Friday, January 31, 2014

A boy at St Bede's explains what the monsignor did

On this evening's BBC News at Ten a man in his early 60s explained how he was sodomised by a Monsignor Thomas Duggan while a boarder pupil at St Bede's School in England.

The man explained in a polite fashion what happened him.

The perpetrator was a monsignor, dressed up in clothes that made him look different.

It's difficult not to scream and it's difficult not to say that there is something wrong at the kern of the entire system. And still today.

One can be assured he spouted out all the 'right words'. How else would he have been made a 'monsignor'.

And all that church material that appears with the words, cardinal, bishop, prior, priest, provincial with the first letter upper cased.

Think of it, the titles 'Reverend Father', 'Your Excellency', 'Your Lordship', 'Lord Abbot', monsignor, canon.

Ridiculous, shocking too. And it goes on and on.

Russian talk shows suggest their troops go to Ukraine

More and more Russian talk shows are advocating Russian troops should go to Ukraine to calm the situation.

What an irony it would be if it happened in these days.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

From servile loyalty to arrogant dismissal

On January 30, 1943, 71 years ago today, Friedrich Paulus was made a field marshal by Hitler, with the intention that Paulus rather than surrender would take his life. No German field marshal had ever surrendered.

On receiving his new rank Paulus clearly knew Hitler's intention and commented that he had no intention of shooting himself for the Bohemian corporal.

Yet during all the years of the war, right up to Stalingrad, Paulus was a fanatical supporter of Hitler.

Is that the 'trick' of all those in leadership? Always support the boss, well almost, at least until your own head is on the block?

Later Paulus lived in Dresden and worked for the East German police.

Shane Ross speaks nonsense words in profound tones

The Irish Times has been for some time now running a series of letters on 'Phrases we can do without'.

On Morning Ireland this morning Deputy Shane Ross spoke about 'an absolute unanimous decision' the PAC made.

And he did it with such profundity and authority in his voice.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Irish journalists visit Dominican priory in Iran

Deaglán de Bréadún writes a column in today's Irish Times on changes taking place in Iran.

Two weeks ago he was among a delegation of Irish journalists who visited the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The group of four, including Juno McEnroe from the Irish Examiner, visited the Irish Dominican Priory, St Abraham's in Tehran.

The group was greatly impressed with their visit and their official guide assured them of the excellent Farsi spoken by Irish Dominican, Paul Lawlor.

Paul's nephew is actor Tom Vaughan Lawlor AKA Nidge.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Too easily and often we give up talking to one another

In his 12 page report to Irish Dominicans, the Master of the Order, Bruno Cadoré, when talking about 'fraternal life' firstly mentions that in order to have conversation with the Word and a conversation with the world about the Word, Dominicans have to be able and willing to have a conversation among themselves.

In making that comment Cadoré gets to the heart of one of the central problems of the institutional church in Ireland.

Anyone who is a serious observer of the Irish Catholic Church will see for themselves how broken and dysfunctional relationships, at all levels, can be within the church.

Maybe there never was a conformity of thinking and it was cleverly covered up. But certainly today there is a number of factions and groups, all with different opinions and views. One group 'sneering' at the other. One group claiming authenticity over another. People with  different theologies. People simply not talking to one another but always talking about one another. And then the great silences, where people say nothing. Often miscalculated as 'wisdom'.

And that's right across priesthood and religious life.

How often do bishops and provinicals seriously engage with their fellow priests in real, open and honest conversation? How often do priests engage with their bishops and provincials?

When do parish priests really engage with the people who come to their churches?

How virbrant are parish councils?

Bruno Cadoré says: "Too often we give up easily on conversing with one another."

Inspiring words and I too am guilty.

Irish Dominicans receive report from international HQ

The Master of the Dominican Order Bruno Cadoré has completed a visit of the Irish Province and has now sent the province his report.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fifty Knesset members visit Auschwitz-Birkenau

Sixty nine years ago today the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland. Approximately 84,000 survivors were discovered by the Russians.
By the time the Soviet Army arrived over one million people had been murdered, 90 per ceent of them Jews.
Today to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the camp more than 50 members of the Israeli parliament toured the prisoner blocks at Auschwitz.
The delegation was the biggest ever from the Knesset to come to the death camp.
The Knesset members were joined by Holocaust survivors, Israeli government ministers, Polish officials and representatives from dozens of other countries to mark the date, which is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Today, 69 years after we left this hell called Auschwitz, we are here again as proud people, as proud citizens of the new Jewish state that rose out of the ruins of European Jewry,” Israeli Auschwitz survivor Noah Klieger (87) told a memorial ceremony.
Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Israeli delegation, said Jews must work to create for future generations “a different world, a hopeful future, a world without fear where a Jew will be safe in any and every place. “If we lose the hope to build a new world, then we give in to Auschwitz,” he said.
Earlier, the Israeli delegates walked beneath a metal sign with the German words “Arbeit Macht Frei”, or “Work Makes You Free” – the same sight that greeted inmates arriving at the camp. All but a few survivors died in the gas chambers, in medical experiments, or from disease and malnutrition.
Monday’s tour of the site included a stop at the prisoner blocks where piles of human hair and children’s clothes have been preserved as evidence of the mass killings.
The Israeli visitors later marched to the nearby site of the Birkenau concentration camp for the memorial ceremony. They were scheduled afterwards to recite prayers and light candles for the victims.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Snowden interview

Snowden says that the relationship between the NSA and the BND is 'intimate'

Germany has access to XKeyScore.

Snowden says everything we do on mobiles, smart phones, lap tops, computers is immediately 'gathered' by the NSA.

There is no doubt, he argues, that the United States is also involved in industrial espionage.

He talks how he worked for a private contractor, which was hired by the NSA and says that the security was minimum.

He earlier worked for the CIA but refused to say why and how he joined.

He spent some time with the special services but due to an injury left it.

Contracting security companies in the US is a most complicated issue.

He explicitly denies being a spy or working for any foreign government.

Moving the data is not fixing the problem. Securing the data will fix the problem.

If he did return to the US he would not be allowed the rights of an ordinary citizen under the Spying Act.

He concluded the interview by saying that the President knows it would be a show trial.

Snowden tells his story on German TV this evening

Later this evening German television will screen an interview with Edward Snowden.

Hubert Seibel of NDR interviewed Snowden in Moscow on Thursday.

Snowden in the interview says that the moment he saw the head of his agecncy lie to elected representatives he decided to go public with the information.

The interview will be shown on ARD at 23.00 German time, 22.00 Irish time.

Sensational television.

SPD elects Jasmin Fahini as new General Secretary

Jasmin Fahini was elected in Berlin today as the new General Secretary of the SPD. She succeeds Andrea Nahles, who is the new Family Minister in the Federal Government in Berlin.

The 46-year-old Fahini is the daughter of an Iranian father and German mother.

Her background is in the trade union movement

United States execution of prisoner is barbaric

On Thursday, January 16 Dennis McGuire was executed at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

The prison authorities used a two-drug experimental concoction. It took 26 minutes for the self-confessed rapist and murderer to die.

Tha Catholic chaplain, Fr Lawrence Hummer, who witnessed the death, said: "Towards the end, the gasping faded into small puffs of his mouth. It was much like a fish lying along the shore puffing for that one gasp of air that would allow it to breathe".

This happened 10 days ago in the United States of America.

Yet again another privilege of living in the European Union, where there is no death penalty.

Has President Barack Obama a view on this barbaric behaviour?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Electricity ad that may appeal to the vulnerable

PREPAYPOWER.IE are currently mailing householders offering a new way to pay for their electricity.

The company installs a meter and allows customers to 'control' their electricity usage.

The literature asks if householders are tired of huge electricity bills.

The meter system means that you pay an extra €22.50 every two months for the electricity you use. If your current provider charges you €70 for two months then if you switch to PREPAYPOWER.IE you will pay €92.50.

The mailing is no doubt focused at householders who are hardpressed to pay their bills. This system will add to their electricity bill.

It seems to be a system that could appear attractive to poorer people who might be in a vulnerable situation.

All someone has to do to cut down their electricity usage is turn off more often and keep an eye on their electricity meter.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Robust debate and good news for charities

What happened at yesterday's Public Accounts Committee -PAC - of Dáil Éireann is nothing less than sensational.

Deputies quizzed Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and he defended the force.

It is most likely that these stories are unfolding day-in-day-out because of the technological times in which we are living.

Good or bad?

Other news out today is the appointment of a temporary regulator for charities.

Will this mean that all church organisations will have to develop systems/protocols which will be acceptable by the State?

It certainly would be a step in the right direction.

Under no circumstances should the churches be exempt from the remit of the Charities' Commissioner.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Top marks go to Irish Rail for its graciousness

Irish Rail admits that there is no station outside Dublin which has six platforms.

The rail company contacted this blog today to admit that the advertisement gets it wrong.

Congrats to Irish Rail for its graciousness.

Irish Rail advertisement may well lose the run of itself

Irish Rail is currently running an ad on their €9.99 fare promotion.

Part of the jingle goes: " The 9.99 is now leaving from platform six for Dublin".

Outside Dublin is there any station on the network with six platforms?

Doubtful.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Phrases we could do without

The Irish Times on its Letters Page has been carrying letters about 'Phrases we could live without".

Here's three that have not yet appeared: Going forward, Totally unique, New initiative.

At last a missing Irish Dominican is remembered

Jordan O'Brien, prior at the Dominican Priory in Limerick, has distributed to Irish Dominicans a memorial card of Fr Alfred Coelho.  Fr Jordan is to be highly commended.

In winter 1976 Fr Alfred Coelho, a member of the Irish Dominican Province and a native of India, disappeared. Disappeared without trace and has never been seen since.

At the time of his disappearance he was living at the Irish Dominican community at San Clemente Rome and studying theology at the Angelicum university in the city.

After his disappearance much inaccurate information was disseminated. Like all disinformation and gossip it took legs and the inaccuracies still live on today.

His name was never recorded or included in those lists which remind the members of the province of those who have died.

He was simply forgotten and his name removed.

Jordan's prayer card respects the memory of Alfred.

"Rejoice in the gifts given to other Christians" Francis

POPE FRANCIS
GENERAL AUDIENCE
Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Speaker:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: in these days we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme is a question taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians: “Has Christ Been Divided?”. We know that Christ has not been divided; yet we must sincerely recognize that our communities continue to experience divisions which are a source of scandal and weaken our witness to the Gospel. In reproaching the Corinthians for their divisions, Paul reminds them to rejoice in the great spiritual gifts which they have received. His words encourage us to rejoice in the gifts God has given to other Christians, gifts which we can receive from them for our enrichment. To be able to do this calls for humility, discernment and constant conversion. As we reflect on Paul’s teaching during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, may we be confirmed, together with all Christ’s followers, in our pursuit of holiness and fidelity to the Lord’s will.



Holy Father:
In questa Settimana di Preghiera per l’Unità dei Cristiani mi è particolarmente gradito poter salutare gli studenti provenienti dall’Istituto Universitario di Bossey. Mi auguro che i vostri studi aiutino a promuovere la comprensione e il dialogo ecumenico. Saluto inoltre il gruppo di Cappellani Militari Britannici e la delegazione della Federazione Ebrea di Chicago. Su tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore!


Speaker:
During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I am particularly pleased to greet the students of the ecumenical Graduate School of Bossey. May your studies help to advance ecumenical dialogue and understanding. I also greet the pilgrimage of British Army Chaplains and the delegation from the Jewish Federation of Chicago. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Philosophers' work is to tease out arguments


The article blow appears as an opinion piece in today's Irish Times. The author, Paul O'Grady, teaches philosophy at Trinity College. Paul spent a short few years with the Irish Dominicans.
William Reville (Irish Times January 16th) wonders why there hasn’t been a storm of protest from philosophers over Steven Hawkings’s recently expressed view that philosophy is dead.
There are a number of answers to this. One is that philosophy isn’t a homogenous discipline but exhibits enormous diversity and plurality; and so there isn’t a single voice of “philosophy”.
Quite a few philosophers push the line that philosophy is dead and seek to do new things in its aftermath, and there are some who support the view that it should be part of science.
Others endorse the quip that philosophy keeps burying its undertakers and stay working at it, but they do so in varying and sometimes incompatible ways.

Keeping up Another answer is that no claim is alien to rational consideration by philosophers, so if one claims that philosophy is dead, well what’s the argument for this? (We’re not big into outrage.)
Hawkings’s argument that philosophers have not kept up with science is not a terribly good one. What is “keeping up with science”?
Most scientific specialists acknowledge their relative ignorance of other specialisms: for example, geneticists don’t have special insight into astrophysics. The grand scientific overview just isn’t possible, even to scientists.
Furthermore, why should questions about ethics, logic, the nature of knowledge, even the question of whether anything exists outside the scope of physics, require detailed knowledge of science, indeed which science?
These questions don’t seem to be questions that are susceptible to the methodologies used by the various sciences, though they can be informed by scientific results.

No single method What philosophers do in their daily work is consider arguments, evaluate them, clarify them, make distinctions, and try to rate the strengths and weaknesses of positions. There is no single, clear method of doing this with universally accepted assumptions and testable outcomes. When such a method appears for a topic and a clear decision process is arrived at, a science is born. This is, historically, how physics, astronomy, psychology, linguistics and a multitude of other disciplines arose from philosophy.
It can be frustrating to those accustomed to clear universal methods and defined procedures to have the kind of pluriformity and disagreement seen in philosophy – indeed philosophers such as Descartes, Kant and Husserl all had a go at sorting this out, without success.
I would guess this is at the root of Reville’s complaint that philosophy is not doing its job. He thinks philosophy should oppose scientism, speak out publicly against it and rail at people like Hawkings and Dawkins.
In fact, quite a number of philosophers have opposed scientism. For example, Thomas Nagel has recently generated a storm of debate with his book on evolution.

Ideology 
Once philosophy hardens into an established position and seeks to defeat all others from that stance by “speaking out”, it becomes an ideology. Being a cheerleader for any ideology is alien to the majority of philosophers – not that there haven’t been infamous instances of this, Heidegger and the Nazis comes to mind.
So, what’s the point of having a discipline that doesn’t have clearly defined methods, doesn’t have measurable outcomes and in which there is so much disagreement?
Well, the questions dealt with are fundamental, recurring and unavoidable and tend not to be addressed by other disciplines.
A recent debate in the letters pages of this paper examined whether all mental life is reducible to brain function. Before even trying to answer this significant question, one needs to explain what is meant by consciousness, interpretation, subjectivity, free will, causation, personal identity and so on.
Figuring out these issues takes one to the space inhabited by philosophers, who propose new theories, deploy counter-examples, appeal to intuitions, refer to past views, expose hidden assumptions and so on.
It’s messy, but also unavoidable. And perhaps more fruitful than outraged “speaking out”.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

World's tiny powerful elite own breathtaking wealth

Eighty five people in the world between them own €1.2 trillion, which is equal to the total wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion - half the world's population.

Certainly a subject that could be discussed at Davos in the next days.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A sight to behold

Today at approximately 14.10 a young mother is hunkered down consoling her little four/five-year-old girl outside Terenure Convent Primary School.

The little girl had fallen and hurt herself. Tears flowing down her face and her mother assuring her she would be okay. The little girl was greatly distraught. The slightest distraction and she began to forget about her 'plight'.

Her mother knew exactly what to do.

Amazing.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Signs of life appear

A sign of life. And getting better every day. A tiny bud on a tree in Tallaght today.

Second anniversary of death of TP McInerney OP

Today is the second anniversary of the death of Dominican TP McInerney.

Below is the obituary of him, which appeared in the Irish Times the following February.

Michael Commane
Fr Pat ‘Tom’ McInerney OP, who has died aged 81, belonged to that group of men known as “worker priests” - priests who lived and worked in the secular world while carrying out their missions. The concept was developed by the French Catholic Church in the 1940s and spread elsewhere, although it never became as widespread as in France.

Pat McInerney was born in Roscrea. His father, Michael, had joined the Garda Síochána in 1922. His mother, Sheila Drennan, was from Roscrea. He was educated at CBS Abbey School in Tipperary town.

In 1947 he declined a university scholarship and worked for a few years in the civil service in Dublin.

He joined the Dominican Order in 1951. The custom then was that when someone joined religious life they were given a new name, and Pat became “Thomas” - however, he continued to be known personally as Pat.

While working in the Civil Service he wrote a letter home to his parents telling them that he had met a Dominican in St Saviour’s Dublin and was thinking of joining the Order, “I came to realise that I should become a member of the Dominican Order. It seems to offer everything I am looking for, and much besides.”

He in turn in his wisdom and gentle spirit gave to the Dominicans a unique understanding of priesthood that is remarkably needed today.

He studied theology at Le Saulchoir in Paris, where he was ordained a priest in 1957. He taught theology at the Benedictine Abbey in Glenstal and in the Dominican House of Studies at St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght. In 1962 he went to Nagpur in India where the Irish Dominicans had been asked to staff a seminary. Due to ill-health he returned to Ireland the following year and moved to Tallaght, which was to be his home for the rest of his life.

In 1970 he joined the staff of what was then Radio Éireann, based in the old studios in the GPO in O’Connell Street, Dublin. He started his career there as a radio producer in Features and Current Affairs under Donncha Ó Dualaing who was then head of this department. Later he moved to the Donnybrook studios where he joined his fellow Dominican, the late Romuald Dodd, who was religious affairs adviser at the station.

Pat McInerney worked on a wide range of programmes across the RTÉ radio schedule, with a particular interest in factual and current affairs programmes. He made a major contribution to reshaping Irish radio as the originator of the Liam Nolan Hour in 1970 when he was one of its founding producers; the other was Michael O’Donnell. Before this programme started, there was very little speech on RTÉ Radio in the mornings. Round-the-clock radio (so-called at the time) had begun in 1968 with an initial morning schedule that consisted mostly of music. The Liam Nolan Hour was the first attempt at daytime current affairs outside the newsroom and it morphed into Here and Now, then Day by Day, and now the Today with Pat Kenny Show.

In its day, the Liam Nolan Hour sounded fresh, new and quite unlike anything else on Irish radio.

In the early 1970s he was seconded to the office of the deputy director general, John Irvine, where he worked as a special assistant. This work included conducting relations with he Broadcasting Review Committee; cable development and radio development studies; aspects of legislation; aspects of responses to the Complaints Advisory Committee; corporate planning and special assignments and papers for the RTE Authority, director general Tom Hardiman and the deputy director general. These were perhaps his happiest times in RTÉ; the role played to his clarity of thought and analytical skills. He enjoyed being at the centre of things.

He returned to the radio division in 1976 where he became the first editor of the “Brief Series”: Adminbrief, Mediabrief, Eurobrief and Northbrief, which in time developed into the strands Looking North, Looking South and Looking West.

His work on the Papal visit in 1979 was one of the high points of his career in RTÉ. He was a clear-minded editor of a complex outside broadcast operaton.
He remained at RTÉ until his retirement on August 27th 1995, and continued to work for the station on a consultative basis for some time afterwards.

He had none of the vestiges of clericalism, and he never expected any sort of preferential treatment back in the days when such behaviour was often par for the course.
He is survived by his sisters Eileen and Tess, brothers Michael and Noel, nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews.

Fr Pat ‘Tom’ McInerney: born August 26th, 1930; died January 19th

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beware of all 'leaders' and their 'elegant' life-styles

Why is there such a fuss about what the leadership of CRC has done?

Is that not the behaviour of so many in leadership roles whether it be in private industry, politics, the church?

Anyone who takes a moment to observe the attitude and behaviour of the 'ruling classes' will quickly see how arrogance and a deep-seated feeling of privilege pervades.

Is that not what has got the churches into so much difficulty?


Friday, January 17, 2014

Asked to walk eight kms and you can't take the first step

'Religious Life Review' is a periodical published by Dominican Publications. It appears every two months. As the name suggests it tends to concentrate on issues dealing with religious life. It is not a magazine with a high profile and no doubt has a small circulation.

The current issue carries an article titled  'A Bipolar Religious'. The contributor is 'Pat Heavvy'' a pen name. But the author's name is known to the editor.

It is a gem and not just to be read by those who have dealings with people who are bipolar. Nor should it be the reserve of those who live in commnity life.

It is an insighful article on what it is like to be bipolar. Indeed, it is almost a 'handbook' of advice for anyone who is considered 'different'.

Close to the end of the article, the author writes" "Survivial requires constant honesty, unfailing energy, even courage."

'Pat Heavvy's' article deserves open debate. Such a debate would be a life-giving expereince. And not just for people living in religious communities.

The author talks about the fear of being marginalised and not being taken serioulsy. Is the reality of not being taken serioulsy and being marginalised not the destruction of so many people in priesthood/religious life?

In describing how paralysed a person can feel, the author explains that when a GP suggests a little self-control might help, "you know it is like being told to walk five miles a day when you are depressed, and even walking as far as the bathroom is an issue".

It's an article not to be missed.

Brave too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Trigger parts from his life-long brush - for real RIP

Roger Lloyd Pack has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 69.

AKA Trigger in Fools and Horses. With his slow pace and brilliant one-liners he was one of the funniest of actors.

Only Fools and Horses must be up there with the best of television comedies.

UN forum grills Catholic Church on sex abuse cases

It is a step in the right direction to see the church answering questions to the United Nations. But it is also mind boggling that the church is in the dock on such an issue as child sexual abuse.

It is the same church that has led people to believe that it knew God's 'mind' on everything to do with every aspect of human sexuality.

And here it is  attempting to answer the indefensible. It really is extraordinary.

And these same people continue to tell the world what exactly God's 'mind' is in all matters of human sexual behaviour.

Bishops and congregational superiors say they were not aware of the damage that was being done.

Confusing. Annoying too.

Holy See representative admits that it 'gets it' at last

From today's Guardian

The Vatican has come under intense pressure from a United Nations panel to explain its handling of clerical sex abuse as representatives of the Holy See were questioned on the global scandal for the first time at length and in public.

International experts from the UN's committee on the rights of the child grilled a delegation from the Holy See, which is regarded as a sovereign state, on Thursday, as victims of sexual abuse by priests flew in to Geneva to watch the highly unusual proceedings.

As the hearing got underway, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's envoy to the UN, made it clear that there was no excuse for violent or exploitative behaviour towards children. "Such crimes can never be justified, whether committed in the home, in schools, in community and sports programs, in religious organisations structures," he said.

But he kept to the line that the Holy See was distinct from the global Catholic church and had little jurisdiction in countries beyond the Vatican city state. The guidelines already put in place by the Holy See and Catholic churches around the world had, "when properly applied", presented a way of eliminating the scourge of abuse, he said.

However, he added that the Vatican would welcome any suggestions from the UN committee that would assist it in ensuring "efficient implementation" of reforms.

Those suggestions – and with them a torrent of questions relating to the Catholic church's response, past and present, to the scandal – were not slow in coming.

Experts interrogated the Holy See on many issues, including on what they said was a lack of transparency in its handling of abuse cases and their aftermath; often insufficient punishment of abusers and inadequate co-operation with civil judicial authorities.

Questioned about an instance from 2001, when Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, a then-senior Vatican official, praised a French bishop, Pierre Pican, for not reporting a priest in his diocese who had raped a boy to civil authorities, Charles Scicluna, former sex crimes prosecutor for the Vatican and auxiliary bishop of Malta, indicated that this was an area on which the Holy See knew the approach had to change.

Pointing out that the example was from more than a decade ago, he said: "The Holy See gets it. Let's not say 'too late' or not. There are certain things that need to be done differently."

He added: "It is not a policy of the Holy See to encourage cover-ups."

The delegation's appearance in Geneva was a mandatory part of the Holy See's duties as a signatory of the UN convention on the rights of the child, which it ratified in 1990. The build-up to the hearing was already hit by controversy when, in December, the Holy See refused to provide detailed information requested on abuse cases and specific information concerning their handling and investigation, citing confidentiality norms.

On Thursday, as the panel began a day of questioning, it showed little sign of wanting to indulge the delegation. One expert asked specifically about the Vatican's handling of two cases that have caused particular embarrassment to the church: one from the past, that of the sexual scandals of the disgraced Legion of Christ founder Marcial Maciel, and another which is ongoing, concerning Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the former apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, to the Dominican Republic. Wesolowski was recalled to Rome this summer after facing accusations of abusing teenage boys.

Another expert focused on why in the past abusive priests were simply moved from one parish to another and often allowed to have more contact with children.

"I think this type of practice needs to be ceased," she said, adding that the Holy See needed to tackle the entire problem "in a more comprehensive and complete way".

In their remarks, both Scicluna and Tomasi said the Catholic church was keen to become "an example of best practice" in the sphere of child protection. They said that changes – including a set of guidelines unveiled in 2011– provided a framework for effective handling of the problem.

Last month Pope Francis announced the establishment of a new committee to fight clerical sex abuse, a direct result of consultation with cardinal advisers from outside the Vatican.

Guido Westerwelle speaks openly on his homosexuality

The former German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle gives a frank and open interview in the current issue of Stern magazine where he talks about his homosexuality.

He has some small criticisms of his former boss Angela Merkel re the subject and argues that if he were still German Foreign Minister he would attend the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

He disagrees with the stance the German President, Joachim Gauck is taking in not attending the games.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jibs in grave difficulty as jibes flow over water

Liebherr, crane maker and the biggest manufacturing employer in Kerry, is in deep trouble. Orders have been moved to other Liebherr facilities due to industrial unrest and subsequent financial difficulties. And the Irish chattering classes are fighting over water, paying its CEO a fat salary with bonuses for staff.

When Liebherr came to Kerry the original plan was that they would build their factory in Tralee. But the merchant classes objected so the plant was built in Killarney. And so the finished cranes are transported at great expense and trouble from Killarney to the port at Fenit near Tralee.

A funny little country.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dog senses danger and proves faithful on mountain

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

Michael Commane
Has it ever occurred to you that it’s the little things that matter?

So often we are waiting around for the spectacular to happen and we miss what is right in front of our noses.

One day last week out walking with the dog I spotted a new Lidl shop. They seem to be popping up around every corner. I decided to go in and get a few things. It is spacious and has that new air to it. It was early afternoon and the shop was relatively quiet.

Four little children were making the best of it. What were they doing? They were playing hide and seek. It was the perfect venue, long aisles and loads of shelving which they could hide behind. It seemed as if two families were playing the game while their mothers moved about with their trolleys. Yes, somewhat unusual, but I have to admit that it was the highlight of my 15 minutes or so in the shop watching these little innocent children totally enjoying themselves. They were having fun and fortunately no one was silly enough to stop them.

I was telling this story to a fellow journalist, pointing out how it is the little things in our lives that can give us such pleasure and fun. She completely agreed and explained to me how that very morning her three-year-old child cuddled up beside her and pleaded with her not to go to work but to stay at home with her.

The woman explained to her daughter that she had to go to work so as to earn money so that she could buy food and toys for her family. The little girl piped up that in the future she would do without all those toys and would much prefer mammy to stay at home all day. Her mother told me it brought tears to her eyes. I’m not lying when I say I could feel my eyes getting watery.

During the windy days after Christmas I unadvisedly went out walking with friends. The plan was to climb Djouce Mountain, which is in Wicklow and is 725 metres high.

About 20 to 30 minutes from the top of the mountain I was finding it almost impossible to stand with the high winds. I had never before experienced such wind on an Irish mountain. My Labrador dog is completely untrained.

She is so undisciplined that there have been times when she has got me into trouble and left me in most embarrassing situations. She chases cats, foxes, badgers and the occasional dog that she takes an instant dislike to. I got her when she was four or five, so I take no responsibility for her poor manners.

But on that day on Djouce she knew I was in trouble and she stood beside me every step of the way. If she went ten paces ahead of me she would turn around to check all was well. I was really amazed at her behaviour. Incredible loyalty. I’m going to try to see her misdeeds in future in a different light. At least be kinder and more understanding towards her.

Later that night, recovering from the ordeal, I kept thinking about the dog’s behaviour. It was such a simple thing and yet when you think about it, it was also extraordinary.

As a child I loved Christmas and I can still remember a bus with real lights that Santa gave me one Christmas. I can vividly remember playing with that bus on the hall floor. In recent years I have been no great fan of Christmas but it so happened this year it turned out great. What was it that made it great? Meeting and talking with friends, playing cards, staying later in bed in the morning, sitting around a good fire in the evening, laughing.

And then I think of the world of advertising, shouting at me to buy this that and the other and if I do so I’ll be a happy man.
Of course I fall for it all the time. But that’s not what it’s about at all.

It’s the little things.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Scottish priest gets go-ahead to sue the Catholic Church

A priest, who ran two parishes in Scotland, has been given the go-ahead to sue the church for unfair dismissal.

Fr Patrick Lawson, a priest of the Diocese of Galloway, was removed from his  post following his long-time call for action to be taken against a priest he accused of sexual abuse.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Bishops' Conference said that it would be 'inappropriate' for Fr Lawson's case to be heard by the tribunal. The Conference argues that the relationship between priest and diocese is not of an employer and employee.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's the personal experiences that always shape our views

What journalist Ursula von Kardoff wrote in her diary 71 years ago today. She was born in Berlin in 1911, her father was an artist. In the early years she was a supporter of the Nazis and worked on a Nazi newspaper. She slowly became disenchanted with the party. Her brother's death on the front in 1943 turned her into an ardent anti Nazi. Interesting too; so much of our disenchantments end up being the result of personal experiences, nothing to do with high-sounding values and beliefs.
 12 January 1943
I sometimes feel like a candle burning at both ends. At the front my brothers and my friends are fighting for a victory the very prospect of which fills me with horror. To think Hitler as the Master of Europe!
The picture supplement we had to get out for our New Year issue was entitled ‘The German Soldier Keeps Watch’ – in the Russian winter, under the African sun, in submarines in the Atlantic, beneath the palm trees of Southern France, in the ice of Finland. How can we possibly hold such an extended front for any length of time? It is beyond all sense and reason. We seem to be asking for retribution. ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?’
But I suppose it must be some kind of perversion to hope that one’s own country will be defeated. Anyhow it is something utterly beyond the comprehension of the worthy citizens who glory in their power and possessions.
Klaus tumed up yesterday from Miinsingen and I asked a few people in to meet him. The sirens went at the beginning and after the all-clear we got into a mood of rather sinister merriment. Papa, retuming from a memorial service for E. R. Weiss, had passed burning houses on his way home, and was shocked at us.
But for some reason I was bursting with vitality and cheerfulness. It was really dreadful to feel like that … to feel that the thickness of a wall could shut out all the horrors, that they were nothing to do with me at all.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Amy Hoggart writes on her newspaper columnist father

Simon Hoggart's daughter wrote a piece in yesterday's Guardian about her Dad. A lovely read - if that could dare be the right thing to say. Still.

Amy Hoggart
My father, Simon Hoggart, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 2010. By this point it had spread to his spleen and metastasised in his lungs, and so was pronounced terminal.

This form of the disease is particularly aggressive and the usual life expectancy of a pancreatic cancer patient at the point of diagnosis is five to seven months.

Thanks to cutting-edge treatment at the Royal Marsden hospital, in London, Dad managed to fight on for another three and a half years.

He proudly considered himself the poster boy of pancreatic cancer treatment, and was delighted every time his doctors showed off his stats at medical conferences round the world. Things took a sudden turn for the worse just before Christmas, however, and he died on Sunday.

Dad's cancer experience included periods of relatively good health as well as bouts of hospitalisation as he coursed his way through a variety of different chemotherapy treatments. The thing with cancer is that it's usually the chemo rather than the disease itself that makes the patient feel so ill, particularly at the start. "Woozy" was Dad's term for it. It's hard to know what this actually meant and I think he kept it deliberately vague so we never fully understood how bad it felt.

His bravery and stoicism were astonishing. Yet in some ways he was quite lucky: compared with other chemotherapy patients, his responses were rarely serious enough to change his normal day-to-day life. He kept on working, travelling, socialising, and laughing right up to his final entry into hospital last month.

Finishing work was just never an option for him and his last Guardian article was published on 19 December, composed from the hospital bed. Like his own father, Richard Hoggart, who wrote his last book on the brink of his descent into senile dementia, Dad was adamant about continuing to write.

Even during the later periods of treatment – with the chemo pounding through his body making him tired, woozy and low – he'd still wrap up and take the train into Westminster to see how he could depict politicians looking statesmanlike or even ridiculous that day.

Actually, I'm sure his energy and passion for work had something to do with how he survived so long. He never lost his appetite for each new busy day.


Simon Hoggart at work in 2004. Photograph: David Sandison/The Independent/Rex
Another huge source of pleasure in Dad's life was travelling round the country with my mother to speak at various literary festivals. These were always lovely gigs, composed almost entirely of his own readers who he always enjoyed meeting. Even if he'd spend the remainder of the weekend resting, he would always somehow muster the energy to perform.

At Cheltenham, last October, he did two talks, and I was astonished by his bravery and spark. I suppose people in the audience probably guessed something was wrong – by this point he barely resembled the portly figure smiling knowingly in his tilted Guardian pic – but you wouldn't have been able to guess from his performance.

The decision not to come out publicly about his illness wasn't an easy one. Dad's always enjoyed what he felt was a very close, reciprocal relationship with his readers. In particular his weekly diary was always such a personal space through which he felt he and his readers really got to know each other.

A big concern of his was that they would think him dishonest when they discovered he'd kept this huge fact from them. For nearly four years he would finish his four-a-week political sketches, his Spectator columns and his Saturday diary early, before heading to the hospital first thing on Friday for a full day's chemo that he never mentioned in print.

There are many reasons for this. I think it's fair to say the first was pride. In his exact words: "I didn't want people thinking of me as Cancer Victim, Simon Hoggart, smiling through his pain." Dad certainly didn't like pity. He was upfront about his illness and death sentence to family and friends, but rarely dwelled on it or asked for any sympathy.

Another reason was that he felt that cancer has already been so well written about. Among others John Diamond and Philip Gould had already done such thorough jobs, what else did he have to add?

At the back of his mind, Dad was definitely always trying to decide whether he could get a column (ideally a whole book) out of something. Perhaps he should have asked his readers for their own cancer stories, which he could have then pasted together, changed the names, added a bit of funny commentary, and had it published in time for Christmas. But this would have changed the tone of his pieces, which he always kept light and amusing. "You've got to get a joke out of it" was the main piece of advice he gave me about writing.

In the end, his big idea was for a TV show idea called "Celebrity Cancer Ward", inspired by the few well-known figures he bumped into during treatment. Dad would host it and each episode would track the progress of the well-known contributors' progress. Unsurprisingly, this was never seriously pitched. But I'm mentioning it in print here, so we will all know whose idea it originally was if it ever gets made, which it shouldn't.

So this is my attempt to provide the column he wanted to write. He always intended to do it himself, telling Mum, my brother, Richard, and me, as well as the nurses, exactly what he'd say to everyone. But he grew increasingly tired and kept postponing it to the next day. I tried to take notes, only to be reminded to "keep them laughing". He was still keeping us laughing at this point, just a bit.

During an emotional moment for me I asked him through my tears whether he had any life advice. He squeezed my hand and thought for a while before answering: "When you change a tyre, make sure you unscrew the bolts first before lifting the wheel." Firm advice from a man who – as my mother was quick to point out – has never owned his own car, let alone changed a tyre in his life.

Dad worked for the Guardian for 33 years – with 12 years on the Observer in the middle – and the main thing he wanted to say at the end was a "thank you" to his readers for their many years of loyalty. It brought a huge amount of joy to his life.

He was grateful whenever anyone got in touch, sending in clippings and jokes, not to mention all the excruciating round robin letters and gap year emails. He even recalled with fond amusement the few regulars who never failed to write in and point out the mistake whenever he got something wrong.

I was reading a novel in hospital last week and found, not for the first time, that he'd read it before and was using a reader's letter as a bookmark.

A couple of snippets from a useless Tesco label recommending that its beef mince be used in "recipe dishes" and that their pudding rice is "ideal for rice pudding".

So thanks so much to everyone who helped keep him laughing too.

Breda O'Brien disappointed with Mary McAleese

Is it possible to read Breda O'Brien's article in today's Irish Times without having to re-read specific sentences a second time, maybe even a third time?

Indeed, while not related to the O'Brien article, one might well ask if the 'art' of celibacy for the 'ordinary' person is not akin to putting diesel into a petrol-run car.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hitler's name appears on Google Maps in Berlin

A bad mistake.

Yesterday Google Maps called Theodor -Heuss Platz in Berlin Adolf-Hitler Platz.

Harshness and inaccuracy of NDLS language annoying

The National Driver Licence Service deems people who are applying for a driving licence as customers.

Anyone who takes time out to read the instructions will be struck by a tone of arrogance right through the form.

Surely it could have been written in friendlier terms.

Senator Feargal Quinn's famous line, 'the customer is always right' comes to mind when reading the NDLS guidance notes.

The distance people have to travel to a NDLS centre is certainly not 'customer friendly'.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Former president talks about the elephants in the room

In a news report in today's Irish Times former president Mary McAleese, has urged a Scottish cardinal forced to stand down last year to admit publicly that he is gay. She goes on to say, "a very large number" of Catholic priests are homosexuals.

"It isn't so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants.

"I don't like my church's attitude to gay people. I don't like 'love the sinner, hate the sin'. If you are the so-called sinner, who likes to be called that? We also know that within the priesthood a very large number of priests are gay."

Ms McAleese's use of the word 'pretend' in the reported speech is surely significant. It is the pretence and obfuscation that goes on within the Catholic Church that is unhelpful and unhealthy.

While she talks about 'a very large number' of priests who are homosexual, the former president is mum on the numbers of bishops who are gay. Again, it has nothing to do with one's sexuality, it is the dishonesty and pretence that is played out.

Also today former German professional footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has outed. The 31-year-old said he was doing it intentionally before the Winter Olympics. The former footballer. who played for the national team, said he wanted to make a statement against countries who campaign against homosexuals.

The countries who 'campaign' against homosexuality share a common theme. Is it not that there is something nasty about them?

The evil of anonymity

Last evening BBC Newsnight's anchor man Jeremy Paxman, minus his beard, interviewed a woman who was the victim of unspeakable abuse on twitter.

Two people have pleaded guilty in court to the offences and will be sentenced in the next days.

One of the perpetrators admitted that she was drunk out of her mind when she tweeted the abuse and the other person's counsel explained that the young man had serious social problems.

What the programme did highlight was the danger and nastiness of the plague of anonymity.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Francis is pope as head of the council of bishops

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

 Michael Commane
A few weeks into the papacy of Jorge Bergoglio a colleague commented that for the clerical careerists it was simply a question of moving from the old queue to the new one.

Six months on it might not at all be as simple as that. I heard someone talk about a priest, who always called the last pope and the one before him ‘the Holy Father’ in reverential tones, is now calling Francis simply ‘the pope’ and in a strong half pseudo country accent.

Things might be going to change but as someone said about the new papacy, to change anything is like trying to change the direction of an aircraft carrier at sea.

Let me try to explain. Nothing is ever simple. Senior bishops, junior bishops, cardinals all sorts of clerics are out and about commenting on the wonder of this new pope and telling people it’s just what the church needs now. They are citing the example of where the pope lives, they are talking about what is going on in the Vatican Bank. They are even talking about the ordinariness of the pope’s shoes. But just a short 12 months ago all these chaps were talking about how great it was to have Pope Benedict at the helm.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I liked and still like Josef Ratzinger and that’s partly because of having lived in Germany and having taught German for many years. Like the rest of the world I know he is a highly intelligent man, who as pope wrote great stuff. Though I can never quite get my head around why he is so opposed even to a hint of relativism. Isn’t the world in constant change? Wasn’t there a time when we were told it was a sin to eat meat on Friday? But who am I to question the writings of a highly intelligent person.

Like all human beings he too had a blind spot and I can well imagine he was hoodwinked by the bells and incense merchants, who managed to pull the wool over his eyes and I can well believe that when it came to all sorts of appointments, including episcopal ones, the poor man had no idea who was getting the jobs. On that score it is great to see that US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been sacked from the congregation that appoints bishops. Burke had a big thing about wearing long flowing capes. They looked ridiculous. Indeed, there may well be a number of clerics dotted around the world wondering about their fate.

No doubt careerism and sycophancy reign everywhere there are human beings, but it does seem that the sort of people who are attracted to ministry in churches have a particular penchant for doffing the cap at all the right people.

Take the new Missal. Well, it’s no longer new at this stage as it is two years in use. Far too many of the prayers in the book are simply unintelligible. They are a mix of piousity and pseudo quaintness, horrible words and over-long sentences. I have not yet heard an Irish bishop utter a whisper of dissent about the Missal. It will be interesting to see will Pope Francis have anything to say about it. I gather the Germans have put the new German translation of the Missal on hold and I bet you my bottom dollar that the wise Germans will keep what they have.

How much did this wonder Missal cost? Who paid for it? How many church goers are finding it more helpful in their prayer life?

And will the careerists ever admit how terrible it is? Of course if Pope Francis ever did manage to criticise it, they’d be issuing press releases saying how from its introduction they were not really too happy with it.

It’s a new year. Pope Francis is offering hope. But it’s important that we are never tempted by personality cults. After all, Francis is pope as head of the Council of Bishops  and he has gone out of his way to emphasise that he is Bishop of Rome.

The church prides itself on its collegiality. Something it needs to practise with a little bit more emphasis.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Apologies for inaccurate figures much underestimated

The figures given in the previous post are inaccurate. Apologies.

The reality is far more worrying.

The United States exports seven billion dollars worth of armaments annually. Second is Russia, which exports $4.5 billion of guns, tanks and weapons of destruction every year. Germany has moved into third place. China is the fifth largest exporter of arms.

Shocking statistics.

Lethal weapons in Sudan, Syria and Central Africa

Every day we read in our newspapers, hear on our radios. see on our television sets and on our mobile devices the wars that are being waged in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

We see the guns and tanks that are being used in all these countries. Where are the armaments coming from? Who manufactures and sells all these guns and tanks and other weapons of destruction?

And the 'freedom fighters' and the 'terrorists' they too use the weapons manufactured in the US, Russia, Germany, China, France, Israel, and all the other countries who sell them weapons.

The figures below are rough approximations.

The United States of  America exports $8,760 million of weaponry every year.

Russia $8,003 milllion

China $1,783 million

Ukraine $1,344 million

Germany $1,193 million

France $1,139 million

UK $863 million

Israel $533 million

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Whether or not to mention God, who did, who did not

There has been media coverage, criticism and praise for the words spoken at a Mass celebrated by the Army's head chaplain, Msgr Eoin Thynne. in a Dublin church on Christmas Eve.

In his homily Msgr Thynne commented on the absence of any reference to the Christian faith in the President's Christmas messgae.

In today's papers reference was made to the US President, and the British Prime Minister, how they spoke of God in their Christmas messages.

For the record, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel in her New Year's address, wished God's blessing on all Germans.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pope Francis and those priestly "little monsters"

It is reported that Pope Francis has warned that priests can become “little monsters” if they are not trained properly while studying as seminarians.

This man seems to know a thing or two.

There sure are a lot of "little monsters" running about the place. And those "little monsters" can and do an awful lot of harm.

Obviously Pope Francis is aware of the clerical nonsense that goes on in the 'training' of men for priesthood.

Christmas and Epiphany are about open generosity to all

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

Michael Commane
Tomorrow's Gospel is generally acclaimed as one of the world's great pieces of writing. In the Prologue of Saint John's Gospel we read about the Word being the true light that enlightens all mankind. It is a "light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower." (John 1: 5) St John tells us that this Word, which was the true light was coming in to the world, which had its being through him.
Remarkable words.

Some weeks ago Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was in Ireland. His daughter is currently completing a doctoral study at Trinity College and Chris was visiting her in Dublin. While he was here he appeared on a number of radio and television shows. On  occasions when in the space station orbiting the earth, he tweeted in Irish, which naturally endeared him to the people in this part of the world. His tweets on St Patrick's Day were especially appreciated.

Chris spoke about seeing the world from a new angle and also described the experience of looking into the great darkness beyond. His account of his experience made for compelling radio.

To try to say anything about the universe, its age, its vastness makes us realise our insignificance in a world that is awe-inspiring. So then how can we say a word about God? It can indeed be dangerous territory and lead us into ridiculous caricatures.

As Christians we believe that God becomes man. We take seriously the words of St John that "The Word was made flesh, he lived among us and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

On Monday the Christian churches celebrate the feast of the Epiphany - the manifestation of God in the world. Monday's feast is a reminder to all of us to play our part in helping make God present and real in our world. But it is also an occasion to celebrate the presence of God in the world.

It can be easy to condemn the world and only see all the places and times where God is not present. But if we take the Incarnation and the Epiphany to heart then we have no alternative but to see God in the world about us. God and the work of God are present all around us. That's what we have been celebrating these last days. One might ask have we any business celebrating these feasts if we are not willing to see God's work in our world?

But it's not a matter of sitting back and letting the word of God unfold in some sort of passive way. We have a great part to play in making our world a godlier place. Every time we behave in a good and honourable way we are playing our part in making God manifest in the world.

The feasts of Christmas and Epiphany are traditionally linked to the stars in the sky. Stars generate light. They are associated with brightness. Tradition tells us that the three wise men were guided by a star to find the place where Jesus was born.

Listening to Chris Hadfield talking about space and the universe one is forced to stand back in awe, with some tiny realisation of the extraordinary vastness of it all. And yet, we can - albeit stumblingly and falteringly - talk about the light of God. It is something we have been doing for generations. But that light, the light of God is a transparent light where all God's works and actions take place and are made manifest in light and openness.

Unfortunately often we do too much under the shadow of darkness and behind closed doors. The birth of Christ and then making that reality present in the world is a task that goes on from generation to generation. For it to have real meaning it has to be done in a sense of openness to all, where everyone can begin to share in the glory of the presence of God in the lives we live. Surely God invites all humankind to share in the celebration of God's goodness.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Silly number plate system manages to sell less cars

Car sales in Ireland fell by 6.6 per cent lat year.

The idea that dividing the year into two for number plate purposes would sell more cars was of course silly from day one. Indeed, it was a system that, if anything, would delay certain types of people buying a new car.

It was clearly a non-runner and also a waste of money.

Why can't the State devise a system where the number plate will give no detail of year of production? It's a system that runs and works in other EU countries.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

From Dublin's Grafton Street to India on a bicycle

Two years ago a young man came to do an internship in Concern Worldwide's offices in Dublin.

Dean McMenamin was completing a course in digital studies at the Blanchardstown IT and availed of the internship at Concern to put into practice the theoretical material he had learned during his studies at college.


He was  probably 20/21 at the time. Dean is, at least at the time was, of slight build.


I can recall overhearing him saying to someone in the office that he planned cycling to India. I was surprised and asked him had he a bicycle. He told me he didn't but was about to buy one. I explained that I thought it would probably be a better idea to cycle around Ireland first before heading off on his world adventure.


At the time it sounded to me a crazy idea. Some weeks later he told me he had bought a bicycle and brought me out to the car park to show me his new acquisition. I still thought it was a crazy idea.


Dean set off on his cycling adventure in early spring. Today he is in India and has now decided to go on to Australia. To date he has cycled 11,861 kilometres.

It is an incredible adventure and the man is amazing.

He stayed for a number of days at the Irish Dominican priory in Tehran, where Fr Paul Lawlor gave him a great welcome.

He has an active website, which he regularly updates. Simply google his name and you will get to the site.

Well done and congratulations Dean.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The name of the year

It seems to be twenty fourteen and not two thousand and fourteen.

At last. Alleluia.

From today euro is the currency for 333 million

As from today 333 million people are using the euro as their currency. Today Latvia joined the euro zone.

Last evening in her New Year's address to the nation German Chancellor spoke of how privileged we are in Europe to live in peace.

She noted that  it is 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, 75 years since the beginning of World War ll and 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Frau Merkel noted the importance of the European idea in assuring peace.

John Banville on RTE Radio 1 on New Year's Day

John Banville featured on RTE Radio 1 this evening.

He told the story of his mother going to 'confession' and in the course of 'tittle tattle' she told the priest that she read 'Womans Own'.

He  told his mother to stop reading the magazine, which she did.

Listening to Banville, who was born in 1945, one can feel nothing but disgust for the behaviour of so many ministers of the Catholic Church and the power and control the church had over people.

He spoke of how politicians did as they were told by the church. But why did the politicians allow that to happen?

What at all is it about priesthood that allows this madness to happen. Still happening.

It's all so sad.

So, the question is, the jokers who told Mrs Banville not to read 'Womans Own', what are they doing today and how does the crazy behaviour manifest itself?

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