Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm no danger says abuser ex-priest

A former Roman Catholic priest exposed as a serial child sex abuser has claimed he poses no "threat or danger to children".

Bill Carney was accused by the Murphy report, which was published in Ireland two years ago, of abusing at least 32 children.

Carney, who was ordained in 1974 and defrocked in 1992, left Ireland and was traced to Spain before settling in Northleach, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Earlier this year the Gloucestershire Echo newspaper published an article revealing he was living in the home of his ex-wife, close to a children's playground.

The newspaper published a letter Carney had written in response to that article.

"Your article depicts me as a threat or a danger to children. Nothing could be further from the truth," he wrote.

"For over 30 years now I have been a recovering alcoholic and the only mark against my name is three points on my driving licence for doing 38mph in a 40mph area. In these 30 years there has not been the slightest suggestion of anything that would indicate that I am a danger to any child."

The report by the Commission to Inquire into the Dublin Archdiocese, which was headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, said Carney had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault in 1983 against two altar boys.

"He was one of the most serious serial abusers investigated by the commission," the report stated. "There is some evidence suggesting that, on separate occasions, he may have acted in concert with other convicted clerical child sexual abusers."

Carney has never been tried for any of the allegations made in the report.

University rejects fresh Kells bid

Ireland's top university has rejected renewed efforts in the 40-year battle to have the priceless Book of Kells returned to its home town.

Trinity College Dublin has dismissed the latest attempts by campaigners to strike a deal to share the world-renowned ancient manuscripts.

Despite several failed attempts at a homecoming, council and tourism bosses in the Co Meath town have revived efforts to haggle with academics and in a bid to boost tourism.

But Trinity chiefs rejected the approach, citing preservation, safety and security of the irreplaceable manuscript.

"Its display and storage are subject to very careful environmental controls and security. Additionally, a team of conservation specialists in the library's conservation department look after the manuscript's preservation," said a college spokeswoman.

"The preservation, safety and security of the manuscript are paramount in relation to requests for loan received by Trinity College."

Aidan Wall, chairman of Kells Tourism Forum, said a deal to share the famous works would bring tourists to both Trinity and Kells.

"We believe by having part of the book in Kells and part in Trinity the total number of visitors overall would be increased - we are not out to do any harm," he said.

"I think it's time to share it. There's no reason two volumes or one volume could not be in Kells."

The ornate Book of Kells containing the four Gospels in Latin was written around the year 800 and taken to Trinity by Henry Jones, an officer in Oliver Cromwell's army, after it was discovered in 1654 in St Columba's Church in Meath.

Funeral Homily of Archbishop Michael Neary for Fr. Michael Keane

Funeral Homily for Fr. Michael Keane, RIP

St. Colman’s Church, Claremorris, August 30th, 2011

On Saturday last the day Fr. Michael passed away to his eternal reward in Claremount Nursing home it was the feast of St. Monica.  It is said that on her death-bed that St. Monica had one wish while bidding farewell to her son the great Augustine.  “All I ask” she said “is that you remember me at the altar of God”.  Today we remember and pray for the happy repose of the soul of Fr. Michael at the altar of God here in St. Colman’s Church, his native parish of Kilcolman.

Call to Priesthood

On the 18th of June, 1950 Fr. Michael Keane along with four others from the Archdiocese of Tuam were ordained and granted the privilege to celebrate the Holy Eucharist at the altar of God on a daily basis, to minister, to be pastors to God’s people.  Their mandate was – as the prophet Isaiah tells us in today’s first reading – to bring good tidings, to publish peace, to bring news of salvation, to proclaim the reign of God.  Fr. Michael set about doing this with great diligence, passion and commitment for the past sixty one years of an eventful 

Priestly Appointments

Early appointments saw Fr. Micheal serve for a short time in Cloonfad and Castlebar before serving in the north Connemara half-parishes of Tully Cross and Cashel.  From the early 1960s and right through to the early seventies he ministered in the eastern part of the diocese in Kilkerrin before returning to his native Mayo to Carnacon until the mid-1970s.  In 1976 after some considerable difference of opinion and public controversy he transferred to the Dublin Archdiocese.  In 2005 he returned to his native Claremorris, residing in Mount Street and helping out as chaplain in Claremount Nursing Home along with being a great help to the local clergy, Canon Tommie Mannion and Fr. Peter Gannon in the parish here in Kilcolman.

Relationship with Church Authority

Being strong-willed and passionate about various issues – when it came to ecclesiastical authority and dealing with various Church leaders Fr. Michael had a colourful and sometimes fraught series of relationships with more than one Archbishop!  In recent times with the relative mellowness of retirement he was able to look back and acknowledge these occasions with a sense of humour.

Illustration – Recent Story

A short time ago Fr. Michael, when visiting a colleague noticed a copy of The History of the Archbishops of Tuam and commented humoursly to his colleague that this book should carry a health warning! He enjoyed telling that story with great relish many times since along with many similar stories during a recent most cordial and pleasant visit for lunch to Archbishop’s House in Tuam a few short months ago.

Man of Principle and Champion of the Under-dog

Fr. Michael was a man of principle!  Frequently he took strong stances on various issues, always willing to go out of his way to fight for what he perceived was a cause of injustice and most especially to be on the side of the under-dog.  As many people have come to know despite his great endearing capacity for warmth and friendship – he could also be equally argumentative when he felt an issue needed to be ironed out or a point of principle made!

Courteous, Good-humoured, Appreciative and Generous

In my dealings with Fr. Michael he was always most gentlemanly, good humoured and cordial.  In his dealings with the Diocesan Office he was most appreciative and thankful and acknowledged in writing even the smallest courtesy.  He was also extremely generous in donating to diocesan charity causes.

Founder of Knock Marriage Bureau

There is no doubt that Fr. Michael will be best known for founding the Knock Marriage Bureau in 1968 and it was this that led to he being christened “Ireland’s Cupid Priest”!  The service offered at the Bureau was a novel and innovative idea coming at a time when emigration and social change had once again become a distinct reality in some remote and lonely places of rural areas in the west of Ireland.  The show-band era was in full swing, dance halls were a big part of the social fabric of the country – but in some remote and isolated areas it was difficult for couples to meet and socialise and the marriage-rate was quite low.  The Knock Marriage bureau was indeed a unique idea and as we know it has been the source of happiness for many people in the course of its 43 years of existence.  The Knock Marriage Bureau that is still going strong today boasts of having introduced over 48,000 people and claims to have led to over 900 marriages.  Many of them have kept in regular contact with Fr. Michael right down through the years.

Promotion of the Sacrament of Marriage

Central to his founding of the Marriage Office was his pastoral care of and interest in people.  This along with his absolute commitment to life from womb to tomb and most of all the sanctity of Marriage, the covenant relationship between husband and wife.

Hope – Despite Our Mourning and Loss

This afternoon we mourn the passing of a unique character who certainly made his mark in life.  He will be sadly missed by family, colleagues, friends, the many parishioners to whom he ministered, not least the countless acquaintances from the Knock Marriage bureau.  The second reading today from St. Paul instils great hope in our hearts that is not an end, but merely a change.  The hope of the Resurrection is much bigger on the horizon of life than the sadness and stark reality of ageing, sickness and death.

Belief in the Resurrection – Bringing Peace

In the post-resurrection scene of the Gospel of St. Luke today Jesus asks the disciples – why they are troubled, why do questions arise in their hearts?  Belief in the Resurrection according to Jesus should bring us a deep sense of Peace.  May this peace of the Risen Christ be with all who grieve for Fr. Michael Keane today, a man who brought the good tidings of the Gospel to many in his life and ministry of service in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ for 61 years.  In this Eucharist, like St. Augustine – we approach the altar of the Lord with fondness of memory, in prayerfulness, in hope – that the peace of the Spirit of God would remain with all who mourn Fr. Michael’s loss.

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.  Amen.

Melkite Patriarch of Damascus calls for urgent dialogue between government and youth

The Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, speaking about the ‘Arab spring’ in an indirect address to President Bashar al-Assad, called for interaction between the government and younger Syrians currently in the opposition. 

He made the point in a message to Syrian Muslims on the feast of ‘Fitr’ (breaking ‘the fast’) that ends the month of Ramadan. The event begins tonight and continues for three days.

In his address, the patriarch mentioned the ‘Arab spring, which has turned into a ‘hot summer’ in which the “revolutions brought bloodshed to the Arab and Muslim world, destroying man, hearts, sentiments, brotherhood and compassion, as well as public and private institutions, causing thousands of victims, dead and wounded.”

In his message, Gregorios III also mentioned what, in his view, should have occurred, criticising the attitudes of Arab governments as well the governments of the United States and Europe.

“We expected that in such tragic circumstances, the Arab world would have done something, that Arab and Muslim nations would have organised one summit after the other to study the pain and aspirations of their peoples, that they would have interacted with the revolutions of younger generations, that together, they would have analysed the cause and limits of these revolutions, the range and goals, risks and opportunities that they could represent for all of us, instead of allowing foreign forces, whatever their intentions, to interfere and meddle in our affairs, dictate to us their ideas, threaten our governments, call for our presidents to resign and leave their countries, and force those who had been the symbols of our Arab countries to be removed and put on humiliating trials.”

“It is never too late,” the patriarch said in what appeared to be an address to all Arab leaders, but was in fact meant for the president of Syria. “There is still a possibility for the leaders of our Arab and Muslim worlds to be serious about the slogans that echo in the streets of our capitals, cities and villages, to heed them and turn them into a joint Arab action plan, even an Islamic-Christian plan, in order to build a better world for our peoples, especially the young generations.”

“We cannot,” he added, “and do not have the right to ignore these voices, slogans and demands, whatever their overt or covert motivations may be. Our Arab world needs, we are convinced, an intellectual, spiritual and social revolution.”

For Gregorios III such a revolution must be non-violent, and must not adopt the model that some TV media have suggested since the start of the year.

From the point of view of the future and with some "captatio benevolentiae" for the head of state, the patriarch said that we must work “for a civilised Arab society in which social, confessional and ethnic differences disappear, in which our hopes for justice, equality, dignity, religious and personal freedom can be realised, in which we fight against corruption and develop the countryside, a society that helps the poor and the victims of injustice, especially in rural areas, where nature may not have been generous and modernisation may be lagging. It is a matter of working together to implement what is necessary to achieve political, social and domestic reform, which President Bashar al-Assad has promoted and continues to promote.”

In concluding, “We want to build a better society,” the patriarch said, “based on a civilisation of peace, brotherhood and love among the many different confessions that have lived side by side for centuries.”

Minister defends planned abuse reporting law

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has reiterated her intention to apply the planned new reporting requirements on child abuse across all organisations and individuals working with children.

She was responding to Cardinal Seán Brady's warning that undermining the vow of secrecy surrounding Confession would challenge the right of every Catholic to freedom of religion and conscience.

Immediately after the Cloyne Report revealed Catholic Church cover-ups of clerical child sexual abuse, Ms Fitzgerald said the sacrament of Confession could not be used to claim exemption from new reporting rules the Government intended to introduce.

Ms Fitzgerald has now said she intends to bring the draft heads of the planned Children First Bill to Government in coming months and applying its new statutory reporting requirements across all organisations and individuals working with children.

She recalled that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had told the Dáil in July that the Irish people deserved and required compliance by all Church authorities here with the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse to the State's authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance, which would have the force of law.

Martin defends controversial new Roman Missal

THE INTRODUCTION of the controversial new Roman Missal in English-speaking countries has been defended by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, as “necessary for several reasons”.

Fears surrounding the missal would be dispelled through use, as already found through exercises in liturgy groups and parishes, he said.

A gradual introduction of the missal will begin at Masses in Ireland from Sunday, September 11th. 

It is planned that it will be in full use throughout Ireland and the English-speaking Catholic world by the first Sunday of Advent this year, November 27th.

The missal’s introduction has been opposed by the Association of Catholic Priests, which has described it as sexist, archaic, elitist and obscure.

“Many priests will struggle with [the new Mass texts] and many people will regard them as unnecessary and unusable. Consequently we believe it is unwise to proceed with them,” the association has said.

In a letter to the priests of the Dublin archdiocese earlier this month, Dr Martin said that since the current Roman Missal was introduced in 1975, “many additional texts have been made available for use. These include new eucharistic prayers for reconciliation I and II, and for Masses for various needs I to IV, Masses for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Masses for new feasts of saints, and other new material.”

He added that 10 years ago the congregation for divine worship at the Vatican “gave new directions for how the original Latin texts are to be translated”.

Those familiar with translations in other languages had come to realise “that often there were key phrases and rich biblical allusions missing from the English translation” in the current missal, he said.

Also, “some theological vocabulary had been lost in the 1975 edition” and the new missal “addresses some of these weaknesses”.

Those familiar with the text of the Mass in Irish “will notice how closely the new English missal matches the accuracy of the original Irish translation”, he said.

Acknowledging that there would be changes, Dr Martin said, however, that this would not be “in the structure of the Mass itself, but in the way the Mass sounds”.

“Prayers we know by heart will need to be relearned. Sentences will, on occasion, be longer and the style of language will seem more formal. But over time, as we pray the texts, they will become familiar to us and it is hoped that their richness and depth will bear fruit.”

Dr Martin had “prayed the new missal texts”, as had liturgy groups and others in parishes around the country on an experimental basis. He had “found that fears around the new edition were greatly dispelled through their use”.

A notice to be published in Catholic parish bulletins next Sunday, September 4th, will explain that the following Sunday will mark “a significant step in the journey towards full use of the new edition of the Roman Missal on the first Sunday of Advent”.

It will announce that on September 11th “we will have the new translations of the following texts: the people’s response to the greeting by the priest, ‘I confess’, the Gloria, the Apostles’ Creed and the acclamations for the eucharistic prayer, as well as the text for the invitation to Communion”.

From September 11th the new translation in responses and prayers said by the congregation will be included in missalettes,parish bulletins and congregational cards.

The notice will point out that “the order and structure of the Mass is not changed. Nor are the readings changed.”

It will continue that, “over time, we will become familiar with the prayers, which have very slightly changed”.

For example, in the Holy, Holy, “we say ‘Lord God of hosts’ and in the response to ‘Pray, brothers and sisters’, the addition of one word, ‘holy’, before ‘church’”. 

Other prayers will have more changes.

Word made fresh: Mass changes 

CHANGES TO the wording of the Confiteor, the Gloria and the Creed are included in the new Roman Missal.

The phrase “begotten, not made, of one being with the Father”, from the Creed, has been changed to “begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father”.

The response to “the Lord be with you” has been changed from “and also with you” to “and with your spirit”, while the opening three sentences of the third eucharistic prayer have been replaced with a 72-word sentence.

Throughout the new missal, references are only made to “man”, “men” and “he”.

Priest says bishop's RTÉ interview a 'lesson in what not to do'

THE INTERVIEW and statement by Bishop John Magee last week has been described as “an object lesson in what not to do” by Fr Brendan Hoban, founder member of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).

He was referring to an RTÉ interview given by the former Bishop of Cloyne outside his home in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, on August 22nd last and a statement issued by him that day also.

Both represented Bishop Magee’s first comments in five weeks since he responded to publication of the Cloyne report on July 13th last.

He “unreservedly” apologised to victims of clerical child sex abuse in Cloyne and said he would be willing to meet them and their families privately.

Fr Hoban wrote on the ACP website: “You don’t agree to talk to someone giving the impression that you are being door-stepped. You don’t read out a statement or, if you feel you have to, you make sure that someone who knows something about words has a look at it beforehand.”

He continued: “You don’t justify or explain, when the evidence is conclusive and the jury has already gone home. You turn up. You tell the truth. You hold up your hands. It’s not brain surgery. It’s just being media savvy.”

Fr Hoban said: “The difficult truth at present is that bishops are not believed or trusted. Even if they said the Our Father there would be something wrong with it.

“Old men in black suits conjure up frightening, not reassuring images. Being Catholic is the last great stigma. To quote a man (former taoiseach Brian Cowen) who found himself in a similarly impossible place, ‘We are where we are’.” 

He noted that “every bishop is lord in his own diocese and the culture of deference that assures them they are competent in every imaginable subject makes it almost impossible for them to actually accept that in certain instances they are completely out of their depths. Part of the difficulty is that they seem not to understand how much the ground has moved under their feet.”

He recalled how the late Cardinal Cahal Daly had made the point “that part of the difficulty of dealing with the IRA was that it was impossible to communicate with them. The were in a time warp; they had tunnel vision; they didn’t seem to realise that time has moved on and that Ireland has changed.” Cardinal Daly’s words “are a metaphor for where we are as a church now. And the interview given by the hapless Bishop Magee simply underlined the problems we have.” 

He concluded: “There are rules that have emerged from the experience of dealing with difficult issues . . . There are things you do and things you don’t do. And the Magee interview was an object lesson in what not to do.”

Parishes asked to sell houses and fund diocese abuse bill

PARISH priests in a scandal-hit diocese have been told to draw up a list of properties that can be sold to raise funds for child-abuse compensation.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Diocese of Cloyne in Cork is making the move in a desperate bid to shore up its finances.

Buildings that previously housed priests will be put on the market to help pay the looming compensation bill.

The Diocese of Cloyne will also be seeking a voluntary 6pc levy on all gains from the future sales of parish property.

That means that the parish - which normally controls its own finances - will have to hand over a portion of the proceeds from the sale of property to the overall diocese coffers.

The diocese admits it owns little residential property suitable for immediate disposal. But local parishes -- which do have suitable properties - will be asked to consider to consider selling off houses they don't need.

While the sale decision will remain strictly with the individual parishes, this method has been identified as a key factor in restoring diocesan finances.

The bill for compensation claims in the diocese is expected to reach millions of euro.

Last month, a report into child protection in the diocese identified a litany of failings under the watch of former Bishop John Magee. 

Archbishop Dr Dermot Clifford -- who has been running Cloyne since early 2009 -- admitted it could be years before the diocesan finances fully recovered from the fallout of the scandal.

"There will be a lot of compensation to be paid -- some has already been paid. The resources of the diocese financially will be very low and it will be a big job to rebuild the Diocese of Cloyne," he said.

However, the diocese will face major hurdles in raising the cash because the individual parishes own the properties, and a decision must be taken at local level on whether to sell or not.

And even if they do opt to sell buildings, property prices have fallen by up to 50pc in some parts of Cork.

The diocese's major assets, such as the Bishop's Palace in Cobh, are unsuitable for disposal in the midst of the worst property crisis in Irish history.

The last major property the Diocese of Cloyne was able to sell -- a former clerical house in Killeagh in east Cork -- fetched €240,000 two years ago.

The individual 46 parishes in Cloyne own a great quantity of residential property, including houses formerly used as homes for clergy. Many of these are now surplus to requirements, given the declining number of priests.

The diocese has a catchment area of about 250,000 people with 133 clerics. That is around 60pc of the number clerics it had 20 years ago.

Diocesan spokesman Fr Jim Killeen said the 6pc levy would be aimed at supporting diocesan finances.

"The diocese actually owns very little property (suitable for sale). That is what we will be asking parishes to contribute," he said.

But since 2008, parishes have been extremely reluctant to sell property given the slashed market returns available.

"It is perfectly understandable, after all, the market is pretty difficult at the moment," Fr Killeen added.

Cloyne is the latest diocese to be identified as having had serious child-protection failings in the past following similar damning reports on the dioceses of Ferns and Dublin.

The Archdiocese of Dublin -- which faces more than €13m in compensation payments -- is considering a Mass levy.

But the Irish Independent understands there are no plans for special diocesan Mass collections to support compensation payments in Cloyne.

Any such move would be hugely controversial in the area. Fine Gael TD Tom Barry, who lives in the Diocese of Cloyne, has bluntly warned against this option. 

Cloyne has to date settled a total of five compensation claims but it now faces at least a dozen more such claims.

Report on allegations of assault by priests is delayed

A REPORT into sex abuse in the Diocese of Raphoe has been delayed after the man carrying out the investigation asked for more information from church authorities.

The church-run National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) has spent months carrying out a review of all allegations made against priests in Co Donegal.

The long-awaited report was due to be published by NBSCCC chief executive Ian Elliott at the beginning of September.

But now it is understood the audit will not be made public until October at the earliest.

It is understood Mr Elliott has contacted the church in Donegal seeking further information on certain matters, which has now caused the delay.

However, a spokesman for the board said it could not comment on any aspect of the report until it was published.

When the report is complete it will be forwarded to the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, who will decide when to make it public.

The communications director with the Raphoe diocese, Fr Paddy Dunne, said he understood it would be "some time" before the report was released to Bishop Boyce.


Raphoe is the sixth of Ireland's 26 dioceses to have an audit into alleged sex abuse by priests carried out.

It contained some of the country's most notorious paedophile priests including Fr Eugene Greene.

Fr Greene was jailed for 12 years in 2000 for the rape and sexual assault of 26 boys but was released in 2008.

Six priests from the Raphoe diocese have so far been brought to justice for their crimes.

The board, which was formed in 2006, was tasked with uncovering the full extent of all complaints or allegations, know- ledge, suspicions or concerns of child sexual abuse, made to the Raphoe diocese by individuals or by the civil authorities in the period of January 1, 1975, to the present day against Catholic clergy.

Its objective will be "to confirm how known allegations have been responded to and what the current arrangements for safeguarding children are" in the diocese.

It is not believed the Raphoe report will feature priests involved in abuse before 1975.

A recent report that claimed "hundreds and hundreds" of victims were abused by up to 20 priests in the diocese was dismissed by Bishop Boyce who said it was simply not true.

Report into sexual abuse in Raphoe delayed as more information sought

A REPORT into sex abuse in the Diocese of Raphoe has been delayed after the man tasked with carrying out the investigation asked for more information from Church authorities.

The Church-run National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has spent months carrying out a review of all allegations made against priests in Co Donegal.

The long-awaited report was due to be published by the board’s chief executive, Ian Elliott, either this week or at the start of September.

But it is understood the audit will not be made public until October at the earliest, due to Mr Elliott contacting the Church in Donegal seeking further information on certain matters.

A spokesman for the board said they could not comment on any aspect of the report until it is published.

When the report is complete it will be forwarded to the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, who will decide when to make it public.

The communications director with the Raphoe Diocese, Fr Paddy Dunne, said he understood it would be "some time" before the report was released to Bishop Boyce.

"There is a lot of speculation. It was supposed to be soon but I understand it could be some time. I do not know when," Fr Dunne said. "I am not privy to that information. When the bishop receives the report he will decide when to make it public."

Raphoe is the sixth of Ireland’s 26 dioceses to have an audit into alleged sex abuse by priests carried out.

The diocese contained some of Ireland’s most notorious paedophile priests, including Fr Eugene Greene, who was jailed for 12 years in 2000 for the rape and sexual assault of 26 boys. He was released in 2008.

A total of six priests from the Raphoe Diocese have so far been brought to justice for their crimes.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church was formed in 2006, tasked with uncovering the full extent of all complaints or allegations, knowledge, suspicions or concerns of child sexual abuse made to the Raphoe diocese by individuals or civil authorities from January 1, 1975, to the present day, against Catholic clergy.

Its objective is "to confirm how known allegations have been responded to and what the current arrangements for safeguarding children are" in the diocese.

It is believed the Raphoe report will not feature priests involved in abuse before 1975.

A recent report claiming there were "hundreds and hundreds" of victims who were abused by up to 20 priests in the diocese was dismissed by Bishop Boyce, who said it was simply not true.

Novena for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary, Queen Assumed into Heaven, I rejoice that after years of heroic martyrdom on earth, you have at last been taken to the throne prepared for you in heaven by the Holy Trinity.

Lift my heart with you in the glory of your Assumption above the dreadful touch of sin and impurity. Teach me how small earth becomes when viewed from heaven. Make me realize that death is the triumphant gate through which I shall pass to your Son, and that someday my body shall rejoin my soul in the unending bliss of heaven.

From this earth, over which I tread as a pilgrim, I look to you for help. In honor of your Assumption into heaven I ask for this favor: (Mention your request).

When my hour of death has come, lead me safely to the presence of Jesus to enjoy the vision of my God for all eternity together with you.

Prayer To Saint Matthew

O Glorious Saint Matthew, in your Gospel you portray Jesus as the longed-for Messiah who fulfilled the Prophets of the Old Covenant and as the new Lawgiver who founded a Church of the New Covenant. 
Obtain for us the grace to see Jesus living in his Church and to follow his teachings in our lives on earth so that we may live forever with him in heaven.

Naomh An Lae - Saint Of The Day

aidanoflindisfarne St Aidan of Lindisfarne (7th century) monk and missionary

Aidan was of Irish descent and a monk of Iona. He had a reputation of being a gentle but effective missionary in the English kingdom of Northumbria. He founded the monastery of Lindisfarne.  

From Iona

Aidan was of Irish descent and a monk of Iona. During the struggles for the kingship of Northumbria, two sons of the king found refuge in Iona. When the younger of these Oswald eventually became king in 634, he invited the monks of Iona to send a mission to evangelise Northumbria.

A simple message

The first monk from Iona who came, Colmán, was combative in temperament. He dismissed the local people as "obstinate and barbarous" and in less than a year went back to Iona. Aidan, who was sent on a second mission the following year, felt Colmán had been too harsh, and decided on simpler approach. He became firm friends with King Oswald, whom he had known in Iona. Aidan also used Oswald, who had become bilingual during his time on Iona, as his interpreter and soon became bilingual himself, bringing the gospel everywhere he went, to rich and poor alike. He had the great missionary virtues of patience and openness to everyone he met.

Monastery and school 

Aidan founded a monastery and school for twelve young boys on the island of Lindisfarne. It was within sight of the King's castle at Bamburgh. Two of his disciples, Cedd and Chad, later became missionaries and brought Celtic Christianity into Mercia, the Midlands area of present-day England. When Oswald died in 642, Aidan received continued support from King Oswin of Deira and the two became close friends.

Encouraged St Hilda of Whitby

Aidan also encouraged women in the religious life and was friend and spiritual director to the abbess Hilda at Whitby. This was a monastery in the Celtic style, with men and women living separately in small houses, but worshipping together in church.

Death and burial

Strongly opposed to slavery, Aidan spent much time and effort in ransoming slaves and sending them home. When he died at Bamburgh Castle in 651, his body was taken back to Iona for burial. Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People  portrays him with the virtues that were also his own: a teacher with a passionate love of goodness, tempered with humility, warmth and gentleness.

Carry your cross with faith and courage, Pope tells new US seminarians

Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged the new class of seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome to be unafraid to carry the cross of Christ.

“Dear Seminarians, do not be afraid to take up the challenge in today’s Gospel to give your lives completely to Christ,” he told the new students during his Sunday Angelus address on Aug. 28 at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence 15 miles to the south of Rome.

“Indeed, may all of us be generous in our commitment to him, carrying our cross with faith and courage.”

Moments earlier the American students, along with several thousand other pilgrims, listened as the Pope explained in more detail the need for all Christians to embrace the cross. 

The Pope invited all present to surrender their will to Jesus who, in return, will transform their ways of thinking for the better.

“The Christian follows the Lord with love when he accepts his cross which in the eyes of the world appears as a defeat and a ‘loss of life’, while that man knows that he does not bear his alone but with Jesus, sharing the same path of self-giving,”  the Pope said.

In doing so, he added, “we allow ourselves to be transformed through divine grace, renewing our way of thinking in order to discern the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The Pope based his comments upon Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus rebukes St. Peter for reacting negatively to the revelation that the Christ must “go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

This prediction by Jesus presented “a clear discrepancy between the loving plan of the Father” observed the Pope “and the expectations, desires, projects of the disciples.” He said it’s a discrepancy that often continues to this modern day.

“When the fulfillment of one’s life is only aimed towards social success, and physical and economic well-being, man is not thinking according to God but according to man.” Such an attempt to refuse God’s “project of love,” said the Pope, “almost prevents man from carrying out His masterly will.”

Hence, said the Pope, the challenge of Jesus to the first apostles, “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,”  is equally applicable to anybody who seeks true happiness in the modern world.

The Pontifical North American College was founded in 1859 in response to an appeal by Pope Pius IX for an American seminary in Rome. 

Its present building sits on Rome’s Janiculum Hill only minutes from St. Peters Basilica. 

Regarded as one of the most flourishing seminaries in the city, the college is currently home to over 300 students and priests.

Christianity and capitalism: Investing in the Lord

It's in St Mark's Gospel that we're told that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Bible also tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, yet the seemingly sin-ridden worlds of investments and big banking are cohabiting quite happily with Christianity.

St Margaret Lothbury is one of the oldest churches in London. It's the parish church of the Bank of England and other financial institutions in the square mile, but unlike other Church of England churches, it has no services on a Sunday.

Weekdays however are a completely different matter. At a recent service I watched hundreds of expensively dressed City workers dance and sing and pray along with a Christian band who were providing the music for the worshippers.

The Reverend Jeremy Crossley has been the vicar at St Margaret's for more than 11 years. 

He thinks there's no conflict between Christianity and making money.

"As long as you're being honest about what you do, it's not a sin to make money," he says. "God rewards industriousness, and that's what most of the people who come here are. Good, hard-working honest people who want to make money. No sin there." 

The latest annual report from the Church of England (CofE) shows that despite global uncertainty about the future of the economy, its investment fund rose by more than 15% to £5.3bn last year.

The fund, which goes to help the CofE mission and to pay out the thousands of pensions for retired clergy, operates under a strict policy of socially responsible investment.
Ethical investments

For the Roman Catholic Church, the Christian Brothers Investment Service (CBIS) does the same kind of investing, managing about $4bn (£6.6bn) worth of assets for thousands of various institutions across the world.

The Methodist Church in England also has a similar investment vehicle, with a fund of about £1bn to invest in what it considers ethical areas.

Bill Seddon is the chief executive of the Central Finance Board (CFB) for the Methodist Church. He explains how its investment policy works.

"We have a team of professional fund managers whose approach integrates the work of searching for companies with good financial characteristics with those that also meet our ethical criteria," he says.

"There is also a committee who's job it is to ensure that any suggested investment adheres to the principles of Methodism, and that the faith and beliefs are never compromised."

The role of the CBIS for the Roman Catholic Church, the Church Commissioners for The Church of England and the Central Finance Board for Methodism has changed over the years.

They're a lot more proactive now in trying to engage with big companies in order to try to get them to operate in a more socially responsible way and to spread the ministry of the church. 

It's about engagement.

For years the Methodist Church's CFB refused to invest in BSkyB, citing its involvement and ownership of several porn channels.

Mr Seddon explains: "Methodism is very clear on pornography. It's not something we believe we should as a society be investing in.

"That's why we have actively been engaging with BSkyB over their ownership of pornographic television channels, an engagement that has led to the TV provider deciding to let go of their interests in these channels. This means we can look again at investing with them."

The CFB annual report for 2011 also shows that there has been dialogue with numerous other companies - including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle and Unilever - over decisions they have made in the past and might make in the future in regards to their operating policy, something the CFB argues is changing attitudes in boardrooms. 

Mr Seddon says: "We find that most companies are willing to enter into dialogue on ethical issues as they find it helpful to know our views, as long-term investors, on social justice issues. The long-term nature of our interest means that mutual trust can be established and we can follow through on issues over a long period of time. This is very much in keeping with the idea of Methodism and spreading the word."

Conflict of interest?
All the major religions argue they need money to move forward with their teachings.

The upkeep of existing churches and the administering of their beliefs, not to mention the thousands of pensions doesn't come cheap, but what about philosophically?

Can a religion really exist along with capitalism? 

Surely there has to be a conflict of interest?

Eve Poole is a theologian who teaches ethics on the master of business administration (MBA) course at Ashridge Business School.

She's also the author of The Church and Capitalism.

She thinks healthy engagement in money is good for Christianity.

"The parable of the talents in the Bible shows us the reward of investing," says Ms Poole.
"Two servants are given money by their master when he goes away. One invests and makes money for his master whilst the other buries it making nothing. It's the shrewd investor who gets rewarded."

So the Bible encourages risk for the benefit of future profit.

This is something Mr Seddon also believes is true.

"We live in a capitalist world. This however doesn't automatically mean it's bad," he says.
"It's up to each individual to decide in what capacity they're going to engage with it. Making money isn't inherently wrong… as long as it's used for the greater good."

Back at St Margaret Lothbury, as the music fades and the myriad of City workers leave the church to return to their desks, no doubt in order to make more and more money for their companies, one can't help but wonder what God would really make of it all.

Many Priests in Mexico Threatened by Drug Dealers Says Catholic Church

The Archdiocese of Mexico through its Archbishop, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, condemned the cowardly attack which took place in the city of Monterrey in Nuevo Leon, which caused the death of over 50 people. 

“We are talking about innocent people of civil society in addition to the large number of victims of cruelty and viciousness of organized crime, which like a whip punishes our poor country”, this is what is read in the statement regarding the tragedy, of which a copy was sent to Fides. 

According to the local press, at least 53 people were killed in the fire lit by armed men in a casino in Monterrey, in northern Mexico.

The Church has several times raised her voice against the violence that affects Mexico and the continuing threats of armed groups. 

A few days ago, the Archdiocese had already denounced in an editorial in the weekly “Desde La Fe”, the situation of many priests across the country: “There are many priests in Mexico who live under the constant threat of drug dealing, because of their work within organizations that defend human rights or for denouncing abuses and crimes of drug dealers. Particular outrage, in June 2009, was provoked by the murder of a Catholic priest and two seminarians while they were leaving a church in southern Mexico. They had dared to denounce violence against the faithful on behalf of a group of drug dealers. The clergy is more exposed in rural areas, where dealers rage and the state does not succeed in enforcing the law. According to Manuel Corral, secretary for public relations for the Mexican Episcopal Conference, at least a thousand of the fifteen thousand priests in Mexico have been threatened indirectly, and at least three hundred directly”.

The statement, which was published yesterday, also condemns the murder of the journalist Humberto Millán Salazar, in the city of Culiacan, in Sinaloa, and asks all the faithful to pray for those who have died because of violence. 

At the same time it underlines the importance to live in justice and peace, so much desired by the country.

Pope becomes Real's latest signing

With eye-gouging scourge-of-La-Liga Jose Mourinho seemingly hell-bent on sullying Real Madrid's name, the club must have thanked the Lord when Pope Benedict XVI descended upon their fair city to offer a chance of absolution and a few positive headlines in the world's media.

Although the German pontiff was actually in Madrid to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD), a Catholic festival bringing together young pilgrims from around the world, that didn't stop Los Blancos from bagging themselves some valuable Mourinho-eschewing time with Benedict XVI.

The club presented the German-born Pope with a commemorative Real Madrid centenary shirt, signed by the entire team and personalised with the number 16 and the name Benedicto. 

Presumably all they want in return is a little divine intervention the next time all-conquering Barcelona come calling.

However, Bendicto might feel a little hard done by when he discovers that it's not the first time that Real president Florentino Perez has curried favour with a pontiff. 

In 2002, during Perez's first spell in charge of the club, the Real supremo presented Benedicto's predecessor John Paul II with a signed shirt AND a silver replica of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Bust unveiled of Waterford cleric & historian

A bust of a famous Waterford priest, archaeologist and historian was unveiled this week as part of the programme of events for National Heritage Week.

The bust of Canon Patrick Power was unveiled in the city’s Central Library on Friday by the Mayor of Waterford, Councillor Pat Hayes. 

Canon Power, who was born in 1862 in Callaghane, four miles outside the city, was ordained in 1885.  

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of his death in 1951.

He spent some time ministering in Australia where he is believed to have acquired an interest in archaeology after coming into contact with Aborigines.  

On his return to Waterford, he worked in various posts, including that of diocesan Inspector of Schools and he wrote a Manual of Religious Instruction of which thirty editions were run and which was used widely in Ireland in the early twentieth century.

Canon Power showed an interest in local history during his student days and it became a lifelong passion that made him renowned for his contribution to the study of the history of the city and county.

His greatest academic achievement was his book The Place-Names of Decies, which catalogued and explained the meaning and origins of thousands of Gaelic place names and the antiquities of every townland in the county.

He served as editor of the Journal of the Waterford and Southeast of Ireland Archaeological Society for many and published many scholarly articles as well as other books.

The bust of Canon Power was funded by contributions from the people of Waterford and the unveiling was accompanied by a talk on his life and work by the former county librarian of Waterford Donal Brady.