst'

Maybe Pope Benedict grew tired of all the nonsense and sycophancy, which surrounds his office.

In the next days there will be no shortage of bishops, archbishops and experts, who will express the wisdom and correctness of the resignation of Pope Benedict.

Had Pope Benedict made a statement today expressing his decision to stay on as pope, the same bishops and archbishops would most likely be appearing on the media expressing the wisdom and correctness of his decision to stay on as pope.

Is there any significance on the date and time of his resignation, February 28, 20.00?

Peter Seewald's books on Pope Benedict are impressive and inspiring works on the German pope.

On the day of his election, Bild Zeitung ran the headline 'Wir sind Papst'

Guten Rutsch in die Rente.

Polish Dominican priest speaks nonsense

In the current issue of 'The Irish Catholic' there is an article titled 'Why not women priests?' by Francis X Rocca.

In the article he quotes the Dominican, Fr Wojciech Giertych, the theologian of the papal household.

"Men are more likely to think of God in terms of philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms, a quality fullfilling a priest's duty to transmit Church teaching."

Elsewhere he is quoted as saying that men love the church in a characteristically 'male way' when they show concern "about structures, about the buildings of the church, about the roof of the church which is leaking, about the bishops' conference, about the concordat between the church and the state".

Is it possible the man said this? If he did is it not an insight into a way of thinking that is nothing other than humbug and nonsense.

It would be interesting to know when last Fr Giertych was up on a church roof fixing tiles.

Will anyone in the church challenge this man for saying such nonsense.

Schönborn has to have a fighting chance

Will the Archbishop of Vienna be the next pope?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jauch shows a church of diversity

The Gunther Jauch programme this evening returned to discuss the role of the Catholic Church in Germany. It followed on last week's programme.

Oskar Lafontaine, who was for a short time Gerhard Schröder's finance minister, Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke from Hamburg and Nikloaus Schneider, a high ranking German Protestant Minister were among the guests. Also on the panel was TV personality Kerner, who is a Catholic.

It was an explosive programme, which showed in amazinlgy clear terms how within the church there are so many different opinions.

The Hamburg bishop came across as a wise and sympathetic man.

Lafontaine admitted to having a portrait of Pope Benedict in his office.

It was reported on the show that Cardinal Meissner of Cologne said during the week that there is currently a 'pogrom-style' attack on the Catholic Church in Germany.

The Hamburg bishop felt that Cardinal Meissner's words were an unfortunate use of language.

An impotant moment in the German church.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gentle people suffer under tyrants

From 1598 until 1927 it was called Tsaritsin. In 1918 Stalin defended it during the Revolution. It was named after the Soviet dictator in 1927. In 1961 it was renamed Volgograd. Called after two tyrants and one river.

For more than 300 years a wonderful sounding name but centuries of terror.

Many kilometres west a guard at a concentration camp decided who would die and who would live.

Later in a march westwards in 1945 that same guard was part of an SS crew who let a large number or prisoners burn to death in a church.

Some years earlier she had been working with Siemens in Berlin, was offered promotion, saw an ad for the SS, applied and got the job.

She applied for the SS job because she could not read or write and was afraid that through her new job in Siemens it would be discovered that she could not read.

The accidents, the misfortune, the evil of those in charge so often cause and all in the name of some spurious cause. But all to do with their power and control.

Berlinale - Berlin Filmfestival is currently running and last evening RBB showed Der Vorleser - The Reader. Great film, great book. It was followed by 'Enemy at the Gate'.

German minister accused of cheating

The German Education Minister Schavan has resigned.

In the last few weeks there has been a controversy over the minister's doctoral thesis, suggesting that the work was not original.

Her successor, Johanna Wanka, is a mathematician from Saxony.

Chains of slavery or fellowship of love?

Phyllis McMahon from Finglas in Dublin joined the Mercy Sisters in 1952. She worked at one of the now infamous 'Magdalene Laundries'.

She left the congregation before final vows. Later she worked as an actor.

When her Itallian-born husband died the first people she called to convey the news were the Mercy Sisters.

"I spent the most impressionable years of my life there. I just couldn't get away from them, really."

What is it at all?

CIA man admits he does not know the truth

John Brennan, designate head of the Central Intelligence Agency, answered questions during the Senate hearings into his nomination during the week.

At one stage, after protest interuptions, pressed on what he knew and when regarding conflicting accounts about the CIA's treatment of detainees, Brennan responded: "At this point, Senator, I do not know what the truth is."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Clare Daly's turn proves one nil for her

The Clare Daly story, which appeared on this blog on January 31, has now reached a new level of worry and concern.

It transpires that the north county Dublin socialist TD was not over the legal limit while driving her car.

It is a most worrying story and hopefully the Garda Siochana will be able to clarify all aspects of the case.

It is another clear example of how all authority must be watched and monitored in the most minute way possible.

The Latin quote, name dropping and humbug

Trying to say something about the Word of God in the context of the Mass is never an easy task.

There are those who have the grace and the charism, the talent too, to make real the Word of God in the here and now. And no doubt they try to live it.

Unfortunately there are also the scam masters and it sounds so terrible: the holy voice, modulating in such a way that gives the impression of sincerity, even truth at times. And then add to that the Latin quote, which really lets the listener know how knowledgeable the 'preacher' is.

Finish it all off with dollops of quotes from famous people, especially medievals and saints too.

It all adds up to a master class in spectacular humbug.

Really, it's something that should carry a large heatlh warning.

Is that part of the reason why so many people vote with their feet?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A son sends on his mother's poems

The elderly mother of a man, whom I know, died last week. Today he sent me two poems that she had written.

His sending me the poems touched me greatly and so too did the two poems.

Here they are.


When I was just a little girl, a little girl of three

I wished to be a butterfly – so pretty, flying free.

I’d flit among the leaves and sleep among the flowers

For that’s the way a butterfly enjoys the sunny hours.

But soon I got much taller, a happy, laughing girl

There were so many things to see, my brain was in a whirl.

I learnt to dance and then to sing and paly a part on stage,

In all my multi-colour clothes, I felt like all the rage.

Then next I met the only one that brought me true romance.

I knew he was the only one when he asked me up to dance.

And now I folded up my wings and lived a quiet life

I was happier than ever as a mother and a wife.

So if you turn the pages back I think you will agree

That the pretty little butterfly was really only me.

Thoughts on the 4th of July 1985

I lost my independence on Independence Day

But I didn’t really miss it as the years all rolled away,

For our home was full of babies, we were thrilled with every one –

A variety of daughters and a music-loving son.

We had lots of fun together and they made us very happy,

Even though we could have done without the ever-present nappy.

Oh, we had our days of darkness, all our troubles and our fears –

I remember just the best of times – I’ve forgotten all the tears.

There were picnics in the country, sunny days at Brittas Bay,

And schooldays – I remember every concert, every play.

Then the children all grew apace and stayed out after dark,

And neighbours oft were kept awake with larks in Ben Inagh Park.

But there were times when Frank and I could really be alone –

We’d take off on a holiday, just us two on our own.

We’ve lingered in the Louvre and sipped a glass of Rhenish wine,

Shared a gondola in Venice, thought that Malta was divine.

We’ve marvelled at Pompeii and we’ve strolled the streets of Rome.

It was great away together, but we gladly travelled home.

Oh, I’m never never lonely, for my children’s friends are mine

And now my children’s children little arms around me twin.

Minister for Justice shatters grammar rules

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter wrote a column in Tuesday's Irish Daily Star.

Paragraph four of the article reads: "He has also never wrote to or emailed my department of made any representation to me about this issue".

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Priest talks of 'losers and no-hopers'

In a Dublin church on Monday evening a priest referred to an article he had written in which he had called atheists 'losers and no-hopers'.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A quick look at the workings of the Catholic Church

The Latin word 'veritas' means truth.
The piece below appears in this week's Independent News and Media Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
Late in January I climbed Djouce Mountain in the Wicklow Hills with a friend of mine and a colleague of his. Coming down the mountain my friend’s colleague asked me what kind of a priest I was. It stopped me in my track, as you could take the question in many ways.

What the man wanted to know was whether or not I was a member of a congregation/order or a diocesan priest. He was also interested to know how orders differ from each other.
Some days earlier at work a colleague suggested I should write a column explaining the different sorts of priests there are. My whimsical reply to him was that there is no end to that story.

There are 22 dioceses and four archdioceses in Ireland. The archdioceses are, Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam. In each of the archdioceses there is an archbishop. The current archbishop in Armagh is a cardinal.
While all 22 dioceses are loosely associated with an archdiocese, bishops and archbishops are independent of each other. Archbishops and bishops are members of the Irish Episcopal Conference.

Every diocese in Ireland has direct access to the sea and that’s for historical reasons.
Every diocese is divided into parishes, which are usually administered by a parish priest, who may have a curate or a number of curates. All these appointments are made by the diocesan bishop.

That’s all clear so far but add to the equation religious orders and congregations and the matter gets that little bit more complicated.

In Ireland, as in most countries where the Catholic Church has a tradition, there are large numbers of religious orders and congregations.

Priests who are members of religious orders are not answerable to a bishop, instead they report to their local ‘superior’ (not a word I like). Most congregations/orders call their national superior a provincial. This was an issue during the Fr Brendan Smyth crisis in 1994. Smyth was a member of the Norbertine Order. Because he was a member of an order it seems he was able to fly below the radar of ecclesial authority. Whether he did or not, it was an argument the church used. You might call it a damage limitation job.

Many orders and congregations, both women and men, run post primary schools in Ireland. None of these schools is in any way responsible to a local bishop. There are also many churches in Ireland, which are not parish churches, run by orders and congregations and these churches do not come under the influence or authority of a local bishop.

While all the various and different religious orders and congregations will talk and write about their unique charism or mission, I think it’s fair to say that there is a great blur in how one institute differs from another. Maybe it’s best of all to say that there are historical differences that separate many of the orders and congregations. Yes, it’s clear to say that the Cistercians live a different lifestyle to the Jesuits. But I’m sure most people who go to church would not be too informed as to how the Dominicans differ from the Augustinians or the Franciscans.

Now to add even more to the confusion: a practice has grown up in Ireland and the universal church that bishops invite orders and congregations to help them out in the running of the diocese. And this is usually done by asking a religious order or congregation to take over the running of a parish. And once that happens then the men running the parish are answerable to the local bishop.

That’s what it sounds like in theory. But nothing is ever as simple as that. What happens if a priest, who is not under the authority of a bishop, says or does something out of order?
As in all human relations, people try to solve things in an amicable and reasonable way. But when that does not work what happens? You got it in one? The Catholic Church is centrally organised and controlled. If there is a local dispute it finds its way to the religious/congregational superiors and bishops. If that fails it goes to the papal nuncio, who is the Vatican’s representative in Ireland, who is also the doyen of the diplomatic corps. If that does not solve the problem, then the person is in trouble and someone at the Vatican will be in touch.

Have you noticed I have not said a word about the distinction between religious orders and congregations? Nor have I said a word about women’s congregations. And did you know there is a difference between sisters and nuns. And not a word about how bishops are appointed. Not yet.

Enough for this issue.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Inaudible lecture in arctic conditions

Is there any purpose holding a lecture in a cold venue where the lecturer cannot be clearly and easily heard in all parts of the building?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It seems there is confusion in Cologne

What exactly has Cardinal Meissner said about the Caritas hospital case controversy?

Church shredders hard at work

The current controversy in Germany between criminologist Christian Pfeiffer and the German Bishops Conference yet again paints a most unattractive image of the institutional Catholic Church.

Add the latest news of the cover up in the US Catholic Church to the German story, one is left with a worrying reality.

The subject matter is the criminal sexual behaviour of priests and the subsequent cover ups.

Is it not iroinc than an organisation which never stops talking about what it sees as sexual misdemeanours is alledged to be engaged in criminal behaviour in covering up the criminal sexual behaviour of its priests?

The Irish Lifers

On Thursday evening RTE One screened 'The Lifers'. It is the story of three Irish people working in Brazil, Papua New Guinea and South Sudan. Two priests and one sister.

Pat Murray, a Loreto sister, who taught in a number of Loreto schools in Dublin before going to South Sudan, spoke of the extreme poverty in the newly formed South Sudan.

The sister and two priests exemplified the real worth of what it means to be a sister, priest ot brother. And put the likes of me to shame. It also puts in perspective so much church behaviour.

The programme was part-funded by Denis O'Brien.

Bishop of Ros Cré

New bishop of Dresden-Meissen, Heiner Koch, is titular bishop of Ros Cré.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Russia celebrates a great day

Major parade today in Moscow to celebrate the victory of February 2, 1943. An old T 34, which served in Stalingrad was rolled out for the parade.

And just for the day, the city reverted to its former name of Stalingrad.

In the evening Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a large gathering of people in the city where he spoke about the bravery and unity of all those who fought on the Volga.

Media silence on famous day

It seems there is not a word today in the Irish media to recall or commemorate the day 70 years ago that Field Marshal Paulus surrendered to the Soviet Army in Stalingrad/Volgograd.

Probably the most significant day in destroying Germany and freeing Europe of such evil.

That there is no media coverage is another example how all media tend to 'write in packs'.

We always think our way is best

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

By Michael Commane
The hostage-taking at the In Amenes gas facility in Algeria attracted the word’s media attention. While Western leaders blamed the attack on terrorists, there was an undertow among Western commentators that the rescue operation by the Algerian authorities was somewhat ham-fisted. It seemed as if far too many innocent lives were lost during the rescue operation.

However Tom Cloonan, a former Irish army officer and security expert has commented that the number of innocent lives lost in Algeria was proportionately less than the number of innocent people lost in the siege at the Iranian embassy in London in 1980. Mr Cloonan pointed out that, at the time, the Western world considered the London rescue operation to be an example of how such operations should be conducted.

His comments set me thinking about how we all surround ourselves with a world we think is right and good. And to confirm that idea, only this week at work, I heard a colleague say that her county in Ireland was the best place in the country. Of course she was half-joking. With last year’s All-Ireland victory it was understandable why she was tempted to say what she said. We all do that sort of thing. Could we survive at all if we did not have competition and rivalry?

However, when one group of people, when a society, a people, a country believe that they are better and do things better than others just because of who they are, surely we are entering very dangerous territory.

In tomorrow’s Gospel, Jesus tells his listeners that there is a universality about the Word of God and that people would be making a terrible mistake to think that they know which people God is going to favour.

At first, when he expressed ideas that they liked, and with which they agreed, he was the “flavour of the month”, but once he moved away from their stereotypical way of thinking, they wanted to take him out and throw him over the cliff.

Jesus sees exactly what is happening and says to them: “No prophet is honoured in his own country.” (Luke 4: 24)

We are bound and tempered by our surroundings, the schools we attend, the places where we work, the countries in which we live. It is the challenge of a lifetime never to become hostage to our surroundings or the times in which we live. The Dominican saint Thomas Aquinas suggests that when someone speaks we should be more concerned with what is said than the person saying it.

It has been one of the great spin-offs of modern travel that people get to experience other cultures in remote places and in doing so realise that the people living there are not demons. How many people spend time in far flung countries and come home so enthused with what they have seen and learned?

As a young man, for years I heard, read and saw on television that the people of Vietnam were capable of doing the most evil of things. They did but so too did their attackers. These days people come back from Vietnam singing the praises of the country and the charm of its people.

It’s dangerous to say we are special because we are Irish or British or American. We believe we are special because each one of us is unique. As Christians we believe that each one of us has been made in the image and likeness of God. We believe that the Word of God has universal meaning throughout history and is not exclusively bestowed on any one group or society.

Far too much wrong, far too much mayhem has been caused in the world in the false belief that ‘we’ are stronger and better and superior to ‘them’.

Those listening to Jesus grew indignant to what he was saying and their solution was “to throw him down the hill”. (Luke 4: 29)

Of course that is never the solution; it wasn’t then and isn’t now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chancellor Merkel warns against the elites

"The rise of National Socialism was possible because the elites and parts of German society particiapted, but above all, because most in Germany tolerated this rise," words spoken by Angela Merkel on Wednesday at the opening of a new exhibition, 'Berlin 1933 - Path to Dictatorship'.

The exhibition opening coincided with the 80 anniversary of the coming to power of Adolf Hitler.

Frau Merkel went on to say how it took the Nazis just six months after taking office to dismantle the Weimar Republic's democratic structures.

"Human rights and freedom don't defend themselves. A society with a human face needs people to have respect and responsibility for each other and who are ready to accept criticism," she said.

The German Chancellor mentioned the elites.

Krupp supplied the ammunition. Mercedes presented Hitler with a new car every year. The pharmaceutical companies Bayer, BASF and Hoechst are new post war names for IG Farben. IG Farben provided the gas for the concentration camps.

That Frau Merkel used the word 'elites' is significant.

How easilty we team people into winners and losers. For some absurd reason the 'winners' always get preferential treatment, the 'losers' dismissed and shunned.

It is worth noting that 70 years ago tomorrow, against all the odds, against the belief of Mercedes, IG Farben ( Bayer, Hoechst, BASF) the so-called losers accepted the unconditional surrender of Paulus' Sixth Army on the Volga.

The 'losers', Hitler's 'inferior beings', had routed Germany's 'elite' army.

Maybe the moral for all of us is always and ever to be on our guard against elites, whoever they are wherever they may appear. They can be so slick and cunning.

For far too long the West has underplayed the heroic victory of the Soviet Army in Stalingrad/Volgograd.

On February 3, 1943 under the genius of Marshal General Gerogii Zhukov world history was changed.

It took another two full years for the Germans to realise that the 'losers' were the 'winners'.

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What's in a name?

The 'Thinking Anew' column in The Irish Times today. Michael Commane Sometimes I wonder has all the pious 'stuff' we have ...