Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Extremely difficult to use any words about God

Michael Harding's 'Staring at Lakes' is a best seller.
The coumn below appears in this week's Independent News and Media's Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
I’m more than half way through Michael Harding’s ‘Staring at Lakes’. The book has been well advertised and Harding appeared on The Saturday Night Show, plus a number of radio programmes. The PR has been extremely clever.

The author writes a weekly column in a daily newspaper and also has a number of novels to his name. I’m embarrassed to say it but I only came across him about six months ago when someone suggested I read his column that week.

I remember the first time I heard Terry Wogan on BBC Radio Two, thinking that I could do what he was doing every bit as well as he. But that of course is the real sign of genius or excellence – when someone makes something look so simple.

Reading Harding’s book I keep getting the urge to sit down and write ‘my story’, thinking that I could do it every bit as well as he does it. All that suggests is that Harding is a fantastic writer and so he is. He makes it look so simple. The book is magic, at least for me. There are added aspects to it or links between him and me that endears him to me. He is just a few years younger than I and he was a priest, albeit for a short time. And I suppose if I am truthful it is the priesthood thing that captivates me right through my read, at least as far as I am now.

The book is the story about him. There is a real and tangible effort to be as honest as possible. That might well lead to all sorts of dead-ends, back alleys, disasters, depression, stupidity, yes sadness. But it is that honesty that grips me. It also makes me roar with laughter.

He tries priesthood twice. The first time around he heads off to the seminary at 18 and stayed one year. He then did a BA and on completion of his primary degree goes back to Maynooth being ordained a priest in 1981. But within a short few years of ordination he realises that it’s not for him and leaves.

And even that is fascinating. Immediately I’m off thinking of some priests I know, who exude such an air of certainty, convinced about their ‘calling’. For the life of me I have never understood how anyone could be so certain about such a way of life.

Why is it that reading ‘Staring at Lakes’ I have been confronted with the God question nearly on every page and when I listen to some active priests, preach or write I’m bored to tears? I get the impression Harding is saying what he believes and thinks. Some priests give into the temptation of saying what is expected of them. Maybe that’s the way of the world. Indeed, that’s the way it is in the world of work. Managers are expected to toe the line. But is priesthood not meant to be something altogether different?

Okay there might be some of you who are saying, you either toe the line or get out. Does the Catholic Church really need a group of clones? Does the church really need a large cohort of yes men who will play every game in the book to get preferment?

There is not one single issue of faith that does not push us to the very core of our being in any attempt to get our heads around it.

Some months ago in criticism to a column I had written in which I asked some questions, a priest wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that a priest should really have the answers to such questions. How in God’s name can you have answers when it comes to God? It’s that cosy certainty that I find so difficult to understand. Once we say we believe in God and subscribe to a faith, we really are entering the realm of everything to do with mystery. Wonder too.

Could Michael Harding have written that book, line for line, had he remained a priest?

I don’t think so. More’s the pity.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Half price European seats with Aer Lingus

For the next five days Aer Lingus is offering a 50 per cent reduction on its fares to European destination.

It's a great offer and 'annoying' this blogger as only last Wednesday I purchased two tickets, Dublin Munich and Berlin Dublin.

A delay of five days and the tickets would have been slashed by half.

A funny old world indeed.

Is there an app out there which advises on when is the best time to buy tickets?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Climbing Djouce nearly as good as it gets

This sign appears close to the top od Djouce.
This afternoon with a former work colleague and Tess I climbed Djouce in the Wicklow Hills.

Rain at first, then a little mist, then blue skies. Incredibly beautiful. Little like it and nearly as good as it gets.

High wind at the top, so high, that it was difficult enough to stand.

Visible was Bray, Dun Laoghaire, the sea, the hills, Vartry Reservoir and all those Wicklow peaks.

This blog regularly criticises the Catholic Church, Dominican Order too but not today.

It may well be had it not been for the Dominican Order I may never have developed a love for the hills.

When we were novices and students it was custom and practice to head for the hills on a regular basis. How fortunate we were and thank you to those who made it possible.

The sign is placed on a small sealed off piece of land on the route to Djouce. Obviously some wisecrack went to the trouble of producing the poster and then carrying it up to the spot. But it's clever and does tell its own story.


"The apparel oft proclaims the man"

Because of the week that's in it, German television has focused on the end of World War ll.

Last evening one station screened a chronicle of the the coming to power of Hitler, right through to his end in the bunker in Berlin on April 30, 1945.

It was interesting to observe the nonsensical clothing the Nazi leaders wore. It seems they had different outfits for every occasion. Indeed, Goering pranced around in a long black cloak. The man looked insane.

One could not but be reminded of a tendency that is fashionable among some priests in the Catholic Church at present with an emphasis given to clothing.

The Nazis looked silly and false.

"The apparel oft proclaims the man...."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's what we do that gives us away

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

By Michael Commane
It’s relatively easy to write high-flown prose about what it means to love someone. It’s easy to talk about commitment, dedication and heroism. But it is something altogether different to live out these virtues or characteristics in our own lives.

It scares me to think how I would have behaved had I been born in Germany at the beginning of the last century. What would I have done had I been a young man in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and ’80s?

It’s easy to praise the deeds of good and brave people. From afar it’s as clear as day that the Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger at Auschwitz, was a brave man, and all sensible people are bound to admire him for what he did.

Some years ago a friend of mine argued strongly that there is no such thing as altruism. He believed that it is impossible to do a completely selfless act. There is certainly something in that. But surely it’s not the full picture.

In tomorrow’s Gospel Jesus tells his listeners that their love for one another will be a real sign that they are followers of his. He tells them it is a new commandment he is giving them. (John 13: 31 – 35)

The ultimate question: what is love?
Men and women tell each other, at times with ease, that they love one another. Some men seem to be able to say the word at the drop of a hat, five minutes after seeing a woman. Maybe women seem to be cannier and more cautious and actually know far more about the ramifications of the word.

Priests in sermons can throw the word about too, turning it into a cliché and losing all meaning.

Of course when we mention the word love we think of falling in love, we think of all the wonderful things that it means to love and be loved. It’s the theme that keeps us in thrall to the worlds of film and music.
Maybe we do know when we see someone who loves. It might well be a dangerous word to use. We might tend to be flippant with it but when we see the young wife, who visits her paralysed husband every day in hospital, we know we are coming close to what the word is about.

The daily grind, the sacrifice that mothers and fathers make to ensure their children are cared for and nurtured in the best possible way. Adult children who care for their elderly parents, who have become ghosts of what they were in the past.

Fortunately, most of us are never called to follow in the steps of Fr Maximilian Kolbe but every day we have the chance to do something that will enhance the life of another person.

Former US President Bill Clinton will be forever remembered for his comment, “It’s the economy, stupid”. People who say they follow Christ need to be reminded on a daily basis that “it’s love” that earmarks us for who and what we are. Everything else is secondary and by a long way too.
Just last week a woman suggested to me that when I am out and about I should go out of my way to smile at elderly people. “We have no idea how lonely and alone people can be, especially older people. A smile from you and me can mean so much to them. It can give them a great security too.”

The woman who said that to me is strongly opposed to all forms of organised religion.

The words in tomorrow’s Gospel spring to mind. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fanaticism makes Pope Francis angry

Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Buenos Aires, commenting on a book he and Pope Francis have penned and is due to be published in the UK next month says of the new pope: "He believes you can say the most profound things in a very simple way."

Skorka also says in the interview, which was pubiished in The Tablet, that Pope Francis is unwavering in his refusal to tolerate anti-Semitism of any kind, particularly clerical anti-Semitism. "This is the only kind of thing that makes him really angry - anti-Semitism, any kind of fanaticism."

'Alive' headlines give the plot away

Some headlines in the May issue of the free sheet 'Alive'

1. 'French fear 'parallel Muslim' society'
2. 'Moral side of things pushed aside'
3. 'Who is pushing school agenda?'
4. 'Society must recognise 'suicide is innately wrong' - expert.
5. 'Liberal media ignore horror trial'
6. 'Real power in the EU is exposed by Cypriot crisis'
7. 'UN criticised over lack of support of religious freedom'
8. 'Germany runs EU'
9. 'Want end of euro'

'Alive' is as close as one can get to a xenophobic publication.

If 'Alive' were expressing left wing views which were comparatively as extreme quite likely every bishop and congregational provinical would disassociate himself/herself from the free sheet.

It's difficult not to conclude that the Catholic Church deep down always seems to be more sympathetic to right wing ideologies.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Conquering armies meet at Torgau

On this date, April 25 1945 the Red Army joined the US Army at Torgau on the River Elbe.

A special date in world history. Symbolic too.

Green link with Dominicans

What can be discovered walking your dog in the rain.

Out walking last evening in the rain I met former Green Minister Eamonn Ryan.

It turns out his uncle was the late Irish Dominican Ino Ryan.

The Green leader spoke glowingly of his late uncle and indeed also of his experience of the Dominicans.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Insensitive mail from Revenue

This week the Irish Revenue posted correspondence to a citizen who was born in 1909 and died in 2004.

Surely the 'all knowing' PPS Number gives Revenue a clue as to the status of its 'customers'?

Price increases that go unnoticed

Always interesting how public perception works.

Currently UPC is informing its customers that it is increasing its charges.

The average TV increase is just over €5 a month.

Imagine what the public uproar would be if the Government granted RTE an increase of €60 in its licence fee.

So far not a whimper from the public on the UPC price hike.

The company is also increasing a telephone call set-up charge from seven cent to 9.5 cent. Again, not a word of protest from the public.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lufthansa strike and Hoeneß a tax dodger

Worth noting.

Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg airports were ghost towns today as a result of a 24-hour Lufthansa strike.

The workers are looking for improved pay and guarantees of permanent employment for many staff who have temporary contracts.

The great German footballer Ulli Hoeneß is alledged to be a tax dodger - salting away millions in secret accounts in Switzerland.

Women's questions and men's answers

A quote from Michael Harding's 'Staring at Lakes'.

"One of the most common questions women ask is: 'What are you thinking?

"One of the most common answers men give is: 'Nothing'."

And when it comes to priests multiply that 'Nothing' by many times.

Harding's book should be on the booklist in every seminary and place where men are preparing for priesthood.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The last week of fighting in World War ll

On this date, April 21, 1945 the Red Army reaches the eastern suburbs of Berlin.

In the south of the city, at Zossen, Soviet troops attack the headquarters of the German High Command.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A telltale comment, accurate and familiar

Today's Irish Times carries the story of paedophile Domhnall Ó Lubhlaí.

Tucked away in the piece there is a quote: "He managed to create this aura of fear and respect".

Does it call to mind anything for readers?

Another line: "How did he get away with it?"

How did 'he' at all? The spoof, the pseudo sophistication, that mock respectability, the feigning, that demand for respect. And 'he' may well have helped create a disaster.

Time is and will tell the damage 'he' has done.

The pain and hell in Boston

It is nothing but sadness and incomprehension to watch from afar what has happened in Boston in these last days. The city which has more Irish than in Ireland.

Among the dead a little boy, his sister and Mum maimed. Over 170 injured, many losing limbs. A policeman dead and another injured.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an alledged perpetrator, dead, and his brother, Dzhokhar, captured and wounded. Twenty-six and 19. Not long since they were children.

All this in the United States of America. The two men were born in Chechnya, which has a long violent history with Russia.

Stalin accused all Chechens of collaboration with the German invaders and the entire Chechen nation, more than 400,000 people, were expelled or killed. They were loaded into freight trains and transported to the bleak and freezing steppes of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Some, very few fought with the Soviet Army.

Maybe the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of these men, of the little boy, were caught up in the terror of either Stalin or Hitler.

Why?

Friday, April 19, 2013

A farewell in 'the time kept city'

Preaching at the funeral service of Margaret Thatcher Bishop of London Richard Chartres quoted TS Eliot: "What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make an end is to make a beginning. / The end is where we start from."

Michael Billington writing in yesterday's Guardian on Margaret Thatcher's funeral was reminded of another line from Eliot's Four Quartets: "human kind cannot bear very much reality".

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back in the days of Margaret Thatcher

The funeral of Margaret Thatcher has been an occasion to recall many of the events in the 1980s.

At the time I was teaching at the Dominican school in Newbridge.

During the miners strike it became part of the routine of some of us in the community to watch the UTV lunchtime news immediately after lunch. A ten minute break between lunch and returning to the classroom.

There were three of us, the late John O'Gorman, Canice Murphy and I.

Most days Arthur Scargill would be seen rallying his troops during that long harsh strike.

Some in the community saw Scargill as a dangerous man, others were greatly impressed with the young articulate miner.

In those days the FTSE hit the 800 mark.

John is dead and Canice has retired from the classroom. Two talented teachers.

'Staring at Lakes' is a great read

Anyone who has read Michael Harding's 'Staring at Lakes' might well have laughed on many pages. But along with the laughter, there is a 'realness' about the writing that is singularly striking. It comes across as an antidote to spoof.

A great read.

UPC announce large monthly increases

Television provider UPC, who also offer telephone and web facilities, are currently informing their customers of a price increase.

The increase comes into operation on June bills.

It seems the minimum increase is €5.51 per month.

Last year UPC changed their telephone charging system, whereby night and weekend rates were abolished.

From June 1 call set up fee is 9.5C. That means that if you spend one second connected to a number you pay a minimum of 9.5C.

And UPC increases its charges annually.

Imagine if the State increased the annual television licence by €66.03. There would be an uproar.

Not a whimper about the UPC increase.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cardinals speak in favour of same-sex unions

Speaking in London last week, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna urged that same-sex relationships should be recognised and accepted in law.

In Colombia, Cardinal Rubén Salazar said in the context of the gay-marriage debate in that country: "Other unions have the right to exist - no one can ask them not to.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New anti euro party born in Germany

A new political party was launched in Germany today.

Alternative For Germany has 8,000 members, many of whom have defected from the ruling CDU and CSU parties.

The new party is committed to leaving the euro and restoring the D Mark.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kerry makes it on to world stage

Headline in an Irish newspaper today proves how the Irish county has jumped on to world stage.

"Kerry warns North Korea over missile launch"

Friday, April 12, 2013

The funny side to some rail ticketing

Irish Rail is not the only railway to sell tickets that make no sense.

German Rail (Deutsche Bahn) offers a ticket between two destinations. Let's call them A and C. But if you detrain at the intermediary station B and take a taxi from B to C it will work out cheaper than travelling from A to C with German Rail.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Great cause to irritate Joyce

Certainly a collector's item.

The redundant 'that' in the James Joyce €10 commemorative coin launched today gives it special place.

It puts the notorious redundant apostrophe in the Ha'penny place.

Oops, we're gone decimal and euro.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Poorly written prayers in new Missal

The prayers at Mass in these days of the Easter Season are almost impossible to
read and understand.

Archaic words, bad syntax, poor sentence structure.

The Opening Prayer, now called Collect, in Sunday's Mass had 60 words in a sentence.

It is shocking but to be expected.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A good idea to go to the theatre

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

By Michael Commane

When were you last at a play?

Sitting on my mantelpiece at home there is a voucher for the Abbey. A friend gave it to me as a Christmas gift. It means I have not been to the Abbey this year.

It’s seldom enough I go to the theatre and every time I see a play that I like I’m rebuke myself for staying away.

There’s something about theatre that keeps many people away. Maybe there is a whole swathe of people out there, who think that theatre is not for them. And that sneaky feeling hovers around inside me too. Often when I go to a show the feeling of not being part of the ‘crowd’ pervades my head and stomach too.

Before Easter I went to see ‘Translations’ in the Gaiety. With the exception of some inspiring scenes, I was not greatly taken with the production. My immediate reaction was to say that I’m no theatre expert, so what do I know about it. That was until I read a newspaper review of the performance, which did not rate it too highly. So, after all I might have been right. Whatever ‘right’ might mean.

My thesis is that people might stay away from the theatre because they are afraid that their reaction will not be in accord with the common consensus. Nonsense. Elites have the shocking and terrible ability to hound us out of the way we think. We need to stand up to them.
Some weeks ago a colleague sent around a note at work about a play in which she was involved.

The group call themselves GLAD Productions, which is made up of sisters Lucy and Genevieve and brother Andrew Deering, originally from Dunlavin in Wicklow. Genevieve who lives in Tallaght, is the brains behind the GLAD operation. After some detective work I discovered that the Deerings were involved at a local level in acting back in the 1920s and ’30s.

The play on offer before Easter was ‘The Acute Angina Monologues’. It was billed as a comedy revue and written and devised by the cast.
The venue was The Civic Theatre in The Square in Tallaght. The complex has two theatres and my one for the night held approximately 70 people. A fabulous space, which gives a great sense of intimacy. A gem of a place.

The hour-long play was made up of a number of terribly funny scenes throwing a satirical eye over modern Irish society.

The scene I found the funniest was the young couple, who were planning their wedding. Somewhere on their peregrinations they had encountered all sorts of different cultures, religions and philosophies.

So when it came to organising their own wedding they felt it essential to introduce many of the ideas they had experienced on their travels. Moroccan food was the dish for the day and the religious side of things was to be conducted by a Buddhist monk they met en route. The bride’s mother was just about managing to accept the plans until she was told she would be required to sit on the ground while eating her meal. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was hilarious and the apparent genuine conviction of the bride-to-be to her new-found tastes and beliefs made a remarkable statement about how ‘shallow’ we are about so many things.

It dawned on me driving home that if a Catholic or Anglican priest expressed the sentiments of the play in the context of a Christian service he or she would no doubt be on the Joe Duffy Show for his or her ridiculous traditional views.

Everything in this moving play was done on a small scale. No big fanfares, no big drama, no super modern marketing. All low-key, with great emphasis placed on the local community.

I’ll be paying more attention to what’s on in The Civic Theatre in Tallaght, indeed, what’s on in theatres near me.

Try it. Visit a theatre near you ASAP.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Holding the train

City life is so different to life in the country.

At Rathmore station today, the 09.55 train was about to leave for Mallow when a young woman rushes into the station, carrying a hughe bag - one of those items Michael O'Leary loves to see.

The lone man working at the station sees her, grabs her bag and the two of them take two steps at a time over the bridge to the up platform.

The lone Irish Rail working at the station is also the man who gives the train permission to leave the station. So he makes sure the young woman is on the train before he gives his green flag.

Two minutes late leaving.

Where else could it happen?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lecture on church and media at UL

Below is a link to a talk given at the University of Limerick in March by the writer of this blog.

The talk was one in a series hosted by the School of Journalism at UL.


https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ot9exv4699h98y/Michael%20Commane.mp3

Rathmines dome built for St Petersburg

Did you know the copper dome on the Catholic church in Rathmines was destined for a church in Saint Petersburg.

The October Revolution happened. There was no church on which to place the dome.

Silent prayers in German tax scam

BBC Radio Four reported this morning of how some Germans are now telling the tax authorities they are not a memebr of a church so then don't have to pay church tax.

In Germany memebrs of recognised churches pay a church tax.

Large numbers in recent years have been exiting the churches and therefore no longer pay the church tax.

But a new tax scam has been discovered. It could only happen in Germany. Tax payers are informing State authorities that they have left the church and no longer wish to pay church tax. But they continue to attend church.

Last year the German Catholic Bishops' Conference wrote a pastoral letter on the issue pointing out that people who do not pay German State church tax can no longer call themselves members of the Catholic Church. It means they cannot hold church positions or be God parents.

Nor can they celebrate a sacramental marriage in a catholic church.

Many years ago the writer Heinrich Böll wrote an interesting story on the dilemma.

What about receiving Holy Communion, the Sacrament of Reconcilliation, a Christian burial?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bayern München win Bundesliga

First item on ARD main news at 20.00 today was that Bayern München had won the Bundesliga.

Celebrtions this evening in the Bavarian capital.

The second item on the news was North Korea's declaration of war.

The North Korean leadership can hardly be too happy with that.

Young man pleads the cause for life

A young man from Blennerville, Co Kerry features on the Brendan O'Connor Show this evening on RTE One at 21.55.

He is a student in Tralee and is suffering from serious cancer.

His story was told in the national media last week where he was pleading with young people never to consider the option of dying by suicide. He argues how he is struggling to stay alive and what it means to be alive.

One rule at conference another in the classroom

Imagine a scenario where a school prinicipal is heckeld and shouted down while addressing a school assembly.

Surely the teaching unions had a better way of expressing their views during their conferences this week.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The perfect day to climb Mount Brandon

While unseasonally cold in Ireland for early April, today was a day of blue skies all over the island.

A mother and her three children climbed to the top of Brandon Mountain. They were joined by an aunt and cousins. The youngest on the climb was a little nine-year-old boy, who on his return from the mountain went to his football training.

And Dad was at home working on the farm, conscious of how late growth is this year.

Surely the best possible way to celebrate Eastertide.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ireland wastes one million tonnes of food

Up to 30 per cent of food produced worldwide is wasted.

One billion people have not enough food to eat.

Ireland produces one million tonnes of food waste each year.

On a per capita basis, the average Irish person generates 280kg of food waste each year, the fifth highest in Europe.

The average Irish household spends between €700 and €1,000 annually on waste food.

Shocking unemployment figures

Nineteen million people across the EU are unemployed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Signs afoot of a gentler and kinder Catholic Church

This week's Independent News and Media regional newspapers' column.

By Michael Commane
Much has been written about the new pope. Certainly, in his style - or perhaps understatedness - Pope Francis seems impressive.

The omens are good: he dresses plainly, lives modestly, pays his hotel bill in person within 24-hours of being made pope. I have high hopes he will look askance at the obscure and exclusive liturgical practices that gained such traction in our church over recent years and bring the People of God, in from the cold.

A few days ago I was at Mass. There was a clear division of status - the priest ‘up there’, the rest of us, in our proper place and by proper order, ‘down here’.

Up there then in the rarefied atmosphere, the celebrant cleaned and re-cleaned the chalice, intensely, scrupulously, to the point of phobia. Down here though in the pews, we strained to hear, as the Mass sped by us, in a barely-audible monotone. Up there, was a priest wearing pre Vatican II vestments and a maniple. A ‘maniple’ you ask? An embroidered band of material which hangs from the left arm of the priest, a liturgical affectation that disappeared in the 1970s.

Pope Francis, himself, seems to be having none of it, opting for a more matter-of-fact liturgical dress.

It’s uplifting to see that he seems to care more about the radical message of the Gospel, the urgency of the Word of God for all, particularly the poor, than establishing canonical status or donning retro liturgical accessories. It seems as if, suddenly, authenticity and simplicity will have their day.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, when Archbishop of Buenos Aires, told his own priests who refused to baptise the children of unmarried mothers that they were hypocrites. What about the fathers?

US Vice President Joe Biden and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi have received Communion from Pope Francis. Lucky they.

But luckier still, the men, women and children who, under Pope Francis, will no longer have to put up with the unadulterated, offensive words peddled and preached by their priestly ‘betters’ about who can and cannot receive Communion. Not too long ago, a priest was out roaring and shouting about unmarried mothers receiving Communion at the First Holy Communion of their children.

The Church - the People of God - have suffered greatly because of a tendency to turn priests into some sort of moral police service, a holy KGB watching over sex and sexuality. I never ever heard of a priest being asked to refuse Communion to someone who does not pay their taxes, or whose choices broke banks, brought down a country and forced thousands of our best and brightest to emigrate, have you?

Michael Harding, who writes a weekly newspaper column and has just published ‘Staring at Lakes’, was interviewed on the Brendan O’Connor Show last Saturday week.

Michael was ordained a priest in 1981 but retired from his priesthood after a short period. He made an interesting comment on the show. He said that theological fascism was introduced into the church with the papacy of John Paul II and then continued under Pope Benedict XVI. And if you think about it, John Paul II grew up under two nasty systems, Nazism and Communism.

Benedict was born into a barbaric Nazi world and would have spent his early schooling being brainwashed by the system.

Of course, the two men despised the Nazis and the Communists but we are all children of our environment and very often the tools we use to oppose our enemy develop vestiges of the behaviour of the enemy itself.

Today then, we need a gentler and kinder Church, one that is sympathetic, empathetic, always willing to listen to those who might disagree with us.

Talking to the world’s media on March 16 Pope Francis said: “Many of you don’t belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers. From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you.” Impressive words.

Astounding humility. A telling insight.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fines for Germany's two wheelers

Germany introduces new cycling fines today.

A cyclist cycling the wrong direction in a one-way street is fined €15. Fine for cycling in a pedestiran zone is €20.

Something that is urgently needed on the streets of our cities.

A little boy, his mammy and the deodorant

Is this just old fashioned nonsense on my part?

In a Lidl shop today a woman suggested to her little son at the cosmetic section that a particular brand of deodorant would suit him.

Does a little boy, who was most likely under 10, need to buy deodorant?

I have to admit I'm puzzled.

Featured Post

No comment from bishop

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