Thursday, 22 March 2018


Keith O’Brien’s funeral to be held in Newcastle

He will be buried the following day at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh.
The funeral of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly the Catholic Church's most senior figure in Britain, is to be held in Newcastle next month.
The 80-year-old, who resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 2013 after admitting sexual misconduct, had recently been injured in a fall and died in a Newcastle hospital on Monday.
The Catholic Church has announced the requiem mass will take place at the Church of St Michael in Newcastle on April 5 with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, leading the service.

He will be buried the following day at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh in the grave of his mother and father, in accordance with his own wishes, the church said.

Cardinal O’Brien resigned from his position in February 2013 after three priests and a former priest alleged improper conduct during the 1980s.
He initially contested the allegations but later apologised, saying his sexual conduct had “fallen beneath the standards” expected of him.
Announcing his death on Monday, Cardinal O’Brien’s successor as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Archbishop Leo Cushley, said: “In life, Cardinal O’Brien may have divided opinion – in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down. May he rest in peace.”
A statement from the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: “The requiem mass of Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien RIP will take place at the Church of St Michael, Westmoreland Road, Newcastle, on Thursday April 5 at 1pm.


“As requested by the Holy See, the main celebrant and homilist will be His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.


So after a lot of discussions with The Vatican, it has been decided that Keith O'Brien will not have a Scottish funeral after all.

They obviously thought that an Edinburgh funeral would be too embarrassing for the Archdiocese and for O'Brien's successor, Archbishop Cushley.

Hopefully, they also took O'Brien's victims into consideration too and did not want to wipe their noses in it with a Scottish funeral.

They are taking their time about burying him too. He died last Monday, March 19th and they are not giving him a funeral until April 5th - three weeks later.

This s unusual in Catholic circles when people are usually buried within a few days.

Maybe they are hoping that April 5th will be a busy news day and the funeral will not get much coverage?

Also, they are burying him the day after - April 6th - with his mother and sister in the family grave.

That means no burial as an archbishop in the cathedral crypt or grounds.

When O'Brien was in office he was an asset to the  RC Church in condemning homosexuality and gay marriage.

Now in death - he is an embarrassment - requiring an out of town funeral and low key burial.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018



Personally, his visit is irrelevant to me and I certainly will not be going anywhere near his gathering.

But we do live in a free country and any person who wants to legally visit this country should be allowed to do so.

It is many years now since I stopped praying for the pope at my Masses - preferring instead to pray for: "all religious and world leaders".

For me, Francis is merely the CEO of a very corrupt multi-national organisation that is all about power, political influence, money and covering up institutional abuse at every level.

I regard myself as a Catholic Christian - a Christian who expresses his Christianity in the "Catholic" way as opposed to those who express their Christianity in the "Protestant" or "Orthodox" way.  

I believe that Christ alone in the Head of the Christian Church.

Just like I do not believe that Queen Elizabeth is the "head" of a church I do not believe that Francis is either.

The notion that Francis' is the "vicar of Christ on earth" is as fanciful as is the notion that God is the Pope's vicar in heaven!

No, of course, do I believe in the fantasy of "infallibility".

For me, Francis is simply the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome and that in political ways and for political reasons the bishops of Rome have forced their primacy on the other bishops of the world.

Nor do I believe that Francis is the successor of Peter. It is more than likely that Peter was never in Rome and that even if he was he was never the "bishop" of overseer/ episcopus of the early Christian Community. 

There is absolutely no proof that the bones buried under St Peter's are the bones of St. Peter.

Personally, I think that the spending of £ 20,000,000 on Francis' visit to Dublin is an awful waste of money.

At the beginning of his papacy, many thought that Francis would bring change.

I think that this hope has been dashed. 

Even if he wanted to, which I doubt, Francis would never be allowed to effect change by the corrupt curia mafia of cardinals, bishops and priests he is surrounded by.

The Irish Bishops are hoping that this £ 20,000, 000 papal carnival will help us all to forget about all the children abused by clerics, all the covering up done by bishops, the Saga of Gaynooth, the burying by nuns of hundreds of babies in septic tanks,  The Dublin Abuse, The Cloyne Abuse, The Ferns Abuse and latterly The Dromore Abuse.

There is not a snowball's chance in Hell of that happening.  

The Roman Catholic Church internationally, and in Ireland, has been shown up for the rotten empire it truly is.

Not a million Francis visits will change that reality.

The shindig in Dublin will simply be about the spiritually blind and compromised praising, preening and congratulating each other!

Who in their right mind would want to be part of that???


Fr Malachy Finnegan: A child abuser and his victims

During therapy sessions for sex offenders, Finnegan insisted: ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’

Father Malachy Finnegan: when he was at Stroud treatment centre for sex offenders he  was parish priest at Clonduff/Hilltown near Newry and president of the local GAA club, where he looked after the juvenile football teams
Father Malachy Finnegan: when he was at Stroud treatment centre for sex offenders he was parish priest at Clonduff/Hilltown near Newry and president of the local GAA club, where he looked after the juvenile football teams
A former Catholic priest remembers Fr Malachy Finnegan when he was at the Stroud treatment centre for sex offenders in Gloucestershire, England. It was 1995, and the former priest had himself been sent there because he was gay and was considered a sex addict by church authorities.
He recalls Finnegan during group therapy sessions when everyone was expected to be open and honest about their activities as part of their treatment “He never opened his mouth for the four months he was there [at the sessions] except to say, with resolute stubbornness, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’.”
If “he had admitted anything he would never have returned to ministry”, the former priest said. “Everything he would have said and done would have been reported back [to his bishop].”
Away from the therapy sessions he and Finnegan became friendly. It was how the former priest discovered Finnegan has spent some time in the South at a parish in Co Laois, and how he had claimed that he and the then bishop of Dromore diocese Francis Brooks had been classmates.
However, Bishop Brooks had been ordained a priest in 1949, four years before Finnegan.


Finnegan had been sent to Stroud because of allegations that he had sexually abused a minor. In 1994, the Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, then professor of canon law at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, had been informed of this by Bishop Brooks and was asked to help the abused boy pastorally.
As Bishop McAreavey (who succeeded Bishop Brooks in 1999) put it in a statement last month,“ the first allegation against Malachy Finnegan came to light in 1994, some seven years after he left St Colman’s College. The second allegation came in 1998, and was not related to his tenure at St Colman’s. No further allegations emerged until after his death in January 2002.”
The first time any allegations were reported to the police by church authorities was in 2006. To date, 12 formal allegations have been made against Finnegan.
A BBC Spotlight programme last month raised serious questions about how the diocese of Dromore, which includes parishes in counties Antrim and Armagh but covers much of Co Down, handled child sex abuse allegations against Finnegan. The programme included interviews with three men abused by Finnegan as children.

Physical abuse

As more men came forward alleging sexual and physical abuse by the priest, Bishop McAreavey announced his resignation earlier this month, and former president Mary McAleese called for an independent inquiry into physical and sexual abuse at St Colman’s College, Newry, Co Down, where Finnegan had been president until 1987.

On RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme last Monday, McAleese became upset as she recalled how her youngest brother, Clement Leneghan (49), had been “seriously, physically, sadistically” abused by Finnegan while a pupil at St Colman’s in the 1980s. McAleese said there were many people who knew what was going on and could have done something, but did not do so.
In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph some weeks ago, Leneghan wrote: “Throughout my seven years as a pupil at St Colman’s in the 1980s, something rotten was allowed to fester at the core of that school – I saw it every day.
“Thankfully I never experienced sexual abuse there – and I feel intense sadness for those who did – but I was one of many who suffered other forms of abuse, which Finnegan knew about and allowed to flourish.”
A second former pupil, “Donal”, told The Irish Times this week of a vicious beating by Finnegan when he was in the fourth year at the school, after which the priest “started asking sexual questions”.
“ ‘Do you masturbate?’ he asked me.” Then he asked Donal, “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “Do you have sex with her?” Donal said no. “You’re a liar,” the priest responded.
After Donal began crying, he was sent back to his class. On the way out Finnegan patted him on the bottom.

Juvenile football teams

When he was in Stroud Finnegan was parish priest at Clonduff/Hilltown near Newry, and president of the local GAA club, where he looked after the juvenile football teams. He had held both roles since 1988.
It was while there in 1990 that Finnegan began raping Sean Falloon at the age of 10, generally in the bedroom of the parochial house, known as Clonduff House, after Mass on Sundays. Mr Falloon spoke about this to the BBC recently.
When Finnegan was sent secretly to Stroud, all of Ireland was acutely alert to allegations of child sex abuse involving priests. In 1994, Fr Brendan Smyth was jailed in Belfast following over four decades of child sex abuse and his conviction for the sexual abuse of four members of one family in that city.
Later that year, in November 1994, the Republic’s government fell amid allegations about a delay in processing an RUC request for the extradition of Smyth from the Republic to face trial in Belfast.
It was in this climate that Finnegan was sent secretly by Bishop Brooks to Stroud in England for treatment, and that the then Fr McAreavey was asked to help one of Finnegan’s abuse victims.
It was also the climate in which Finnegan was allowed to return to his Clonduff parish in Dromore diocese that summer of 1995 and to its GAA club. Within two days of his return, he was raping Falloon again in the parochial house
Speaking to The Irish Times this week, the former priest who attended Stroud over the period Finnegan was there said he was very surprised Finnegan was allowed leave the centre without completing the seven-month course for sex offenders and which cost £30,000, particularly in the context of Finnegan’s refusal to actively and honestly take part in the therapy sessions.


Finnegan was himself from Newry. Ordained in Maynooth by the Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, in June 1953, he served briefly in the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin at Mountmellick, Co Laois, from 1953 to 1956. No allegations of abuse have arisen from his three years there.
He returned to Dromore diocese, and had appointments at Warrenpoint, Co Down, from 1956 to 1959, at Derrymacash from 1959 to 1967, and began at St Colman’s College in 1967. He was there until 1971, and then served for a two-year period in Newry from 1971 to 1973.
St Colman’s is one of the leading Catholic boys’ secondary schools in Northern Ireland. Opened as the diocesan college (junior seminary) for Dromore in 1823, it was set up primarily as a boarding school, with some day pupils, to educate and recruit boys for the Catholic priesthood. This was a pattern repeated in almost every Irish Catholic diocese during the early 19th century.
St Colman’s has a long tradition of success at Gaelic football, having won the colleges’ all-Ireland final eight times. GAA founder Michael Cusack was a past pupil.
Other noteworthy past pupils include former IRA chief-of-staff, Fianna Fáil founder and tánaiste Frank Aiken; former chief justice of Northern Ireland and member of the UK supreme court Lord (Brian) Kerr; former UK ambassador to the Holy See (until 2011) and first Catholic to hold the post since the Reformation Francis Campbell; former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee; the late IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh; actors John Lynch, Michael Legge, and Kevin Traynor.

College staff

In the autumn of 1973, Finnegan returned to the staff at St Colman’s, and became the college president in January 1976, succeeding Dr Brooks who was ordained Bishop of Dromore that same January. Finnegan remained as president at St Colman’s until 1987.
Among his colleagues on the college staff were Fr McAreavey from 1978 to 1979, and Canon Liam Stevenson, whom Bishop McAreavey appointed this month as administrator of Dromore diocese until a new bishop takes over there.
Canon Stevenson was also on the staff at St Colman’s from 1973, becoming president in 1994, a position he held until 2000 when he was appointed parish priest at Seapatrick in Banbridge, Co Down, Bishop McAreavey’s hometown.
At a Mass in September 1999, Dr McAreavey was ordained Bishop of Dromore at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Newry. The main celebrant was then Catholic primate Archbishop Sean Brady, with Bishop Brooks and Bishop of Cloyne John Magee, a past pupil of St Colman’s, assisting.
Bishop Magee resigned as Bishop of Cloyne in 2010, and was severely criticised in the 2011 Cloyne report for his handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations there.
Archbishop, later Cardinal Sean Brady was criticised in the January 2017 Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry report for having “effectively silenced” a 14-year-old boy in 1975 who had been sexually abused by Smyth.

Parish priest

In September 2000, Bishop Brooks, Finnegan, and Canon Stevenson took part in a concelebrated Mass at St Teresa’s Church in Banbridge to mark Canon Stevenson’s appointment there as the parish priest.
Weeks later in 2000, Bishop McAreavey took part in another concelebrated Mass with Finnegan, this time at Corduff parish, where Finnegan has been the parish priest, to mark the 150th anniversary of the church there. Church authorities in Dromore were already well aware then of clerical child sex abuse allegations against Finnegan, though none had been reported to police or any civil authorities.
At the end of his 11½-year tenure as president at St Colman’s, Finnegan served for a short period as parish priest of Dromore – from August 1987 until January 1988 – before being transferred to Clonduff as parish priest on January 17th, 1988.
He retired in September 1995, and died in Newry on January 15th, 2002. Following a funeral Mass celebrated by Bishop McAreavey, he was buried at Warrenpoint, Co Down.
The size of Dromore diocese, one of the smallest Catholic dioceses in Ireland with just 23 parishes, was found to present “significant challenges in responding to allegations of abuse, which are not evident in larger dioceses”, according to a 2011 review of child safeguarding there by the Catholic Church watchdog the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
“The smallness of the diocese and the ensuing close personal relationships created significant challenges for those working in the safeguarding structure, including the bishop, when dealing with allegations,” it said.

Lay principal

St Colman’s now has its first lay principal, Cormac McKinney, and 900 pupils.
Last month in a statement St Colman’s board of governors, chaired by Bishop of Dromore Dr McAreavey, announced that a claim against former president Finnegan had been settled, and it condemned “in the strongest possible terms the physical, sexual and emotional abuse” inflicted by him on pupils at the college while he was there. It is understood the settlement amount is in six figures.
The statement continued that “when informed in October 2017, that a case had been settled by the diocese of Dromore, the board of governors instructed that Malachy Finnegan’s image is removed from photographs which were on display in the college”.
It advised anyone abused by Finnegan to report it to the police.
This is a good piece from Patsy Mc Garry and The Irish Times published on St. Patrick's Day.
It actually tells us things we did not know before:
1. That Dromore paid £30,000 for therapy for Finnegan.
2. That Finnegan failed to complete the course.
3. That he was in charge of the Hilltown YOUTH football teams in the GAA.
4. That at the time the Church considered gay priests to be sick!

As we hear more and more of this story we realise how very sick that Finnegan was and how very badly his illness was handled by the bishop and diocese of Dromore.
Dromore is a tiny diocese and it is inconceivable that many of its priests did not know about Finnegan - and Father Reid's - activities for a very long time.
I think that it is now in such a mess that it should be abolished as a diocese and joined on to either Armagh or Down and Connor. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018




Well, first of all, we should be sorry to hear the news. The death of any human being, whatever they did in life, is a sad event.

After that, we who are Christians think of the fact that he has gone before The Lord and has been judged in the way God does to perfection - with a mixture of MERCY and JUSTICE.

Keith will have either helped or harmed himself in that respect with the amount of true sorrow he had for any wrong he ever did.

He will also be helped or harmed before The Lord with the amount of effort he made to put his wrongs right and seek the forgiveness of those he hurt.

But all that is done now and The Lord has "rewarded" him for the things he did in the body, both good and bad.


Personally, I think it would be inappropriate to give Keith O'Brien a triumphalist funeral of any kind.

We Catholics believe that a funeral is NOT a memorial service - but rather an occasion where the Church prays for God's mercy on the sinner who has died.

We are ALL sinners and in life, Keith showed that he belonged to the Body of Sinners.

I think it would be appropriate for Keith O'Brien to have a simple funeral during which is emphasized the need for God's mercy and forgiveness. 

It may be appropriate for his successor in Edinburgh to celebrate this funeral - but it might also be very nice that a humble parish priest of Edinburgh led the funeral?

I do not think it should be an occasion for the gathering of dozens of men in mitres, papal knight in green and gold, international dignitaries or boy's choirs.

Of course, those at the highest echelons of the Church will be gathered today to discuss how the funeral can be held in such a way as to not to embarrass the institutional Church and it's mafiosa. 


I think that in planning the funeral Keith O'Brien's the thoughts, feelings and wishes of his victims should have a paramount place.  

We know that Keith sexually abused a number of seminarians and priests - even in the Confessional.

We do not really know if all his victims have come forward and if those who have managed to tell their whole story.

Some of them may have already been given sufficient grace to have forgiven Keith?

Others may still be struggling with senses of anger and hurt and not having been truly listened to?

Those organising the funeral should think very strongly of the victims.

In fact, it would be wonderful if someone in the Scottish Church consulted the victims with regard to the funeral.


I imagine that Keith O'Brien has family members living and has retained friends - and maybe even made new friends since his "downfall"?

We need to take the feelings of these people into account also.

They loved him, warts and all, and to be still loved when we disgrace ourselves if often one thing that keeps us going in low moments and moments of disgrace. 


The Catholic Church internationally and locally must learn some important lessons from the Keith O'Brien situation.

This Blog has a great variety of readers.

I would be very interested to hear the thoughts of these readers on the life and death of Keith O'Brien.

Sunday, 18 March 2018



I listened and watched the Stephen Nolan Show last night. I recall attended my first priest retreat as a newly ordain priest prior to any of these revelations and the theme of the retreat was 'The Loyal And Committed Man Was The Man Who Was Said And Lead By The Bishop In Everything'. What a degrading level the sheer level of dysfunctional? I was one of those who broke silence following the revelations of Fr Brendan Smith. The clerical collar for me then was a symbol of contradiction, it resembled a noose around my neck. I was vilified by my superior and constantly bullied and intimidated by people whom I considered had no commitment to the safeguarding of vulnerable adult or for priests who were prepared to sacrifice everything by speaking out to protect the most vulnerable in our community.                          

I consider that we had excellent scripture scholars in the seminary and for me, my value base was based on scripture rather than Canon Law. I was reminded by my bishop, " You gave me a vow of obedience on the day of your ordination". I replied, "Yes bishop I did but remember one thing it was obedience with my Christian conscience, not blind obedience". The bishop quickly retorted, "There is such a thing as respect?". My reply was, "Granted but the that it had to work both ways". Thereafter I never felt safe in this vile and corrupt system. 

I repeatedly asked myself. How can I in conscience baptise innocent children into a system where they run the risk of being abused and never see truth, validation, redress or closure. Having to rely on the bishop for a roof over my head seriously undermined my security. It was evident to me that my superiors had no "value system or credibility" and that there was no timely commitment to resolve anything. What thing was evident to me I could not and would not collude with this endemic abuse so I duly resigned my position and left the diocese. The culture of abuse that prevailed was reflected in Mr Ian Elliott's finding.

I am sure that there a lot of good priests who feels compromised as I did who have not the means of extracting themselves from this corrupt organisation. If Stephen Nolan is highlighting is that it is imperative for priests to break rank with their bishops and the powers that be in Rome. It is the culture of silence and secrecy that is holding this vile evil empire together. What all victims of abuse want is truth, validation, redress and closure. How can a bishop verify the credibility of any priest in his diocese if he himself as shepherd of the flock is complicit with the practice of hiding abusers in its ranks? 

I think there is a need for a Me Too campaign in terms the safety and welfare of good priests who have tried to advocate in terms of child protection and welfare. Ministry for me has to be primarily about abused victims and healing. What is required on the entire Island of Ireland is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Finally, I want to recommend a book which highlights the impact abuse has on victims and their families. Silence and secrecy cannot be allowed to prevail good Bishops and Priests must break the silence. The book is entitled, HELL ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN. Priests must never be expected to baptise children innocent children into a system where they run the risk of being abused and never see justice. 



Joshua McElwer National Catholic Reporter. 16.3.18.

A Vatican tribunal has found Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who had been accused of sexually abusing young men decades ago, "guilty of certain of the accusations," imposing a penalty of removal from office and a prohibition from living on the U.S. island territory.

A five-judge apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced its verdict in Apuron's canonical case March 16 with a brief press release. The release did not specify of which exact acts the archbishop had been found guilty.

"The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors ... has been concluded," states the release. "The Apostolic Tribunal ... has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam."

Apuron, a Guam native who had led the island's only diocese since 1986, was placed on leave by Pope Francis in June 2016 after a series of accusations about abuse of young men in the 1960s and 70s were made public.

Francis named an apostolic administrator to run the archdiocese for several months and then named Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, to take over.

As coadjutor, Byrnes would automatically become full archbishop of the archdiocese with Apuron's removal from office. But the doctrinal congregation's statement made clear that Apuron still has the right to appeal the ruling, and that during such an appeal the penalties against the archbishop are suspended.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a noted canon lawyer, has served as the presiding judge in the Vatican's canonical trial.

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Apuron, 72, has been accused of having inappropriate physical contact with at least five young boys. The allegations emerged in May 2016 when one of the boys, now in his 50s, came forward, prompting others to do the same.

Apuron has denied the allegations against him, and Guam civil authorities have not charged him with any crimes. He is however the subject of multiple civil lawsuits.

The Guam archbishop was spotted in Rome in February, when he was seen in a wheelchair during a weekly Wednesday audience with Francis. Several outlets reported at the time that Apuron greeted the pope and told him: "Holy Father, I wanted to see you before I die."

Announcement of the verdict in Apuron's case had been expected for months. Byrnes, the coadjutor archbishop, announced in October 2017 that the judges had come to a decision.


Is is good to see the Vatican taking action against an abusing ARCHBISHOP.

This would not have happened up to a short time ago.

For instance, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland suffered very little Vatican punishment.

The only way for the RC Church to regain any credibility on this issue is to deal firmly with offenders.

It is also vital that the Vatican cooperates fully with civil authorities in these matters and hands over all its records and files to police and civil prosecutors.

Has this happened in Guam?

I hope so.

Friday, 16 March 2018




I have thought that she was an upper-middle-class VERBAL LIBERAL - great at the talking and not great at the acting out?

I have also met and listened to people in her close circle who have told me that "Mary is all about Mary".

Of course, I never met Mary McAleese.

While she invited all kinds of people from Northern Ireland to her residence as President of Ireland - including staunch Northern Ireland Unionists and Loyalists - I always got the impression that she would never send such an invitation to a "non-respectable Catholic" like me. 

I have been told that she is a friend of Cardinal Sean "The Wounded Hearer" Brady etc.


I was impressed by this speech she gave recently in Rome. 

In the speech, she manages to say a lot of things I agree with.

I'm wondering if she has undergone a change of thinking with regard to Roman Catholicism?

I'm wondering if dealing with her son's homosexuality and gay marriage against the background of RC condemnation has changed her?

What do readers think?


Some comment makers on this Blog have been "going on" about how I never write a "spiritual" blog but am always writing blogs that are critical of churches, their hierarchies and their clerics. 

They want a blog about things like Lent or St. Patrick.

I think these people are very narrow in their definition of what is "spiritual".

Everything in existence is "spiritual" in the sense that everything has the capacity to touch the spiritual ( inner ) part of men and women.

Some people find churches and worship to be spiritual experiences.

Other's spirits are touched deeply by a mountain, a sky, a waterfall, an ocean etc.

Others find music and art as the entrance to the world of the spirit.

Others find a fine wine or a special meal to be spiritually uplifted.

For others, it's architecture, antiquity, travel, steam trains, beautiful cars, the miracle of air flight that opens up their spirits.

For animal lovers like me, we find spirituality in our bonds with our pets.


So ALL is spiritual.

It's not just thoughts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary or Padre Pio's stigmata that are spiritual.

When we engage in constructive criticism of the Church and clerics we engage on the spiritual task of exposing the unholy and the scandalous as the first stage towards healing and perfecting. This, of course, can be spiritually painful and distressing to some. But pain and distress is the cornerstone of Christianity - the pain and distress of Calvary.

Is it not the case that very often the hand that hurts is the hand that heals?

While those looking on superficially can accuse us of hatred and scandal-mongering - is it not possible that unbeknown to onlookers, and even ourselves, the Spirit can be at work?

God's ways are indeed strange and His straighter writings often appear crooked to those who "do not have eyes to see".

Of course, a balanced spirituality requires us to encounter both the negative and the positive.

Sometimes we are not good at distinguishing the negative from the positive - AND - the doctor who cuts us open at the beginning of the surgery may not be the one who stitches us closed when it ends.

So, I contend this Blog is ALWAYS spiritual.

That does not mean that those reading it may recognize it as such!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


From Catholic Herald

The cardinal warned Catholic schools against embracing gender ideology

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said that schoolchildren must accept the gender into which they were born if they are to be truly happy.

Entering the debate on the “ideology of gender” publicly for the first time, Cardinal Vincent Nichols suggested that only through accepting their biological sex would people ultimately find their “greatest joy”.

The Archbishop of Westminster told a meeting of Catholic head teachers that children were not “single, self-determining individuals” but members of a great family with “firm points of reference” determined by birth.

His remarks represent a rejection of the gender ideology being imposed upon many public institutions and associations – and giving rise to such practices as sharing toilets, changing rooms and other facilities.

In his speech to school leaders of his archdiocese late last month, Cardinal Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, appealed to a “common sense of humanity” as an antidote to the rampant individualism that he blamed for driving emerging ideologies.

He said it was the “foundation for much of Catholic moral teaching in areas of friendship, relationship, family life, human sexuality”.

“At a time of great confusion about the rules of sexual behaviour, about exploitation and abuse in every part of society, some firm points of reference, that are already built into our humanity at its best, are of vital importance,” said Cardinal Nichols.

“In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity, and at a time when the response to ‘difference’ is to become closed in a self-selecting world of the like-minded and reject that which is different, such foundations are so important.

“They affirm that there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities and which project across generations,” he said.

“They help up keep hold of the reality that we are not single, self-determining individuals but members of a great family, with all its trials, diversities and struggles, and within that family, not alone, will we find our greatest joy.”

He reminded his audience that “British values”, such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights, which the Government intends to enforce in UK schools ostensibly to counter radicalisation, were founded on Christianity.

But in an unusually blunt criticism of public policy, he warned teachers that “government diktat or favour” alone would result only in the “barren expectations of tolerance”.

He said it would be better to help young people develop a sense of justice and fair play that was grounded in an “innate understanding of human nature and its dignity” rather than in an ideology.

“The Christian faith is not an ideology,” he said. “An ideology proceeds by destroying what is in its way. This we see in dramatic forms today, as it can be seen in most phases of human history.

“An ideology seeks to remove all that is opposed to it and to impose its ‘ideals’, no matter the objective cost.

“The Christian faith, on the other hand … looks with clear eyes at the reality before it, the reality of which it is a part: a neighbourhood, a culture, an economic system, an ecology.

“The Christian faith, more than any other, takes the reality of sin seriously, not pretending that we live in a utopia, or on a pathway of endless progress, but rather in a world marked by limitations and distortions.”

So far, even in Catholic schools, children are usually accepted into the gender of their choice rather than their birth.

Yet such practices risk putting Catholic schools at odds with Church teaching that God created people to be either male or female.

Transgender campaigners criticised the remarks of Cardinal Nichols, however, describing them as “not helpful”.

Heather Ashton, of transgender charity TG Pals, told the Mail on Sunday: “It is the responsibility of educators to be accepting, tolerant and understanding, and a religious bias should not have any impact on a transgender child’s needs.”

Last month when the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, an academic institute serving the Catholic Church in the UK and Ireland, published a briefing paper which vigorously opposed Scottish proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

The planned reforms, which are likely to be replicated later this year in England and Wales, seek to allow any person to change their gender by law simply by self-declaration.

They would remove existing provisions requiring a person with “gender dysphoria” to see a doctor first and to “transition” into a gender of their choice for at least two years before they can legally change.

They also seek to allow married people to change gender without the permission of their spouses.

Children will also be allowed to self-declare into a new gender from the age of 16 and those younger can do so without parental consent if they appeal to the courts.


Cardinal Nichols is not an expert on the topic of gender dysphoria.

I think his words are ignorant and unscientific.

This matter is best left to those who are experts in this area.

Nichols is spreading ignorance and misinformation

Tuesday, 13 March 2018




Many priests nowadays do not wear their clerical collar in public because of the verbal abuse they get when wearing it.

I personally always wear my collar and I have been verbally abused because of it - not in Northern Ireland I must admit - but on the streets of Dublin.

The history of various countries does show us that in those countries where clerics were once powerful and influential they are now greatly disliked. 

Historic anti-clericalism was a reaction to the Catholic Church's interference and domination of national politics.

And here in Ireland since the 1970's we have seen a similar push by people who want Ireland to be a secular and pluralist modern democracy.

But there is now another wave of anti-clericalism that stems from the constant revelations of sexual abuse by priests and the covering up of that abuse by bishops and other Church authorities.

This very emotional form of anti-clericalism is now present in Northern Ireland following the exposure of the 40-year reign of terror that Father Malachy Finnegan imposed on the students of St. Colman's College in Newry and upon child parishioners in Hilltown.

People are very angry that he was able to get away with all this physical and sexual abuse for so long and that while he lived he was treated like a "holy man" and when he died he was given the full houours of a clerical funeral - including a large headstone. 

Former Irish president - Mary McAleese - gave voice to that emotion in recent days when she called for an inquiry into the Father Finnegan reign. Her own youngest brother was abused by Finnegan.


Every single Catholic priest - like every citizen - has the right to go about his everyday life without being threatened or abused in any way. And when we are we are quite within our right to make complaints to the police and have those who abuse and threaten us dealt with.

But in honesty and sorrow, we must also realise that our black suits and collars remind people of those priests who did abuse and those bishops who did - and do - cover up.

I think that the Irish Catholic Church must get itself ready for a long period of strong anti-clericalism and instead of feeling sorry for itself it needs to openly confront and confess all its wrongs and work for change.

The Irish author and political observer Tim Pat Coogan once wrote that Ireland was colonised twice - one by the British State and once by the Roman Catholic Church.


The 1916 Rising began the process of getting rid of "The Brits".

The anti-clericalism that is already here - and growing - is the beginning of the process of bringing the Roman Catholic colonisation of Ireland to an end.

It will be a painful and challenging time for many.

But hopefully, it will make Ireland a better and freer place to live.

Maybe then we can truly have an ISLAND OF SAINTS AND SCHOLARS rather than an island of  TAINTS AND COLLARS.