Oh well done to the liberal French – they’ve saved Muslim women from being forced by their oppressive menfolk/religion to wear the burka.

Now they’re forced NOT to wear them, by the State.

That’ll work!

• I hate the idea of women feeling they need to cover up to this extreme – rarely feeling the wind against their face and seeing the world through a gauze. But the fable of the Sun and the Wind comes to mind! You won’t cure oppression with oppression and I predict that France will learn this the hard way.


I’ve been rattling on about the Church and Communications since I started this blog – I’ve just noticed the Communication tag has the highest number of posts attached.  My point has been that the Church owes it to her people – and in fact to everyone – to honestly and clearly present the truth.  It is obvious that this has been a huge weakness in the Irish Church over decades – and to be honest I don’t think it’s much better now.

Yes – step up to the plate about the disaster of the way clerical abuse was dealt with – no excuses or attempts to avoid the full responsiblity, no return to past practises of sweeping terrible crimes under the carpet for years.  But also, step up to the plate about what the Church DOES have to offer, what it IS doing now to rectify the past, what is central message still IS! What purpose does it serve to allow a wrong impression about how the Church is now dealing with child safeguarding to go unchallenged across the media? Is this truth or justice? What purpose does it serve for the Church to continue, but in a different way, to allow the truth to be hidden?

Andrew O'Connell makes A LOT of sense!

I won’t go on – because what I’ve been trying to say has been said most effectively by Andrew O’Connell in this weeks Irish Catholic.  And his outline of  a Church communications “rapid response unit” is exactly what is needed. Please do read his article – and then talk to other people about it – especially if you’re friendly with any bishops…

Church needs a rapid response unit – Andrew O’Connell

It is always worth reading the text of any of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s talks.  In spite of huge focus on the “strong forces” (which quickly became “dark forces”) phrase in his talk to the Knights of Columbanus, there was a huge amount to reflect on – and to act on in that talk.

Likewise in his recent address in the UK to the Oxford Newman Society.   The lecture gives us more insight into the Archbishop’s approach to the whole abuse scandal.   It also gives more insights into how the much spoken of renewal might take place.  In particular  I feel he really hits the nail on the head in his analysis of the roots of the crisis of faith in the Church here in Ireland.

And I wholeheartedly agree with his comments on the role of the parish in a new look Church:

A form of religious education which is separated from the parish or some other non-school faith community will almost inevitably cave in the day that school ends. Sacramental formation belongs within the Christian community which welcomes and supports each of us on our journey.   We need a more demanding catechesis, within a parish framework, for those who wish to come forward for admission to the sacraments.

This is something very close to my own heart – how can we expect people now or ever to stay close to a faith they know little about. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to quote St Paul’s

but how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?

Take a few minutes to read the whole text – it’ll only take you about 10 minutes.

4 June 2010 | Address of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to the to Oxford University Newman Society.

Just heard that Fr Kieran O’Reilly has been appointed as new bishop of Killaloe, replacing Bishop Willie Walsh. So of course I googled him – and I like what I see.  A missionary bishop – that sounds like exactly what Ireland might just need at the moment.

In fact the the list of skills he has sounds like a wish list you might write for a new bishop here. He has pastoral experience in various parts of Africa, has done academic studies in Sacred Scripture but has particular interest too in justice issues.  Very importantly, he has great leadership experience, having been twice elected Superior General of the Society of African Missions (SMA).  He’s also quite young, and having been out of Ireland for much of his ministry, will be able to bring much need fresh perspectives.  I like what he has to say about need for on-going theological training for priests and for others trying to bring the faith into the world. Here’s an example from the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”: Fr Kieran O’Carroll on Sacred Scripture in the Church.

But the thing I like most is that he is a missionary. That’s what we need here.

I will be commenting in more detail on the quite long talk given by Archbishop Martin last night. He covered a lot of issues and made some really excellent points that are rarely made. I’m making this short post now to strongly urge you to read the full talk – there is a lot more to what he said than the short and dramatic sounding extracts we’ve been hearing today.

Here’s the link: THE FUTURE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IRELAND- Speaking Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, 10th May 2010

Gerry presents The Late Late Show (from RTE.ie)

I didn’t listen to Gerry Ryan very much – too often the views he expressed – with characteristic gusto – were views I disagree with – with equal gusto.  It’s not that I have a problem with people having views I don’t agree with (so you can all give a big sigh of relief 😀 ) but I find it frustrating when I have to listen for long periods to people – well I have to say it – pontificating if there isn’t any opportunity for those views to be argued, questioned, challenged.

Gerry was good at pontificating and he rarely had anyone on his show who was capable of arguing the toss. To be fair to him, there aren’t that many people out there any more who are BOTH willing AND able to capably argue the toss when it comes to matters of belief.   And so, Gerry in his time had quite a bit of influence in shaping the way his listeners thought about lots of things.  I heard one of his friends saying that Gerry had his finger on the pulse and could often detect the way public reaction would go: certainly he was good at that, but I feel that some of the reason for that was that he was that he was one of the opinion formers, one of those who shaped public reaction.

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So as I was saying – maybe if we listen to and act on the small, seemingly ordinary, suggestions the Pope makes in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland we might get some unexpected results. One of those suggestions was to look to the example and intercession of the Cure of Ars, the patron saint of parish priests. And here’s a great opportunity to get started: his relics will be in Ireland from 25th to 29th of April, click HERE for all the details.

Now, most of us won’t get to the venues listed – so as a little flavour of what kind of man he was, have a look at this very short video clip by Fr Tom Norris, Professor of Systematic Theology at Maynooth College.

(BTW – just read a very good, very readable book by Fr Norris: A Fractured Relationship. Faith and the Crisis of Culture, Dublin: Veritas 2007)  It’s worth buying – only €14 in Veritas and if you order is now, you’ll have it in a day or two!  )

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