Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pharmacy profits

If your doctor writes you a prescription with a number of repeats on it you have two choices. You can get the medication on each separate occasion or you can buy it all on the one transaction.

If you buy it on separate occasions you pay a dispensing fee each time. If you buy in bulk you just pay one dispensing fee.

A dispensing fee can be approximately €7.00. So say your doctor prescribes for five 'doses' you save €28 by buying in bulk.

It seems one of the best kept secrets.

Two popes in support another pope disagrees

The piece below is from the National Catholic Reporter.

The reference to the education of priests makes for interesting reading.


The Vatican denied that Pope Francis had dismissed a controversial Paraguayan bishop because of his mishandling of sex abuse accusations, attributing the decision instead to other failings of governance and friction with fellow bishops.
Meanwhile, the bishop described his dismissal as a case of "ideological persecution" because of his opposition to liberation theology.
Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano, 69, was told to step down as head of the diocese of Ciudad del Este effective Sept. 25, a Vatican statement said, citing unspecified "serious pastoral reasons."
News reports at the time noted the bishop's vocal support for Msgr. Carlos Urrutigoity, whom he appointed a high diocesan official even though the priest had been accused of molesting seminarians before coming to Ciudad del Este.
Coming two days after the Vatican's arrest of former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, pending a criminal trial on charges of paying for sex with boys during his time as nuncio to the Dominican Republic, the dismissal of Livieres appeared to be the latest step in a Vatican crackdown on sex abuse.
But the Vatican says sex abuse was not a significant factor in Livieres' dismissal.
"Let's not confuse Wesolowski and Livieres; one is a case of pedophilia, the other is not," Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service on Saturday.
"Livieres was not removed for reasons of pedophilia," Lombardi said. "That was not the principal problem."
"There were serious problems with his management of the diocese, the education of clergy and relations with other bishops," Lombardi said.
The spokesman declined to enter into detail, but mentioned differences with other bishops over seminary education and alluded to Livieres' remarks, in a television interview earlier this year, describing one bishop as homosexual.
Lombardi noted that the Vatican's Sept. 25 statement said the bishop's dismissal was for the "greater good of the unity of the church in Ciudad del Este" and among Paraguay's bishops.
Livieres, speaking Saturday with CNS in Rome, agreed that the case of Urrutigoity was "completely marginal" to the pope's action, though he said other Paraguayan bishops had used the priest -- whom he insisted was entirely innocent of sex abuse -- as a "weapon" with which to attack Livieres.
He said his conflict with fellow bishops centered on his opposition to liberation theology, a movement that emerged in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, and which the Vatican later criticized for the use of Marxist methodology by some of its practitioners.
Livieres said he was appointed to the diocese by St. John Paul II in 2004 with a mandate, communicated to him by the nuncio at the time, to oppose Paraguayan bishops' "monolithic" support for liberation theology. He said Pope Benedict XVI personally told him in 2008 that liberation theology was "the problem in all of Latin America."
But Pope Benedict "had a very different orientation from the present pontificate," the bishop said. "This is a pontificate opposed to the previous pontificate."
Lombardi characterized the bishop's analysis as "naive," calling it "absolutely reductive to interpret this decision in a way limited to an argument over the theology of liberation."

Monday, September 29, 2014

'Preaching' the Good News?

When good people get up and leave church becasue they feel the words spoken at Mass are offensive then it's time for consultation and reassessment.

And when the offending words have no connection to the Gospel, one wonders is this really the preaching of the Good News.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Church and pomposity

Below is a picture of part of the cover of a pamphlet promoting an upcoming pilgrimage to Knock.

Do most of us today, who speak about 'Mass', not simply refer to it as 'Mass'. Why call it 'Holy Mass'?

Why all the titles given to a provincial?

And a 'homilist'?

Google lists 90 meanings for the acronym TBC.

Is he really the 'Principle Celebrant'?

Right through the pamphlet there is a constant use of upper case letters.

Why such pomposity? Indeed, it seems alienating for the 'ordinary reader'. But that may not be the intended audience, patronising too?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Archbishop and his regalia

Today's diary:

RTE's Marian Finucane was talking to crime correspondent Paul Williams about the late Fr Michael Cleary and his children.

The late Michael Cleary was noted for his conservative stance on sexual morality.

The lead picture on page 11 of today's Irish Times is a picture of Archbishop Josef Wesolowski. The 66-year old Polish former papal nuncio is under house arrest in the Vatican.

His PC contained almost 100,000 files of paedophile porn. While papal nuncio in Santo Domingo he is accused of having paid for sexual favours from seven 'shoe-shine' boys on the ocean front promenade.

The picture shows a man dressed in a white 'frock' with red buttons. He is sporting a gold ring, a gold chain, immaculate white shirt cuffs and purple biretta.

He was appointed as nuncio to the Central Asian countries of KazakhstanTajikistanKyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. On 24 January 2008 he was appointed nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

Who made this chap an archbishop?

Jesuit leaves after LGBT church employees are fired

The piece below is from the National Catholic Reporter

In light of recent firings of gays and lesbians from Catholic institutions, Benjamin Brenkert has left the Catholic church after 10 years of pursuing priesthood in the Jesuit order.
"I can't be a Jesuit priest because I can't be a member of the Catholic church right now," Brenkert told NCR. "I can't be an openly gay Jesuit discerning priesthood in the Catholic church if LGBT employees are being fired from Catholic institutions."
Brenkert said the last straw for him was when a food pantry worker was fired from St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City, Mo., after her marriage to a woman was mentioned in a local newspaper article.
Upon his decision to leave the church, Brenkert wrote an open letter to Pope Francis, explaining both why he was leaving the Jesuits, and what he wants the pope to do in order to save his vocation to the church.
The letter, obtained by NCR and posted by other religion news outlets online, states, "I ask you to instruct the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to tell Catholic institutions not to fire any more LGBTQ Catholics. I ask you to speak out against laws that criminalize and oppress LGBTQ people around the globe. These actions would bring true life to your statement 'Whom am I to judge?' "
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Brenkert told NCR, "I'm asking the pope to really look at the fact that I as a gay man could become a Catholic priest, and reach the highest level of human relationship with God as a celibate priest, while LGBT employees that are seeking marriage and sacramental recognition of their love could no longer be employees because they were delighting in God's love for them. Is that fair? That's not for me to say. All I want to do is ask people to identify with my story and to ask the church to be clear about what she believes."
For Brenkert, the pope's commitment to poverty and clear statements on the evils of globalization, capitalism and materialism have helped the marginalized of society. Brenkert said that the firing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics can only add to those entering poverty.
"A nonjudgmental tone can sound good. It can sound like a big change, but unless it has a clear and tangible impact, it doesn't mean much," Brenkert said. "What we need is an unequivocal statement of support for LGBTQ people."
Since Brenkert's departure from the Jesuits, he has been discerning priestly formation in the Episcopal church.
"It pains me to have to leave the Jesuits," Brenkert said. "I loved being a Jesuit, and I'm extremely grateful for what they did for me."

Friday, September 26, 2014

RTE's use of words

On the RTE 1 evening news Sharon Tobin reporting on the vote in the Commons today said there was a unanimous vote to support the government in sending bombers to Iraq. She earlier said that 43 MPs voted against the motion.

Confusing or a misuse of a word?

Dominicans in Drogheda

The decision to close the Dominican church and priory in Drogheda is the lead story in this week's Drogheda Independent.

The cover page carries a picture of Mr Declan Hanratty and Fr Jim Donleavy. Declan Hanratty, the sacristan in the church, is on hunger strike in protest at the Dominican decision.

Dominican priest, Jim Donleavy said: “We weren’t consulted about the closure, I don’t know if other churches were, we just got the diktat. I can’t tell you why we are being closed.”

The news has been carried on regional and national media. To anyone reading the story it would seem that there is discord among the Irish Dominicans. That's now in the public arena clearly to be seen.

Is it fair to ask the question if there were open and real discussion and communication among the members of the Irish Dominicans would such discord appear in public? Would intelligent and strategic planning have led to this?

What is it about the institutional church that seems to suggest that it is incapable of real and open discussion? And not a woman in sight to give a shred of advice.

Some weeks ago this blog carried a quote from Shane Ross in an open letter he wrote to Leo Varadkar. Ross wrote: "Do not allow the culture of silence-control contaminate or muzzle you."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hunger strike in protest at closure of Dominican church

The sacristan at the Dominican church in Drogheda has gone on hunger strike in protest at the Order's decision to leave the town.

Declan Hanratty began his strike and sit-in on Sunday. His wife, Rita explained on the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk this morning why her husband has taken the action he has.

Ms Hanratty assured listeners that the Drogheda church is well attended and since the introduction of a shrine to St Bernadette numbers had increased.

"The local friars are not happy and they only heard the news at the weekend. This cannot happen and we can't let them away with this," Ms Hanratty said.

A meeting is planned for a Drogheda hotel this evening. Ms Hanratty said that  people are willing to travel to Rome to express their views to the Master of the Order.

The Dominicans first went to Drogheda in 1224.

There are Dominican nuns in the town. They have been in Drogheda since 1722.

Irish Water wrong again

Approximately five years ago contractors working for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council laid new foothpaths and a road where I live. While doing the job they fitted new water valves with the requisite housing.

Since then I have noticed that the valve housing outside my property leaks and is always flooded.

On a number of occasions I have contacted Irish Water and reported the issue. They told me that they had reported it to the relevant authority and that it was not leaking.

Yesterday Farrans - contractors for Irish Water - arrived on our road.

They are in the process of digging up over 50 per cent of the valves and their housings.

"We have to replace them as they were incorrectly put down the first day. And many of them are leaking," a contractor said thie morning.

What a waste of money and why did Irish Water lie to me?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Restructuring for Mission"

Readers might find the piece below of interest. It's taken from dominicanfriars.ie

The title of the piece is 'Restructuring for Mission'.

The Irish Dominican province has approximately 105 men over the age of 60. 

"News of a restructuring plan for the Irish Dominican friars was announced at Masses in Dominican churches in Ireland on 20th & 21stSeptember. 
While vocations have been flourishing for more than a decade providing subsequently an average of more than one new priest per year and with a large number of ordinations expected within five years, withdrawal from certain communities and churches was still found necessary at a meeting held in Tallaght, County Dublin, in mid-September. 
Inspite of the healthy vocations situation in the present Irish context, the profile of the Irish Dominican Province is such as to no longer permit staffing all the commitments which were possible until recently due to the exceptional vocations of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
Restructuring will permit the recent increase in vocations to respond more effectively to the present pastoral challenges in Ireland and priorities have been set to facilitate and encourage that. The restructuring will also permit a strong and supportive home life for the friars which has been increasingly difficult to provide, yet is an essential component of the Dominican vocation.
At present, the Irish Dominican Province has 11 priests aged between 50 and 59, six priests aged between 40 and 49 and eight priests aged under 40. The under-40 cohort of priests is expected to expand significantly in the next couple of years with the ordination of some student brothers at present studying theology. The average annual intake of men wishing to test their vocation has been almost three for the past 15 years and that intake has provided an average of slightly more than one priestly ordination per year. The time between initial intake and priestly ordination is about seven years." 

Cupich's interview bodes interesting times Alleluia

Blase Cupich, archbishop designate in Chicago gave the interview below to an NCR journalist.

It's a great read. What he has to say about his parents is most endearing. The entire interview has a ring of openness and honesty about it. No cliches and no sign of any 'pious nonsense'. Nor are there any traces of jargon anywhere in the long interview.

Cupich spoke to NCR by phone from Omaha, where he was spending time on Sunday with his family. Following is the full interview.
NCR: I understand you were told about your appointment just about 10 or 11 days ago. What's been your feeling since then? What's been the mood?
CupichOf course, my initial feeling about it was shock because it wasn't really on my radar screen. We had just completed a pastoral planning process in Spokane and I was just on the cusp of issuing a pastoral letter, which now has gone out, and so that's where really my energy was focused.
This was an altogether unexpected surprise here and -- from that time, however, I've just tried to bring it in my prayer to Christ to calm me. And that morning that I had that press conference [introducing him in Chicago], I slept well that night and got up about six o'clock and had a good hour and half in the chapel and just realized that I should not be afraid of the fact that I'm probably going to make some mistakes.
But I've been asked to do this so there was a real freedom going into the news conference -- of course, the freedom that I had when I said yes.
At this point I feel kind of very at ease with everything. It's still overwhelming but I'm trying to just be myself and be at ease in this moment.
For you, of course, this is coming back to the Midwest, where you were born and lived in Omaha. What does that feel like to you? What does it mean to make a return to the region where you're from?
It is nice. I do have family very close in Milwaukee as well as Omaha and from that standpoint -- a human standpoint -- it really is consoling. I came to Omaha last night to be with family and we're going to get together today.
I had Mass in the parish where my grandparents came and [they] founded, Sts. Peter and Paul -- in fact, that's one of the reasons I chose the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul [Nov. 18] to have my installation.
And so it's a time in which I can just find the support of people who walked with me from the very beginning and also where my vocation started. So, it was a good opportunity for me to do that.
Watching the press conference, when some reporters asked about your style or your reputation in the bishops' conference, you responded that all you could be was yourself. It's kind of an odd question, but who is Bishop Cupich? What do you see as your defining characteristics? How do people know you?
Well, I guess I'm the son of my parents. I think everything that I have learned in terms of working with people and taking on any responsibility are things that I learned from my parents: to work hard, to pray, to respect people, to realize that I don't have all the answers, that God will take care of the situation if we just trust. So I think that I am the son of my parents.
Can I give you two anecdotes?
The first one would be: I remember when I was probably about eight years old or so it was a Saturday night -- and of course Saturday night was when we all got our baths and going to church the next day and my mother was preparing everything for Mass.
And my parents, this was in the ’50s or so, my parents had pledged to the church to donate $3 a Sunday, which was quite a bit because my father was a mail carrier and there were a number of kids, maybe seven of the nine already born.
And she just remarked: 'Well, your father gets paid on Monday.' It was her last three dollars and so it was a sense of that kind of trust, and also belonging to a community and making a commitment to a community that really impressed me. I have very good memories of that.
The other is my father. He was 48 and he got Parkinson’s disease and he had to quit his work. Then, after he was rehabilitated and started taking some good medication, he began to work, to volunteer, more with St. Vincent de Paul.
So he went door to door to visit people, especially on his old rural route, and noticed that their nutrition standards were very low. And there was just a new program in the ’70s coming out called Meals on Wheels. And that was available to states, so he went to the county board and asked them to buy into this program. There was some resistance because it would take some bureaucracy and they didn't want to bother with it.
So he did what any self-respecting Croatian would do -- and he was 100 percent Croatian, as I am -- and he got upset and decided to run for office against a man in his own party. So he did and he beat him by just a handful of votes and he served three terms, became the chair of the county board, and they had Meals on Wheels.
There's a practicality there, of saying I'm going to work with the system but I'm going to also look for a way in which things have to move forward and especially when feeling strongly about something, be willing to move forward with it. And I think that I've learned that from my father, too.
So those would be two anecdotes that stick in my mind about if people want to know who I am, they might know my parents.
In that story about your mother giving to the church, you said she had a sense of trust in the church. Hearing that, I'm thinking that we live in a time where that sense of trust in the church isn't quite as present as it used to be. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Yes, I think that's true. I think, though, that there's a general distrust in institutions because institutions seem to be failing us at times. But part of that is that the way that we have the 24/7 news cycles, they're always looking for things that are wrong with either individuals or institutions and so they're going to highlight those and I think that creates distrusts of individuals, of peoples, of leaders -- as well as institutions.
We used to be more distant from that in terms of allowing us to be more indulgent of mistakes of people or individuals. We do need to make sure we have transparency and clear reporting when major things are wrong, but sometimes it can get to be very nitpicky and we look at every little foible and erode the confidence of people in their leadership and in institutions. So I think there is today a general distrust of institutions and sometimes leaders.
In that vein, I know Chicago, just like many other dioceses in the U.S., is facing a number of issues -- downsizing, priest shortages, population changes. What lessons have you learned about those kinds of things in Spokane and Rapid City that you think might help you in Chicago?
I would say that in both Rapid City and Spokane we're dealing with more limited resources, human resources as well as financial and other. And I think you have to be real. You cannot base your decisions on a past era where things were different. I think that's where we're going to get in trouble.
If we really don't do a calculation of what the situation is from the present circumstances, we're going to get caught up in either an ideology about things or maybe an illusion about the way things should be because of the past. I think the pope has been very clear. One of the lines that he uses, he says, 'Realities are greater than ideas.'
I think that he's asking us -- this is one of things I brought up in my talk in the response to Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga at that conference that we had in Washington last June. I think the pope is giving us a new epistemology, a new way of learning, of knowing -- another way in which we're informed.
We can really get caught up in living in our own little bubble of an idea or an illusion of things the way they have been in the past.
It's important not to have just a 30,000 feet perspective on life but to really be there in the reality of the situation and pay attention to the observables right now around you.
For me, that ties into your recent pastoral letter in Spokane, 'Joy Made Complete.' Reading through that, I was struck by one of your conclusions at the end that Catholics should be 'stepping out into unknown and largely uncharted territory, and trusting each other to share responsibility and ownership for the Church.' What does that mean for you?
I think it means that we don't have all the answers to the vexing problems and challenges that we face. But that should not paralyze us from trying to move forward because it's in the very unknown that we really do encounter Christ, who is different.
We have the beautiful passage today from scripture that 'our ways are not God's ways.' Well, sometimes we're hesitant to move forward into the unknown because we don't have control of the situation -- when, in fact, it really is an invitation to respect the fact that the unknowable God is working in our lives and calling us into a future that we're not creating, but that he's creating for us.
But the way we do that is doing it together. We can't force things on people just because you have an idea it should go this way. We really do have to be a pilgrim people together. And so I'm confident if we do stay together and we do pray -- allow the word of God to move our hearts -- that God will unfold the future for us, and we shouldn't be afraid of it.
Reading that pastoral letter, I was struck by how much you quote from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). On your own level, how has Francis changed influenced what you do as a priest, or bishop? How do you see his work influencing yours?
At first I usually say when the pope is saying these things that I've been saying these things for 40 years. But I think that's probably too glib. I think that I also have recognized that he's challenging me personally in terms of lifestyle, in terms of just being respectful for people who might have a different opinion about how we also see our role as leaders as not just telling them what the Gospel says but bringing them to an encounter with Christ and accompanying them.
I said at the news conference yesterday that I have learned over these 40 years as a priest that it's very true that people come to us as priests and ministers because they've already discovered that God is real. And they want us to confirm it, confirm that insight, that encounter -- but also to nourish it.
I think that that's a very important thing for anybody who serves to keep in mind. Or, as the pope said to those missionaries: 'God is already working -- the Holy Spirit was there before you arrived.' The pope emphasizing that has forced me to boldly step a little further than perhaps where I was before.
Maybe I had sympathies to the kinds of things that he's saying, but he's enriching those sympathies in a way that I could never imagine or have thought about. He's provoking me to really dig deep along the same veins.
I was also curious how you see what the pope is doing in terms of the wider U.S. church. I'm thinking of Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin saying in June that some U.S. bishops are finding the pope a bit difficult to understand, that they might even be a bit 'discouraged' or 'challenged' by him. How do you see that?
I did see his comments and I know that he's probably talked to a lot more people than I have about that. I have not heard of that. I have not heard criticism or the sense of struggle that other people are having.
I think that by and large, and least where I live in the West, there is a great sense of enthusiasm for what the pope is saying. And I find that in people -- priests as well as bishops -- in our area. So I guess he's [Tobin] speaking from his own experience.
You explained at the press conference why you picked Nov. 18, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, as the day for your own installation Mass. You said you had that personal connection but then you also mentioned it was a way to honor women religious because there's a congregation that...
St. Philippine Duchesne, that's her feast day as well; she's a founder of the Sacred Heart Sisters.
You mentioned that and it made me think: How do you see the struggles facing U.S. women religious today, especially with the criticisms from the Vatican?
I guess I come out of, as I mentioned in some of my remarks, too -- I remember sisters who taught me. I can name each of the sisters who taught me grade school, and so I have a fondness. And so do my brothers and sisters. My mother was able to talk about the sisters who taught her. In the last years of her life, she remembered that.
So, there is a fondness there that is part of our own family and part of my own memory. And I continue to have really a fond affection for the sisters that worked in our area. I think that I want to just celebrate that wonderful memory in our family that was part of our own parish life experience. And so that's where it came from.
Obviously, you've got a couple months before that Mass when you'll be installed. What's the priority for you before that happens? What are you looking to do to prepare yourself?
I will go home and talk to people there who are back in Spokane when I finish. I'm going to be in Chicago this week for the Catholic Extension meeting of the bishops and then I'm going to go back and we'll see where it goes. I probably have to have a press conference there. Also, bring the staff together and look for a way of transition.
So I think right now it's setting up the whole transition, both in Spokane and in Chicago. I think that's my priority right now. I'm not going to make any major decisions about -- the cardinal is in full power as the archbishop until the 18th.
Both of us received special indults for that, to remain in our positions rather than just be an apostolic administrator who can't make decisions about significant matters.

The Holy See has made accommodation for both of us, given the fact that we still have some issues to tie up and will need the authority of the residential bishop. So, that transition I think is going to be on the front burner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Irish Water wastes 2.4 million A4 sheets of paper

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

Michael Commane
Irish Water is in the process of mailing 1.2 million households in the State. The package includes an ‘application form’ and a guide or information booklet.

It makes sense that we pay for the water we use. We have wasted far too much of it. Last week my Irish Water package arrived and my first impressions of this company scared the living daylights out of me.

The form that we are asked to complete is made up of two A4 pages. Everyone is sent the form in Irish and English. And the guide book is in both languages.

I have no problem at all with forms being in the two languages but it seems to me a waste of money that every household in the State is receiving the forms in both languages. Could Irish Water not have included a question asking people if they wanted the form in Irish? And the same with the booklet, instead of printing it half in English and half in Irish, could they not have asked people if they would prefer to receive the Irish copy?

We are living in difficult economic times. Everyone has been asked to sacrifice and for many that sacrifice is causing much pain. And in the middle of all the hardship Irish water is printing approximately 2.4 million forms of which a minimum of 50 per cent will be thrown in the bin.

That means 2.4 million A4 pages are being wasted. Add to that, the ink and printing costs. I find that a shocking waste of our resources. The 44 page booklet has 22 pages in Irish and 22 pages in English. More waste. Indeed, 26.4 million sheets of wasted paper. Then again, it might be a way for someone to improve their Irish or English. I could think of a cheaper method.

Some months ago Irish Water posted a pack to households about the installation of meters and other relevant information. Could they not have included the current application forms in that postal drop?

It’s no major issue but the postal address on the form I received did not comply with the regulations as per the rules and standards set out by An Post for Dublin postal districts. My address did not include a Dublin postal number. It also included information that is not required.

From October 1 Irish Water will bill householders for water usage. But by this stage all meters will not be fitted, so those who do not have meters will be charged on an estimated basis. The first bills will begin to arrive in early January.

That surely is shoddy practice. Imagine calling into a petrol station to buy petrol and being told the oil company will estimate how much you have purchased and will charge you accordingly. Would you think of migrating to a phone company that estimates your usage for the first few months before they begin to charge you per call?

Our electricity and gas usage is on occasion estimated but the meters are I place and are read on a number of occasions during the course of a year.

Absurd, laughable but that is exactly what Irish Water will be doing for the first few months with a number of ‘customers’.

And all this before we even begin to talk about the charge for water and how it will all pan out. I have been told by an expert that the automatic reading of meters is not as simple as it seems.

PR gurus have decided that we are now all customers. A shocking philosophy.

And why do they want our PPS numbers?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Aldi not always cheaper

Barrys Gold Label 250g/80 tea bags in Aldi is priced at €3.46. The same tea costs €3.00 in SuperValu.

Not everything is cheaper in the German discounters.

Jargon helps to hide and keep things 'secret'

Inez Bailey, Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency, has spoken on the increasing use of jargon in our spoken and written language.

She made reference to words used last week by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin. When speaking of the current financial situation he said: " .... ventilated in the public area." It would have been far clearer to have said 'aired in public'.

Ms Bailey says that jargon happens a lot in bureaucracies and it generally means something is not well explained. She suggests people need to write for their reader and not for themselves.

NALA Director gives a number of examples and points out that the medical profession is prone to the problem as is the world of finance.

The agency gives a list of jargon terms.

More to add to the list: 'Restructuring for Mission'. It means closing down some places. And, 'core ministry of primary pastoral care'. Difficult to know exactly what that means.

Pope Paul Vl often quoted Augustine: "I prefer to speak ungrammatically and be understood by the people, rather than appear learned and not be understood."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Open letter to new archbishop in Chicago

A crisper and more authentic insight into mission

  • Bishop Blase Cupich talks with a reporter June 11 at the meeting of the U.S. bishops in New Orleans. (CNS/Bob Roller)


Dear Archbishop-elect Cupich:
Eat at Burger King. By yourself. In street clothes.
If you want to get to know Chicago and those of us who live here, go to the Burger King on Lawrence Avenue, just west of Western Avenue. And, as you’re eating your Whopper, watch the Mexican-American family that is likely to be eating there.
The father is just off work, and you can see the weariness drip off of him. He’s got some menial job — in a factory, or as a bus boy, or perhaps in the kitchen at another Burger King. Those are jobs without much dignity in our American culture, but, with his family, he holds his head high, and his kids chatter with him with great love and respect.
Listen to the two gray-haired, gray-bearded Serbian guys. Unless you’re a polyglot, you’re not going to be able to guess what they’re saying, but you can tell they’ve got strong opinions.
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Look at the elderly man in a tie, white shirt and dark suit. He always sits alone at one of those small tables along a wall and does a crossword puzzle.
If you glance around, you’re likely to see some Asian-Americans, a homeless guy snoozing in front of a cold half-empty cup of coffee, African-Americans, at least one well-dressed person with a laptop and a cellphone using a booth as an office, young dudes with a lot of tattoos, women with unusual hair styles, and maybe some yuppies.
Archbishop-elect, 32 years ago, my friend Tim Unsworth wrote an open letter of advice to one of your predecessors, Joseph Bernardin, which was published in National Catholic Reporter. In writing to you, I’m following in his footsteps.
Tim, who died in 2008, started off his letter to Bernardin by urging him to eat at a local deli as the Episcopal bishop of Chicago was wont to do.
In my experience, though, Chicago is much more of a Burger King town than a deli town. For one thing, you’ll see a wide range of economic classes and a kaleidoscope of ethnicities and nationalities at Burger King. For another, there are just a lot more fast food places in Chicago and the suburbs than delis.
Some of the people you see at Burger King may be Catholic. Others, not. But that shouldn’t matter.
Coming to Chicago, you need to understand that, as the Catholic archbishop (and later as cardinal), you will be the single most visible religious leader in one of the great metropolitan regions of the world.
To be sure, when you speak, you will be speaking as a Catholic. Your words and ideas will come out of the Catholic tradition and the Catholic set of beliefs.
Still, in a real way, you will be the voice of all believers in the Chicago region.
You will have a bully pulpit from which to comment on local, national and world issues from the perspective of faith in God. You will have the opportunity to speak truth to power — to speak on behalf of ethics and morality to an American culture that, in many ways, trumpets selfishness and often denies (or at least ignores) justice.
It’s a weighty responsibility, and here’s a piece of advice: Take a page from Pope Francis’s book, and act as a servant rather than a scolder.
Your job, as I see it, is to be a pastor and a teacher, not to be a disciplinarian. We’ve had enough scolding.
I’m not saying that Chicago Catholics and all the other Chicagoans are perfect. Far from it. What I’m saying is that we need you to point out our failings, but find ways to do it with gentleness and encouragement. Like a father, not like a drill sergeant.
There has been a lot of threatening by the hierarchy over the past three decades. Many Catholic bishops have given the impression that they’d just as soon lock the church doors to anyone who doesn’t toe the line on whatever particular doctrinal issue they feel like stressing. They’ve closed their ears to debate. As if the Holy Spirit doesn’t move in all of us!
I’m not saying cave in to every interest group. I’m saying: Listen.
Listening doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t require you to commit to anything. All you have to do is open your ears and hear the ideas and hopes and pain and joys and confusions of your people.
We will benefit since all of us feel better having been heard. You will benefit because, having listened, you won’t be acting in a vacuum.
So here’s another suggestion: Listen to everyone, but go out of your way to meet with people who feel marginalized by the church.
I’m talking about divorced Catholics and gay Catholics and Catholics married outside of the church and Catholics who have been scarred by the pedophilia scandals. (By the way, when you talk about that issue of priests preying on underage children, please don’t call it “priest misconduct.”)
I’m talking about conservative Catholics who feel that the church isn’t doing enough to live up to its theological ideals, and liberal Catholics who feel that the church isn’t doing enough to bring about a just world.
I’m talking about priests who would like to have a wife and family, and gay couples who would like to marry, and women who would like to be priests.
No, you’re not going to be able to do much to solve their problems. The issues involved are too complex. But, by listening to them — I mean, really hearing them — you will help them to feel a little less alienated. A little less excluded.
And you’ll be able to do a better job in the future. You’ll approach questions in a more nuanced way. You’ll know the faces and the lives behind the issues.
Archbishop-elect, back in 1982, Tim Unsworth had a lot of detailed advice for Bernardin. I’m not going to do a laundry list for you.
Get around town. Get to know — it’ll take time — Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs, each with its own personality.
Drive your own car. Or, if you need to, hire a driver. Don’t use a priest. There is a screaming need for priests in the parishes. No member of the clergy should be reduced to being a limousine chauffer.
As the leader of one of the largest dioceses in the nation, you’ll be tempted to act like a CEO.
Don’t. Be a pastor. Be a shepherd who cares for his flock. And cares about his flock.
I’m not exactly sure how to define it any further, but, in some way, it comes down to how you carry yourself. There’s the listening I talked of earlier, of course. But there’s something else as well, a kind of openness.
I worked for nearly 40 years as a newspaper reporter, and interviewed my share of high-ranking officials. When I was part of a small group of reporters to meet with President Jimmy Carter, I called him “Mr. President.” And, as a good Catholic from birth, I knew that, when conversing with a cardinal, you addressed the man as “Your Eminence” or, at least, “Cardinal.”
So I was surprised back in December 1990, when I had my one and only interview with Bernardin who, by that time, had become a cardinal.
It was during a period when Bernardin was having to close many parish schools for financial reasons, and I was helping with some of the coverage. After the cardinal appeared on a radio show to talk about some new development, I was waiting for him in the lobby of the station with a reporter from another newspaper.
We sat down with him for 10 or 15 minutes to ask a few questions. Nothing very memorable.
When we were done and I was walking back to the newspaper, it dawned on me. For some reason — probably it was his quiet, gentle demeanor, even when acting the bureaucrat — I hadn’t called him any of the fancy names I was supposed to use.
I had called him “Father.”
Thinking back now, I guess that’s what I mean by you being a pastor. I’d like to feel that, without thinking, I’d call you “Father.”
And here’s one final piece of advice, one that Tim also gave in 1982: Don’t live in the mansion.
Actually, Tim suggested that Bernardin sell the cardinal’s mansion in the wealthy Gold Coast neighborhood. He didn’t, and neither did his successor Cardinal Francis George. The thinking, from what I’ve been told by church leaders, is that it would have been a waste to sell the property because it wouldn’t have gotten top dollar.
That seems to be bogus logic to me, but set that question aside.
The archdiocese can keep the mansion and use it as a retreat house, or a conference center. Many parishes throughout the archdiocese have done similar things with empty convent and rectory buildings.
You can find somewhere to live in one of the city’s neighborhoods or suburbs. You could live in an apartment in a two-flat with a roommate. Or maybe in a bungalow with a small community of people — not all clerics either. Maybe a Catholic Worker house.
Look at how much mileage Pope Francis has gotten from refusing to live in the papal apartments. It’s one of the things that has made him the most beloved pope since John XXIII.
If an American politician did something like that, it would seem to be a stunt. (Actually, Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne did exactly that in 1981 when she “moved” into the Cabrini-Green project to blunt criticism of her handling of public housing. It sparked more criticism.)
Pope Francis was able to do this — and you’ll be able to do this — because this goes to the heart of our Catholic faith.
We are a religion based on the washing of feet. Based on the last being first. Based on the leader as the suffering servant.
If you live away from the cardinal’s mansion, you will send a message. You will be saying that you are here to serve. You are here to be one of us.
That’s all we ask. Be one of us.
Patrick T. Reardon
[Patrick T. Reardon, the author of Catholic and Starting Out: 5 Challenges and 5 Opportunities (ACTA), is a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council in Chicago. His comments, however, are not on behalf of the Council.]