Monday, 31 March 2014

New Auxiliary for Westminster

It has been announced in Rome today  that the Holy Father has appointed Mgr Nicholas Hudson as an Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster, Titual Bishop of Saint Germans. The Bishop-Elect is currently Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart Parish, Wimbledon, having taken up the appointment in January, following on from his post as Rector of the Venerable English College, Rome.

Mgr Nicholas Hudson’s episcopal ordination will take place in Westminster Cathedral at 11am on Wednesday 4th June.

Priest who was forced to stand down after false allegations finds return to work "very tough" and takes leave of absence

A priest forced to leave his post for almost four years after false abuse allegations were made against him has stepped down again after finding his return to work "very tough".

Donegal cleric Fr Eugene Boland (67) returned to his ministry in Co Tyrone two weeks ago, four years after the allegations were made against him – and more than 18 months after a jury took less than an hour to clear him on five charges.

St Mary's Church in Killyclogher, just outside Omagh in Co Tyrone, was packed with 900 parishioners as Fr Boland returned to ministry, just days after being cleared to do so by church authorities in Rome.

The priest wept as he hugged family and friends including his twin sister Aine and his brother, Fr Declan, a parish priest in Strabane.

However, most of the Mass was celebrated by Diocesan Administrator Fr Francis Bradley, with Fr Boland reading the Gospel.

"It's just been tough," Fr Boland told the Irish Independent last night. "It's been very tough and I'm taking a leave of absence."

In a statement on his behalf, a spokesman for the Derry Diocese said the priest had engaged in therapy to help him cope with what he was experiencing and to prepare him properly for a return to public ministry.

But, the statement said, that on his return it had "all too quickly become clear to Fr Boland and diocesan authorities that he is not ready".

The statement added: "For that reason, Fr Boland now needs more time for help and guidance in this regard and has been granted leave of absence from ministry."

The statement said the news of Fr Boland's resignation was understandably "very confusing for many people".

However, it added: "It is hoped that in dealing with this carefully and promptly, the needs of both the Parish of Cappagh and Fr Boland will be addressed appropriately."

His twin sister Aine had spoken out in defence of her brother after the Mass when he returned. "This should never have happened," said the Dublin-based retired teacher.

"Eugene is a great brother and a great priest. He should never have been charged. Everyone knows that."

Fr Boland had been accused by a woman, who was then 15, of inappropriate touching and kissing of her in Derry in the 1990s. He was found not guilty.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Priests Iin Ireland remained on standby to hear confessions as churches remained open overnight as part of a global initiative '24 Hours for the Lord'.

Pope Francis at Confession
The Catholic Church has urged the faithful to think again before they lift the telephone to reveal their innermost secrets to a radio programme and instead consider going to confession.

Priests remained on standby to hear confessions as churches remained open overnight as part of a global initiative '24 Hours for the Lord'.

Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty, speaking in St Andrew's Church in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, said many people were "dragged" into telling their story on air to radio programmes or elsewhere in the media.

But he said the Catholic sacrament of confession was sacred and what was said to the priest was absolutely confidential.

He said the initiative, '24 Hours for the Lord' which began at 5pm yesterday and ends at 5pm today, was about promoting the mercy and forgiveness of God.

The bishop said he was shocked by suggestions last year that priests would be required by the law to break the seal of confession and reveal what had been confessed to them if it related to abuse of a child.

Among those who attended the adoration and confession initiative in Bagenalstown was Patsy Murphy and Kathleen Chada, the grandmother and mother of Eoghan (10) and five-year-old Ruairi Chada who were found dead in a crashed car near Westport last July. Their father, Sanjeev Chada, has been charged with their murder.

Ms Murphy, from Ballinkillen outside Bagenalstown, told the Irish Independent that '24 Hours for the Lord' was about "reconciliation and peace – and peace of mind."


"I know it is going to be very very hard to have compassion for what has happened; it was a very traumatic time for us last year," the grandmother said.

"Last July, we lost our two beautiful grandsons," she said and began to weep, as she added: "I would hope that God has mercy on all the people that are involved, which is going to be very hard for us to accept."

At Bagenalstown, gone were the dark confession boxes as priests and bishop sat quietly around the church. More than 100 people in the church were invited to tell God of their loss and "fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness and the sunlight of serenity".

Bishop Nulty said people needed to get away from the squirm factor around confession and see it as something that could make their lives whole again. He said there was a community dimension for those feeling lonely.

"There are many people who are very lonely in life, who tonight will realise that the lights are on in Bagnelstown church and they can go down there and say a prayer.

"Those people will see that the church doors are open all night and there is a priest there to hear their story.

"Whatever baggage, wound or healing needs to be done in their life – that is available to them this evening," he explained.

The bishop himself spent an hour between midnight and 1am hearing confessions at the small local church.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin, addresses "GOOD GOVERNANCE, CULTURE AND ETHICS"

Good Governance, Culture & EthicPrinter-friendly version

Institute of Public Administration
Speaking notes of  address   by Archbishop
Institute of Public Administration, Dublin, 27th March 2014
Ethics is a buzz word.  Business ethics is a buzz term and indeed business ethics is a business in itself and a growing business.  There is a growing awareness that being labelled “ethical” is not just good for one’s own reputation, but that it can give market advantage to a business; and that being labelled “unethical” is not just to be regarded as sinful, but it is bad business policy and bad for public relations.
 I had a friend many years ago who ran an international development charity and he annually approached five major clothing retail outlets in the United Kingdom asking them to publicly declare their policy regarding their possible involvement in child labour.  He was politely told annually, to mind his own business. He continued each year in his campaign until one of the five decided to go public and declare themselves as child labour free.  At this stage nothing remained but for the other four to do likewise.
 The pressure to act ethically can come in various ways.  The motivation can be religious, or a question of the integrity of one’s own values, or it can come from market pressure and the pressure of public opinion.
 Way back in 1995 I was heavily involved as a Vatican delegate at the World Summit on Social Development which was major UN Conference held in Copenhagen, at its time the largest ever gathering of heads of State and government.   During the negotiations I requested that a reference be inserted drawing attention to the social consequences in developing countries of the use of landmines.  My suggestion met with almost universal opposition. I was told that this was a conference on social development and not on disarmament and the question of landmines could safely be left to the disarmament experts to deal with in their own rather arcane negotiations.    Finally I had to be happy to have inserted into the documents a reference to, and I quote, certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects.
 That may seem to many of you a rather circumspect way of including a reference to land mines.  It is in fact the title of another UN convention which has been ratified by most countries and they could hardly then have rejected it.  I could say that least that reference was better than no reference at all, even though the average reader would not have had a clue then or now as to what it meant.
 Why I tell this story is that just over two years later what was considered a major development in international affairs took place in Ottawa when the vast majority of countries around the world adapted a full-blown International Treaty outlawing the use of land mines.  Why the change of mind?  What had happened in the meantime?  Had I managed to convert the unrepented?  No: international public opinion had changed and dramatically so and it was now more popular in talking about landmines to be on the side of the saints.
 Public opinion can form and greatly influence the common ethics of business, or the common ethical framework of national or indeed of international affairs.  The Ottawa Landmine Treaty was not the result just of a change of heart.  Many military experts still had their doubts about the wisdom of the Treaty, but there comes a moment when anyone watching the tide of public opinion realises that you have best cut your losses and go along with the changed stream of public opinion.   The price of not doing so can be costly.
 Ethics and ethical behaviour especially in the business world march with the times and develop with the times.  The major changes come normally through public opinion changing.  This would have been the case with slavery, with the estimation of the role of women in the workforce, or child labour.   At times the change in public opinion can actually surprise the pragmatic:  take the ban on smoking and the obligation to wear seat belts.     There were many pragmatic reasons to think that an absolute ban would never work and that perhaps some compromise would be the best way of moving forward.    But an idea whose time has come and which is being swept by the tide of public opinion becomes impossible to resist and curiously the total ban or the total imposition becomes then easier to sell than the compromise.
 But for public opinion to change there have to be forerunners.  There have to be those men and women of intuition and innovation, of courage and conviction who are prepared with determination to take a stand and to take a principled stand and to take an uncompromising stand.   In the complex world of business and politics the art of the compromise is an essential part of the day- to-day ability to move forward.  But the level of compromise which becomes acceptable is determined by those who do not compromise.
Curiously democracy requires another presence in society than that in which everything is decided by majorities.  The Thatcher government attempted on more than one occasion to reintroduce the death penalty and it had solid support in public opinion, but members of parliament consistently voted against it.   The single issue campaign can be extremely effective, for good and for the not so good. Democracy without groups which unflinchingly espouse and defend values and principles can easily slip into a dangerous relativism of constant compromise.  When it comes to the defence of unchanging values in a society characterised by radical and continual change there may be need of some whose principle is “no surrender”. 
After another UN Conference, I went with an African delegate to a shopping market and he showed great interest in a small carpet which he felt would make a wonderful gift for his wife.   The shop owner told him that the price was $100.  To my great embarrassment my friend offered $1 and despite a certain amusement on the part of the trader my friend stood his ground as if he was really serious.  For most of the morning we came back to the stall, four or five times at least, and my friend only began moving from one to five dollars when the seller had gone down below $50.  He eventually got the carpet for $10 and both he and the trader were happy.  I tell the story to show that the uncompromising can very often arrive at the best compromises.  An ethics with built on compromise alone will always be weak.  Cheap ethics is of no avail to anyone.  Veneer ethics is useless.  In a society where compromise is the order of the day and where many dislike the dogmatic and the inflexible or reject any concept of the absolute, we need the uncompromising.
 That said, public opinion is a two edged sword especially in situations which are not black and white in the ethical sphere.  Two of us can set out to journey towards and attain the same societal value, but from very different starting points and taking different paths.  This is a challenge in all economics where the desired values may be similar but the means chosen to attain them can be very different.  This is the case with political theory and with political parties which seek to attain the common good with at times radical different policies regarding the role of government and business and the private sector.   That is why we have a plurality of political parties; that is why we have elections; that is why we need choice.  Public opinion is not the same as populism. When public opinion becomes populism, then choice is undermined.
 Ethics must attempt to involve the widest possible acceptance and ownership if it is to attain its effects.  But public opinion is not quite the same as ownership.  Public opinion can be manipulated; it can be emotional rather than rational; it can easily treat superficially and reduce to apparent simplicity situations which are in fact quite complex.  The judgement of public opinion is a blunt tool, with very little space for subtle details.  This is especially true in situations in which a culture of spin begins to dominate.  You can win many battles with spin, but spin in the long run weakens victory of the real war which is about trust and confidence.   When spin gets out of control, then it gets tied up in knots and people are left adrift not knowing where they stand, where the truth is to be found, and the confidence in institutions is weakened.  When that occurs in public institutions and in public life then the consequences of a failure in trust are serious. Spin is a huge business in Ireland and spin is rarely the friend of transparency.
 Ethics must have an independent foundation.  Ethics is not ideology or just a pragmatic programme of ideas.  The very nature of ethics is that personal responsibility must at its centre.  We are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of our acts. Independent personal responsibility is always at the heart of ethical behaviour.  Ethics is not an ideology which we trot out, or a handbook of does and don’ts that we turn to for ready answers.  Ethics is always about the way we responsibly and authentically structure our own personal behaviour.  It is about the responsible application of fundamental ethical principles to the decisions we make.  In the long term a just society is attained by people who live justly and with integrity.
 In today’s society in which demands are on the increase, funding is being cut back and ever higher standards of medical care are rightly being set, the level of risk for members of boards of governors is unnerving.   There is always insurance which covers financial liability, but one also has to think of reputational damage that could result from the wrong decisions of others.  Boards of governors of voluntary organizations need recognition and even more so require training and support.
 In corporate governance also the concept of personal responsibility is central.  It can be very easy to say that I did not know and that the blame is with someone else.  When things go wrong and it comes to the crunch, resignations often take place at the lower levels.   This is a problem also in the Church where the particular autonomous position say of a bishop leaves him as the sole legal representative for actions and where there is a tendency to think that therefore there is no corporate responsibility.  I was stunned on the occasion of the scandals of child sexual abuse to encounter what I came to call the “baking the cake culture”.  I only put in the sugar and he only put in the flour, but neither of us have any responsibility for the cake because were not there when it was put into the oven.  We are all responsible for the foreseeable consequences for our actions and for our omissions.  Real corporate responsibility can only be constructed on the foundation of an acute sense of personal responsibility.
 There are rarely totally black and white ethical decisions.  Yes, good is to be done and evil avoided will be accepted by all.  Most would agree that the exploitation of vulnerable individuals is unethical.  But there are so many ways in which our consumer driven society exploits all our vulnerabilities.
 I recently attended a fascinating seminar sponsored by the Dublin Archdiocese’s Parish for the Travelling People on “Debt and Dying”.  It was a fascinating cultural insight into the pressures that are placed on traveller families to spend exorbitant amounts on lavish funeral services and monuments.
 The discussions showed the peer pressure that was put on families, but also the economic pressure that was placed on traveller families to be more extravagant than their relatives.  Much of the pressure came from undertakers who know exactly the type of products that their clients would like, but do not need.
 What was interesting was the wisdom of some of the older members of the travelling community who saw the extravagance and it uselessness.  But they also had responses that were very practical.   I had thought that they would have been asking me to preach and to condemn abuses and hopefully then to change people’s hearts and attitudes.  They were in fact much more practical and said that that was needed, for example, was for cemetery authorities to impose a ban on monuments over a certain height and to enforce that ban.
 Ethics must be value generated, but the enforcement of ethical standards can often be attained not through preaching and moralising but by establishing a down to earth legal and governance framework which makes unethical behaviour less likely and less attractive.  In the mid-nineties the World Bank wished to draw attention to the enormous social and economic cost of corruption in Latin American countries.  The conventional wisdom of the time, however, was that international organisations had no right to intervene in the internal affairs of independent sovereign states. Loud anti-corruption campaigns were never going to be tolerated.  The World Bank approached the question proposing packages of technical reform of the tax systems.  The existing systems were so complex and involved so many passages – and therefore many hands to be greased – that the simplification of the tax system made the system much more efficient and greatly reduced the possibility of corruption.  Ethics do not always require preaching and moralising to be applied.
 Ethics requires governance and regulation and enforcement because we live in a world of human beings and where corruption will always appear on the order of the day.  It should also be noted that one of the most common forms of corruption is inefficiency, which robs people, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable of the quality services which are their democratic due and for which they pay anyway.  In this sense there should be no real conflict or tension between ethics and effective leadership and management of an organization.
 Transparency is an essential part of efficient governance.  Transparency involves allowing all stakeholders in business and in public service to know their rights and to be able to claim their rights and entitlements.  A survey done at the turn of the century, again by the World Bank, called Voices of the Poor was the widest ever consultation of the poor and how they viewed their needs.  Interestingly the poor identified as the single most significant factor that would help them rise from poverty “voice”.  They found that the very institutions which were institutionally constituted to defend their rights – police and local authorities - were often the ones who deprived them of their rights and that they were left with no recourse.
 A business just as an economic system must not just be marked by transparency; it must be also be fit for purpose; it must clearly understand its mission as a service.  Pope Francis, in his message to this year’s World Economic Forum, in Davos expressed the hope that humanity might be served by wealth and not ruled by it.
The economy has a social function.  Economic growth and profit and wealth, no matter how important they are, are never simply ends in themselves.  They should lead to social equity, to an equitable growth of society and to enhancing the people and the human infrastructures which strengthen society. Economic growth always brings with it social responsibility.
There has never been a successful project of sustainable social development and inclusion which was not accompanied by sustained economic growth.  But sustained economic growth has never on its own attained social progress.  The difficulty of maintaining this balance could be seen here in Ireland and still can be seen in how we manage the tension between growth and austerity and how we manage to foster growth and maintain social sustainability.
Are there then non-economic values which economic growth requires to achieve social progress and inclusivity? Where do we find economic models which manage to foster both growth and equity?   What is the place of ethical values in the design of an economy?
The economy is part of a wider social framework.  This is not just moralising.  An economy is more sustainable if it springs up within a stable society in which human needs are addressed and in which people have voice, in which all feel that they can be participants.  Exclusion weakens any society; exclusion damages an economy.  A society which fosters innovation and participation is a society which fosters a knowledge based economy.  An economy which fosters passivity will be a weaker economy.
For many leading economists, economics belongs within the framework of ethics.  What Kant said of politics can be applied to economics, namely that for economics to move forward it must first of all give precedence to ethics.  Amarthia Sen stressed that an absence of reference to moral philosophy leads to an impoverishment of economics.  Pope John Paul stressed that there are fundamental human needs that do not belong in the market place, as goods that can be bought and sold.  Pope Benedict called for the insertion into economic models of the value of gratuity as a complement to profit alone. He stressed that “when we loose hope in a transcendent horizon, we loose a taste for gratuitousness, a taste for the good for its own sake.”
Even the most capitalistic systems see a place for corporate social responsibility.  Economics cannot be based on individual or corporate profit alone but has responsibilities towards the common good.   Pope Francis stresses that one of the greatest contributions to the common good today is job creation.  Again an interesting link between economic and ethical language!
Social and economic progress belong together.  At a time of rapid change or at a time of challenge such as ours, ownership of social change is vital if change is to be accepted and fully embraced. Ownership of social process does not mean exclusive private possession of the process on the part of any sector.   Each sector of society must be able to find ownership within the terms of its own heritage. 
The market can only function in an ethical and judicial framework where the vulnerable are protected and the natural arrogance of the powerful is curbed.  We see today how gross and unregulated individual misbehaviour in market activity affects the stability of companies but also of countries and then of the men and women who make up the society in which we live.  Irresponsible traders do not just gamble with the future of a big multinational firm – they eventually affect the lives of people all over the world.
Government and business need to work together. Government and business have the same interest in many ways when one is talking about economic growth.  Governments have the responsibility to provide a favourable environment for the growth of business.  This means that there can be a legitimate corporate interest in shaping aspects of the politico-economic environment.  But this interest can become dangerous where there are insufficient regulatory mechanisms in place.  We need the market and we need a market which has the freedom to operate as it should. But market and regulator should never become bedfellows.  Unregulated market speculation or unfair interference in competition law damages the economy.
Business needs government.  But governments can also fall prey to corruption.   Smaller government may be more desirable than some of the past experiences of massive and unproductive government interference in society and the market.  But lack of effective government is equally disastrous, just as inefficient government is. Government is essential to guarantee the ethical and juridical framework within which the market can flourish and within which ethical market behaviour will be fostered.
Running a good business means ensuring gain for the shareholders, making a profit through providing a quality product or service and of course that this also involves giving employment. The market involves risk and no one should complain when the person who takes risk makes a healthy profit.  That has traditionally been the way in which the businessperson looked at good business.   And anyone who challenged that viewpoint would be reminded – also rightly - that putting yourself out of business through increasing your costs helps no one.
On the other hand we should all feel a certain discomfort about huge and disproportionate profit within business.  Business is embedded in the reality of society and attains benefits from a healthily managed society and must then share some responsibility for society.   In some way, part of profit should be directed not just to the shareholders but also to wider concerns of the society in which the business is embedded and from which it benefits.  Investment will be attracted to places where a creative and innovative workforce is available.  But can business simply take that for granted and then plea for a form of small government which is then less able to provide on-going investment in the type of education and research which made strong growth possible in the first place?     Everyone must assume responsibility.   In a globalised world, taxation should be more closely linked with the concrete services from which business draws benefit.
In today’s Ireland where we have very high levels of youth unemployment, the answer is not just sending more and more people to third level education and even subsidising it.  There must be more room for apprenticeship and the involvement of business in the task of generating employment prospects for the young. Countries like Germany and Switzerland have done this successfully.
Business also needs law and we need law enforcement and we need that especially today within an architecture of business which has become international and reaches beyond national boundaries, both as regards its activities and its effects.  It is interesting to note that organised crime was one of the first groups to recognise the advantages of globalisation. I don’t just mean drug or weapons dealers, but also new forms of irresponsible speculation and dishonest behaviour within the business community.  An ethical framework is not just pretty words on a piece of paper or in a mission statement but is something that must be integral to the way people work and exercise their role in society.  The new globalised nature of the economy requires new structures on an international level to combat irresponsible and criminal behaviour and that is urgent.
When I speak of law and law enforcement I feel strongly that in Ireland today we need to restore confidence in the workings of the law.  While there have been failings within an Garda Síochána, a culture of constant criticism of our police force is not good for society or for the economy or for the mainstream of a force which is highly dedicated and highly professional.  The regrets expressed at the closure of Garda Stations is in itself a real expression of appreciation for the contribution the Gardai make within our communities and the respect in which they are held.
What can and should a religious leader say in the current situation.  Should he or she just leave it to “the experts” and return to the sacristy?  Can religious values influence economic and social stability?
The job of the Christian churches is to preach the message of the Gospel. This is a message that is addressed to every individual and that has social implications for the people who choose to follow the message of Jesus Christ. The basic message of the Christian churches is about the love of God, and there are two characteristics of the love of God that I believe are particularly interesting in the modern world. One is gratuity. God loves people without any conditions. Take the story of the Prodigal Son, who comes back home to find that his father is there waiting for him. The son has his little negotiating speech ready, but he doesn’t have to use it. The son is just welcomed – that is gratuity.   The other is super-abundance. The love of God surprises you – it is so generous that it turns you head over heels.
These two values stand in contrast to a market-driven consumer society in which everything is precisely measured out.  If the label says 16 oz, you won’t get an ounce more. If we truly lived in an environment like this, where you got only what you paid for and nothing beyond, none of us would be where we are today.  We are all where we are today because someone gave us a break; someone put enough trust in us to give us a chance.  The world needs the values that create generosity; that make you care about another person even if that person is weak; that motivate you to make an investment in people.
          The market is an extraordinarily effective instrument.  But there are basic human needs which do not belong in the market place, which cannot be bought or sold like commodities.  For those we need something else.  The economy will attain its role if it is complemented by effective government, but also by a society with a heart and with generosity.  This last will be needed more and more in hard times.
Pope Francis is an amazing person who has made his mark on today’s society.  This is due to his extraordinary personality, which is based on his holiness and his understanding that simplicity in life can bring fulfilment in a way which a ruthless and relentless search for wealth cannot.  One of the great challenges, especially for leaders in the Church like myself, is that we can easily admire Pope Francis, but not imitate him.
 Pope Francis is a man of God but he has also shown a remarkable sense of how to govern.  One of the sub-questions posed for this Conference is about combining good leadership and good governance.  Pope Francis has shown remarkable sense of leadership.  He has achieved something that is the real dream of any CEO:  he has turned around the image of his office and of his organization.  He has moved from an organization which was uncertain about its way, bogged down with scandals and challenges.  Pope Francis has given many a new hope and a feeling that that there are reasons why believers can be proud of their Church.   He attained this from the first moment in which he appeared after his election, without the help of expensive public relations strategies and spin doctors.
 He has also taken on the question of governance.  He decided not to live in the traditional Papal apartments, in what was the centre of Vatican administration, but in a community house where he eats every day with the other guests.  This is not just a gesture of humility.  He has totally put out of business those who had traditionally made it their business to manage privileged access to the Pope. He has shown very much that no one is going to tell him how he should behave as a Pope.  He keeps his private diary locked up.  He keeps his phone line busy.
 There is an ethics of leadership and that is an ethics of responsibility and of leading by example.  It is an ethics of leadership which springs from an interior freedom which enables one to disengage from antiquated structures and to reach out freely to people.  One of the most striking examples of Pope Francis was an encounter he had with a young man whose face was covered in sores.  The Pope did not do what most of us would probably have done: greeted him from a safe distance or simply asked him what disease he had. No, he stopped and kissed the man.  There is a basic ethics of leadership which must be a basic ethics of humanity, which is the most challenging ethics of all and one in which all of us, me included, continuously fail.  That fundamental ethics of humanity is however the one without which all our other ethical projects will fall flat. 

 text courtesy of Archdiocese of Dublin

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – The dialogue between God's lament and man's justifications was the theme selected by the Holy Father in the homily he pronounced at this morning's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, attended by Italian ministers and members of parliament. Pope Francis spoke about the infidelity of the People of God, a generation that does not accept His messages, and in their place, seek justifications for their sins. “It was a very great task to drive idolatry from the hearts of his people, to make them docile to His Word. But they followed this route for a little while, before turning back”.

“From being sinners, they went on to become corrupt”, he continued. “It is very hard for a corrupt person to turn back. The sinner, yes, because the Lord is merciful and awaits us all. But the corrupt are fixed on their affairs, and these people were corrupt. They therefore sought to justify themselves, because Jesus, with his simplicity, but with his strength in God, made trouble for them. And, step by step, they ended up convincing themselves that they had to kill Jesus, and one of them said, 'It is better for a man to die for the people'”.

“These people had taken the wrong path. They resisted the salvation of the Lord's love, and drifted from faith, from a theology of faith to a theology of duty: 'You must do this, this and this …'”. Describing them as hypocrites, Jesus said, “'They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them'. They rejected the Lord's love and this rejection set them on a path that was not the dialectic of freedom offered by the Lord, but that of the logic of necessity, where there is no room for the Lord. … They have become 'behavioural': men of good manners, but with bad habits. Jesus called them 'whitewashed sepulchres'. This is the Lord's pain, God's pain, God's lament”.

Pope Francis mentioned that during Lent “we would do well to think about the invitation from the Lord to love, and to ask ourselves, all of us: am I on this path? Or do I risk justifying myself and taking another path? A road with many junctions that does not, however, lead to any promise. … And we pray that the Lord gives us the grace to always follow the path of salvation, to open ourselves to the salvation that comes only from God, through faith, not that which is proposed to us by these 'professionals of duty' who had lost the faith and who led their people with this pastoral theology of duty”.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

(1) THE POPE ENTRUSTS TO MARY ALL THE CITIZENS OF LEBANON (2) Address by secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on THE VIRGIN MARY IN ISLAMIC-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE

Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent a message, on behalf of the Holy Father Francis, to the participants in the eighth Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting, “Together around Mary, Our Lady”. The meeting, which took place in Beirut, Lebanon, to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, was organised by the St. Joseph University Alumni Assocation and the College of Our Lady of Jamhour.

The Holy Father shows his joy at seeing “Christians and Muslims united in their devotion to the Virgin Mary”, and comments that “the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa is a blessed place where everyone can go to invoke heTr”. He also encourages Christians and Muslims to “work together for peace and for the common good, thus contributing to the full development of the person and the edification of society”, and entrusts the participants in the meeting “and all the inhabitants of Lebanon to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Protectress of Lebanon”.



Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – “The Virgin Mary and Islamic-Christian dialogue” was the theme of the address given by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, during the eighth meeting of the Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting which took place yesterday in Beirut, Lebanon, on 25 March, Solemnity of the Annunciation, which is celebrated by both Christians and Muslims. It is an important occasion and was declared a national holiday by the Lebanese government in 2010. In his address, which focused both on the figure of Mary and on the mission of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Ayuso emphasised that the feast of 25 March was “a true example of the co-existence between Muslims and Christians that characterises Lebanese history, in the midst of so many difficulties, and which also constitutes an important example for many other nations”.

“Since Vatican Council II, the Catholic Church recognises that Muslims honour the Virgin mother of Jesus, Mary, and invoke her with piety. … Mary is mentioned various times in the Koran. Respect for her is so evident that when she is mentioned in Islam, it is usual to add 'Alayha l-salam' ('Peace be upon her'). Christians also willingly join in this invocation. I must also mention those shrines dedicated to Mary which welcome both Muslims and Christians. In particular, here in Lebanon, how can we forget the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa?”

“Devotion creates sentiments of friendship: it is a phenomenon open to everyone. The cultural experiences that our communities can share encourage collaboration, solidarity and mutual recognition as sons and daughters of a single God, members of the same human family. Therefore, the Church addresses the followers of Islam with esteem. During the last fifty years, a dialogue of friendship and mutual respect has been constructed”.

With reference to the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, he went on to explain that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “seeks to establish regular relationships with Muslim institutions and organisations, with the aim of promoting mutual understanding and trust, friendship and, where possible, collaboration. In fact, there exist agreements with various Muslim institutions enabling the possibility of holding periodical meetings, in accordance with the programmes and procedures approved by both parties. With regard to the methods of interreligious dialogue and, therefore, the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, we must recall that dialogue is a two-way form of communication. … It is based on witness of one's own faith and, at the same time, openness to the religion of the other. It is not a betrayal of the mission of the Church, and much less a new method of conversion to Christianity. The document 'Dialogue and Proclamation', published jointly by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 1991, identifies four different forms of interreligious dialogue: the dialogue of life, the dialogue of works, the dialogue of theological exchange and the dialogue of religious experience. These four forms demonstrate that it is not an experience confined to specialists”.

Fr. Ayuso concluded by analysing the role of Mary, in the light of the motto of the national holiday in Lebanon, “Together around Mary, Our Lady”. “In the Apostolic Exhortation 'Marialis Cultus', promulgated in 1974 by Pope Paul VI, Mary is presented as 'the Virgin who listens', 'the Virgin who prays', 'the Virgin in dialogue with God'. … But there is also the image of a model of dialogue of seeking when, addressing the Archangel Gabriel, she asks, 'How is it possible?'. Mary, a model for Muslims and Christians, is also a model of dialogue, teaching us to believe, not to close ourselves up in certainties, but rather to remain open and available to others”.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bishop's Pastoral asks married couples to stop using contraceptives

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Additional Resources
Click here for a PDF version of The Language of Love.
In Obedience to Christ: A Pastoral Letter To Catholic Couples and Physicians on the Issue of Contraception
Bishop Glennon P. Flavin  |  Click here.
Humanae Vitae  |  Click here.
Married Love and the Gift of Life  |  Click here.
Mother Teresa, 1994 National Prayer Breakfast  |  Click here.
To read more of Bishop Conley, check out his writings and columns.
Twenty years ago, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta stood before the President of the United States, before senators and congressmen, before justices of the United States Supreme Court.  She spoke about her work among the world’s poor.  She spoke about justice and compassion.  Most importantly, she spoke about love.
“Love,” she told them, “has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them.  This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts.  Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”[1]
Sacrifice is the language of love.  Love is spoken in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who poured out his life for us on the cross. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of the Christian life, sharing in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  And love is spoken in the sacrifice of parents, and pastors, and friends.
We live in a world short on love.  Today, love is too often understood as romantic sentimentality rather than unbreakable commitment. But sentimentality is unsatisfying.  Material things, and comfort, and pleasure bring only fleeting happiness.  The truth is that we are all searching for real love, because we are all searching for meaning. 
Love—real love—is about sacrifice, and redemption, and hope.  Real love is at the heart of a rich, full life.  We are made for real love.  And all that we do—in our lives, our careers, and our families, especially—should be rooted in our capacity for real, difficult, unfailing love.
But today, in a world short on love, we’re left without peace, and without joy.
In my priesthood, I have stood in front of abortion clinics to offer help to women experiencing unwanted pregnancies; I have prayed with the neglected elderly; and I have buried young victims of violence.  I have seen the isolation, the injustice, and the sadness that comes from a world short on love.  Mother Teresa believed, as do I, that much of the world’s unhappiness and injustice begins with a disregard for the miracle of life created in the womb of mothers.  Today, our culture rejects love when it rejects the gift of new life, through the use of contraception
Mother Teresa said that, “in destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife…destroys the gift of love.”
Husbands and wives are made to freely offer themselves as gifts to one another in friendship, and to share in the life-giving love of God.
He created marriage to be unifying and procreative.  To join husband and wife inseparably in the mission of love, and to bring forth from that love something new. 
Contraception robs the freedom for those possibilities.
God made us to love and to be loved.  He made us to delight in the power of sexual love to bring forth new human beings, children of God, created with immortal souls.  Our Church has always taught that rejecting the gift of children erodes the love between husband and wife: it distorts the unitive and procreative nature of marriage.  The use of contraception gravely and seriously disrupts the sacrificial, holy, and loving meaning of marriage itself.
The Church continues to call Catholic couples to unity and procreativity. Marriage is a call to greatness—to loving as God loves—freely, creatively, and generously.  God himself is a community of love—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Christian marriage is an invitation to imitate, and to know, and to share in the joyful freedom of God’s love, an echo of the Holy Trinity.
In 1991, my predecessor, Bishop Glennon P. Flavin, wrote that “there can be no true happiness in your lives unless God is very much a part of your marriage covenant.  To expect to find happiness in sin is to look for good in evil…. To keep God in your married life, to trust in his wisdom and love, and to obey his laws…will deepen your love for each other and will bring to you that inner peace of mind and heart which is the reward of a good conscience.”[2]
God is present in every marriage, and present during every marital embrace.  He created sexuality so that males and females could mirror the Trinity: forming, in their sexual union, the life-long bonds of family.  God chose to make spouses cooperators with him in creating new human lives, destined for eternity.  Those who use contraception diminish their power to unite and they give up the opportunity to cooperate with God in the creation of life.
As Bishop of Lincoln, I repeat the words of Bishop Flavin.  Dear married men and women: I exhort you to reject the use of contraception in your marriage.  I challenge you to be open to God’s loving plan for your life.  I invite you to share in the gift of God’s life-giving love.  I fervently believe that in God’s plan, you will rediscover real love for your spouse, your children, for God, and for the Church.  I know that in this openness to life, you will find the rich adventure for which you were made.
Our culture often teaches us that children are more a burden than a gift—that families impede our freedom and diminish our finances.  We live in a world where large families are the objects of spectacle and derision, instead of the ordinary consequence of a loving marriage entrusted to God’s providence.  But children should not be feared as a threat or a burden, but rather seen as a sign of hope for the future. 
In 1995, Blessed John Paul II wrote that our culture suffers from a “hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and… a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment. ”[3]  Generous, life-giving spousal love is the antitode to hedonism and immaturity: parents gladly give up frivolous pursuits and selfishness for the intensely more meaningful work of loving and educating their children.
In the Diocese of Lincoln, I am grateful for the example of hundreds of families who have opened themselves freely and generously to children.  Some have been given large families, and some have not.  And of course, a few suffer the very difficult, hidden cross of infertility or low fertility.  The mystery of God’s plan for our lives is incomprehensible.  But the joy of these families, whether or not they bear many children, disproves the claims of the contraceptive mentality. 
Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed John Paul II reminded us that, “man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.”[4]  The sexual intimacy of marriage, the most intimate kind of human friendship, is a pathway to sharing in God’s own life.  It is a pathway to the fullness of our own human life; it is a means of participating in the incredible love of God.  Contraception impedes our share in God’s creative love.  And thus it impedes our joy.
The joy of families living in accord with God’s plan animates and enriches our community with a spirit of vitality and enthusiasm.  The example of your friends and neighbors demonstrates that while children require sacrifice, they are also the source of joy, meaning, and of peace.  Who does not understand the great gift of a loving family? 
Yes, being lovingly open to children requires sacrifice. But sacrifice is the harbinger of true joy.  Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to be open to joy.
Of course, there are some true and legitimate reasons why, at certain times, families may discern being called to the sacrifice of delaying children. For families with serious mental, physical, or emotional health problems, or who are experiencing dire financial troubles, bearing children might best be delayed.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that couples must have “just” reasons to delay childbearing. For couples facing difficulties of various kinds, the Church recommends Natural Family Planning: a method for making choices about engaging in fruitful sexual relations. 
Natural Family Planning does not destroy the power to give life: instead, it challenges couples to discern prayerfully when to engage in life-giving sexual acts. It is an integrated, organic and holistic approach to fertility care.
Natural Family Planning is a reliable and trustworthy way to regulate fertility, is easy to learn, and can be a source of unity for couples.  To be sure, using NFP requires sacrifice and patience, but sacrifice and patience are not obstacles to love, they are a part of love itself.  Used correctly, NFP forms gentle, generous husbands, and selfless, patient wives.  It can become a school of virtuous and holy love.
Those who confine sexual intimacy to the infertile times of the month are not engaging in contraceptive practices.  They do not attempt to make a potentially fertile act infertile.  They sacrificially abstain during the fertile time precisely because they respect fertility; they do not want to violate it; they do not want to treat the gift of fertility as a burden.
In some relatively rare instances, Natural Family Planning is used by couples with a contraceptive mentality.  Too often couples can choose to abstain from fertility by default, or out of fear of the consequences of new life.  I encourage all couples who use Natural Family Planning to be very open with each other concerning the reasons they think it right to limit their family size, to take their thoughts to God, and to pray for his guidance. Do we let fear, anxiety, or worry determine the size of our families? Do we entrust ourselves to the Lord, whose generosity provides for all of our needs?
“Perfect love,” scripture teaches, “casts out fear.”[5]
Dear friends, I exhort you to openness in married life.  I exhort you to trust in God’s abundant providence.
I would like to address in a special way Catholic physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.  The noble aim of your profession is to aid men and women as they live according to God’s perfect plan. Bishop Flavin wrote that, as professionals, “you are in a position to be God’s instruments in manifesting his truth, and his love.”[6]
No Catholic healthcare provider, in good conscience, should engage in the practice of medicine by undermining the gift of fertility.  There is no legitimate medical reason to aid in the acts of contraception or sterilization.  No Catholic physician can honestly argue otherwise. 
Healthcare is the art of healing.  Contraception and sterilization may never be considered healthcare.  Contraception and sterilization denigrate and degrade the body’s very purpose.  Fertility is an ordinary function of health and human flourishing; and an extraordinary participation in God’s creative love.  Contraception and sterilization stifle the natural and the supernatural processes of marriage, and cause grave harm.  They treat fertility as though it were a terrible inconvenience, or even a physical defect that needs to be treated. 
Contraception attempts to prevent life from the beginning, and when that fails, some contraception destroys newly created life.  Many contraceptives work by preventing the implantation of an embryonic human being in the uterus of his or her mother. 
Contraception is generally regarded by the medical community as the ordinary standard of care for women. The Church’s teachings are often regarded as being opposed to the health and well-being of women.  But apart from the moral and spiritual dangers of contraception, there are also grave physical risks to the use of most chemical contraceptives.  Current medical literature overwhelmingly confirms that contraception puts women at risk for serious health problems, which doctors should consider very carefully.
Some women have health conditions that are better endured when treated by hormonal contraceptives.  But the effects of contraception often mask the underlying conditions that endanger women’s health.  Today, there are safe, natural means of correcting hormonal imbalances, and solving the conditions that are often treated by contraception.
Contraception is an unhealthy standard of care.  All doctors can do better.
Catholic physicians are called to help their patients and their colleagues learn the truth about the dangers of contraception and sterilization.  The good example of a physician who refuses to prescribe contraceptives and perform sterilizations or a pharmacist who refuses to distribute contraceptives in spite of antagonism, financial loss, or professional pressure is an opportunity to participate in the suffering of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the Catholic physicians and pharmacists who evangelize their patients and colleagues through a commitment to the truth.
Tragically, a majority of people in our culture and even in our Church, have used contraception.  Much of the responsibility for that lies in the fact that too few have ever been exposed to clear and consistent teaching on the subject.  But the natural consequences of our culture’s contraceptive mentality are clear.  Mother Teresa reflected that “once living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.”[7]  She was right.  Cultural attitudes that reject the gift of life lead very easily to social acceptance for abortion, for no-fault divorce, and for fatherless families.  For fifty years, America has accepted the use of contraception, and the consequences have been dire. 
Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to read the encyclical by Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae with your spouse, or in your parish.  Consider also Married Love and the Gift of Life, written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 
Dear brother priests, I encourage you to preach about the dangers of contraception, and to visit with families in your parish about this issue.
Dear brothers and sisters, if you have used or prescribed contraception, the merciful love of God awaits.  Healing is possible—in the sacrament of penance.  If you have used or supported contraception, I pray that you will stop, and that you will avail yourself of God’s tender mercy by making a good heartfelt confession.
Today, openness to children is rarely celebrated, rarely understood, and rarely supported.  To many, the Church’s teachings on life seem oppressive or old-fashioned.  Many believe that the Church asks too great a sacrifice. 
But sacrifice is the language of love.  And in sacrifice, we speak the language of God himself.  I am calling you, dear brothers and sisters, to encounter Christ in your love for one another.  I am calling you to rich and abundant family life.  I am calling you to rejoice in the love, and the sacrifice, for which you were made.  I am calling your family to share in the creative, active love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I pray that in true sacrifice, each of you will know perfect joy.
Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the Holy Family, and in the love of Jesus Christ,
+James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
March 25, 2014
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord


pray for us sinners, now


at the hour of our death, Amen

Happy Feastday, Blessed Mother  -  Welcome blessed Lord, God of all creation

Monday, 24 March 2014

Pope Francis: "A parish that does not have a pastoral Council and a Council for economic affairs is not a good parish: it lacks life”.

Vatican City, 22 March 2014   This morning in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the members of the “Corallo” Association, a network of local Catholic-inspired broadcasters from all regions of Italy. The Pope gave an off-the-cuff address to those present, in which he defined the virtues, mission and sins of the communication media.

“Your work should be carried out along these three routes: the path of truth, the path of goodness, and the path of beauty. But truth, goodness and beauty are consistent – they come from within, they are human. And, on the path of truth, along these three routes, we can find mistakes and even traps. 'I think, I look for the truth …': be careful not to become an intellectual without intelligence. 'I go in search of goodness': be careful not to be an ethicist without goodness. 'I like beauty': yes, but be careful not to do what is frequently done: do not look for cosmetics to create an artificial beauty that does not exist”.

The Pope went on to refer to the “harmonious unity” of the work of broadcasters, commenting that, although there are large and small media entities, “in the Church there is neither large nor small: everyone has his or her function and help for others, the hand cannot exist without the head, and so on. We are all members, and also your media, whether they be large or small, are members, harmonised in their vocation of service to the Church. No-one should consider themselves to be too small in relation to another that is too large. Everyone is important in this harmony, for the Church is harmony in diversity. … It is important to seek unity, and not to subscribe to the logic that the large fish swallows the smaller fish”.

Pope Francis then went on to speak about clericalism, which he defined as “one of the ills of the Church. But it is a sin of complicity, as priests are subject to the temptation to clericalise the laity, while many laypersons ask on their knees to be clericalised, because it is convenient. … So this is a sin committed by two hands. We must resist this temptation. The layperson must be a layperson, baptised and with the strength that comes from baptism. A servant, but with a lay vocation, and this cannot be sold, bargained for, and one is not complicit with the other, because it is a question of identity. … Is the deacon or the priest more important than the layperson? No! … The function of the layperson cannot be exercised by the priest, and the Holy Spirit is free: sometimes it inspires a priest to do something, and at other times it inspires a layperson. This is something that is discussed in the pastoral Council, which is very important. A parish that does not have a pastoral Council and a Council for economic affairs is not a good parish: it lacks life”.

Finally, the Holy Father commented that the media embody many virtues, but also many sins. With regard to the latter, the three most significant are those which “take the road of lies: … disinformation, slander and defamation. The last two are serious, but not as dangerous as the first. Slander is a mortal sin, but it is possible to clarify the situation and become aware that it is slander. Defamation is a mortal sin, but it is possible to say: this is an injustice, because this person did something at that time but has now repented and changed their life. But disinformation means telling half-truths, the part that is most convenient to me, and not saying the other half. Therefore, those who watch the television or listen to the radio are not able to arrive at a perfect judgement, because they do not have all the elements necessary to do so, and the media do not give them. Please, shun these three sins”.

from VIS

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Pope Francis appoints Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins to the Vatican commission on protecting children

Pope Francis today appointed Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins to the Vatican commission on protecting children from clerical abuse.
The group has been formed to help the Catholic Church tackle the problem of clerical paedophilia that has dogged it for two decades.
The formation of a group of experts was first announced in December, and today the pope named the first eight members - four female and four male - from eight different countries.
These initial members will be responsible for rounding out the “commission for safeguarding minors” with other experts from around the world and defining the scope of the group’s action.
“Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst Her highest priorities,” Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
“Looking to the future without forgetting the past, the Commission will take a multi-pronged approach to promoting youth protection,” he said.
These will include taking criminal action against offenders, educating people about the exploitation of children, developing best practices to better screen priests, and defining the civil and clerical duties within the Church, Lombardi said.
Among those named to the group was Ms Collins, who was a victim of sexual abuse in Ireland in the 1960s and who has campaigned actively for the protection of children and for justice for victims of clerical paedophilia.
Another member of the commission is the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, known as a pioneer for a more open approach to tackling scandal since he published a database of Boston clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors online in 2011.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin congratulated Ms Collins on her appointment.
He said the “commission will benefit greatly from her commitment to ensuring that the highest standards of child protection will exist in the Catholic Church around the world”.

Archbishop Martin described her as a “ person of great integrity and determination. I am grateful to her for accepting the appointment, knowing that over the years she had many reasons to have felt frustrated and disappointment by the failings and the slowness of the Catholic Church in Ireland in addressing child safeguarding concerns.”

Statement from Archdiocese of Dublin following conviction of Dublin priest

Statement following conviction of Dublin priest

A priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Fr. Denis Nolan, was today(Friday) convicted of charges relating to child sexual abuse in Wicklow circuit court and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

A complaint of child sexual abuse against Fr. Denis Nolan, not related to today’s proceedings, was first received by the Archdiocese of Dublin in April 2012. Fr. Nolan was then removed from priestly ministry. He was obliged to co-operate and engage with the Diocesan priest support co-ordinator, who monitors priests in such situations to ensure compliance with restrictions placed on their activities. All information received by the Diocese was given to the Gardai and the HSE.

Subsequently, the Director for Child Safeguarding and Protection, Andrew Fagan visited the parish of Rathnew and met with parishioners and others in the local community. All relevant information from that visit was provided to the Gardai and the HSE.  A thorough investigation by the Gardai led to the conviction today.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and others involved in Child Safeguarding and Protection in the Diocese are distressed by the details of this case as they emerged in court today. Archbishop Martin wishes to express his sympathy to the young person who was abused and to unreservedly apologise to him and his family. He encourages anyone else to may have information to come forward.

Anyone who has any information or concerns regarding the protection of children should contact the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service, the Gardai or the Child and Family Agency, which has taken over responsibility for child protection from the HSE.

  • The Diocesan Child Safeguarding and Protection Service can be reached at 01 8360314