I AM NOT A FAN OF THAT PROVERB/PLATITUDE: "NEVER SPEAK ILL OF THE DEAD!.
Simply "being dead" does not give anyone an absolute right to be spoken well of and not spoken ill of.
I was reminded of this last night as I was cooking my dinner and my doorbell rang. It was a homeless man (48). He broke up with his wife last December and has been sleeping rough in England and Belfast ever since. He also has some mental health issues - depression, anxiety, self-harming and suicidal thoughts.
I managed to find him a bed for the night in Belfast and I gave him his train fare to get there and a few quid for some food.
During our chat, he told me about his father and his father's funeral. His father had been a violent alcoholic and is probably greatly responsible for the state this man is now in.
At his father's funeral, a priest who did not know his father was giving him a glowing send off. My friend stood up and said: "I'm here to bury a father I never knew and who tortured me all my life".
He was ushered out of the church by family members and parishioners and his family has not spoken to him since.
He asked me what I thought and I repeated to him something my own dead father used to say: "If someone was a bastard when they were living they become a dead bastard when they die".
People sometimes say that we should not speak ill of the dead because they are not here to defend themselves. Nonsense. We should tell the truth about both the dead and the living. And just as the dead are not here to defend themselves - they are not here to be hurt by what is said about them.
I do not like the fact that death seems to give people the automatic right to canonization.
This Friday evening in Queen's University, Belfast there is a gathering of the great and the good to celebrate the centenary of Cardinal Cahal Daly who was born in 1917.
It is called the Cardinal Cahal B Daly Memorial Lecture.
The speaker is Archbishop Paul Gallagher from The Secretariate of State in the Vatican. The lecture is entitled: "Go The Extra Mile - Reflections On The Practice Of Dialogue".
A suitable floury and meaningless title.
Presumably, it is going to talk about Daly as "going the extra mile" and about him being a man of "dialogue".
Cahal Daly was a little bully who would not budge an inch with or for anyone. He did not engage in dialogue. He pontificated and gave orders.
He may have had ecumenical cucumber sandwiches with Protestant notables and the fur coat brigade - but that was as far as his "dialogue" went.
At our last meeting in October of 1985 - 32 years ago now - he asked me if I believed if that the bishop was the voice of God?
He said that this was a teaching of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
I told him that I did not believe that nonsense - which he seemed to believe absolutely.
I asked him if that meant that when he broke wind God broke wind!
Pity I did not ask him also: "Would God cover up child abuse"
All you have to do is look at last week's cock up by Phonsie Cullinan of Waterford condemning cervical cancer vaccines.
Does that mean that God condemns cervical cancer vaccines?
And when Phonsie had to apologize later for his ignorant statement - does that mean that God was apologizing for his ignorance?
It's always very dangerous when men think that they are God or that they speak for God.
How many atrocities have been caused by that kind of mindset?
How many millions of people have perished as a result of that kind of thinking and practice by those who believe that they are god-like in their rule and their power?
Religion is one of those areas where men like to claim they speak for God. And just look at the abuse and atrocities that have come from that claim.
"WOE TO YOU WHEN MEN SPEAK WELL OF YOU.
THIS WAS THE WAY THEIR FATHERS TREATED THE FALSE PROPHETS"