Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Angela Merkel calls on God and pleads for tolerance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her New Year's address this evening wished God's blessing on the citizens of Germany and pleaded with them not to follow the call of those who are organising demonstrations against immigration.

She was clearly referring to the recent PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident) the anti-Islam movement in Germany.

She also referred to the difficulties in Ukraine, the Ebola outbreak and the violence of ISIS.

The Chancellor again congratulated Joachim Löw's team and quoted an English person, who commented that the Germans had a team. She wished the women success in next year's World Cup Final.

She reminded her listeners of their great fortune in living in a united Germany in peace. Merkel spoke about a Kurd, who now lives in Germany, whose greatest ambition is that his son can live away from  fear and terror.

Irish Dominican update

Fr Patrick Brennan suffered a stroke in the days leading up to Christmas. He spent some days in hospital and is now in a nursing home in Trinidad.

Patrick also has pneumonia.

The Cork man has spent many years working in Trinidad.

While at university in Galway he had close association with many people living in the Claddagh and was closely involved with the local football team.

In the mid 1980s he spent some time in Sligo and in a Tallaght parish.

He attended Sullivan's Quay Secondary School and cycled every day from Passage West to the Cork city school.

He is a renowned singer, who has over many years in Ireland and Trinidad delighted his audiences with his dulcet tones.

Paddy has been experiencing poor helath over the last few years.

This blog wishes him a full and speedy recovery.

The words of a child

During Christmas Mass in the Dominican Church in Tralee a 14-year-old girl turns to her father and says: "Daddy I'm going to pray for that priest because he seems so sad and unhappy."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We spend our lives influenced by our early years

It has often been been wirtten and spoken about but it's worth noting. John Paul ll grew up in a world  controlled by Nazis and Communists and Benedict's childhood and youth was lived out under the Nazis, who controlled every aspect of German life.

Did the world of authoritarianism and slavish obedience influence the formative years of both popes?

And then the ripple effect of all the appointments both those men made?

Monday, December 29, 2014

German episcopacy acknowledges wake-up call

Of course what follows makes complete sense.

Is so much of 'theological doctrine' just one fancy cream bun? Would the German bishops have been allowed say this in public during the previous two papacies?

 What else will the German bishops find "fraught with problems that bishops and priests find almost impossibe to overcome"?

The exceprt below is taken fom the National Catholic Reporter.

A large majority of German bishops favour Cardinal Walter Kasper’s solution for remarried divorcees which would allow them to receive the sacraments under certain circumstances. Only a small minority think present church teaching is theologically correct and pastorally appropriate.
As most German bishops are convinced that the pastoral approach to remarried divorcees is a test case for the church’s credibility, the bishops’ conference published the findings Dec. 22 of a working group which has been researching the subject for two years. They presented these findings as guidelines to the ongoing preparatory discussions for the coming Synod of Bishops in October 2015.
“The search for a theologically responsible and pastorally appropriate accompaniment for Catholics whose marriages have broken down and who have married again in a registry office is a pressing challenge for the church worldwide as divorce and remarriage are often the beginning of a process of alienation from the church,” said Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, when he presented the new guidelines on December 22.

The majority of German bishops find that the present guidelines regarding pastoral work with remarried divorcees are “fraught with problems that bishops and priests find almost impossible to overcome.”
“For many practising, committed Catholics in Germany, the pastoral approach to remarried divorcees is the test case for an evangelising church which is not only for special groups of faithful but which also welcomes those whose life projects have failed. It has become the touchstone of whether the joy of the Gospel also holds good for remarried divorcees and their families,” the bishops stated.

Blue skies over Brandon

Checking out on Brandon Mountain from Atlantic waters.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Uplifting and genuine

Below is a new year greeting received form a colleague/friend. He is the grandfather of the child.

"Happy new year. Yes I had a lovely time getting to know XXX XXX XXX aged 17 months,  and to take delight in her first conscious Christmas. Her pleasure at seeing Christmas tree, and her joy playing with the toy kitchen that her father had spent four hours putting together on Christmas Eve."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Observing Pope Francis' spanner in the works is fun

Below is an excerpt from Pope Francis' talk to the curia.

If these sentiments had been written during the period of the last two papacies it is likely that the writer would have been called in by 'top Vatican officials' to explain themselves.

What at all must papal nuncios around the world be thinking and saying to themselves or John Paul or Benedict bishops?

If it weren't so 'sad' there would well be a great sense of fun to it all. But isn't sycophancy closely tied in with the cult of personality?

10. The disease of deifying leaders: it is the disease of those who court superior, hoping to get their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honour people and not God (cf. Mt 23.8 to 12). They are people who live their service thinking only what they deserve to get and not what they have to give. Petty people, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness (cf. Gal 5.16 to 25). This disease may also affect superiors when they court some of their colleagues to get their submission, loyalty and psychological dependence, but the end result is a true complicity.

11. The disease of indifference towards others. When everyone thinks only of himself and loses the sincerity and warmth of human relationships. When the most experienced does not put his knowledge to the service of less experienced colleagues. When you become aware of something and you keep to yourself instead of positively sharing it with others. When, out of jealousy or guile, one feels joy at seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.

12. The disease of the funereal face. People who are gruff and grim; who consider that to be serious, they need to put on the face of melancholy, severity and to treat others – especially those deemed inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism 12 are often symptoms of fear and insecurity about oneself. An apostle must strive to be a courteous person, calm, enthusiastic and cheerful, who conveys joy wherever he is. A heart full of God is a happy heart that radiates and infects with joy all who are around: you can see it right away! Therefore we do not lose that joyful spirit, full of humour , and even self-deprecating, that makes us lovable people, even in difficult situations 13 . As well it brings a good dose of healthy humour! We will do very well often to recite the prayer of St. Thomas More 14 : I pray every day, it does me good.

13. The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential void in his heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity, but just to feel secure. In fact, we can take nothing material with us because ” the shroud has no pockets” and all our earthly treasures – even if they are gifts – will never fill that void, indeed will make it ever more demanding and more profound. To these people the Lord repeats: “You say: I’m rich, I’ve made rich, I need nothing. But do not you know you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked … Be zealous therefore, and be converted “( Ap 3,17-19). This accumulation only weighs us down and slows the journey inexorably! And I think of an anecdote: one time, Spanish Jesuits described the Society of Jesus as the ” light cavalry of the Church “. I remember a young Jesuit moving to a new location, while loading on a truck his many belongings: luggage, books, objects and gifts, with a wise smile an old Jesuit who was heard to observe: This would be the “light cavalry of the Church?”. Our removals are a sign of this disease.

14. The disease of closed circles, where membership in the group becomes stronger than that of belonging to the Body (of Christ) and, in some situations, to Christ himself. Although this disease always begins with good intentions, with the passage of time it enslaves members, becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes so much harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brethren. The self-destruction or “friendly fire” of fellow soldiers is the most insidious danger15. It is the evil that strikes from within16; and, as Christ says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to ruins” ( Lk

Christmas is a strange time

This is from the website of the Catholic Association of Priests.
Brendan Hoban, in his Western People column, offers a seasonal reflection.
"Christmas is a strange time. It has a funny way of creating an empty space around us. Despite the hype, Christmas has a way of stripping our lives down to the essentials. In the midst of Christmas cheer, a small thin voice insists on posing a series of difficult questions: what does it all mean? Am I happy? what is my life for? how can I satisfy that itch within me? how can I satisfy that part of me that nothing seems to satisfy? "

Using words for fake purposes is simply dishonest

Christmas is a time for celebration but most particularly for families. The celebration is something genuine.

But there is also the fake side to Christmas. Today a waste disposal company emailed Christmas greetings to customers but also to potential customers. Surely meaningless nonsense.

There is a practice within the church, especially within religious orders, where management teams send greetings and often sign off 'fraternally'.

It should be discontinued because it has no real meaning and indeed, can hide an underlying reality.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hunting for the wren on the Dingle Peninsula

This is taken from

Photograph by Vincent Manning
The 26th December or St Stephen's Day, has a special significance in the life and culture of the Dingle Peninsula. Here it is known as the "Wren's Day", and groups of musicians, figures dressed in straw suits and followers in fancy dress or disguise can be seen moving about the streets and lanes "hunting the wren". This ancient (and probably pagan) tradition was once widespread in the Irish countryside and survives strongly in Corca Dhuibhne, where rival "wrens" brighten the dark winter.

Photograph by Scott Atherton 

The following article and photographs are reproduced with permission from the November/December 1997 issue of "Cara", the Aer Lingus on-board magazine.
The article is written by Peter Wood, who is originally from Co. Monaghan, with photography of the Dingle Wren by Christy McNamara, who is originally from Co. Clare. Peter and Christy have collaborated on a book entitled "The Living Note: The Heartbeat of Irish Music", published by O'Brien Press and Robert Rinehart.

On St. Stephen's Day, December 26th, crowds of people take to the roads in various parts of Ireland, dressed in motley clothing, wearing masks or straw suits and accompanied by musicians – remembering a festival with antecedents that long predate Christmas. The Wren – sometimes pronounced and written, wran – was once common all over Ireland. In some areas, the Wrenboys are called Mummers and the festival has a strong English influence, incorporating characters like St. George.

Birds have great prominence in Irish mythology. They were seen as intermediaries, in pre-Christian times, between this world and the next. The flight patterns of birds, like the wren, were used as auguries by the Druids. Indeed, some believe, the Gaelic word for wren – dreoilín – derives from two words, draoi ean, or Druid bird.
When, according to legend, the birds held a parliament, it was decided that whichever of them flew the highest would rule over all the others. The eagle soared higher than any, until it tired and the tiny wren emerged from its tail feathers and climbed far above it. Mysteriously, the wren has a reputation for treachery. A wren is said to have betrayed Irish soldiers fighting the Norsemen by beating its wings on their shields. The wren, too, is blamed for betraying St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This is the usual explanation why the wren is the hunted bird on St. Stephen's day. It has also been argued that the antipathy shown towards the bird dates from early Christian opposition to the Druidic rites that surrounded it. Today, the wren – as a feature of the event – survives only in the rhyme and in the name of the day, although, in former times, it was hunted and nailed to a pole at the head of the procession.
In West Kerry, the focal point of the Wrenboys parade is a hobby horse. A pantomime-type horse with a wooden head, snapping jaws and a body made from cloth stretched across a timber frame, it is worn on the shoulders of one of the members of the Wren – who whirls and capers at the head of the parade. The horse, for social and military reasons, was of great importance in ancient Ireland. Horses could be both lucky and unlucky, and they had strong associations with the rights to kingship and with fertility. The horse was so important that its introduction to Ireland was credited to the god Lugh. The greatest of the Celtic gods, his name occurs across the continent in placenames like Lyon and Leiden. The cult of the horse was also opposed by the early Christians.

The straw suits worn by the Wrenboys also have historical resonances, though more recent ones. In the 18th and 19th centuries, they were worn as disguises by the Whiteboys during Ireland's prolonged agrarian wars. The suit is woven in three parts: head, chest, and skirt. The straw of choice for the suits is that which comes from oats and, since there is little demand for oats, good straw is becoming increasingly difficult to find. In many cases, oats are grown specifically for the Wren.

The Wren, in common with many customs in rural Ireland, came close to extinction. From the twenties and thirties onward emigration took a great toll among those who would have taken part. There was strong clerical opposition – the money raised in the collections the Wrenboys took up went towards holding a ball in a local hotel or public house and naturally there was alcohol involved. The Church saw the Wren, as it saw the house dances that kept traditional music alive in those times, as an "occasion of sin."
That the Wren survived at all was due to the efforts of a few individuals and small groups of people working in isolation. Nowadays, the Wren is enjoying a revival. Listowel, County Kerry, holds an annual competition. The legendary Wrens of the Dingle Peninsula are the focus of intense local competition. Dublin, too, has a festival, held on Sandymount Green. Whatever its provenance (there is a similar festival in Lerwick on Shetland, and its form finds echoes across Europe in the hobby horse, and the hunting of a small bird on one day of the year) the Wren in Ireland is not fixed in time. Like much else in Irish culture, the Wrenboys have adapted and changed. Their masks and costumes reflect change, and reflect too, perhaps, the current demonology of Irish society – long after her fall from power, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher still figures prominently in the masks worn in many a Wren.

Fundamentally though, the Wren is a local event, reflecting the communities it springs from – whether in the North of the country, or Wexford, Woodford in Galway or the west of Kerry. Th Kerry writer and dramatist, Sigerson Clifford, was all his life a kind of exile in his own country from the town he loved, Cahirciveen. He's best remembered for his great ballad, The Boys of Barr na Straide, two lines of which formed his epitaph.
I'll take my sleep in those green fields,

the place my life began,
Where the boys of Barr na Straide
went hunting for the wren.

For many people in more distant exile, the 26th of December holds a special resonance – the day the whistles, fifes and drums thunder like waves, rising in crescendos to drive the dark of winter away. Pagans and Christians forgotten, all the one now. "Up Sraid Eoin! We never died a winter yet," as they say on at least one street in Dingle town.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chrsitmas Day 2014

The beginning of John's Gospel.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
He was with God in the beginning. 
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."

Happy and holy Christmas to all readers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Married priest replaces priest who leaves to marry

It was reported in yesterday's newspapers that a Catholic priest in the archdiocese of Birmingham had resigned from priesthood so as to marry a woman.

The retired priest, Fr Philip Gay, has been replaced in the parish of St Thomas More by Fr Stephen Day, who will arrive this week in hie new parish with his wife and three children.

Stephen Day is a former Anglican priest.

No doubt the theologians will offer a speak that 'explains' it all, just as the 'ruling classes' explained to the men in the trenches 100 years ago why they should kill one another.

A funny old world.

But it's not funny at all.

Young men studying for priesthood, at least in the past, were told celibacy had eschatological signs and allowed men more time to dedicate to their work.

The second point is certainly not true. Custom and practice points to a completely different reality. And how do the 'theologians' know anything about 'eschatological signs'?

Control, power, prestige, self-importance.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



"If you can fake sincerity, you can fake anything"

Monday, December 22, 2014

" A narcissism that looks passionately on its own image" - Pope Francis

From the National Catholic Reporter.

It seems the institutional church is in a bigger mess than anyone has ever dreamed. Of course it is and so  few people in authority have had the courage, intelligence or honesty to speak out and comment on the 'madness' that has been going on now for far too long.

Think of how bishops have been appointed, the type of men who have been placed in leadership roles.  The calibre of provinicals elected/appointed to religious congregations.

It seems the pope gets it in one.

Pope Francis on Monday used an annual pre-Christmas meeting with the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy -- normally an exchange of good wishes and blessings -- to issue a scathing critique of them, warning against 15 separate "diseases" in their work and attitudes.

Saying he wanted to prepare them all -- including himself -- to make "a real examination of conscience" before Christmas, Francis said while the Vatican bureaucracy was called to "always improve and grow in communion," it was also prone to "disease, malfunction, and infirmity" like every human institution.
"I believe it will help us [to make] a 'catalog' of diseases ... to help us prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, which will be a good step for all of us to prepare for Christmas," Francis said.
Many of the 15 diseases given by Francis were frank and blunt: a feeling of indispensability like a "rich fool"; of having a "spiritual Alzheimer's" that makes a person dependent on the present; of living an "existential schizophrenia" of double lives that create "parallel worlds"; and a "terrorism of gossip" that sows discord and that amounts to "cold-blooded murder" of friends and colleagues.
Before listing the diseases, Francis likened the Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Roman Curia, to the Catholic idea of the Mystical Body of Christ -- the notion that all Catholics are connected together through Jesus Christ as one gift that lasts all year.
"The Curia is called to improve, to always improve and grow in communion, holiness and wisdom to fully realize its mission," he said. "Yet it, like every body, like every human body, is exposed to disease, malfunction, infirmity."
"Diseases are more frequent in our life of the Curia," he said. "They are diseases and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord."
Francis' speech to the Vatican bureaucracy comes as the pope has been preparing a reform of its functioning over the past months, appointing a Council of nine cardinals to advise him on how best to change the Curia. While that reform has yet to be announced, it seems to be drawing closer to fruition, with reports of coming mergers or downsizing of Vatican offices and staff.
The pope's list of diseases may show just how in need of reform the Vatican is. As long as it is colorful and frank, the list paints a picture of an institution full of gossip, backstabbing and lack of contact with the reality lived by most Catholics around the world.
Francis started his list of diseases Monday by criticizing those who feel immortal, immune or indispensible in their work. He said such people are like "the rich fool," the person mentioned in Jesus' parable in Luke's Gospel who stores grain but does not glorify God.
The feeling of indispensability, Francis said, "often stems from a pathology of power, the 'complex of the elect.' "
That disease, the pope said, "is the narcissism that looks passionately on its own image and does not see the image of God stamped on the face of others, especially the weakest and most in need."
"The antidote to this epidemic is the grace to feel as sinners and say with all the heart: 'We are useless servants. We have done how much we had to do,' " he said.
Identifying a disease of those who "possess a heart of stone," Francis said some "lose the inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and hide under papers becoming 'practical machines' and not 'men of God.' "
"It's dangerous to lose the human sensitivity necessary to make us weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice," he said. "It is the disease of those who lose 'the feelings of Jesus' because their hearts, with the passage of time, harden and become unable to unconditionally love the Father and the neighbor."
Moving next to warn against a "spiritual Alzheimer's," Francis said some forget the "story of salvation" and lose their personal history with the Lord, the "first love."
"It is a progressive decline of the spiritual faculties that in a longer or shorter period of time ... making them unable to carry out any independent activity, living a state of absolute dependence on his often imaginary views," said the pope.
"We see it in those who have lost the memory of their encounter with the Lord," he said. "In those who are completely dependent on their 'present' ... in those who build walls around themselves and habits becoming, more and more, slaves of idols that they have carved their own hands."
Identifying what he called an "existential schizophrenia," Francis then warned against those who "live a double life, the fruit of hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual vacuum that degrees or academic qualifications cannot fill."
"They create like this their own parallel world, where they put aside everything that they teach strictly to others and begin to live a hidden life," he said. "The conversion is urgent and indispensable for this very grave disease."
Labeling a disease of "chatter, murmurings and gossip," Francis said such a disease "starts simply, maybe just for a chat and takes hold of the person making him a 'sower of discord' [like Satan], and in many cases 'cold-blooded murderer' of the fame of their colleagues and confreres."
"It is the disease of cowardly people that not having the courage to speak directly talk behind their backs," Francis said. "Brothers, let us look out for the terrorism of gossip!"
Speaking of those who "deify superiors," Francis warned against officials who "are courting superiors, hoping to get their benevolence."
"They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor the people and not God," the pope said. "They are people who live the service thinking only what they need to get and not what they must give."
"This disease may also affect the superiors when courting some of their employees to get their submission, loyalty and psychological dependence, but the end result is a real complicity," he continued.
Warning against a "funereal face," Francis said some think that in order to be serious, "they need to paint the face of melancholy, severity and treat others -- especially those deemed inferior -- with stiffness, hardness and arrogance."
"In reality, the theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity about himself," the pope said. "The apostle must strive to be a polite person, calm, enthusiastic and cheerful who conveys joy wherever he is. A heart full of God is a happy heart that radiates with joy and infects all who are around him. You can see it right away!"
"Don't lose that joyful spirit, full of humor, even self-deprecating, that makes us amiable people," said Francis, who said he says a prayer attributed to British St. Thomas More every day for this purpose.
Identifying "closed circles" in the Vatican, Francis said some create groups "where membership in the little group becomes stronger than that of the body and, in some situations, to Christ himself."
"Although this disease always begins with good intentions," said the pope, over time it "enslaves members becoming 'a cancer' that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much harm -- scandals -- especially to our smallest brothers."
"The self-destruction or 'friendly fire' of fellow soldiers is the sneakiest danger," Francis said. "It is the evil that strikes from within, and as Christ says: 'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.' "
The rest of Francis' list of diseases:
  • Being "excessively busy" and not taking time for rest;
  • Excessive planning of functionalizing, or trying to "close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit";
  • Bad coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise instead of music: "When the foot tells the hand, 'I don't need you,' or the hand tells the head 'I'm in charge' ";
  • Rivalry and vainglory: "When one's appearance, the color of one's vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life";
  • Indifference toward the needs of others: "When, out of jealousy or guile, you feel joy at seeing another fall rather than lifting them and encourage them";
  • Accumulation: "When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he'll feel more secure";
  • Worldly profit and exhibitionism: "It's the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others."
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

The tabloid press

It is interesting how the 'serious classes' view the tabloid press. Yet it often happens that it is the same tabloid papers that break great stories.

The news of inadequate security at Frankfurt Airport was first broken by the 'Bild Zeitung', which is Germany's most popular tabloid newspaper.

And then the story was followed up by all the serious German media, newspapers, radio and television.

Posting Christmas greetings

Again this year some controversy in reference to the President not mentioning the words God or Christ on his Christmas cards.

Surely not worse than some of the cliched nonsense written by the presbyterial classes, especially the management  teams.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Security at Frankfurt Airport

An EU authority, checking security at Frankfurt Airport, has discovered serious security problems.

They managed to go through security carrying weapons without being apprehended.

It is understood that personnel at the security checks are not adequately trained for the job.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dominican links with restored Longford cathedral

The restored Longford cathedral features stained glass windows by Paris-based Dominican Kim en Joong.

In the early 1990s Kim was a regular visitor at the Dominican Priory, St Saviour's in Dublin, where he was friendly with the late Austin Flannery.

His works often featured on the cover page of 'Spirituality'.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The lure of lucre

From the  National Catholic Reporter. Isn't it always money and or sex.

"The leader of the main group of the world's Franciscans has written members of his order around the world informing them that their financial stability is at "grave risk" because of "questionable financial activities" undertaken by staffers of the order's Roman administrative offices.
Because of the questionable activities the order's general treasurer has resigned and ecclesiastical and civil authorities have been called upon for help, writes Franciscan Fr. Michael Perry, the minister general of the order.
"The General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt," Perry, head of the Order of Friars Minor writes in a posting on the order's website.
"The systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management," he continues.
"There appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium," states Perry, using the name the order uses for its governing council."

Archbishop of Bamberg hits out at PEGIDA policy

Archbishop of Bamberg Ludwick Schick has called on Christians in Germany to distance themselves from PEGIDA, (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident) the anti-Islam movement in Germany.

He said that the organisation is racist and nationalistic and caters for different forms of anxiety.

In recent weeks PEGIDA has gained much attention, especially as a result of demonstrations in the estern German city of Dresden.

It has been supported by the newly formed AfD party and the neo-Nazis.

At the CSU party conference in Nürnberg on December 12 it was mentioned that German citizens from countries in the Muslim world should speak German in their German homes.

No mention that German citizens from the US or anywhere in the English speaking world should similarly speak German when in their German homes.

The Vatican and US sisters

Dr Gemma Simmonds, member of the Congregartion of Jesus, and British writer of religous affairs, Paul Vallely, were on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour today speaking about the Vatican Report on religious sisters in the United States.

They both agreed that the report was as close it gets to an apology from the Holy See.

Dr Simmonds made reference to the trend in 'conservative' vocations. And it was agreed that vocations to religious life during the last two papacies would be inevitably 'conservative' as both popes were 'conservative'.

It was also pointed out that it takes 10 to 15 years to see the benefit of vocations.

Dr Simmonds said that the older US sisters were more liberal as they had a life experience of working with people.

She also commented on the poor remuneration made to women religious and how inadequate were their pension funds.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A lightless garda car

At approximately 8.45 pm on this wet and dark evening a garda patrol car drives up Rathgar Road without any lights.

Stopped at the traffic lights in the village the lone garda in the car drinks her coffee.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The eighth amendment

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said in Dáil Éireann yesterday:

“Speaking as Minister for Health, and also as a medical doctor, and knowing now all that I do now, it is my considered view that the eighth amendment is too restrictive."

It is interesting to note that the late Dominican priest John M Heuston was strongly opposed to the 1983 eighth amendment to the Constitution. Indeed, the prophetic man often said that we would rue the day we changed the Constitution on that particular issue.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cyclists need to cop on

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

Michael Commane
On Sunday morning about 10.00 I was driving the car on a dual carriageway, heading for a roundabout over a motorway. There was a group of cyclists ahead of me, probably about 15 to 20. 

They were cycling across the road and there was no hurry on them to move over to the hard shoulder. We all stopped at the traffic lights on the roundabout. 

They were still taking up one full lane of the dual carriageway. I opened the window, and honestly, in a polite tone of voice, suggested to them that it would be a better idea if they moved in a little. I added that I have been cycling for 60 years and that the last thing I am is anti-cyclist.

They were having none of it, as I imagined and they shouted some un-pleasantries back at me. The lights changed to green, I rolled up the window and we all moved off.

Like everything else in life ‘our crowd’ is always vying with ‘their crowd’. And so it is on the roads. 

Cyclists are in dispute with cars, drivers of cars, buses and trucks are forever giving out about cyclists and then the pedestrians are up in arms with all the other road users. And in turn all the others are constantly berating pedestrians.

As I have said, I’m cycling for 60 years and have been using the bicycle as a means of commuting to school and work since I was 12. The rule at home was that we could cycle to school when we went to secondary school but because of a bus strike in Dublin the year I was in sixth class in primary school Mum allowed me to cycle to school a little bit early. 

I could not imagine a 12-year-old cycling these days in the morning traffic of the busy streets of Dublin or any large conurbation. I’d worry for them.

I’m clearly partisan when it comes to the war of the roads. I’m on the side of the cyclists. I have a bias in favour of bicycle users. But my patience is running thin with the cyclist community and it’s happening at great speed.

What is it about everything we do we seem to have an amazing propensity to screw things up. Cycling can be fantastic and yet right now hordes of cycling clowns, yes clowns, have descended on our roads and are making it all so dangerous.

They come in all shapes and forms. They have swapped their four by fours for two wheelers and then there is the lycra brigade but they are not mutually exclusive groups.

I like to head out for work on my bike, taking my time and using the opportunity to observe what’s happening about me and also to think and yes, dare I say, even mutter a prayer.

These days it’s as if I’m heading out into some frenetic racing track where people are cycling at extraordinary speeds, passing out on the inside, whizzing but so close that the tiniest wobble could mean broken bones. And then that cycling on paths and pedalling the wrong way on one-way streets.

As for stopping at traffic lights, that seems to be a no-no for far too many. 

Where is An Garda Siochána? And going through red lights is not exclusive to the lycra brigade. It seems ‘they are all at it’, at least large numbers.

There’s going to be a lot of tears spilt before we cyclists cop on and cycle more carefully.

Another New Year’s resolution I’m making is to keep the rules of the road when cycling. All of them.

Close to the home

Maybe the value of a home in the past was set by its proximity to school and church. Then that changed  to how close the home is to school and transport facilities.

Now some are saying it's a question of how close it is to school and Lidl or Aldi.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hats off to John McCain

Republican Senator John McCain on torture:

"I have often said, and will always maintain, that this question isn't about our enemies; it's about us. It's about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It's about how we represent ourselves to the world. ... When we fight to defend our security we fight also for an idea ... that all men are endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights."

Has the Irish Government ever questioned the US government whether or not people for rendition transited at Shannon?

If not why not? 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The response of a reader

The comment below was posted to this blog on Friday.

"It is amusing to read Alive's constant complaints about the lack of balance in the public media as it offers no balance itself, nor any right of reply, nor even a 'letters to the editor' spot.

Is it right to presume that all the articles come from the same one hand?

The extraordinary story this month on the "UN sterilization campaign" reveals not only the author's prejudice but also a complete lack of journalistic competence in terms of being able to undertake fundamental research let alone basic fact checking.

This publication is the journalistic equivalent of rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. There is no acknowledging the reality of what is happening in the Irish church: it is an exercise in whistling past the graveyard.

While not a Dominican publication per se it clearly enjoys the (un)official endorsement of the Order and its Irish "leadership". How very sad. Is this the popular version of Doctrine and Life for the OPs and their supporters in the 21st century? So much for Catholic intellectual tradition ..."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Report links obligatory celibacy with child abuse

From the National Catholic Reporter

The Roman Catholic church in Australia acknowledged that "obligatory celibacy" may have contributed to decades of clerical sexual abuse of children in what may be the first such admission by church officials around the world.
A church advisory group called the Truth, Justice and Healing Council made the startling admission Friday in a report to the government's Royal Commission, which is examining thousands of cases of abuse in Australia.
The 44-page report by the council attacked church culture and the impact of what it called "obedience and closed environments" in some religious orders and institutions.
"Church institutions and their leaders, over many decades, seemed to turn a blind eye, either instinctively or deliberately, to the abuse happening within their diocese or religious order, protecting the institution rather than caring for the child," the report said.
"Obedience and closed environments also seem to have had a role in the prevalence of abuse within some religious orders and dioceses. Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse."
The council's CEO, Francis Sullivan, who has held various administrative roles in the health sector, including heading Catholic Health Australia, said clergy training should include "psychosexual development."
"It's a no-brainer," Sullivan said. "You need to address how sexuality is understood and acted out by members of the clergy."
But the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which represents around 20,000 victims worldwide, said the latest report did little to help protect those at risk from abuse.
"Decisive action is needed, not more reports," SNAP national director David Clohessy said. "The church hierarchy knows what's needed. It simply refuses to give up its power and enable secular authorities to investigate and prosecute those who commit and conceal sexual violence against the vulnerable."
The Vatican's chief spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, could not be reached for comment Friday. But Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former chief prosecutor for abuse cases, tried to put the report in context in remarks to the Italian daily La Stampa.
"You mustn't forget that most abuse occurs in the family," he said. "Obviously I don't exclude individual cases where celibacy is lived badly that may have psychological consequences. But it should be said clearly that it is certainly not the origin of this sad and very painful phenomenon and remember that there is no nexus between cause and effect."
The suggestion of a link between celibacy and child sexual abuse has divided Australian Catholic leaders in the past.
Cardinal George Pell, former archbishop of Sydney and now head of the Vatican's powerful economic ministry, acknowledged there may be a connection when he testified before a separate government inquiry in Australia last year. He was unavailable for comment Friday at the Vatican.
The independent Australian council is made up of church and lay members and is supervised by some of the nation's senior archbishops, though its views do not necessarily reflect those of all senior clergy.

Driving nightmare

South bound traffic on the N7/M7 yesterday was at a standstill at 16.30 and it was bumper-to-bumper until Junction 11, the turn off for Waterford.

As the traffic began to move more freely far too many drivers were tailgating at speeds in excess of 110km/h.

It was a horrific experience. And not a marked Garda car in sight.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tidbits from the December issue of free sheet 'Alive'

A headline in the December issue of the free sheet 'Alive' runs:

"Why Govt wants to sell rain water".

A side bar on the cover page:

"UNICEF 'in secret drive to sterilise 2m women' "

On page three: "Leak blows lid off UK's secret payments to EU"

The column 'Lives of the Saints' features St Oliver Plunkett. This month the dates are correct. But not a mention or hint of an apology for last month's errors.

And then on page five there is a request for volunteers to distribute the free sheet. The ad is titled "Heavenly Reward!"

The editorial headline is: "Equality laws are like the Sharia"

In the 'The Things they say...." column there is an extract from a piece written in the Irish Times.

In attibruting the piece to the author, 'Alive' writes, " - Derek Byrne, a 'gay', in the Irish Times.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The power of kind words

A beggar man sits most mornings in the porch of a Dublin church. It's his custom to shout at people entering the church and call them hypocrites. He thinks out loud and suggests instead of us giving money to people in Africa we should give it to the poor and homeless in Ireland.

Some days ago a man offered to give me  money to take the man for breakfast. I explained I'm rushing at that particular time but I'd try to do it some morning. No, I did not take the money.

This morning entering the church, I asked the beggar man would he come for breakfast some morning. He politely declined the offer.

On leaving the church he was still sitting in the porch, in a most gentle voice and unsolicited said: "thank you for your offer".

Most impressive on his part.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Drogheda Dominicans make it on front page of newspaper

The heading on the lead story on today's Drogheda Independent reads:


The strap line over the headline runs: " Priests's selfless homily ahead of cancer operation"

The story is continued on page four. Mayor of Drogheda was among the large number of people who attended Sunday's Mass.

And today's Kerryman has more Dominican news. One story includes a piece on Paul Lawlor's mother, who will be 100 in March. There is a lovely picture of Mrs Lawlor with the story.

Dominican presence in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Piece below is from the website of the Dominicans at Santa Sabina.
It is worth noting that an earlier working party of the Irish Dominicans seemed to have scant regard for the important work that takes place at St Abraham's

Echoes of a visit to the Dominican priory of Tehran

fr Paul Lawlor, OP et fr Jean Jacques Pérennès; OP
How many brothers in the Order know that we have a Dominican priory in Tehran, capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran? Who knows that this presence is old, that indeed the Order was present in Persia in the 14th century, with a priory in Tabriz, a city in the north of present-day Iran and then in Isfahan in the 17th century?
In modern times, in the early 1960s, a priory was founded in the center of Tehran, at the request of the Holy See and entrusted to the Dominican Province of Ireland who established there a community of 4 to 5 brothers. All had to leave at the time of the Revolution of Khomeini (1979) when the country was transformed into an Islamic Republic.
This priory, named under the patronage of St. Abraham, still exists due to the commitment of an Irish Dominican friar, fr. Paul Lawlor, who lived there in his youth and has returned fifteen years ago, to lead the parish attached to the priory. For many years, I wanted to visit Paul, who lives alone in Tehran, and finally I got the opportunity in October of this year. For me it was a fascinating experience, a journey full of discovery.
Contemporary Iran is a very important country for several reasons: its strong ancient culture (Darius, Cyrus, etc.) of which I could get an idea by visiting Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Persepolis; its oil resources and its location in the east of the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz; its role as leading country of the Shiite Islam, of which I got a glimpse being received at the University of Religions of Qom, a kind of "Vatican of Shiite world"; and above all its people, justifiably proud of its old culture, its mystics and poets (Hafez, Saadi, Attar).
I was very positively surprised by the cultural openness of contemporary Iran, where you can find, translated into Persian under their care, all of Western philosophy, and even the Catechism of the Catholic Church that a mullah in Qom was legitimately proud to offer me. Yes, this country is indeed a great country and is worth far more than the clichés that circulate about it in the West.
It is wonderful that our brother Paul Lawlor could reopen our house in Tehran. Its parish welcomes several dozen young Iranian Christians, born of foreign parents long settled in Iran. This is important in a country where the Catholic Church is reduced to very little. Paul welcomes also other people; students, scholars, neighbors, who, through him, have a chance to have at least one Christian friend.
Certainly, proselytism is excluded but Paul has an extraordinary gift for friendship, an ever-open door, which means the making of high quality human links, as I was able to see for myself. We can better understand his life by visiting the website he has created (, where we learn a lot about the history of the Order in Iran, the Catholic community of St. Abraham and Iranian culture.
Fr. Paul lives alone and is not sure that he will ever see other brothers coming to help him. However we can visit him. Sometimes he has brothers staying with him to learn Persian, as once fr. Cyprian Rice (1889-1966), from the Province of England studied the Persian world and language and who understood with great finesse the importance of a Dominican presence in this country. In the present great debate about Islam in our world, it would be very important that the Dominican Order could find ways to support and continue such a meaningful presence in Iran.
Fr. Jean Jacques Pérennès, op