Tuesday, 23 January 2018

ME AND CLERICALISM


OCCASIONAL CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS BLOG, EVEN IN RECENT DAYS, HAVE ACCUSED ME OF BEING ONCE A PART OF THE CLERICAL CLUB AND CLERICALISM - AND OF ENJOYING IT WHEN I WAS PART OF IT.

I have to say that I NEVER felt part of the clerical club and never felt at home in it.

This became apparent before I was ordained at all when I was expelled from Clonliffe seminary in Dublin because I did not fit in and was not a great rule keeper.Having said that, Clonliffe did give me a reference that allowed me to be accepted by another diocese and seminary 6 weeks after my expulsion. So the cause of my expulsion from Clonliffe cannot have been "terminal" as they did give me a reference. In those days -1973- they were coming down with seminarians and very few were expelled WITH a reference.

CLONLIFFE FIRST YEARS 1970


MY CLONLIFFE CLASS 1970

(Back Row: From Left:  Michael Murphy PP, Dublin; Kevin Doran Bishop of Elphin; Vincent Kenny left seminary; Des Murtagh - left after News of World scandal involving a married woman.

Third Row: Doyle, independent priest USA; ???? nickname: "Madame Bovary) left seminary; Fr Paul Churchill, a canon lawyer, Dublin; Fr. Barry Murphy PP (RIP); ??????

Second Row: Fr Gerard Deegan; Peter O'Reilly, left seminary; ??????; Fr. Paddy Kavanagh, left priesthood; 

First Row: Fr. Alex Conlon PP Dublin; Fr. John Ennis PP, Dublin; Fr. Paddy Monahan CC, Dublin; Pat; Fr. Paul Tyrrell, Dublin.) People welcome to fill in blanks in my memory.

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After ordination in 1976, I went to a parish in South Wales where my first parish priest was first generation Englishman called Driscoll who hated Irishmen.

He tortured me verbally and psychologically and after some months, when I could take no more I went to speak to the Archbishop - John A Murphy of Cardiff - another man with an Irish name who did not like the Irish. Murphy told me that my PP was a saint and that if I stuck it out I too would become a saint! I knew that instead of becoming a saint if I stayed with Driscoll, I would become mentally unwell - or an alcoholic as my predecessor had.  So I gave Murphy an ultimatum, which he did not accept and I headed home to Ireland.

JOHN A MURPHY


I had two further attempts at Welsh parishes where my PP's had various issues that made life difficult, to say the least, so I departed for Ireland permanently. 

So I could not fit in with the clerical club I found in Wales. In fairness to the Welsh people, who were wonderful, the problem was not them but Irish priests with a host of problems ranging from celibacy to mental illness to alcoholism.


In 1978 I came as a curate to St. Peter's Cathedral in Down and Connor diocese. I was living with 4 other priests - Fr. Vincent McKinley, Fr. Joe McGurnaghan, Fr. Jim McCabe and Father Sean Crummey - a Salesian.

Everything in St, Peter's had to be done to suit the priests.

- Lay people were not allowed past the hallway and especially not into the priest's dining room. Even when my parents visited from Dublin they could not stay with me and I had to bring them to a cafe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

- Wedding Masses were started and finished without the bride if she was late - so that the priest would not be kept waiting.

- People coming to the door - or even to the Confessional - were laughed about later in the priest's dining room. One Saturday evening Vincent McKinley arrived for his tea saying: "Pour me a whiskey lads, I've just had a queer in the confession box with me for 30 minutes".

These clerical rules were endless and soon made me deeply sad and unhappy.

I began not to observe these clerical rules and this led to raging rows in the dining room and me being eventually banished to have my meals with the housekeeper in the kitchen. Mind you, I was more at home in the kitchen.



My transgressions of these clerical rules were reported to Cahal Daly who began to take a dim view of me - and to me telling him a few home truths about the clerical club - and eventually to my exile from the diocese. 




So, from the very beginning, I had great difficulties fitting into the Clerical Club - not because I didn't want to - but because the Clerical Club membership meant my alienation from the People and an inability to serve them as I felt called to.

The Clerical Club in every diocese is very strong and all-pervading. To be a member of it is certainly to have an easy life, a sense of belonging, a certain camaraderie and the avoidance of a sense of isolation.

But the price is too much. One is called upon to sacrifice one's sense of vocation, one's integrity, one's ability to respond to the People in Gospel-based ways.




Of course, there were happy times in the Clerical Club - the Confirmation dinners with the food, the wine and the crack, the assurance of not wanting for anything, the respect of the other "professionals" in the parish, the private health insurance, the prospects of becoming a PP, a canon, a monsignor or an archdeacon etc, etc.

But this is not the sacrificial and challenging ministry that Jesus calls his disciples to embrace. 

Jesus Himself would have fared a lot better if he had become a "respectable" rabbi, priest and a card-carrying member of the Sanhedrin. 

But He deliberately chose a different way.

I did not really choose a different way.

But when I was faced with the decision to join the Sanhedrin or go it alone, somehow God's grace helped me to choose the way of discipleship - and I do not mean perfect discipleship - that would not be possible for me because of all my human weaknesses and sinfulness.




But in life, we all have a choice.

We are all sinners.

But we can choose to be "good" sinners or "bad" sinners. 

For me, the Clerical Club is for those wishing to settle for "bad" sinfulness.

I can already see the comments that will flow into today's blog - comments telling me that I am deluded, unwell, a hypocrite etc, etc.

Bring them on.

The least hateful will be published.

The ones full of venom - including those from Clerical Club members - will be sent to the spam box!

"What good would it be to a man if he gained the whole world, yet suffered the loss of his own soul"!





62 comments:

  1. The mighty one has spoken again and conveniently exonerated himself from all hurts, wounds and hostilities he inflicted on others. How can we believe a word from your account? Others have alternative, believable stories too. To suggest that all priests live in a clerical club is untrue and very unjust to the hundreds who live as humanly as possible, being of service to parishioners, struggling too, but seeking to work for the well being of those entrusted to their care. It's very disingenuous of you, Pat, to imply that those of us (and there are many) who faithfully minister as priests settle for "bad sinfulness". Despite my questioning and disquiet about much of Church practices of the past and its many wrongs, I am not deterred from functioning in a creative, caring and fruitful way. You create a portrait of yourself which doesn't match that of many whom you have bruised along your journey. You may be a free spirit but you don't shine any brighter than the many wonderful priests I have worked with and who have inspired me deeply, priests who have made significant contributions to their parish communities - and without ever feeling strangled by the "clerical club". One of the the great gifts in parishes of the past was the comraderie, the fraternal support. I learned much from those necessary interactions. But somehow Pat, you scorn and mock these experiences. There's a little too much self congratulation going on in your presentation. Perhaps humility might be your next big personal project!

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  2. I recognise some of what you say. I too heard some snidey comments but never about the confessional. I too felt I did not fit in. That was as much about myself as it was about the club. It took me a long time to articulate it all and find some sort of peace. Perhaps it is still a work in progress. There was something about the lifestyle that didn't feel right. Now I have a wife and a job and a parish. There are still stressed and strains. I don't drink and have a good support network. I pray more. I will never be rich.

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    1. What are you wittering on about Page. Your views hardly count as you’ve decided as an Apostate to cross over to a heretical Church that murdered many Catholics to excuse its very existence - so shut up as we are not interested.

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    2. In 2000 years I think that the Church of Rome has killed and tortured far more people than the Church of England ever did.

      Most churches have departed from what Christ wished His church to be.

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    3. I think you mean the Catholic Church. The only person I have ever heard referring to the ‘Church of Rome’ is the Ian Paisley. Why don’t you become a Free Presbyterian- you would be welcomed with open arms there.

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    4. Sean Page, what you describe is the life of a happy man - - normal temporary nuisances here and there in your life - - but a happy not-bitter person who radiates that content to those with whom you come into contact. Your sincere daily prayer is the secret...

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    5. 11:53 The Roman Catholic Church is simply ONE PART of the Catholic Church.

      I prefer to be a "free catholic" than a free presbyterian :-)

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    6. 11.53 I agree with you, Free Presbyterians and Catholic haters in general refer to the Church of Rome. What religion is the Church of Rome as it's a derogatory term used by nasty Protestants. Maybe it's a Larne thing as its black as your boot, maybe that's why you were sent there in the first place as you fitted in nicely.

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    7. Sean, your comment is a well balanced realistic statement. It reflects a man aho is well balanced and humble about his journey. I wish you well.

      I relate to much for I too did not fit in. Years later and I realise I am delighted that I did not fit in with what I found. I too shall never be rich, but my heart is filled with faith, love for my wife and love for our nearly-born child.

      May God continue to bless us and protect us from the wrong paths. CR

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    8. 10 11. You seem really wound up. Why are you so bothered about me. I wish you well in. 11.57 Don't make me a saint yet. You may be disappointed.Thank you anyway

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    9. Bless you CR your wife and child

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    10. No, not wound up at all. Just stating historical fact.

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  3. P S don't totally get rid of the really horrible comments. They may help in the future to evaluate a challenging critique of the church in our day

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  4. Pat, I'm almost 40 years in the priesthood and I've never allowed the "clerical club" as you describe it thwart or prevent me from exercising my ministry freely and in a most fulfilling way. I never felt alienated from people, never felt unable to be radical, different ir imaginative. There are some wonderfully guys - visionaries - who remained in the "club" but who have made remarkable contributions to their communities. Of course many of us are disillusioned by the scandals and horrendous abuses inflicted on many, but we still continue to give of ourselves, as best we can, for the good of others. I think personality has a lot to do with how you manage to stay resolute to the tasks and work given to us and how we interact with ine another within the presbyterate. Pat, Show me a perfect system and I'll follow you! Whare, I ask again, are the shining lights of new life, renewal and new beginnings flowing out of Larne? They certainly haven't crossed the border southwards!!

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    1. Unfortunately the droves leaving are disillusioned with all.

      Some are joining the COI or new evangelical churches.

      Most are drifting towards agnosticism.

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    2. That's the best way to go, poster 9.37
      Not always blaming "those ones"... Not always dividing the clerical community into "them" and "us"
      That is the moment of mental maturity.
      That is the moment that the formation process is clicked "Achieved"
      Some never get there....

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    3. .... And some, thank God,are returning to the fold, otherwise I would not have my tough but satisfying catechist class to teach, bless them!

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    4. I agree with 9.37: many priests have survived well through the system or "boy's club" and have made vuable and worthwhile contributions to parish communities. In any large organisation we'll always find careerists and those who, perhaps, shouldn't be in their respective profession. I too in my years as a priest believe in the wisdom of growing where you're planted and minding and caring for the responsibilities given to me. Change andvrenewal must always being within our own hearts. This, for me, is a daily challenge. I try to resist the politics of the institutional church ( a politics which is corrupt at times) and get on with my daily tasks. I bring to my work my own failings, vulnerabilities, weak humanity and struggles but I am never prevented from living priesthood in as fulfilling way as possible.I often have great doubts, questions and pain. But, blaming others for all the "wrongs" is counterproductive....personal responsibility is preferable.

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    5. 12:31, '...otherwise I would not have my tough but satisfying catechist class to TEACH.' And there lies the massive rub, not just for catechetics, but for ecumenism. Roman Catholicism (the Church of Rome) rarely (previously, never) sees itself as a student when it comes to evangelisation and ecumenics, but always as the supreme and only teacher. And it causes so much inter-personal friction. (I presume it is why you find the catechetical going 'tough' at times.)

      'Roma locuta; causa finita est.' ('Rome has spoken; the matter is finished.') Augustine's servile words about the Roman pontiff. And from a man who gave us the theological notion of hell for unbaptised children and adults and the Theory of Just War, in direct and grave violation of Jesus' explicit teaching to love of enemy. To those posters here who criticised the phrase 'Church of Rome' as Paisleyan, it is nothing of the kind, for its origin is the theologically deviant mind of Augustine himself.

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    6. Magna, you presume without knowing.. Always you presume that you know everyone's reasons and problems. You don't.. Absolutely not by a long way...

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    7. 17:30, dear God in heaven! Do you ever proof-read what you intend to post? Of course I presumed here without knowing for certain! Otherwise I shouldn't have had to presume.😆

      And what 'reasons and problems' did you mean? (Never mind: you're 'into' cryptic posts aren't you?)

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    8. Oh we can all presume about certain people who comment here.

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    9. Silly ass Magna - - trying to bully another poster... I hope they ignore you.. Get back to your wild guessing... sorry"presuming" you'd call it.

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  5. Pat 9.48: They - the faithful - are leaving for all kinds of reasons, but they're certainly not heading for Larne! Simplistic, ridiculing soundbytes don't explain the phenomenon of momentous changes.

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    1. @10.26
      Yes there certainly have been "momentous changes - - - The causes? I could write another doctorate thesis on them!
      The pull and tremendous ongoing influence of the modern media on us and definitely on each other through a multitude of things,each one worthy of a chapter on its own - - television making the world a global village - Facebook and a host of newer apps. - -lifestyle magazines giving the young new role models - the weakening of religious education syllabus at every stage from 4 years to the teenagers up to 18 yrs and beyond - - and above all, the sad absence of daily family prayers and weekly Mass.. By now the causes and effects of the breakdown of spirituality are well and truly indistinguishable. We are no better than we deserve to be. Our enemies meantime march on and we need exceptional strength and faith in God not to just throw in the towel and join them. We join the popular crowd. We have no other compass from which to stand back and decide is this the right route?

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    2. Your self-defensiveness, 12:27, borders on paranoia. And paranoia attracts no one, certainly not the young.

      The possible causes you mention for the weakening of faith in Roman Catholicism and in Christ (Facebook, etc) are secondary issues, because young people in general were never given solid foundations by the Roman Cathoilc Church when it came to the relational Christ. Oh, they were given dogmatism, authoritarianism, servility; plenty of that. But no relationship with Christ; With Rome? Unfailingly. But not with Christ. So your lamenting the 'weakening of religious education' shows just how many light years you are from even a sociological understanding of theses changes among a naturally inquisitive demographic.

      The young have lost nothing, for they were given nothing to lose in the first place.

      A missionary priest from a very wealthy family who was working in South America used some of that wealth to provide his poor congration with modern amenities. But when a Protestant pastor set up a mission station nearby, the priest noticed that more and more of his congregation were heading there to worship instead. Pained at this (as he saw it) ingratitude, he turned to his faithful sacristan for an explanation. The old man tearfully told the young priest the truth: Father, you gave them many good (material) things, but you didn't give them Christ.

      The Church of Rome has too often fed its flock the very things that do not nourish spiritually and which, in the end, will repel.

      So forget about Facebook et alii. Look much closer to home for the cause of theses changes, Father dear.

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    3. I agree with you Magna at 14.43. There are may reasons for the diminishing crowds at our Churches, sociological, cultural, etc...But the Church has failed to nourish deeply the spiritual and faith hunger in its' members. Yes, there are some meaningful, faith nourishing programmes available in many parishes but the Religious Education programmes in both primary and second level schools have not produced a faith understanding at any meaningful level. Whatever Religious Truths were/are taught are easily forgotten. We don't encourage parishioners to sufficiently educate themselves into attaining a relationship with Christ through personal study, seminars, retreats, parish based theology and scripture programmes and in purchasing or making available periodical, challenging magazines on matters of a moral, ethical and theological nature. I have tried in recent years to respond to what I see as a "disengaging" congregation who, though very supportive seem not to want to be bothered too much with anything other than the celebration of Mass. Yes, our young people have not been given solid faith foundations or been presented with imaginative or attractive opportunities. There are exceptions but we seem "lost" ourselves as to how to re-engage with or to respond to a constant changing faith landscape.

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    4. Of course people will flock to where are fewer demands and more a la carte! Tell us something we don't know.
      Also, you wrongly assumed that a priest wrote my previous post. Not so..

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    5. Is that Magna above? - - Accusing others of paronoia!! Ye gods!!

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    6. Modern catechesis has so failed that the Catholic faith is often not taught, and then often by people who don't believe it themselves.
      Many people don't know such basic things as the difference between public and private revelation, and some understand so little of the faith that they are true believers in the Medjugorje fraud!

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    7. You won't be given a catechetical examination when you die, 18:48.

      And Medjugorje is a fraud? Prove it. (And please don't point me in the direction of that bona fide fraud, Michael Voris.😆)

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    8. 17:27, why should discipleship be demanding?

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    9. No, Maggie, prove it isn!t a fraud. You merely show once again you don't understand how it works. What was it you got thrown out of seminary for again?

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    10. 21:25, the burden of proof is on the accuser, dear boy.😆

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    11. I think the burden of proof is on the person making the claim about Medjugorje. Is there such proof, or are we making it up again? Without such proof, why on earth would anyone believe it?

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    12. No, legal terminology is not what is called for here. If you understood Catholicism you would know that I am expecting you to show how the 'revelations' from the 'apparitions' at Medjygorge conform to Sacred Tradition. But you don't, they don't, and you certainly can't.

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    13. And there is sooo much proof, 23:28, that it either resonates with the Gospel, or...😆

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    14. 00:17, in what way do they not conform to 'Sacred Tradition'?

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  6. Sir John Gorman. Catholic Unionist/Castle Catholic/West Brit

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    1. Everyone is entitled to their own political views.

      Everyone is entitled to be proud of their own nationality.

      There are good and bad Brits.

      There are good and bad Irish.

      When I first came to N. Ireland I thought all the bigots were Protestant.

      Now I know there are Catholic bigots as well.

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    2. The political tyranny and totalitarianism of your post is a major reason why this little island has experienced so much bitter division and bloodshed, 11:22.

      You tyrants insist on forcing labels on others. You won't succeed. You have tried, brutally, and you have failed.

      May John Gorman rest in peace. (And may you find it with those you so obviously hate.)

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    3. Lol the post at 11:22 has caused the problem. What have you been smoking?

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  7. 11.40 - Pat- there certainly are catholic bigots. Many in fact, you being one of them! Blind leading the blind.....

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  8. Fr Greg. Cormican's father, Arthur died too (RIP) yesterday.. He will be buried from St Joseph's, Glenavy tomorrow.
    What a week for that family..

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  9. Fr. Gregory Cormican's dad has died......just a week after his son. Very sad for the Cormican family.

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    1. Yes. Very sad. He was 93 and has been ill for some time. RIP.

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  10. Pat I can't find that picture of Conor Gannon in angel wings on your blog? I wanted to show a friend who thinks he met him in a gay bar. Was it taken down?

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    1. I saved it. I can send it to you?

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    2. 18:37 has a friend who "thinks he met Conor Gannon in a gay bar"? What does that prove? What's the difference in that and meeting him in a mixed bar or a straight bar? Just because someone is in a gay bar doesn't mean that they are gay........nor does it prove that they are straight!

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    3. http://wisecatholic.blogspot.ie/2017/11/who-should-choose-priests-and-bishops.html?m=1

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    4. Tell your friend to go back to the same bar(--he's possibly a regular anyway) this weekend and Conor will be signing autographs for anyone who stands him a drink.

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  11. 18:37 I am the writer. Yes he met him in the George with Fr. David B.

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  12. Magna really was bonkers ywsterday, funny how he's almost paranoid about Michael Voris and suddenly produced him in the middle of a comment for no reason.

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    1. Do you think? No, that is not an unfinished question, because if you did take the trouble to think about Voris, you'd (though in your case I'm not sure) that he is one of Medjugorje's most militant critics.😆

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  13. What did the housekeeper think of your ill-treatment at the hands of your fellow priests? She must have been angry at it.

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    1. She was shocked and embarrassed but afraid to comment in case she lost her job.

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    2. Pat 16.01. Here we go again. Always someone else's fault. Do you ever own responsibilities for your own wrongdoing and nastiness? Why do you paint all other characters in your life's dramas as black, nasty, dark, unkind people? There was/is a bullying streak and devious darkness in your pathology but you are so morally and spiritually defunct to notice....

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    3. Leave Pat alone, you pharisee. Can't you see he's the victim of the Church of Rome the w***e.

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  14. Aha.. we knew it wouldn't be long until those Pharisees had to be resorted to again! The gift that keeps on giving...

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  15. Pat, there are still too many in that club , there is one in Particular that is destroying his pastoral community to which he is VF of that area. You could describe him as the fat controller , he is rude,obnoxious, snobby , he seems to have forgotten he came from the falls road. He does not like lay people, he is happy he is the boss of his parish and pastoral community. Hopefully Noel has some sense in this years moves and moves him to the back of beyond.

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