LAST NIGHT TWO INTELLECTUAL SOIREES TOOK PLACE ON THE THEME OF DIALOGUE AND INVOLVEMENT WITH OTHER PEOPLE.
In Maynooth Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was speaking at an ecumenical gathering on the theme: ENCOUNTERING THE OTHER.
While in Belfast the great and the good gathered to hear a Vatican archbishop wax lyrical about Cahal Daly on the theme: GO THE EXTRA MILE - CAHAL DALY - REFLECTIONS ON THE PRACTICE OF DIALOGUE.
Of course, there is no real harm in having these intellectual naval gazing sessions followed by finger food and wine.
But the question has to be asked: "DOES DIALOGUE, LIKE CHARITY, NOT BEGIN AT HOME?
Diarmuid Martin is never done travelling the world and giving speeches on every topic under the sun. He has the knack of making the very PC soundbite and having all his words worshipped by the Dublin 4 crowd and his friends in The Irish Times. Dermo has hardly ever uttered an unpublished word. He is the doyen of the great and the good and the patron saint of the cucumber sandwich brigade. He smiles with the smiley brigade and weeps with the weepy brigade. He is all things to all men - a man for all seasons. In Rome, he is a Roman. In Dublin, he is a jackeen. In Paris, he is a francophile. If he was a film and stage actor his mantlepiece would be coming down with Oscars.
And last night he was speaking about ENCOUNTERING THE OTHER.
His main responsibility in life is to be a pastor - a father to his priests and his people.
But there is hardly a bishop anywhere with a poorer relationship with his priests - with the exception of that small number of priests who are his favourites and his lapdogs.
Dublin used to have a very efficient personnel panel to advise him on clerical appointments. He abolished that and now makes his appointment on his own - with the help of archbishop@s house favourites.
There was a time when Dublin parishes had PP and curates. Diarmuid has watered those positions down to titles like "moderator" and CO PP in order to reduce people's rights in canon law.
Dublin used to publish its clerical appointments. Nowadays Dermo fails to publish and the appointments are all secret.
He appears to have the most empathy for Dublin priests who gay?
There is nothing at all wrong with encountering the others in the Anglican churches and others around the globe.
But what about Dermo's failures to encounter the other in his very own priests?
And as I say - does encountering the other, like charity, not begin at home?
Cahal Daly had a great name for "reaching out" to Protestants.
However, that reaching was done in a formal and non-challenging manner. Little visits to Protestant churches. Little invitation of Protestants to Catholic churches - without Holy Communion of course. Nicely prepared intellectual talks - later published in pamphlets or in The Irish News. Expensive Christmas cards sent to COI bishops, Presbyterian moderators and Methodist presidents. Church Unity Week services in the better-heeled suburbs of Belfast.
Bt at the very time, he was preaching about Catholic and Protestant reconciliation he was refusing to meet me or be reconciled with me.
When I wrote to him asking for reconciliation he answered: "The fact that I have removed you from the diocese was an administrative action that does not affect our personal relationship"!!!
So he was saying that as my line manager he sacked me but we were still loiving Christian friends?
Is not one of the worst forms of dualism. It's saying: "In my capacity as your manager I am sacking you - but there is nothing personal in it and we can still be friends"?
The fact that he refused to meet me and refused to be reconciled with me made it necessary for me to stand in front of him in public on three occasions - to try and bring it home to him that you cannot preach about Catholic/Protestant reconciliation if you are refusing to have dialogue/reconciliation with one of your priests.
Once when I was in Divis Flats a young man came to my door with a very bloodied face. I brought him in, let him wash and made him tea and sandwiches as we sat down for a chat.
He told me that his father was a violent tyrant who beat his mother and his children on a regular basis.
I offered to go with him to his family home to have a chat with his dad.
When we arrived at the house I was shocked to see whose his father was. He was a local leader in several charismatic prayer meetings, carried a great big Bible and claimed to have the gift of healing.
When we entered the house the father was sitting in his armchair being waited on hand and foot by his wife and his cowering children were sitting around the room in silence.
At first, he greeted me but when he spotted his son behind me he became very aggressive.
He stormed out of the room, Bible under arm, ordering his wife to bring his food to his bedroom on a tray.
The world is full of street angels who are house devils.
The world is full of people who portray themselves on the world stage as sages and prophets but whose "home lives" are far from wise, prophetic, caring and loving.