Thursday, June 30, 2016
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
This week's INM Irish newspapers' column.
This year the talk is all about bins. Last year it was water. But right now the bane of my life is phones.
Over the last few months the signal in my house has disimproved.
A civil-minded woman on the road emailed residents notifying them that she was having difficulties with her phone signal and wanted to know was it a problem bigger than her phone.
A wise woman. Emails started pouring in. Everyone on the road was having difficulties. And it was not one specific phone provider but everyone, irrespective, who they were with, was having problems.
On a number of occasions I phoned my phone provider, Vodafone. I was promised a return call within five days. It never happened.
So, last week, annoyed, I called. Get through to Egypt. I phone on my landline as the signal on the mobile is too weak and I did not want the call to go down. If my Arabic were as good as the English of the Vodafone representative with whom I spoke, I sure would be delighted. But it was clear English was not his mother tongue and there were moments when I felt I was not being perfectly understood. In such a situation, emphasis, nuances can easily be lost.
The upshot of the story is that a building in the vicinity has been demolished and on top of that building was a phone mast. With the building razed to the ground, the mast is no more.
On my first try, Vodafone was willing to give me a booster mechanism to improve the signal. It is priced at €100 and they would give it to me for €50. I was having none of it. I drew a parallel with my electricity provider and argued what an uproar there would be if a power station were decommissioned and as a result customers lost supply. We agreed to disagree and I requested to discuss my plight with someone more senior.
Vodafone kept their word. The following day I was contacted and asked for specific details. In a subsequent call they admitted that the removal of the nearby mast was the reason for the poor signal in my house. They agreed to add credit to my account and would post me out the booster mechanism free of charge.
It's great fun to win battles like that but it takes a lot of time, energy and maybe even brass neck. But it's worth it.
The lesson has to be that you always have to be ready and willing to fight your corner and for many people such behaviour might well seem odious.
What baffles me most of all in this case is how come Vodafone and the other phone providers had not planned in advance replacing the mast that, has been decommissioned. Vodafone have told me it will be a number of months before the mast is replaced at another location.
The demolition of the building in question had been flagged for a long time. The dogs on the street knew it was to be knocked. The phone companies surely knew exactly the resultant consequences.
Why did they not move faster? Wouldn't it have been nice of them to have written to customers in advance to explain what was happening?
The moral of the story is one has to be on constant guard to make sure you get what you pay for. Is that really how it should be? Nevertheless, I have to say thank you to Vodafone. But had I not got a brass neck the signal in my house would be negligible.
Monday, June 27, 2016
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Saturday, June 25, 2016
He spent a number of years working in Argentina.
The 'Thinking Anew' column in today's Irish Times.
This day last week the first British European Space Agency astronaut, Tim Peake returned to earth, parachuting out of the skies over Kazakhstan. As he and his two colleagues were being escorted away from the capsule a young woman walked beside him and there stitched on to her shirt was a white, blue and red tricolour, the flag of the Russian Federation. A lovely young woman with a great smile. She was there assisting Tim in his first traumatic moments back on earth.
Looking at the group of people, smiling, so delighted with the success of the mission and from many countries, including the US, the Russian Federation and Britain, honestly brought goose pimples to my skin. Cosmonauts and astronauts returning to earth in a Soyuz capsule must be a remarkable moment of human genius working in cooperation, throwing away all the differences that so often cause so much hatred and evil in the world.
It's difficult to equate that cooperation in far-off Kazakhstan with Nato manoeuvres that are currently taking place in Poland.
On that same day Gerry Moriarty in this newspaper reported the story of the soccer-loving Turner family from Northern Ireland, attending all the matches of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the current European Soccer Championships. Their late father, Canon Edgar Turner (96), had bought tickets for the Euros but unfortunately died some weeks ago. Moriarty described him as a man, "who bequeathed his love of soccer to his two children and also a concept of the game as unifying and all-embracing, and a way to experience new countries and cultures.”
The day before the Soyuz landing, the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron and Labour's leader, Jeremy Corbyn stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the Yorkshire town of Birstall to honour the memory of Labour MP Jo Cox, who had been savagely murdered the previous day. Jo Cox in her short time as an MP had made it quite clear that working together in harmony and solidarity is the only way to solve our problems.
Senior Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, writing in 'The Daily Telegraph' referred to her as "a force of nature, a five-foot-bundle of Yorkshire grit and determination, absolutely committed to helping other people".
"I first met her shortly after she came into the House of Commons for the first time last year. She came to see me to talk about international development, the issue she’d done so much work on.
"She said she wanted to set up a new parliamentary group to talk about Syria and the appalling situation there.
"What was so striking about that was that here was a newly-elected Labour MP who had so little time for the petty aspects of party-political life of Westminster.
"She was fearless, utterly fearless. Last year, we went to see the Russian ambassador in London, to give him a rollicking about the terrible way his country has behaved in Syria.
"Jo got the better of him: it was her mixture of charm and steel. Her great passion in politics was helping the poorest people in the world."
In tomorrow's Gospel Luke (9: 51 - 62) tells us how Jesus was not welcome in a Samaritan village because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John hear this they say:
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes? Jesus turned and rebuked them..."
Do we ever learn? And yet people like Jo Cox, those scenes on the ground in Kazakhstan, should surely prompt us to listen to the words of Jesus. The flag of the Russian Federation on that young woman, and watching David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn stand side-by-side in the midst of such wrong-doing are images that will stay with me forever.
Friday, June 24, 2016
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
The EU has brought peace to nations that have been so often embroiled in war.
The European Union is all about subsidiarity and if the Germans have got too powerful then don't just blame the Germans, as the blame can be spread out among all the participants who sit around the table.
I can't help thinking that our world has far too many similarities with the Weimar Republic.
Monday, June 20, 2016
A new post appears on a daily basis.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
The cheek, the crassness, the arrogance, the awful behaviour of senior clerics is told in simple and real words in 'Spotlight', which tells the story of the work 'The Boston Globe' did in exposing clerical child sex abuse in the diocese of Boston.
The conniving, 'the club mentality' and that sense that 'we know best' is cleverly expressed.
It's embarrassing to hear anyone, but especially senior church officials, blame the media and politicians for the demise of church practice.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Friday, June 17, 2016
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Then again, if she smelled or saw something that interested her ahead, she suddenly forgot her tiredness and could shoot off at great speed.
They learn all our tricks, or is it that we are all tarred with the same brush?
Friday, June 10, 2016
Europe needs the EU. Ireland needs it, the UK needs it, Germany needs it, as do Greece, the Czech Republic, all 28 member States.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Most times the best solutions involve people talking directly with each other. But sadly that's not the way many in the Catholic Church operate, especially its senior clerics.
Below the letter is the column to which the then pp, Billy Crean is referring. Unfortunately the letter has a number of inaccuracies, also grammatical errors, nor was it constructive.
And you don't have to be an expert in anything to note the nasty tone throughout the letter.
Fr Billy Crean was pp in Castlegregory while I was living in the village and working at The Kerryman.
It is with regret and considerable sadness that I am obliged to address some issues raised by your columnist, Michael Commane OP in a recent issue (9th May '12)
He speaks of not being familiar with the world of the diocesan priesthood.
I write as one who served as parish priest in the Parish of Castlegregory/Cloghane for seven years, where Michael Commane resided for all of that time. During those years I sought to work co-operatively with him.
Michael, though a priest of the Dominican Order, has for many years lived outside any Dominican Religious Community (sic). he is, in ecclesial terms, a 'freelance priest'. This arrangement is clearly agreed between him and his religious superior. I respect it but I do not understand it's (sic) rationale.
Michael has been in priesthood for all of 40 years, as he has stated in his column. Is it not extraordinary that a man who has had the privilege of formation in the Dominican theological tradition, not just in Ireland but also in the Angelicum University in Rome, run by the Dominican Order, should expect a 'Mommy' or 'Daddy' religious person to engage with him personally on the great Christian Mystery of the Resurrection and other religious questions?
Surely, he, intelligent and gifted as he is, ought to be reaching out and assisting others to grapple with the issues of faith and spirituality rather than bemoaning his personal concerns.
I particularly take issue with his perpetual denigration of the diocesan priesthood. The men who serve in our parishes are genuine men, imperfect as we all are, who serve according to their best lights. It is deeply offensive and unfair for someone in priestly ministry who has chosen to 'suit himself' to criticize (sic) so severely those who have committed themselves to communities to which they were asked to serve and said 'Yes.
This is the column to which the letter writer is referring.
By Michael Commane.
I can well imagine if anyone sees the name of Cardinal Seán Brady in this column they might well decide to move on and read something else.
I can understand so well. I found myself doing it when reading newspapers over the weekend.
Nevertheless, I'd like to make a few comments on church issues in this column, using the Brady controversy as a springboard.
I can hear people say that it's time the Catholic Church was closed down. I understand that. I can hear people say that this is yet another attack on the church. I understand that too.
My head is in a tumble. Turmoil reigns. But let me stop there for a second. My head has been in a tumble for long before any of this 'stuff' began to emerge.
I belong to a religious order, the Dominicans. I know little or nothing about the world of diocesan priests.
But I have always felt and thought that among priests there is a 'group think' thing that is profoundly unhealthy. All that gossip that circulates as to who will be the next bishop here or there is childish and painful.
But maybe that has happened because of the curious way in which bishops are appointed.
There is a problem with how authority, discipline and communion/fellowship
work within the institutional church.
There could be well an opinion abroad which seems to think that the church is one big monolith. It is anything but and right now it seems in serious difficulty.
I am a priest close to 40 years and never once has a superior or a bishop sat me down and asked me what I might think about church teaching on the divinity of Christ or what my views are on the resurrection. Indeed, I have never ever been asked what I think about the central issues of my faith.
It seems to be all taken for granted. And once a man is ordained a priest it is quite likely that he will never once in his priestly life be requested to attend a retraining course or study the most recent scholarship in biblical or theological research.
Yes, there are a myriad courses available for priests to attend so that they can up-skill themselves in theology, philosophy and pastoral care. I don’t think it is inaccurate to say that the vast majority of priests, once ordained, are almost a law unto themselves, that is, unless the proverbial hits the fan. Priests manage to run their own little fiefdoms in Ireland.
All the discussion at present surrounding controversy in the church concerns issues related or connected to sex, anything at all that might in the most tenuous way be linked to sexual issues: married priests, women priests, gay priests, and then the daily barrowful of horrific material dealing with clerical child sex abuse and the cover up.
There seems also to be an element of paranoia with church officialdom/bureaucracy concerning authority. Somehow or other it seems always linked to matters concerning sexuality. And yet a priest could interview a 14-year-old boy asking him the most outrageous questions and leave his father outside the door.
Who allowed those questions to be asked? Who compiled the questions? Any organisation that would allow such questions to be asked to a minor would seem not fit for purpose. And there it is again: the church seems to have an unhealthy attitude to all things to do with human sexuality. Had a woman been in that room that day those terrible questions would not have been asked.
Is it that when it comes to do with sex the church feels that if the genie is
let out of the bottle the world will fall apart and the centre will not hold?
These days we are still celebrating the season of Easter. As Christians we believe that Christ has risen from the dead.
What does that mean for you and for me? I’d much prefer that we would be discussing the various and different views and interpretations of our belief in the resurrection than so many of the topics that are not central to our faith.
On radio last week I heard a caller comment that if a priest has different views than the pope then he should leave and set up his own church.
Our Christian faith is a nuanced tapestry and to try to turn it into a ‘yes Sir no Sir’ command structure suggests an appalling vista, which would do great damage to the universal church.
In the meantime I’d love a bishop or a congregational superior to give me a call and ask what the resurrection means for me and how do I preach about it.