Thursday, 7 September 2017


HEAVEN- ATHEISTS- BELIEVERS.




If there is a Heaven, and I believe 100% that there is - will believers have an advantage over atheists in getting into Heaven?

I am inclined to think not!

One of the most meaningful parts of the New Testament for me is where Jesus describes the exact questions people will be asked on arrival at the Pearly Gates:

1. Did you feed the hungry?
2. Did you give the thirsty a drink?
3. Did you clothe the naked?
4. Did you c are for the sick?
5. Did you visit the sick?
6. Did you welcome strangers?

He goes on to say that those who answer yes will go to Heaven and the others to eternal loss.

And of course, you don't have to have a religious faith to do all above.

In fact, some of the best people I've ever met were atheists and some of the most unkind were religious.

What is the point then in having a faith and a relationship with God?

The point of believing in God and having a relationship with him is Heaven begins for you in this world rather than having to wait until after you die. Excuse the technicalities but the theologians call it "realised eschatology" as opposed to "futuristic eschatology". You're Heaven begins here.

Heaven is not about marble palaces or big reunions.  It's about enjoying and experience intimacy with God. That can begin here - as many believers, saints and especially mystics have experienced.

What then about Hell- punishment for wrong and evil?

We  Christians believe in Hell because Jesus taught it. 

Traditionally Hell was thought of as eternal burning forever. 

But of course, Heaven and Hell exist in the spiritual realm and experiences there will be of a super spiritual nature that includes, exceeds and magnifies infinitely both our physical and spiritual experiences in the human realm.

That's why the Bible says "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, of the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love him.

While Heaven is and will be the inexplicable experience of Divine intimacy Hell will be the inexplicable experience of being deprived of Divine Intimacy.

That may not sound like much of a deal now as on earth our capabilities of experience and deprivation are quite limited. 

It will be different in the eternal realm when our capabilities have been raised to a now unimaginable level.

Of course, God may never allow ANYONE to perish?

We speak of him as having infinite forgiveness and compassion.

We cannot hardly imagine infinite anything.

In 1994 I wrote a personal creed:



A PERSONAL CREED


Bishop Pat Buckley




I believe that in this world it is impossible to understand God.
I believe that God made this wonderful universe and all that exists.
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment.
I believe that God made all men and women,
That He made them all equal,
And that He loves and cherishes them all equally.
I believe that the whole human race is the family of God.
I believe that there may be intelligent life on other planets
And if so, they too are part of God’s family.
I hold that religion and faith are two different things,
That religion can be both good and bad
And that it is spirituality that counts.
For me your religion is an accident of your birth
Or a gift of God’s great providential diversity.
There is no one true church.
All churches and all religions contain aspects of the truth.
But only God is truth.
No man is infallible.
A Buddhist or a good atheist is as acceptable to God as a good Catholic.
I believe that sex is good and so is the body.
The only sexual act that is sinful is the one that uses or abuses.
I believe in people, especially suffering people.
I believe in the power of weakness.
I believe that all men and women will be saved.
I believe in a packed Heaven and an empty Hell.
And even Satan might get another chance.
I believe in the freedom of God’s sons and daughters.
I believe that dogma is often evil.
I believe that life is a journey towards God
And that no one has the right to insist that you go a certain road.
I believe that God and reality are too big for my poor words.
I believe therefore that I am only at a beginning.
Only knocking at a door.
And I believe that the best is yet to come.

(1994)

In the meantime, both atheists and believers, for different reasons, and with different motivations, need to make the here and now as much like the here after as possible.

In that way, there are no losers - from the philosophical and spiritual perspectives.

59 comments:

  1. It would seem an anomalous contradiction for me to say "Amen" to that Pat!
    But I do value the 'openness' of your thinking.
    MMM

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    1. I was asked in a private mail from an acquaintenance to explain the 'anamolous contradiction' comment above.
      So for her, and anyone else wondering: while I value the openness and generosity of Pat's belief (within the terms of HIS understanding, beliefs and faith in the afterlife), that good morally living atheists will certinly not be de-barred from 'heaven', the anomoly for me, (were I to welcome that aspirational concept), would be in the incongruity of welcoming my possible admission into a conceptual reality I do not actually believe exists in the first place!
      MMM

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  2. Very confused thinking. Misguided and devoid of any real depth. A very self serving creed. Analysis, both philosophically and theologically empty. Doesn't inspire. There are fundamental differences between all religions and we should respect difference and diversity, including atheism. Have dialogue with a common search for truth and what can create a better world but let's respect our faith traditions. Fundamentalist politics, religions and atheism are counter productive.

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  3. Although I would be regarded(I think!) as a well-educated and knowledgeable Catholic, I honestly think that we don't know the answer to the question which you raise at the top of blog. I do know that more is expected from those to whom more has been given.
    I remember a theologian talking about that many years ago in a discussion and he also thought that we couldn't know for sure but he proffered a theory for us to mull over. We know that many good people from different states of awareness about God and with widely varying levels of appreciation of God will be rewarded by Him in Heaven which will completely satisfy their state of longing to be in God's presence. He talked about the analogy of taking a small drinking glass and filling it to the brim. Then a much larger one and filling it right up to overflowing also. Then imagine a huge vessel also filled up with a lot of water right to the top. It holds much more than the other containers. But in a sense, each container is in its own way,FULL. Each container is "experiencing" the feeling of been completely filled to all the capacity of which it is capable, be that little or much, much more. But the important thing is they are all full and on their terms, complete. Perhaps we (by God's grace) will feel completely satisfied by God in Heaven at whatever level of sanctity and appreciation we have reached. It is an interesting way of thinking about it but I genuinely don't think we can dogmatically say for sure. Because our knowledge of the Divine is so incomplete on this earth, we find it very strange to know that every last bit of our being and every want, longing and need of our human hearts will be completely satisfied simply by being in God's Presence since He made us for Himself and so "we can never be fully happy until we rest in Him". For that reason, to fully experience His Presence and His love leaves nothing lacking. What an awesome thought! Yet this is what many of the saints and mystics who have experienced visions or other privileged experiences, have told us in remarkably similar language though separated from each other by nationality and living centuries apart. There is no doubt that we see at this moment, through a glass darkly. For some, it won't always be so. Even in this life, we know that people vary hugely in their ability and capacity to hear and receive information about God. You can tell them something but the vessel just isn't capable of expansion. It's as full as they are capable of receiving - at that point in their lives anyway. So it's like a brick wall in communication. Try not to be discouraged!

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    1. Thank you for that poster @2.19
      --Very special..

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    2. 2.19...Just lovely

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  4. I am inclined to believed that if we profess to be Christian we will be held to the standard of Christian teaching. (Luke 16:19–30)

    Without going into too much detail if I had to interpret today's question in human terms and with human limitations I think an atheist who acts kindly towards God's creation will be in a better place than a Christian who fails to follow the teachings of the new testament.

    But being Christian and somewhat discerned in my believes I know enough not to second guess God and the decisions he will make with me. I must trust that if I act as though my eternal faith depends on my kind actions and pray in the knowledge that my eternal faith really rests in the the kindness of God then I can at least trust that he will know what do do with me after this world.

    CR

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  5. Pat, is it true that Gorgeous is no more and has gone?

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    1. 12.34. Your question had nothing to do with the topic for discussion today. Who cares about your gossipy concerns? Get a life you moronic idiot!

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    2. 13.42 I am quite entitled to ask Pat a question on HIS blog whether it's on the topic or not. I won't be dictated to by you and on the subject of being a moronic idiot I suggest you look in the mirror, on second thoughts maybe not just in case.

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  6. I like how Penn Jillette the American magician put it, are you doing good things for people because you want to, or are you doing it so as to gain brownie points and kiss up to your God? Are you doing good things because you are frightened that if you don't you will roast in the fires of hell forever? If this is the case for you doing good, then what is the point, if it is just a means to save your ass from the fires of hell, you don't actually mean it, any of the good you do is purely selfish.

    An atheist who does not believe in a deity and does not believe in a God who will punish them, does good because he/she wants to out of no selfish reason, other than they feel pity, sorrow and distress for those human beings around them. No brownie points wanted. Just pure kindness from the heart.

    I think atheists have warmer hearts and souls than many priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals etc. How many times have you seen a bishop doing charity work? How many times have you seen cardinals visiting the sick, feeding the poor or simply talking with someone who needs a bit of company? Very rare cases.

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    1. The way in which many (perhaps most) Christians have been raised actually locks them in self-interest; sadly, this renders them incapable of love without the liberating action of the Holy Spirit.

      Motivation here is driven by fears inculcated from a very young age. These fears (fear of God, the almighty and vengeful judge; fear of eternal torment as a damned soul) are very influential and very difficult to remove from a person's psyche.

      This is relating to God at a human and base level. It should emphasise the need for personal transformation, not by human effort alone or principally, but by the action of the Holy Spirit.

      I believe we don't reflect enough (if at all) on the need for a personal Pentecost. It needn't be such a dramatic experience as that of the early disciples, but, for a Christian, it is essential for salvation.

      Salvation, practically speaking, is about personal change. This is within the gift of the Spirit alone. We should always, and sincerely, ask for this gift, for the gift is always given once the desire for it is strong enough for God to act.

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    2. A nonsense observation 12.41: religious and priests... are and will be, personnel available, at the forefront of charitable and compassionate works in imitation of Christ. Just do your research properly. Relugious and priests are also at forefront of human rights and justice issues - Fr. Mc Verry, Br. Kevin, Sr. Stan, Sr. Consilio...Fr. Shay Cullen...Loreto Sisters in Rumbek, Sudan. The evidence is overwhelming. Just search out i formation.....easy to do.

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    3. My atheism is largely based on rage against how people suffer. I refuse to condone it in any way as a divine plan. Free will has little to do with the evil there is. Even when we harm we suffer from a lack of perception about the harm will turn out. Catholic doctrine is that evil is not real but is just good in the wrong place and time for God cannot make anything truly evil. I regard that as nonsense for depression clearly is a force and a thing and not good in the wrong place or a mere lack of good. As I am not God and there is no God I have to do what a God should be doing.

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    4. No, evil is not real, and cannot be real since this would make God (the sole and only Creator) its author.

      Evil cannot be defined as 'something', since it is merely an absence of goodness (of God himself). In this sense, evil does not exist, for it has no independent and sufficient form.

      As for human suffering, this is not God's design for us. Suffering is a symptom of evil, and evil (as we now know) is an absence of goodness. As goodness is absent here, then suffering cannot have come from God.

      Paradoxically, suffering (the very thing that could potentially and actually destroy physical humanity) can become the means by which humans cry out in recognition of their need for God through vulnerability and powerlessness. It is then that God can act, through faith in his power to act. And he WILL act. But where faith is diminished, or non-existent, God is, as it were, rendered impotent.

      Remember the gospels tell us that Jesus could not perform miracles where he did not find some kind of faith in him. I'm not necessarily speaking here of faith in Jesus' divinity, but faith in his power to restore balance to nature through, for example, physical healing.

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    5. 'Evil is not real'. Seriously?
      In that case I will proffer my own creed: Credo Magnam Cartam illusionem esse.

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    6. You have taken a proof text to justify your comment; in other words, you have quoted me right out of context. Not a sign of good scholarship.

      Even nothing has a name (the word 'nothing'), and you would feel its effect (in terms of, say, lack of food in your belly); but it has no substance: no form. In this sense, it is not real; it does not exist as something, since it can be defined only by an absence of something else (food).

      By the way, your misuse of Latin does not compensate for (or cover up) your lack of scholarship.

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    7. Snip
      'No, evil is not real, and cannot be real since this would make God (the sole and only Creator) its author.'
      Snip
      I'm surprised a Bible-thumping Protestant like Magna Carta would be if he existed, is unfamiliar with the earliest Biblical position which is that God created evil. I wonder who he got his ideas from...Mary Baker Eddy, probably.
      No doubt if he existed he would resort to his usual insults to his interlocutor's intelligence. Since Magna Carta is only real insofar as he is an idea in the mind of God and some bloke im a chatroom says God chooses not to think about him, he can't be real. What a ridiculous idea that would be!

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    8. Another biblical literalist. (Sigh)

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    9. Dear Bishop Buckley,
      I am embarrassed to admit to creating both evil and Magna Carta. Evil is frankly less embarrassing because it amuses me to see the fundamentalists try to explain it, but Magna never gives me a moment's peace. He rabbits on 24 hours a day and the only peace I get is when he's 'lecturing' at that college that couldn't get a graduate. That's why that type are called God botherers.
      Keep up the good work,
      God

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    10. Repeat:
      'I'm surprised a Bible-thumping Protestant like Magna Carta would be if he existed, is unfamiliar with the earliest Biblical position which is that God created evil.'
      As usual Magna resorts to making personal comments and doesn't understand the point made.
      Tolle, lege, Magna.

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    11. 'Tolle lege'? Not enough. Rather 'tolle studium'.

      Those who merely read Scripture (as opposed to studying it) are theological and spiritual dangers, like your idol, Augustine. Based merely on his reading Scripture, this arse deduced that the souls of unbaptised children and adults burned in Hell. His scriptural 'understanding' led eventually to the faux theology of Limbo. How many generations of parents suffered needless anguish over the eternal fate of their unbaptised little ones because this prick thought he understood Scripture?

      The fact that you idolize this idiot says as much about you as it does about him.

      If all you are doing is reading Scripture (and, clearly, you, like Augustine, are incapable of anything more), you are as great a danger as he was.

      I just hope that you are not a member of any prayer group.

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    12. Oh I hadn't realised I was dealing with one of the greats of Western philosophy. No wonder you don't understand what people say to you.
      Repeat:
      'I'm surprised a Bible-thumping Protestant like Magna Carta would be if he existed, is unfamiliar with the earliest Biblical position which is that God created evil.'
      As usual Magna resorts to making personal comments and doesn't understand the point made.
      Tolle, lege, Magna.

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    13. How can one understand gibberish? (And badly articulated gibberish at that.)

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    14. And again:
      'I'm surprised a Bible-thumping Protestant like Magna Carta would be if he existed, is unfamiliar with the earliest Biblical position which is that God created evil.'
      As usual Magna resorts to making personal comments and doesn't understand the point made.

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  7. Very cynical and unwarranted to decide that wonderfully kind and charitable Christian people only act out of fear! Of course that is nothing near the truth and is a very nasty and narrow viewpoint. For s start, Christian people are very aware that God can see every last thought in their head and every last motivation of their actions. Didn't you even think about that?
    Please try not to be so rash in your thoughtless remarks. What a brickbat to throw but perhaps you didn't mean to hurt me and better people than I am... So don't worry about it.

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    1. 13:09, are you replying to my post at 13:45?

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    2. Hello Magna! - - No no - - my reply was sent earlier this afternoon and directed to poster @ John King..(Sorry, I was rushed at the time and should have been more specific)

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    3. From experience, I find that Catholics are no better or worse than anyone else. Perhaps churchy sins include "more orthodox or liberal than thou", gossip, s lander, ganging up etc. The root of most sins is pride and it exists within and outside the church. Man can be rather horrible to its fellow man. I include myself in this. It is something I have to watch out for in myself.

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  8. I see that Gaynooth cost 8.5m euro to run last year, the Irish Episcopal Conference gobbled up more than 5m, and even The Furrow, edited since 1912 by that old buddy Fr Ronan Drury, is run at a loss, needing 177k a year. Who pays for all of this? All figures come from a search of the Free State Charities Regulatory Authority.

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    1. I meant "old biddy". Ronan Drury never served a minute in a parish yet for getting on two centuries he was Professor of Homiletics and Sacred Eloquence at Maynooth. Do any of these permanently stationed Maynooth men (Enda McDonagh, Tom Marsh, Paddy Hannon, Paul Prior, Hugh Connolly or the current/final Maynooth president Fr Mullaney think it a cheek that they decide who'll be a PP while never being one themselves?

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    2. Ronan Drury, now in his early 90s is a man of inspiration and of kindnesses people will never know about.

      Tom Marsh is long dead RIP.

      Prejudice is still alive and kicking.

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    3. Tom Marsh was more or less an atheist and never out of the Roost. Didn't he have his heart attack there.

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    4. 13.17. Fr Ronan Drury bless his cotton socks. I remember him coming to Rome to teach us homiletics. Snappy dresser and one of the few paddies to sport a man bag at the time. Came across as a descent chap. Who reads the furrow these days. How can anyone justify -177k loss. Looks like the higher up church is more of an old cronies club than an instrument of the Gospel.

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    5. Sean, RONAN DRURY was a good man. I do not recall him as anything other than this. Yes, he was effete, but what the heck! Nothing untoward there.

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    6. Definitely effete, as was Niall Ahern, the Middle Dean. Niall was profiled once by the Irish Times. They interviewed him in his rooms in New House, which they described as being 'comfortably appointed'.

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    7. Niall Ahern was comfortably appointed.

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  9. Sometimes I believe we take things like religion out of our heads and put them on a table so to speak in order to study them. The problem comes when we forget to put them back when we are done. Abstract concepts take on a personality of their own and can become monsters. If you want to see a model of true religion in action follow the story of Jesus as told in Marks Gospel.

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  10. Pat, an observation. When matters of serious moral, ethical and social nature are discussed, your bloggers decrease. Perhaps the issues demand greater intellectual rigour and a greater seriousness which may be beyond some contributors. Yet, when you spearhead articles relating to clerics and the church, some bloggers go into overdrive, mostly in a gossipy, poisonous inarticulate way. Your blog has limited attraction for those who are truly interested in genuine dialogue re: reform and renewal in church and society. You should re-think the ethos,mission and purpose, if any, of your blog!!

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    1. I want the Blog to be very varied.

      Deep topics and a bit of clerical gossip too.

      The number if comments is not necessarily a guide to the number of viewers.

      Visitor rates fluctuate between 4000 and 16000 daily.

      You are right to observe that Blogs with a bit of scandal/gossip have a higher viewer rate.

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    2. I think 15.59 poster is correct in that more people seem moved to respond to and make further comments on trite gossiping topics. But there are also serious posters - - and we certainly had a few earlier today - -who most certainly have the intellectual rigour and the expertise and experience to provide quality and depth when required. They often attract criticism of course from posters who tend to see everything as a "battle of wits" in which they have to be seen to "win". " But we can cope or by-pass that sort of thing and move on. Quality is commendable as well as quantity I think you'll agree!

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    3. I think the Church needs Bishop Pat. It also needs comments from atheists. I honestly think atheist feed off bad religion. I have enjoyed some of the posts today. Pride is the root of all sin....and I think it has caused a lot of problems in the Church...as it does in the secular world.

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  11. It is a shame this blog isn't eliciting more comment and debate; its importance and relevance cannot be overstated.

    I love the line in A. J. Cronin's novel, 'The Keys of the Kingdom', where the missionary priest in China acknowledges the God-love (and salvation) in his fallen atheist-friend's heart.

    There is only one saving truth, and it is not a dogmatic or doctrinal statement obligating assent: it is love.

    Bishop Pat is correct: Heaven is here and now, not exclusively in the hereafter. And its signature is love. More may be wanted (by assent to dogmatic truth), but nothing more than love is needed for salvation.

    In the end, all who love (believers and non-believers) will come to know and accept all that is true of God. And they, whatever their attitude in this life, will do so with a supremely gladdened heart.

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    1. Magna, the fullness of our gladness of heart will be experienced when we arrive in the radiance of God's presence. But we live in that hope and expectation of God's graciousness to us. In the end, St. John of the Cross said - We will be judged on love!

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  12. Sometimes Pat gets the most beautiful posters on (See some from earlier today for example)and they certainly have the intellectual rigour and expertise. So on days when there are not big numbers in quantity, there very often is quality. I happen to know that both yesterday (re/anti-abortion debate) and today we have had posts from people at the top of their professions. They wouldn't be interested in nasty gossip though...

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  13. Pat you might like this. Bishop Joe Duffy of Clogher decided, out of the blue and somewhat uncharistically to treat his seminarians to a slap-up dinner. Four or five courses and if memory serves me right it was at the Hillgrove hotel in Monaghan, which Joe favoured.

    Anyway as always seemed to happen at gatherings over which Joe presided the atmosphere was tense and the conversation was forced and a bit arch.

    For the craic on my table I decided to recount that Johnnie Craddock, the hen packed spouse of tv cook Fanny Craddock had said that if only you followed a particular scone recipe they would all come out looking like Fanny's.

    As luck would have the room went quiet just as I said that. The silence was broken by a Canon asking 'what did he say?' There was no answer and the evening didn't recover.

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  14. Bishop Duffy might have preferred the story had it been presented as gaelige. He was more an Irish language buff than a priest. Wasn't he quoted, notoriously to say that "the church will do for our day" ie that it will exist for long enough to pay the pensions of the likes of Joe Duffy.

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  15. @,19.00. Very funny!! I can just imagine it...

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  16. Glad that we can have serious contributions from serious minded people. It's a pity when this blog descends into farce, stupidity and dangerous innuendo. Anon at 19.00 - so childish and immature. Who cares! I believe all people of whatever faith, spirituality and humanist/atheist perspective should respect each others analysis and opinions about life and all the mmoral/ethical issues that affect us and which need honest, open dialogue. Ultimately I believe in a God of love and mercy. I struggle with the concept of belief but have been deeply enriched by faith, spirituality and being a member of my local church. While I abhor and question some aspects of CATHOLICISM, it remains an intrinsic part of my life.

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    1. To 21:14. You gotta have a giggle sometimes.

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    2. Innuendo is the Italian name for a suppository.

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  17. With all due respects to Joe Duffy of Clogher, he may have treated the seminarians to a "slap-up dinner" in the Hillgrove but he certainly did not pay for it! As tight as a duck's a*** is Bishop Joe!

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    1. Well no, he wouldn't have paid for it, would it? Since Catholic priests are useless spongers.

      We, the laity, paid for Joey Boy's extravagance. (Well, you pathetic lot in Clogher did, since I wouldn't piss on a Roman Catholic bishop if he were on fire.)

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    2. Aul Joe didn't spend a centime willingly, unless it was on his far too frequent holidays in France.


      Just before I entered Maynooth Joe received me at a private audience in his palace in Monaghan. He was in a tiny room adjoining the kitchen and even though it was August he was sitting about five inches away from a full raging fire blazing away in a black fireplace. You never saw so much coal.

      Joe's main concern, when quizzing me was to ask "how are you sorted about the pension?". I thought it was a joke and I replied I'm only 18 so I haven't thought about my pension much.

      Joe issued a big tut and clarified that by pension he was of course referring to the contribution I would have to make to my tuition costs at Maynooth.

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    3. What is it about priests and heat? Frankie Cremin in Maynooth used to get through a bale of briquettes every day, winter and summer.

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  18. All joking aside, why did bishop Joe Duffy of Clogher think it ok to give a positive reference to the abusive priest Fr Jack McCabe who had been dismissed from St Michael's College, Enniskillen, where he had been one of the four resident priest teachers.

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