Tuesday, August 09, 2022

CW Investigates : Operation Ainmhian (4)

In an update to this CW Investigates investigation, work is progressing at a very healthy pace, and it is our hope - once legal clearance is obtained - to start printing the FACTS of this particular investigation.

And, as we publish the FACTS, we will also publish the EVIDENCE, both of which are intrinsic to any investigation.

To date, we have been very careful not to cut across any other investigation which may be currently active by other authorities, but we have engaged with such authorities in relation to evidence we have obtained, and have felt that may be of assistance to the aforementioned authorities in their own undertakings.

It is also important to note that we here at CW will not entertain any attempts by others to thwart or otherwise attempt to interfere with our work - whether that interference be direct or through a 3rd party.

It will NOT be tolerated, and if it is attempted again, then CW reserves the right to go public with any and all information to hand - at full throttle!!

In the interim, please do keep dropping back, and updates will become a little more regular, and we assure you that it will not be much longer before you all become well aware of what this investigation is all about.

Have Anglicans reached a compromise on same-sex marriage? (Contribution)

  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The Anglican Communion, the world's third-largest Christian body, has been bitterly divided for decades over the issue of same-sex marriage. 

Last week, the communion's leader may have provided Anglicans with a workable compromise. 

Here's everything you need to know:

What is the Anglican Communion?

The Anglican Communion is the world's third-largest Christian body after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, comprising over 85 million members located mostly in England and its former colonies.

Anglicanism has its roots in the arrival of Christianity in Roman Britain and emerged as a separate Christian body when King Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1534. The Protestant reforms that began under Henry; continued under his son, Edward VI; and solidified under his daughter, Elizabeth I, turned Anglicanism into a distinct theological tradition, albeit one characterized by a series of compromises between Protestantism and Catholicism.

For centuries, the Church of England — along with subordinate bodies in Scotland and Ireland — was Anglicanism. That all changed as a result of the American Revolution, which resulted in the creation of the Episcopal Church (TEC), and the expansion of Britain's empire. Gradually, Anglican provinces that had once been ruled from the mother country became self-governing members of a global Anglican Communion.

Member provinces — each led by a "primate" who usually holds the title of archbishop — are distinguished by their continued ties to Canterbury, their use of the Book of Common Prayer, and their episcopal style of church government, in which bishops ordain and oversee priests. Today, a majority of Anglicans live in the Global South.

What is the Lambeth Conference?

The Lambeth Conference is a global gathering of Anglican bishops held every 10 years at Lambeth Palace, the traditional residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Although it lacks the coercive power of a Roman Catholic council, the Lambeth Conference can still be a big deal. Lambeth resolutions have preceded widespread change on a number of social issues. A resolution adopted by the 1930 Lambeth Conference, for example, made the Anglican Communion the first major Christian body to approve the use of artificial contraceptives by married couples. 
The 1978 conference recognized "the autonomy" of each province "to make its own decision" about ordaining women. Prior to 1978, only Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. had ordained female priests; today, women serve as priests in nearly every Anglican province, with only a few holdouts like Nigeria and Pakistan remaining.

This year's Lambeth Conference, which ran from July 26 through Aug. 8 and was attended by more than 650 bishops from 165 countries, was the first since 2008.

What happened at this year's Lambeth Conference?

Last week, as the gathering drew to a close, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is first among equals in the communion, put forward a compromise on the divisive issue of same-sex marriage. Under his proposal, the Anglican Communion would retain its 1998 resolution defining homosexual relations as inherently sinful, but would not take action to punish provinces that deviated from that teaching.

"For the large majority of the Anglican Communion, the traditional understanding of marriage is something that is understood, accepted and without question, not only by Bishops but their entire Church, and the societies in which they live. For them, to question this teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries would make the church a victim of derision, contempt, and even attack," Welby said in the Aug. 2 speech

"For a minority," he continued, "we can say almost the same. They have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about scripture. They do not reject Christ. But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study, and reflection on understandings of human nature. For them, to question this different teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries is making the church a victim of derision, contempt, and even attack."

How'd that go over?

Welby's speech outlining the policy reportedly received a standing ovation from liberal and conservative bishops alike. "[B]y God's grace, this week we have disagreed without hatred," the archbishop said later in the week. The BBC noted that Welby's "focus appeared to be pragmatism" and that "a crisis seemed to have been averted." 

Conservative writer Rod Dreher argued in 2018 that attempts at dialogue and coexistence between liberal and conservative factions in the same Christian body seldom last and "are almost always a strategic move by heterodox/liberal people to establish a beachhead from which to dislodge and defeat orthodoxy." The Episcopal Church, for example, originally allowed individual bishops to decide whether to allow same-sex weddings in their dioceses; by 2018, it was

In addition to allowing the two perspectives on Christian sexual morality to coexist, Welby also took steps to further normalize the acceptance of same-sex marriage within Anglicanism: This year's Lambeth Conference was the first to invite married gay and lesbian bishops and their same-sex partners. But while Welby "may feel that he has made a significant compromise by saying national churches choosing to conduct same-sex marriages will not be sanctioned," added the BBC, "… here at home, even just by entertaining and reaffirming a position that allows gay people to be viewed unequally, as he did at this conference, he risks doing precisely what he says should be avoided."

Indeed, not everyone was pleased. British-Danish author, atheist, and former Great British Bake Off co-host Sandi Toksvig penned an open letter to Welby accusing the primate of endangering the lives of gay and trans people by not showing them the "love" that is "supposed to be at the core of what you do." Others likewise found Welby's attempt at a compromise out-of-touch: "It's no wonder that its churches are empty and those who are there have one foot in the grave," one letter-writer told The Guardian. "Young people are increasingly inclusive and tolerant of others."

Anglicanism may have "one foot in the grave" in Europe — where membership declined by more than 4 million between 1970 and 2015 — and in North America, where the number of Anglicans fell by nearly half despite strong population growth in the U.S.

and Canada. But it's exploding in more traditional countries. Membership in Africa's Anglican churches spiked from less than 8 million to almost 57 million during the same period, growing significantly faster than the continent's overall population. 

How has the Anglican Communion previously handled controversies over homosexuality?

At the 1998 Lambeth Conference, conservative bishops from Africa outvoted their liberal British and American colleagues to pass a resolution declaring that "homosexual practice" was "incompatible with Scripture" and advising against "the legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions." In 2008, an attempt to revise that resolution failed; global Anglicanism's center of gravity had shifted to the developing world. 

Nevertheless, liberal provinces persisted. 

In 2003, the Episcopal Church consecrated an openly partnered gay bishop and in 2015, altered its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. The communion's primates responded by sanctioning TEC. For three years, the province's representatives were banned from representing the Anglican Communion "on ecumenical and interfaith bodies" and prohibited from voting "on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity" while "participating in the internal bodies" of the communion.

Against the backdrop of these disputes, Welby — who became archbishop in 2013 — postponed the Lambeth Conference scheduled for 2018 until he could be sure he wouldn't face widespread boycotts. 

As it turns out, he faced some boycotts anyway. 

The primates of Nigeria and Rwanda, which have the second- and third-largest number of baptized Anglicans after England itself, skipped Lambeth, as did the archbishop of Rwanda.

Meet the youngest cardinal of the Catholic Church

 Missionário da Consolata é nomeado cardeal pelo papa Francisco | Revista  Missões

After becoming the world’s youngest bishop in 2020, in a few weeks he will become the youngest cardinal, and the first to be born in the 1970s. The name of Bishop Giorgio Marengo, 48, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, came as a surprise when Pope Francis pronounced it from the window of the Apostolic Palace after the Regina Caeli prayer on Sunday, May 29.

An Italian national and the first cardinal to represent Mongolia, he has been the subject of much media attention since the announcement, as the year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries in the Asian country and the establishment of relations with the Holy See. The creation of this new missionary cardinal gives us the opportunity to discover a country rarely placed in the spotlight, and to observe the young face of a Christianity born and developing as a minority but without an inferiority complex.

Born in Cuneo, Piedmont, on June 7, 1974, Giorgio Marengo was ordained a priest in 2001 for the Consolata Missionaries, an Italian congregation founded at the beginning of the 20th century and specializing in accompanying young churches. After obtaining a doctorate in missiology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, this former boy scout and fencer set out on an adventure to meet a people who had never heard of Jesus, a figure sometimes difficult to grasp in Asia, where Christianity is generally associated with European colonial history.

Mongolia is landlocked between the Russian and Chinese spheres of influence but has never been reached by European powers. It was therefore in a land free of any prejudice that Fr. Giorgio Marengo settled in the 2000s, sent to Avayheer, a small town of 20,000 inhabitants located in the center of the country, where he founded the parish of Mary Mother of Mercy.

Bringing the Gospel to the heart of Asia

In that first home with his missionary brothers of the Consolata, “we were really like strange Martians from Saturn,” he said humorously during a at an Italian shrine.

At his first mission community, where no Catholic church had existed before, “people saw us as spies or as emissaries of a state. It took a long time to build relationships, to trust each other, but it’s worth it,” he said.

“People have an attitude of curiosity, of novelty, and sometimes also of suspicion because this reality is not well known, but then there’s an interest, a desire to know,” he said in May 2022. His objective as a missionary is for “the faith to take root deeply” among the Mongolian population.

In 2020, after more than 15 years of missionary work, he was chosen by Pope Francis as apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar and was ordained a bishop by Cardinal Tagle, then the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (now the Pro-Prefect for the Section of Evangelization of Dicastery for Evangelization). At the time, Bishop Marengo bore witness to the patient, sensitive, and gentle approach with which missionaries are called to “whisper the Gospel in the heart of Asia.” “Being a missionary is not about spreading propaganda or ideology, but making possible a concrete encounter with Jesus for people who otherwise would not have the opportunity,” he explained. 

He also expressed his “joy at seeing the Lord act in a mysterious way and bring people to the Church,” giving the example of a 75-year-old Mongolian woman who, after her daughter’s catechumenal journey, came to him in church asking for baptism, without being able to offer any rational argument, but simply because she felt “good with Him,” she said, pointing to Jesus on the cross.

The “courage and determination” of the newly baptized

The baptized who have chosen to follow Christianity live it “with courage and determination,” even if it means seeming “strange, a little outside the choir” and exposing themselves to “opposition and discrimination, even if Mongolia is a democratic country,” explained Bishop Marengo in an interview with Vatican News.

As a sign of the country’s openness, including on the part of Buddhist religious authorities, a Mongolian delegation was received by Pope Francis on May 28, on the eve of the consistory announcement. The Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar was able to share directly with the pope this astonishing experience of witnessing to the Gospel in a society devoid of any Western reference.

However, the pope did not give him any signal that he would be considered for a cardinalate, and the next day he was completely surprised. “I received the news at the end of the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist of our Missionary Sisters of the Consolata in their general house, and it was a fraternal and unexpected moment,” he told the Vatican media. He expressed his gratitude for “the attention of the successor of Peter for the Church in marginal and small contexts.”

Mongolia, an immense country three times the size of France with a population of only three million, has one of the smallest Catholic communities in the world. After the extinction of Nestorian Christianity, which had spread throughout Central Asia in the first millennium, it was only in 1992, at the beginning of the country’s democratic opening, that the first Catholic missionaries arrived, in a religious context dominated by Tibetan Buddhism. 

At present, the local Church has eight parishes and between 1,300 and 1,400 baptized members—a total number much lower than that of most parishes in Bishop Marengo’s home country of Italy, but constantly increasing. The emergence of this Church had interested John Paul II, who wished to go there for the consecration of the cathedral of Ulaanbaatar in 2003, but the visit never materialized. 

A strategic gamble with China in mind?

Beyond this attention to the peripheries, geopolitical stakes may also have motivated this choice by Pope Francis. This is the opinion of a Russian expert, expressed shortly after the announcement in an article published by the website Regnum. Mongolia is indeed a buffer country between Russia and China, and, surprisingly, it’s also one of the few countries in the world to maintain regular relations with both the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, since it was during the Chiang Kai-shek regime, in 1945, that Mongolia’s independence was formally recognized by China. 

In the context of the great geopolitical game being played in Asia, the Cardinal of Ulaanbaatar could provide a valuable point of contact for the Holy See with regard to Central Asia, Russia, and the former Soviet zone of influence, and especially with regard to China.

The Chinese government cannot be approached head-on by the Holy See due to the lack of official diplomatic relations and the impossibility of creating a new Chinese cardinal, given, it seems, a clause in the provisional agreement on episcopal appointments signed in 2018 between Rome and Beijing, reports Il Sismografo. The pope’s wish is perhaps to make this small Christian community in the Mongolian steppe a gateway to a Chinese world still unknown and difficult to access, but which could constitute a major pole of development of Catholicism in the decades to come . 

Pope Francis’ challenge to decentralize the Sacred College from its European base and to orient it progressively towards the missionary peripheries would thus take on its full meaning. The future will show if the first pope from Latin America was also the one who turned to Asia. Under the pontificate of the Argentinean, who as a young Jesuit dreamed of being sent on mission to Asia, it is this continent that has seen the greatest increase in the number of cardinals represented in the Sacred College, going from 9% in 2013 to 15% today.

If this trend continues in the long term, Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, who will remain an elector until June 2054 and should logically participate in several conclaves, could therefore become a key figure in the great changes of Christianity in the 21st century.

Court approves sale of 43 Catholic church properties to settle abuse victims claims

 Home - Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has approved the sale of 43 properties belonging to the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, including 13 churches, as dozens more church property sales loom across eastern Newfoundland.

The move will reshape the landscape for Catholics in the St. John's area and beyond as the church — which has been held liable for sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage — raises money to settle victim claims from the 1940s, '50s and '60s. 

Information about the sales came Monday as Ernst & Young, the court-appointed monitor, presented a report to the court about the sale-by-tender process which saw bids for the properties submitted in early June.

An order from the court in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings posted on Ernst & Young's website sheds light on who is buying the properties. The order said the iconic Basilica Cathedral and Pastoral Centre, St. Bonaventure's College and St. Bon's Forum will be sold to the Basilica Heritage Foundation, which has pledged to protect the historic properties.

The St. Teresa's Mundy Pond Corporation has been recommended as the successful bidder for St. Teresa's Church, while the Archdiocesan Renewal Corporation, which has Archbishop of St. John's Peter Hundt as one of three directors, has purchased St. Thomas of Villanova Church and its vacant land. Both groups aim to keep those parishes active.

However, the fates of many of the other Catholic churches are less certain.

In a letter read to parishioners at mass this past weekend, Archbishop Hundt says only a few of the property buyers intend to use the buildings as Catholic churches.

In the east end of St. John's, the Association of New Canadians has purchased St. Pius X Church and the adjoining St. Pius X Junior High School, where the group is already offering programming to newcomers in the former school.

St. Patrick's Church in downtown St. John's has been sold to Howard Real Estate Group. Corpus Christi Church, its office and community centre have been sold to law firm Stewart McKelvey, which is acting as an agent for an unknown buyer.

St. Paul's Parish in the east end of St. John's has also been approved for sale.

The town of Flatrock is buying St. Michael's Church and the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto — a site where Pope John Paul II visited in 1984.

Different numbered companies have purchased the Mary Queen of Peace church in St. John's and St. Joseph's Church in Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove.

In Pouch Cove, St. Agnes Church and rectory sold to G.J. Shortall Ltd., and St. Francis of Assisi Church, the Archbishop's residence, rectory, and 2 parcels of vacant land have been sold to Rocky Hill Holdings Inc. 

According to the court, 19 properties did not receive acceptable bids, including St. Peter's Church and Mary Queen of the World Church in Mount Pearl, St. Paul's Church in St. John's, Holy Family Church in Paradise, St. Edward's in Conception Bay South and Holy Trinity in Torbay. A number of vacant parcels of land and church rectories also did not receive acceptable bids. 

The total combined value of 41 of the 42 properties is $20.6 million. St. Paul's Parish was added to the list after the tabulation.

Meanwhile, Hundt says the monitor will also present a strategy to the court to sell 70 more properties, including all remaining churches, halls and rectories located on the Burin Peninsula and the southern Avalon peninsula.

In Kansas abortion vote, a blow to Catholic bishops' political strategy

 Kansas Abortion Vote Results Reveal a Strategy for Post-Roe America -  Bloomberg

When the votes rolled in the night of Aug. 2 on a proposed amendment to the Kansas state constitution that would remove the explicit right to an abortion, what was expected to be a tight race was instead shockingly lopsided: The amendment was roundly defeated 59% to 41% — an 18-point spread.

Analysts were quick to frame the result as a setback for anti-abortion movement, but activists and experts say it also amounts to a rejection of the Catholic Church hierarchy, which had shelled out massive sums of money in support of the amendment's passage. The vote may hint, too, at mounting backlash against the church's involvement in the nation's abortion debate — not least among Catholics themselves.

In the wake of the vote, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who publicly supported the amendment's passage, issued a statement Aug. 3 lamenting its failure.

"We were not able to overcome the millions spent by the abortion industry to mislead Kansans about the amendment, nor the overwhelming bias of the secular press whose failure to report clearly on the true nature of the amendment served to advance the cause of the abortion industry," Naumann wrote.

Naumann's own archdiocese and other Catholic organizations also spent millions, however, representing the single largest donor base for the pro-amendment umbrella group known as the "Value Them Both" campaign.

According to financial disclosures and media reports, the Kansas City Archdiocese spent roughly $2.45 million on the effort this year, with Catholic dioceses of Wichita and Salina together spending an additional $600,000 or more. Some individual Catholic parishes across the state chipped in, as did the Kansas Catholic Conference, an advocacy group tied to the state's bishops, which reportedly spent $100,000. Separately, the conservative advocacy group CatholicVote raised around $500,000 for the pro-amendment Do Right PAC, according to Flatland.

It remains to be seen which side raised or spent more money, although opponents of the amendment also enjoyed major donations from liberal groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and the American Civil Liberties Union. But these mostly secular groups didn't shy away from faith: In one advertisement broadcast to Kansans, a woman spoke about her opposition to the amendment from the perspective of a cradle Catholic.

"Growing up Catholic, we didn't talk about abortion," the woman says. "But now it's on the ballot, and we can no longer ignore it."

According to Natalia Imperatori-Lee, chair of the religious studies department at Manhattan College, the ad likely better represents the average Catholic's views than the campaigns funded by bishops. The church officially decries abortion, but U.S. Catholics, generally supportive of legal abortion, have only grown more liberal on the issue over time: According to a recent PRRI poll, the percentage of white Catholics who believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases jumped from 53% in October 2010 to 64% in June of this year. The shift among Hispanic Catholics was even more dramatic, from 51% in 2010 to 75% in June.

"The bishops have been so focused on the idol of abortion legislation that they have failed to step back and see the complication of criminalizing abortion and what that means — especially for vulnerable, nonwhite, nonwealthy communities," said Imperatori-Lee.

"If this is what the bishops are going to do, if this was their plan for a 'post-Roe' world, then Catholics are going to be very disappointed."

Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, defended his group's involvement with the Value Them Both campaign.

"I do not apologize one bit for our advocacy," he told Religion News Service in an interview.

Weber lamented heightened tensions triggered by the state's abortion debate (abortion rights demonstrators were threatened with arrest, and a Catholic church in Overland Park was defaced), but pointed out that bishops have lobbied for issues other than abortion in the past. The conference, he said, was among those who pushed state lawmakers this year to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms from two months to 12 months. Weber also suggested bishops would fund campaigns around similar issues if they were put up for a vote like the amendment referendum.

Even so, Weber acknowledged efforts to convey his group's broader agenda to everyday Catholics have fallen short.

"I need to do a better job of letting people know that the abortion question is not really the primary point of our advocacy at the state capitol or in Washington, D.C.," he said.

One organization that financially skipped the Kansas amendment battle was Catholics for Choice, which advocates for abortion access. The group did not spend money in Kansas in part because, according to Catholics for Choice's leader Jamie Manson, it didn't need to.

"The vote in Kansas yesterday shows us the power of pro-choice people of faith when up against the power, money, and influence of the Catholic hierarchy," Manson said in a statement.

She added: "I am looking forward to more David vs. Goliath victories ahead."

The underdog spirit in the Kansas fight was embodied by two Catholic nuns who penned an anti-amendment letter published in the lead-up to the vote that amounted to an act of defiance against local bishops.

"A church sign said, 'Jesus trusted women. We do too,'" read the nuns' letter. The sisters went on to bemoan the harm caused by restrictive abortion bans passed in other states and noted that supporters of the amendment have primarily focused resources on banning abortion and not legislation that would assist mothers who bring children to term, such as "healthcare, parental leave, Medicaid and other support for poor women."

Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic and former Kansas governor who served as secretary of Health and Human Services under former President Barack Obama, lauded the nuns' letter, calling the sisters "courageous." Whether or not it had a broad impact, Sebelius told Religion News Service, it reminded her of when nuns spoke out in favor of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which countered the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' opposition to the bill and is credited with paving the way for its final passage.

"I saw the nun statement in the Affordable Care Act change minds of members of Congress in spite of the bishop's statement urging people to vote no," said Sebelius. "I have no doubt at all that the nuns' statement in Kansas made a difference to women who follow what the church has been saying and what they had been promoting — and listened to the nuns instead."

The Kansas vote suggests the bishops, having won a long-awaited victory at the Supreme Court in the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, may now be fighting uphill battles in many states, with uneven support from a rank-and-file who would rather see them invest church money in other places.

"That money could do a lot of good — diapers and formula," said Imperatori-Lee.

Is the threat of schism between the German bishops and the Vatican real? (Op-Ed)

 This is a general view of the second Synodal Assembly in Frankfurt, Germany, in this Oct. 1, 2021, file photo. (CNS/KNA/Julia Steinbrecht)

The Vatican is concerned with ideas coming from Germany to reform the Catholic Church. On July 21, a statement was published through official channels of the Holy See warning Germany's "Synodal Path" reform project against breaking with the universal church. Tensions are rising between Germany and Rome. Is the threat of schism real?

First of all: No. Germany does not want to split with the Catholic Church. However, tensions seem higher than they ever have been before. The accusation is that German Catholics want to fundamentally change the church, that they are going rogue. The Vatican has a problem with that.

Quick backstory: Germany is struggling to find the right solution for its abuse crisis. When in 2018, a scientific study documented at least 3,677 cases in the past decades, the German church began experiencing a freefall in public opinion and support.

The bishops' conference drew a conclusion — that church has to change. The bishops established a completely new process they called the "Synodal Path." Not a synod, but a kind of parliament, recruiting half its delegates from the bishops and half from Germany's powerful lay committee. The delegates consist of professors, experts, and men and women from various Catholic professions. Every decision — on church hierarchy, Catholic teaching, or structures — must be passed with majorities from both the bishops and the lay experts.

Can the "Synodal Path" change Catholic teaching about homosexuality, the role of women or celibacy? No. But it can vote on those issues and present its votes to the Vatican, hoping to change minds there. The only thing they could actually change themselves are questions of organization and structure of the local German church, but even there are limits.

For example, the Archdiocese of Paderborn is about to look for a new bishop. For historical reasons, officials in some German dioceses have a right to present the Vatican with three candidates they would like to propose as a new bishop. The "Synodal Path" now suggests involving laypeople in this decision. That is technically not impossible, but not canonically intended either. This issue — among similar ideas — seems to ruffle some feathers in Rome and might be the reason for the newest statement.

But shouldn't the Vatican know better? Shouldn't they know Germany can't change fundamentals? Most Roman officials seem to get their information from the same news sources as everyone else. I doubt many of them read the actual statutes of the "Synodal Path." If they did, they would see that Germany is adhering to canon law — a point the German organizers don't get tired of pointing out.

So what's the root of the conflict here? After talking to people from both sides for years, I think the fundamental problem is a difference in mentality. It's not just a cliché that the Germans always need to be correct, thorough and do everything by the book. This is not a bad thing in itself — the discussions in the "Synodal Path's" working groups are highly theological and intellectual. It's not a bad thing, but it leads to conflicts with people who see the world a little bit differently.

People at the Vatican told me that the Germans shouldn't take everything so entirely seriously all the time. Romans think you can reach more of an agreement if two people get together in a bar with a glass of wine than with endless committee meetings. So what reaches Rome from Germany are either headlines of radical reform ideas, or detailed, thought-out documents with demands hardly spoken of on a personal level in advance.

Not every decision needs to be official church doctrine, some Italians think. "Of course, we bless homosexuals" an Italian priest told me once, "but we don't make a fuss about it." The Germans need everything printed out in black and white with an official signature. For some Italians, especially, that's not how the world and the church work.

But can you actually solve a problem like the abuse crisis without a fundamentally structured approach? I doubt it. But then again, I'm German.

There is another aspect to this, a historical one. An old prelate in Rome once told me that some Italians feel reminded of the times of World War II. When Italy was allied with Germany, he said, "the Germans came over the Alps and told us what to do." Lately, some apparently feel reminded of that history.

The German reform approach is indeed well thought out. It won't take any step canon law won't allow, although it does straddle the line at times. But the German reformers might not understand that the whole world does not think like them. "We have a problem, we look for the solution" is the German approach. But this might not be the solution everyone wants.

Some people don't consider that other approaches to Catholic life have their merits. "These problems exist all over the world" is another sentence you often hear around the synodal assembly.

All this work the Germans put into changing the Catholic view on subjects like women's leadership or homosexuality can only be fruitful with goodwill from the Vatican. Unfortunately, I don't think most delegates understand how slim the chances for actual change will be if the relationship between Rome and the German church stays as icy as it is right now. 

Monday, August 08, 2022

Knock National Novena to return to its traditional format next week

 Our Lady of Knock - Michael Journal

Next week, the National Novena to Our Lady of Knock will return to its traditional format for the first time since 2019.  The theme for this year is ‘A Journey in Hope’ and the novena will run from Sunday 14 until Monday 22 August.  

In excess of 8,000 pilgrims are expected to attend each day at the Shrine.  

As in years gone by, over the course of the novena the pilgrimage will offer nine days of reflection, prayer and a chance to reconnect with one’s faith in the unique and sacred space of Knock Shrine.

Following a three-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Knock parish priest and Rector of Knock Shrine, Father Richard Gibbons said that, “as we gather together to give thanks at our beautiful Marian Shrine, I hope to make this year extra special for all those pilgrims who will be travelling to the Shrine to take part in the annual novena.”

On each of the nine days, ceremonies will take place at Knock Basilica beginning with concelebrated Mass at 3.00pm and 8.00pm, followed by contributions from guest speakers.  There will also be the special candlelight procession, a traditional feature of the Novena at Knock, which takes place following the 8.00pm ceremony (weather permitting).

Father Gibbons said, “The purpose of the Novena is to recognise the unique role that Knock, as an International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine, has to play in the life of the Irish Church and to honour Our Lady.  So many of the people who joined us online over the course of the pandemic are now coming back to visit the Shrine which is great to see.  The Novena is always a very special highlight of the year, and we are delighted to be able to proceed with it this year.  We look to the future with the hope of renewal, for God’s guidance and pray that this Novena will offer pilgrims the chance for thought-provoking reflection and discussion.”

Engaging with the Synod

A unique feature of this year’s Novena will be the ‘Synod Tent’, where members of the public will be invited to learn more about the Synod and what it means for all of us.  It will also provide an opportunity for pilgrims to listen to the ideas of what others think Knock Shrine has to offer and the Church in Ireland at this critical juncture in our history.

Family Day

Sunday 21 August is the Anniversary of the Apparition, which will coincide with the Family Day.  Taking place from 11.00am – 3.00pm in the beautiful grounds of the Shrine.  The Family Day is a lovely opportunity for families to get together to enjoy a range of fun activities.  All events and activities are free of charge and will take place on the beautiful grounds of Knock Shrine, close to the award-winning Knock Museum and Café Le Chéile. 

Novena Programme: Guest Speakers

  • Sunday 14 August

3.00pm: Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath, on What is Christian Hope?

8.00pm: Cormac Henry, former Youth Volunteer at Knock Shrine, on What gives me Hope today?


  • Monday 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

3.00pm and 8.00pm: Roseanna Ruane, mother of Saoírse Ruane, on The Power of Prayer in Difficult Times


  • Tuesday 16 August

3.00pm and 8.00pm: A Day of Thanksgiving for the Irish Contribution to the Universal Synod.  Dr Nicola Brady, Chair of the Synodal Steering Group, on The Synodal Pathway: What have we learned and what will we do?


  • Wednesday 17 August

3.00pm and 8.00pm: Father Terence Harrington OFM Cap, on How Can I Have Hope in my Brokenness?


  • Thursday 18 August

3.00pm and 8.00pm: A Day of Prayer for Peace in Ukraine. Halyna Teslyuk,

Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine, on a Hope that Inspires 

Нок Шрайн (Церква села Нок) відзначатиме цей день як особливий день молитви за мир в Україні. Ми запрошуємо людей з української громади в Ірландії та ірландські родини, що прийняли їх до своїх осель, приєднатися до нас.


  • Friday 19 August

3.00pm and 8.00pm: Lauren Conroy, student, on My Faith Story


  • Saturday 20 August

3.00pm: Father Michael McKeever, Diocesan Secretary, Diocese of Raphoe, on Eucharist: a Sign of Hope

8.00pm: Professor John Feehan, Geologist, Botanist, Author and Broadcaster, on God in Everything that Lives: A Reflection on Laudato Si


  • Sunday 21 August, the Anniversary of the Apparition

3.00pm: Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin, on They will take their place at the Feast

8.00pm: Father Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector, Knock Shrine, on Knock – the Vision of Hope


  • Monday 22 August

3.00pm and 8.00pm: Archbishop Francis Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam, on The Call of the Lord

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Catholic Church was a ‘net winner’ from Ireland’s Great Famine, historian says

 Acadamh na hOllscolaiochta Gaeilge - NUI Galway

The Catholic Church was a “net winner” from the Great Famine as the urban Catholics who survived it were more likely to be regular Mass-goers than the largely rural poor who died, enabling the church to increase its influence on the population at large, a prominent academic has claimed.

Prof Breandán Mac Suibhne of National University of Ireland, Galway told the West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen that it was perhaps “vaguely perverse” to suggest the Great Famine assisted Irish Catholicism to become a dominant force in the lives of Irish people, but it did influence how religion impacted on people’s lives.

“There was a survey in the 1830s on religious practices in Ireland where Catholic priests were asked by the State how many hearers were at Sunday Mass, and attendance at Sunday Mass is a canonical requirement among Roman Catholics, if you don’t go to Sunday Mass, you are going to hell,” he said.

“As late as the 1970s the figure was like 92 per cent or 93 per cent, but back in the 1830s, the figure for the country, as a whole, was something like 30 per cent so high Mass attendance by Irish Catholics is very much a modern phenomenon and, certainly back in the 1830s, it was nothing like it was in the 1970s.

“In fact, the only place in the 1830s where Mass attendance among Irish Catholics was anywhere near the 1970s level were places like the southeast, in Wexford and the big cities, Dublin, Belfast and Cork, but in traditional parts of the country, like here and the west, generally levels were low.

“For people in these areas, religion was not chapel-oriented and clerically directed devotion like Sunday Mass was not important to them... their religion was one of holy wells, and season festivals, and prayers and priests were important for only a couple of things – Baptism, marriage and death.

“So before the famine, people did not take any great interest in many of the devotions... Confession and Communion and Confirmation didn’t matter to them – they cared that their children were baptised, that people got married and that the dead received the last rites – these are the biggies.Prof Mac Suibhne said the low rate of Mass attendance among people in more rural western counties could not be explained by a lack of churches and priests as there were an abundance of both churches and clergy throughout the country by the time the potato blight struck in the 1840s.

“The Catholic Church was a net winner out of the famine in that the people who died out of the famine were disproportionately people who didn’t go to Mass – the highest levels of mortality among people in Mayo, for example, were people who wouldn’t know Sunday Mass.”

Prof Mac Suibhne pointed out that the 10 counties in which excess mortality was highest during the famine were, in descending order: Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Galway, Leitrim, Cavan, Cork, Clare, Fermanagh and Monaghan – all counties with large rural populations.

The net effect was that as the population fell due to death and emigration, the Catholic Church was increasing both its numbers of churches and personnel with both the ratio of priests to people and the ratio of nuns to people both increasing throughout the 19th century.

“What you get in the 1850s is serious hard-core proselytisers hitting the country in the form of the Redemptorists – these are the storm troopers of Roman Catholicism, ‘Do you reject Satan and his works?’ and they made Confession, Communion and Confirmation rites of passage in Catholicism.”

He said that by the 1870s, Mass attendance among Catholics had reached the 90 per cent level and the State had played a role in helping the Catholic Church become such a dominant force when it allowed Catholic priests become school managers when rolling out the national school system.

“You ended up with a de facto Catholic school with a Catholic priest as manager and a de facto Church of Ireland school with a Church of Ireland rector as manager – that gave immense power to the Catholic Church who could pick the teacher and be responsible for the operation of those schools.”

Prof Mac Suibhne said souperism, where evangelical Protestants offered food to starving peasantry if they converted to Protestantism, did occur but the impact the famine had on Irish Catholicism through the disproportionate deaths of non-Mass going Catholics should not be underestimated.

Focusing on how people actually died from diseases such as dysentery, typhus and cholera, Prof Mac Suibhne said it was not correct, as John B Keane had his character Bull McCabe say in The Field, that no priest died during the famine as clergymen of all denominations died in numbers.

Irish Catholic Church set to go back to the future by embracing laity and women ]

He said scholarly analysis put the numbers who died during the Great Famine in the years 1846-1851 at somewhere between 1.08 million and 1.49 million with death more likely to come from disease due to increased transmissibility resulting from social dislocation than to lowered resistance.

“Predictably, the weakest, the most dependent in society were disproportionately represented among the dead. Infants and elderly people died in great numbers,” Prof Mac Suibhne said, who has documented the social impact of the Famine in rural Ireland in his book The End of Outrage.

In addition to the huge death toll and the ensuing decades of emigration, the other notable impact of the famine was the moral degradation – “the brute reality of famine is that it ‘reduces’ people, pushes them below the waterline of what had [been] understood to be civilised behaviour”.

Speaking in Skibbereen, Prof Mac Suibhne related the story of how 12-year-old Johnny Finn, of Carhoogarriff in nearby Rosscarbery, had cut the throats of neighbours, Mary (6) and Jerry Donoghue (4), and stolen a bag of oatmeal flour that their mother had in the house in the spring of 1847.

Finn was arrested eight days later in the poorhouse in Skibbereen and a local magistrate, Philip Somerville, took a statement from him with the assistance of Constable Michael Jordan translating from Irish, because Johnny Finn could speak no English.

Mr Somerville noted Finn said “the two children were there by themselves, that he found a knife in the house and that with the knife, he killed both children... and that he killed the two children to get the flour as he was hungry”, and that he gave the flour to his family but never said how he got it.

A local dispensary doctor in Skibbereen, Daniel O’Donovan (39), relayed another story how a woman called O’Driscoll came to his surgery to get medicine for her husband only for another woman to enter the surgery and beg him for something for a sick child.

The O’Driscoll woman berated the other woman and remarked that she effectively wished all her own children dead so ill were they as a result of famine and disease. “Bad luck to them for children, I have five of them sick and I would think myself lucky if they were all dead before morning.”

It led Dr O’Donovan to observe: “The most singular effect produced by the horrors of the famine now raging is the severance of the ties of consanguinity... the destruction... of the ardent domestic affections that formed perhaps the strongest trait in the character of the Irish peasant.”

Prof Mac Suibhne noted that the old Fenian leader, Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa, who was a teenage neighbour of 12-year-old Johnny Finn in Rosscarbery during the famine, similarly noted “the degradation into which want, and hunger will reduce human nature”.

And he noted how O’Donovan Rossa told a fellow émigré in New York much later in life how he had gone home to Ross one evening during the famine and his mother had no dinner for him, so he went and bought a bun for a penny but never shared it with his mother or his sister or his brothers.

And he told how O’Donovan Rossa later wrote of his selfishness: “I am proud of my life, one way or another, but that penny bun is a thorn in my side, a thorn in the pride of my life – it was only four ounces of bread... but if ever I feel any pride in myself, that little loaf comes before me to humble me.”

Friday, August 05, 2022

Diocesan Appointments 2022 : Diocese of Waterford & Lismore

 Diocese of Waterford & Lismore |

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, has announced the 2022 clerical changes and appointments for the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore.  

The following changes will become effective from 1 September next.  

Bishop Cullinan said, “This time of year is when new appointments for clergy are announced.  I am very conscious of the faithful service that of all of our priests have generously provided to their respective parish communities.  I wish to thank each and every one of our priests for their ongoing pastoral leadership and their unstinting sacramental and spiritual support for their parishioners.

“The life of our diocese relies on the willingness and availability of priests to accept new appointments.  The departure of a priest marks an ending and a loss.  As Christians we are invited to recognise that all our endings are also new beginnings.  I pray God’s blessing on all those who are undertaking their ministry over the next few weeks in new pastures”, Bishop Cullinan said.

Waterford and Lismore Diocese clergy appointments for 2022

  • Father William Carey retires from his role as Parish Priest of Kilsheelan and Kilcash and will assume the title, Pastor Emeritus.  He will reside in Clonmel and provide cover when possible.  Fr Carey was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 and has given a lifetime of dedicated service to the Diocese. On behalf of all the people in Waterford and Lismore, I would like to thank him for his incredible 61 years’ service and wish him all the best in the next phase of his priesthood.
  • Father Brian Power is to be Parish Priest of Kilsheelan and Kilcash and have increased time for his duties as Vicar for Clergy.  Fr Power has served in his current role for 17 years and will be greatly missed by all the people in Killea, Crooke and Faithlegg where he has become a central part of the community.
  • Father P.J. Breen to become Parish Priest of Killea, Crooke and Faithlegg. Fr Breen, a native of Dungarvan was incardinated into the Diocese in May 2021 after serving 19 years with the Carmelite Order. The Parish of St Joseph’s and Benildus and St Mary’s where he ministered for the past 15 months have thanked him for his “impressive competency and generosity of spirit” and have expressed that he will be a loss to the community.
  • Father Jim Denmead to become Parish Priest of Touraneena & the Nire and will link in with Ardfinnan and Newcastle. Fr Denmead moves from his role as Assistant Pastor at Cappoquin.
  • Father Martin Keogh to become Parish Priest of Cappoquin and Modeligo and linking into the parish areas of Lismore, Tallow, Ballyduff Upper and Knockanore.
  • Father Garrett Desmond to become Parish Priest of Newtown and Kill. Fr Desmond will also link into the parish areas of  Portlaw and Ballyduff
  • Father Pat Gear to be Co-Parish Priest in St. Joseph and St. Benildus and St Mary’s.  Fr Gear, will return to his native city of Waterford where he will take up this new appointment as Co-Parish Priest working with Fr Liam Power.
  • Father Shane O’Neill is to join the staff at the National Seminary, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth as part of their Formation Team. This is a great honour for Fr O’Neill and the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore.