Sunday, May 26, 2024

Address of Bishop Paul Dempsey

Firstly, my heartiest congratulations go to Bishop Donal. It’s lovely to be here today with your family and loved ones as well as so many gathered from around the Archdiocese. 

I look forward to working with you Donal as we support Archbishop Dermot in his ministry as Chief Shepherd in the service of the people, priests, religious and deacons of the Diocese. May the Lord bless you with love and strength.

I thank all in the Archdiocese who have been so welcoming to me since the announcement in Tuam on the 10th of April. Archbishop Dermot, the people, priests, deacons and religious have been so supportive which is deeply appreciated. Thanks to His Excellency, Archbishop Montemayor, for his support and guidance over these weeks and months. To my family, friends and loved ones, to those in the Diocese of Achonry and Kildare and Leighlin Diocese, my brother bishops and priests, and all who have had such an important part in my life’s story, thank you for your love and support which is a source of great strength for me. To all those who organised today and those involved here in the ceremony… Mile Buiochas!

Over recent weeks, people have been asking me what I’ll be doing as an auxiliary bishop, it has probably been the same for Donal. It reminds me of an experience last year when I was visiting a Confirmation Class in country school in Co. Sligo a few days before Confirmation. During a questions and answers session, one of the kids asked me what a typical day in the life of a bishop was like? It was a good question! I proceeded to tell the class what that particular day was like for me…

I got up, said my few prayers, had Mass in the Cathedral… breakfast…. Then on to check the post, emails. I had a meeting then off to visit the school and all the classes/teachers. Then back to my office to finish off more letters, I had another meeting, then finish with a Zoom meeting that night…

At the end of all that, one kid put up his hand and asked in all innocence: Do you have a real job as well? There’s always one!

However, he was making a good point and he got me thinking… What is my “real job,” real ‘calling?’ we can forget the most important things in the day-to-day busyness of everyday life. Always important to reconnect with what’s at the heart of our call. The heart of my call as priest and bishop and as one immersed into the life of Christ on the day I was Baptised, is to share the message and continue the mission of Jesus Christ.

That’s a challenging mission today. We have come through an enormous amount of change as a society and a Church. We have had to confront difficult truths that were necessary to face. This will always be part of our story. However, in the midst of all this change, the mission remains the same. As baptised Christians we proclaim Jesus Christ in season and out of season. Some would say the Church hasn’t a voice anymore, the Church is dying and no longer has a place in the public square. Pope St John XXIII referred to them as the “prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster.” They are always with us. It is important to remember that the Church is not dying, it is a model of Church that is dying. We are on the cusp of something new. The Church is always in a process of renewal. We, as the baptised, are part of that story, right now in this moment.

Pope Francis, as he leads us on the Synodal Path, is helping us to reengage with the Church as the People of God which was proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. This is an exciting moment! We don’t have to have it all worked out, far from it, we just need to be open to the Spirit, listen to where the Spirit is calling us, and do not be afraid!

The beautiful image of the Trinity we reflect upon today reminds us of the importance of community and togetherness. So let us go forward together knowing we are held in the embrace of a God who loves us profoundly. Having this foundation enables us to be open to the possibilities of tomorrow. As St. John Paul II reminded the young people at World Youth Day in 2002 in Toronto: “Although I have lived through much darkness, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in our hearts. Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it!” This is our real ‘job’, our real calling today as disciples, to build hope, as pilgrims of hope.

Thank you so much for being here today, thank you for your love and support, please continue to pray for me and those of us who have been called to serve the People of God, that we will be faithful to our mission.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.

+Paul Dempsey

Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin

Address of Bishop Donal Roche

I wish to thank his Excellency, Archbishop Montemayor, Archbishop Farrell, as well as the other archbishops and bishops for welcoming me among your number today. I am quite overwhelmed and feel undeserving of the honour that has been bestowed on me. 

I thank my priest friends and colleagues from the diocese and from all over the country for your support and encouragement. But most of all I want to thank you, my family, friends and parishioners from all the various appointments I have had on the way to this day.

They say that when you are dying, your life flashes before your eyes. It feels a little like that today to see people from every stage of my life assembled here together: brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws and cousins; friends from my school days and friends I have made along the day – from schools in Coolock and Tallaght, parishes of Lucan South, Wicklow and Cabinteely; friends made during many summers in Donegal, and various others who were part of my journey. I am thankful for all the conversations and celebrations, the breaking of bread in various kitchens and dining rooms as well as sharing at the table of the Eucharist in so many places and on so many occasions. I have been greatly enriched by all these encounters and I thank you all sincerely for the great blessing you have been in my life. I am very thankful to my late parents, for all they have given me, but particularly for the gift of faith.

From quite early in my life I have been inspired by the Gospel and have spent my life as a priest trying to get to know the person of Jesus and trying to follow his teaching. The motto I have chosen as a bishop is inspired by a line from the psalms ‘Your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path’. I have shortened it to ‘Do Bhriathar Mo Sholas’ – ‘Your Word is my light’. While continually inspired by the Gospel, I can’t say I have always lived it well, but it never fails to encourage me, and it never fails to give me hope, urging me to begin again.

Today has been a wonderful celebration for the church in the Archdiocese and I am very thankful to all the people who worked so hard to make it possible – those responsible for the liturgy and the music, the servers and welcomers, and all those working behind the scenes making sure everything was prepared and ready. You have worked enormously hard and I am very grateful to you all.

But what about tomorrow? When the celebrations are over there’s work to be done and I am very aware of the huge task ahead. We face enormous challenges as a church for which there are no easy solutions. In recent weeks, people have been asking me what are your views on this or that or what will you do about the various challenges we face? People are rightly worried about declining vocations, the shortage of young people in the church, the changing face of parish life and so many other issues. I don’t come with ready-made answers, but I come with an open heart, a willingness to listen, an enthusiasm for the mission ahead and most of all, I come with hope for the future.

My hope is to remain faithful to the Gospel myself and continue to preach it to the best of my ability. I hope that, with Bishop Paul, I will be a support to Archbishop Farrell and to the priests of the diocese as we plan for a future that is going to look very different from the church into which we were originally ordained. I hope to be a source of hope and encouragement to the faithful of the diocese who are living out their baptismal calling in parishes throughout the diocese. And I hope to be able to make connections with young people who are open to the call of God, those who are seeking faith, those who may be disillusioned or hurt or wounded.

I don’t mean this to sound like a political speech or an election manifesto but, unlike a politician seeking election, I am not claiming any special strength or qualities of my own. My hope and my strength come from the promise of Jesus to his disciples which we heard in the Gospel today. He sent them out make disciples of the nations, not by their own strength, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit. And with the promise ‘know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’.

+Donal Roche

Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin

Ordination Homily of Archbishop Dermot Farrell and addresses of Bishops Roche and Dempsey

Only the heart can grasp the Trinity. Mysteries are not understood; mysteries are experienced. 

Who ‘understands’ love? Is love not known through experience? And death… let us not fool ourselves: we do not understand death, but we know death when we experience it, … and hope, and joy. All these vital dimensions of our life, are mysteries of the heart, and can only be grasped by the human heart.

It is our faith that God, our Father, sent his Son into time, into history, into the human condition. The Trinity is God for us, to use expression of the late American theologian, Catherine LaCugna. The first reading today assures us that God’s love is not something that remains nebulous and intangible. Rather, the saving activity of God is concrete and visible both in the great moments, and in the routines of everyday life. (Deut 4:32–34, 39–40). God’s self-revelation extends to our own experience; Moses helps us recognise it through a set of questions: “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of a fire, as you heard it, and live? (Deut 4:32–33).

“The heart of Christian life, [then] is the encounter with [this] personal God who makes possible both our union with God and communion with each other.” (Catherine Mowery LaCugna, God for Us [San Francisco: Harper, 1991], 319). The Trinity proclaims that our God, who is beyond words and definitions, is made known for us in Jesus, in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord; and in the Holy Spirit who continues to empower and guide us on our pilgrimage through time, on our way home to our Father for whom we were created. The Christian recognises the face of God in the face of Christ. One could go further and say that the shape of the Christ’s life and ministry is the shape of the divine life in us, calling us, forming us, as persons and as communities into the image of the living, loving, out-reaching God. That is the Trinity—God reaches out: God reaches out to us and to all creation.

And there’s more: not only does God reach out to us, [but] God remains with us. [Our] God stands by us: “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” The last, and therefore very important, words of Jesus are not a final command, or a last request, or even an ultimate counsel, but an assurance: “I am with you always…” (Matt 28:20). God sent his Son to be with us. This is our good news. We are not left on our own. “I am with you always.” This is who Jesus us—God with us: as it says at the beginning of the Gospel, “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, [a name] which means, ‘God-with-us.’ (Matt 1:23)

This is how our God is: with us. This is how Christ is: with us. This is what and how the Church truly is: God with us, and we with each other. The importance of today’s feast, lies herein: we do not just believe in God; we believe in God who is our Father and who shares his life with us. We do not just believe in the Son who was sent into the world to save and redeem us; we believe in the Son who is with us on our way, on good days and on dark days. We do not just believe in the Spirit, who is Lord and Giver of Life, as we pray in the Creed; we believe in the Spirit who is with us, who is the love of God poured into our hearts, and into the heart of every creature (see Romans 5:5). “For the word of the Lord is faithful and all God’s works to be trusted,” as we prayed in the Psalm today. “The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with his love.”

To celebrate the Trinity is not to mark some sophisticated theological formula; no, to celebrate this Solemnity is to stand before the mystery of our God whose imperative and initiative it is to share his life with us, who is closer to us than we are to ourselves, and present to us even when, in our blindness and self-absorption, we are not present to ourselves, who remains faithful to us, even when we abandon each other. To be Church, to live our faith, is to live this mystery with all its power, potential, and demands. To be Church is to live our faith together, and together to bear witness to the surprise and wonder of our God, and God’s way with us.

Today, the Church in Dublin, receives two auxiliary bishops. In seeking two auxiliary bishops, I had to the fore the need of our diocese to respond to the rapidly-changing social and pastoral needs of our people. The Church of today is called to be, in the words of Pope Francis, “capable of transforming everything, so that [our] customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world, rather than for her [own] self-preservation.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 27). Donal and Paul, through your closeness to people you have laboured to transform your parishes into places, open to the Spirit, where all are offered a welcome. It is this very pastoral orientation that gives me the greatest joy in ordaining you, Donal, to the episcopate this day, and welcoming you, Paul into the Archdiocese.

Donal and Paul you have been chosen from among the flock for a life of service. The trajectories of your ministerial lives will help you to engage with a society which is increasingly diverse, mobile, and detached from traditional communities of faith centred on residential parishes. It would be a mistake for us as a local Church to see these challenges as temporary, or as limited in their implications for the life of the Church in Dublin. We are called to reimagine our pastoral mission in a creative way, and discover and re-discover ways of permitting Christ’s good news, God’s open door, to be received by those who do not yet recognise his face. We can no longer seek to patch an old garment, with new-found fabrics. We need new wineskins (see Mark 2:22). We need to re-examine the fundamental assumptions of our pastoral outreach in order to help our people and our parishes find the way to an encounter with our living Lord, with greater confidence and hope.

It is often forgotten that leadership—both pastoral and spiritual—is a key characteristic of priesthood. This is a fortiori the case for the bishop. “Tend the flock of God that is entrusted you; watch over it, not out of necessity but gladly, as God would have you do it, not for shameful gain, but eagerly. Do not lord it over those is in your charge, but be an example to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2; see also Rite of Ordination). These words from the First Letter of St Peter—words taken up by the Rite of Ordination we are about to celebrate—are words not only about the faithful entrusted to us, they are also words about all the people of God, the whole “flock of God.” “The vocation of the Church is to be catholic, that is, to reach out towards all of humanity.” (Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline, “Words of Welcome at the Installation of Bishop Laurent Le Boul’ch as Archbishop of Lille.” May 20, 2023) Today, in this city and in this country, when questions about the rights of migrants and refugees, and our capacity to welcome them are being raised, and at times manipulated, must we in leadership in the Church not “offer to all the friendship of Christ, especially to the poor, to the excluded, those isolated, to migrants, [but also] to the sick,” (ibid.) to the vulnerable, and to those whose bodies have been devastated, and whose lives, families, and communities have been degraded by cycles of dependency, and by the fear instilled by those who cynically profit from the fragility of their brothers and sisters. If our Lord is with us, is his very presence not a call to genuine solidarity with each other, especially those most in need of God’s gentle embrace?

Donal and Paul, may you today place your trust in God’s providence, knowing that the gift that Paul has received through the laying on of hands, and Donal that gift you will receive today, has been given from apostolic times, that you may keep constantly before your eyes that Jesus who, in the Spirit, was sent by the Father to be with us and for us (see Rom 8:31). May the Crucified and Risen Lord make you even more profoundly his, for your own sakes, for the sake of our people whom we love, and the sake of the world in which we are called to serve.

+Dermot Farrell

Archbishop of Dublin

CWI : The Oratory Society (1)

As one chapter closes, with the death of Patrick Buckley, so another begins, and The Oratory Society continues under the leadership of the Senior Priest, Fr Paul Creaner.

The property once inhabited by Patrick Buckley now reverts to the Diocese of Down and Connor post-Buckley funeral last Thursday (23rd May 2024) morning at 10am, and now seems to be operating out of 131 Main Street, LARNE, Co Antrim.

All blogspots and accompanying posts are gone, as indeed is the Oratory Society website.

It's like as if Patrick Buckley had never been amongst us...but yet we know only too well that indeed he was.

So, a few questions now arise which we would like to direct to Fr Paul Creaner...

1. Have you now assumed full 'Senior Priest' role of The Oratory Society?

2. If so, are you responsible for having Patrick Buckleys blogspots, posts, comments, X account etc being removed? If so, why?

3. If it was not you, then who removed all of the aforementioned? Who ordered it to be removed?

4. Do you intend to continue The Oratory Society?

5. Will The Oratory Society, under your 'guidance' now be taking a different, non-combative, non-slanderous, and more honest approach than that of Patrick Buckley heretofore?

6. Would you be willing to meet with those who were slandered, defamed, hurt, angered and deceived by Patrick Buckley via his website, blogspots, X account and Facebook accounts?

7. Would you be willing to meet with us here in CW?

8. Would you be open to working with us as we continue to investigate financial misconduct by your predecessor?

9. Would you be open to working with us as we engage with those who were deceived by your predecessor in matters pertaining to matters marital and financial (combined)?

We would like to assure you that we remain open to hearing from you, and meeting with you, at any time.


Eagarthóir / Editor

CWI : Operation TRUTH (4)

In a recent posting, we did claim that we would be making an announcement here in relation to the recent passing of Patrick Buckley, and after much discussion with staff and legal team, we can now do so.

1. Our investigations into Patrick Buckley and his taking monies from others, under the pretext of officiating at civil and solemnised weddings, will continue.

2. Our investigations into Patrick Buckley and his taking monies from others, under the pretext of healing, will continue.

3. Operation Ainmhian, which began in July 2022, will also continue, as this situation did involve Patrick Buckley, but he did not work alone, and that side needs to be brought into the public domain in totality.

4. All incoming emails to CW pertinent to Patrick Buckley will now be dealt with via a seperate email administered by our 'Buckley Bullet', and he will engage with all who get in touch as efficiently as he can. 

5. Our legal team will also be willing to advise, guide and assist those who may wish to avail of their support in any way - just email us and we will take care of the rest.

6. For those who wish to get in touch and tell their story - whether they wish it to be made public or not - are more than welcome to do so, and all in confidence. If support is required, it will be provided.

7. To date, over 20 people affected by Patrick Buckley (and his blogspot) have been in touch, and others who wish to do the same are welcome to reach out - we can all help each other in this.

8. In the coming few weeks, our investigator will be travelling to meet those who wish to meet up with him, and he remains available to meet as many as is possible, allowing for his own day job etc.

Anyone who wishes to get in touch can do so through and it will get to him straight away, and he will reply. 

We invite you to consider getting in touch with us.


Eagarthóir / Editor

Free Church of Scotland under fire for failure to apologise over slavery money

 The Free Church of Scotland has been accused of “shameful” behaviour after it refused to apologise for receiving money from slavery worth millions of pounds today.

The Free Church is known to have accepted donations from plantation owners in the southern US states soon after its foundation in 1843 and then a significant bequest from a wealthy Glaswegian sugar baron 10 years later.

After coming under intense pressure to address its slavery inheritance, the Free Church issued a short statement on Wednesday night which said it “recognises and freely admits the historical sins of members of the denomination in relation to slavery”.

It said “we acknowledge with sorrow” and “regret” and “grieve” that a delegation of its members took money from southern plantation owners on a fundraising visit in 1844, but stopped short of apologising.

To the dismay of some of its members, the church also said it was “unlikely” to still be the beneficiary of those funds because of property transfers with other denominations over the last 180 years.

Its fundraising from southern slave owners was notorious at the time after the emancipated anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass demanded it “send back the money” when he toured Scotland in 1846, addressing large crowds.

Its statement did not mention the largest known gift it received from slavery-derived wealth: an £18,000 bequest from James Ewing, a rich Glaswegian who had slave plantations in the Caribbean, in 1853.

The historian Anthony Cooke has found that money was used to build churches and two Free Church training colleges in Edinburgh and Glasgow, buildings the church says it no longer owns. Dr Stephen Mullen, at Glasgow University, wrote in 2022 that it “was powered by wealth derived from West Indian rather than American slavery”.

Andrea Baker, a recently Edinburgh-based opera singer whose forebears were enslaved in the US, and who has previously challenged church leaders over the donations, said the response was “a shameful prevarication”.

It was “absolutely despicable” that the church also compared the chattel slavery of the US and the Caribbean with modern-day slavery and trafficking in its statement.

“It’s despicable because when we were put into chattel slavery we were described as non-human,” she said. Enslaved people were legally “owned” by an enslaver and endured multi-generational enslavement; trafficked people today have full legal rights.

“They’re basically saying ‘it wasn’t me’, ‘it weren’t my fault’,” she said. “That money flows through their entire church. They are not listening, they are not engaging and they are so far away from truth and reconciliation.”

Estimates vary on exactly how much the Free Church received. Different researchers put the sum donated by southern plantation owners in 1844 at either $3,000 or £3,000.

The exact value of the Ewing bequest is established. Historical inflation rates since 1853 make his £18,000 gift equivalent to £1.9m today, while estimates based on wage growth since then suggest it is worth more than £16m.

Critics of the church’s stance point to admissions by the Church of Scotland, the country’s largest Presbyterian church, which also benefited directly from slavery wealth, that an apology is due. Earlier this year the then moderator, the Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, visited Jamaica with other churches on a pilgrimage to learn about slavery and discuss reparations.

Gordon Matheson, a former Free Church minister, said its statement “suggested a reluctance to fully acknowledge our ancestors’ complicity in the slave trade and its profits. Our ancestors’ great sin was benefiting financially from slavery while ignoring its evil.”

It was not enough for the church to say it was “unlikely” it was still the beneficiary of that money. “The church will eventually need to face this,” he said. “New research will continue to uncover our past, so why not conduct thorough research now? We can’t condemn our ancestors for ignoring evil if we do the same by downplaying our inherited benefits.”

Academics believe it is quite likely that more detailed research will uncover other gifts to the Free Church from Scottish enslavers and plantation owners who were active Presbyterians and helped set up Scottish churches in the Caribbean. Many received UK government compensation after Britain outlawed slavery.

Church of England’s ties to chattel slavery went to top of hierarchy

An archbishop of Canterbury in the 18th century approved payments for the purchase of enslaved people for two sugar plantations in Barbados, documents seen by the Observer have revealed.

Thomas Secker agreed to reimburse a payment for £1,093 for the purchase of enslaved people on the Codrington Plantations, as well as hiring enslaved people from a third party. It was stated the measures were “calculated for the future lasting advantages of the estates”.

The papers are among a cache of documents found in the archives of Lambeth Palace Library which detail the direct links between the Church of England and chattel slavery on plantations owned by its missionary arm, The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG).

In response to the Observer’s revelations, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said: “Every new piece of evidence around the Church’s involvement in the slave trade is sobering, and reading that a former archbishop of Canterbury was involved in the purchase of enslaved people is particularly painful.

“It is also a reminder that this work is not finished and there is more we need to do to examine our role in the trade in enslaved Africans, which was a blasphemy against God’s creation in treating men, women and children as less than human.

“While nothing can fully atone for these crimes, we are committed to finding out more, realising that this will take many years and could span generations.” He said research into “the most egregious aspects of our history” was “most welcome”.

The SPG was left the two sugar plantations in 1710 by the colonial administrator Christopher Codrington. His will stipulated that he wanted the plantations to be worked with 300 enslaved people and a college to be founded on the estate. It has been estimated the plantations generated £5m a year in today’s money.

The SPG was founded in 1701 by royal charter to convert people in the colonies and its governance meetings were regularly chaired by the incumbent archbishop of Canterbury. Successive archbishops of Canterbury were sworn in as SPG president throughout the period that enslaved persons worked on the plantations, from 1710 to 1838.

At meetings chaired by Secker in November 1758 and August 1760, payments were approved to reimburse accounts for the purchases of “new negroes”, as well as hired enslaved labour, according to the documents in the Lambeth Palace Library archive.

Trevor Prescod, a Barbados MP and chair of the Barbados National Taskforce on Reparations, said the evidence showed the involvement of the church in slavery on the plantations “right up to the archbishop”.

“The church was at the centre of establishing slavery and was probably one of the biggest benefactors,” he said. “No one can understand the seriousness of this crime against humanity better than the church itself and it now has a responsibility to compensate all the victims of slavery.”

Enslaved people on the Barbados plantations owned by the Church of England’s missionary arm were branded with irons and forced to work “under the whip”. A document listing those on the plantations in 1781 revealed 73 children among the enslaved people.

The Church of England apologised in 2006 for “its involvement in the slave trade” and operation of the Codrington Plantations but has not previously acknowledged the role of an archbishop of Canterbury in approving funds for the purchase of enslaved Africans.

The Church Commissioners, the body that manages the church’s financial assets, published a full report in January last year on its financial links to the chattel slavery trade via the Queen Anne’s Bounty, a fund used to supplement the income of clergy. It pledged £100m in a fund to “address past wrongs”.

A report by an independent oversight group to advise the Church Commissioners on historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery recommended in March that the church “fund research to uncover the full picture of the Church’s involvement in African chattel enslavement and use of the wealth derived from it”.

In September last year, the United Society Partners in the Gospel, the successor organisation to the SPG, issued an apology over chattel slavery at its plantations which it recognised as “crimes against humanity”. It said enslaved people were branded and were not provided with proper care, resulting in many deaths.

The Church Commissioners said: “We have committed to undertake and enable further research, in the knowledge that our archives will have far more to tell about other ways in which the Church was involved in African chattel enslavement.

“This includes the Codrington Plantations – for example, a letter was recently discovered which shows that there was awareness at a very senior level of the horrors of enslavement on these plantations. We have published this letter on the Lambeth Palace Library website, as well as referring to Codrington on our own website where we have published the findings of our research into the Church Commissioners’ links to African chattel enslavement.”

'Sadness' as church rejects baptism changes

Clerical Whispers

A Church of Ireland parishioner has said she is saddened that her attempt to stop ministers refusing to baptise children of single or unmarried parents has failed.

Patricia Barker submitted the motion to the church's Synod, which makes church laws.

Currently it is up to individual clergy to decide whether or not to baptise children of single or unmarried parents.

The motion was passed by the lay members of the Synod but was rejected by the clergy by 72 votes to 69, meaning it failed.


Ms Barker told BBC News NI she brought the motion because she was "appalled" that some parishes were not baptising children if their mothers were not married.

"In Ireland we’ve come through a terrible period of victimising women using terms like ‘fallen woman’ in relation to unmarried mothers and I genuinely thought we’d moved on," she said.

"I felt saddened and let down when the motion was rejected. I feel the result really doesn’t represent the church I belong to which is one of inclusion over exclusion."

She said she hoped it would shine a light on what she described as a "bad practice".

'Impaired engagement'

One of the clergy who voted against the motion was Archdeacon of Derry the Venerable Robert Miller.

He said in 30 years as a Church of Ireland minister he had never denied baptism but instead took it as an opportunity to "welcome, engage and disciple".

Archdeacon Miller said he opposed the motion as he did not believe a minister should be told they "must" baptise.

This, he said, would have "impaired this engagement between minister and parishioner – an engagement built on trust".

"The shared commitment to love, to pray, to teach and to be an example – made in the baptismal liturgy – is made within the fellowship of the church," he said.

"I still believe the motion was unnecessary since the Church of Ireland’s generous orthodoxy around the sacrament of baptism is already enshrined in the canons.”

Archbishop of Dublin warns against hate speech amid differences over Israel and Palestine

One of the country’s senior church leaders has called for “a climate of respect” and warned against “hate speech” in light of people’s differences over Israel and Palestine.

In a statement, Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin said everyone is free to hold personal views and convictions on local and global matters. However, he said war brings an accentuation of difference.

“It takes difference to the point of untold and irreversible tragedy and destruction of lives and the sustenance of life,” Dr Jackson stressed.

Appealing to everyone to respect those who are different from us, he said this is a neighbourhood principle, and a global and human principle.

Urging people to “dig deep” within themselves in order to develop a climate of respect and reciprocal dignity across all social and community groupings and faiths, he said this was particularly important “when matters are so tense and torn between Israel and Palestine”.

“Hate speech, anti- and pro- language perpetuate and embed negativities. They enable caricature to morph into definition and definition to settle into identity.

"They create the filters of default through which we see others and understand ourselves. This is why they are so dangerous for everyone involved, whether we discern it or not,” the Anglican leader said.

He added that the value in which we hold one another is expressed in the language we use which not only shapes discourse but also the psyche.

Dr Jackson’s Church of Ireland diocese is linked to the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem which comprises Gaza, the West Bank as well as other parts of the Middle East.

He highlighted that since the October 7th attacks he has sought to be even handed in expressing sorrow, compassion and care for the victims of war and hostilities in the Holy Land.

In recent days he attended a gathering of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem in Jordan and also attended the inauguration of Rabbi Yoni Wieder as Chief Rabbi of Ireland.

Next week he will welcome Archbishop Hosam Naoum of Jerusalem and a number of clergy from the Middle East to hear about how life has changed for them. He will also be updated on Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City which the Irish diocese is linked to.

An appeal for the hospital in Gaza by Dr Jackson has raised over €216,000 so far.

Spain archbishop on schismatic nuns: ‘I don’t know if they realize the profound consequences’

Archbishop Mario Iceta of Burgos, Spain, in whose jurisdiction is located the convent of the Poor Clares of Belorado and Orduña, expressed his surprise and concern over the nuns there going into schism and noted: “I don’t know if they realize the profound consequences” of their decision.

The prelate made the remarks May 17 on the “La Linterna de la Iglesia” (“The Church’s Lantern”) program broadcast by the Spanish radio station COPE following the schismatic decision of the Poor Clares of Belorado to leave the Catholic Church to place themselves under the authority of Pablo de Rojas, a false bishop excommunicated in 2019. 

“I’m worried about the situation, thinking about what has come about in such a surprising way on Monday [May 13],” Iceta said. Regarding what surprised him the most, the archbishop responded: “First of all, the secrecy with which all this has been proposed and that, indeed, when early on Monday morning, around 6 in the morning, I receive a WhatsApp message from a priest telling me that these nuns are leaving the Catholic Church, I thought it was fake news.”

“After that first surprise and verifying with the vicaress of the congregation itself, of the monastery itself, that this was the case, little by little we have learned the news. First of all [they said] that it was unanimous, and the next day a sister left [the monastery].”

In fact, on May 16, Sister María Amparo left the convent and said that she left “above all, so as not to belong to this sect,” noting that before her departure she endured “three days without Mass and without anything” and that “I suffered total surveillance so that I couldn’t speak with the older sisters,” she complained.

In the conversation with “La Linterna de la Iglesia,” the archbishop of Burgos commented that he was able to speak with that nun and that “it’s clear that they didn’t want her to be well informed about what was happening and she found out on Sunday afternoon when Pablo de Rojas showed up.”

The prelate also said that recently a person wrote a letter in which he praised the “fervor” of the nuns during Holy Week, which is why what has happened is even more surprising. “It’s all absolutely strange and I don’t know if the sisters themselves realize the consequences,” Iceta lamented.

Schism of the Poor Clares of Belorado

On May 13, when they announced their departure from the Catholic Church, the Poor Clares of Belorado indicated in a letter and a declaration that they recognize “H.H. Pius XII as the last valid Supreme Pontiff,” a decision that was explained through an attached 70-page text titled “Catholic Manifesto” claiming that “the see of St. Peter is vacant and usurped.” 

At the time, the nuns stated that their community “is leaving the Conciliar Church to which it belonged to become part of the Catholic Church.” They complained that in recent years there have been “contradictions, double and confusing language, ambiguity, and loopholes in clear doctrine have been coming from the Chair of Peter.” 

The archbishop stressed that if for them ”after Pius XII everything that follows is invalid, then the ministry of apostolic succession is invalid and this means that all the sacramental acts, except baptism, are invalid and evidently all vows and legal issues. Therefore this means that they haven’t taken vows as religious either.”

“When I saw on a television network that they were happy, content, well I am glad that they are well but I don’t know if they are really aware that this is not like changing your room or changing your habit or dress,” the prelate continued. 

“I don’t know if they realize the profound consequences that this step has and that is why my option or my opinion is that this should not be done precipitously, let this media tidal wave pass, let’s see if it’s possible to establish a relationship with them and dialogue and look at these issues and give them time to reconsider this situation that seems so surprising and strange to me,” the archbishop said.

After pointing out that Sister Paz, the vicaress, told him that the decision to separate from the Catholic Church was unanimous, Iceta said that on the contrary, “the sister who left [the monastery] says that there was no chapter, there was no vote, and therefore it is totally irregular” since “the proper capitular and voting mechanisms of the congregations” have not been respected.

Path of reconciliation for the Poor Clares of Belorado

A possible path of reconciliation for these Poor Clares, the Spanish prelate noted, involves “first a meeting and a reconsideration, and also listening to them about how they got to this point. They express discontent, they express difficulties, things that they have not conveyed to the [bishop’s] delegate for religious” nor to the chaplain.

Then it is necessary to listen to “what are the reasons for profound discontentment, because life is complicated, but to the point of saying I am leaving the Catholic faith to embrace another type of doctrine, it seems to me to be so extreme.” 

This decision of the Poor Clares “seems absolutely wrong to me,” but we must see “if it is possible to heal it, cure it, reverse it” and “give time for this to happen,” he emphasized.

“It seems to me that a 90-something-year-old nun, after 70 years” of religious life, can’t just go over to “another worldview of life.” For these sisters, the archbishop said, it would be good to spend “the last years of their lives in the Catholic Church.”

Vatican makes fresh overture to China, reaffirms that Catholic Church is no threat to sovereignty

Vatican wants to open representative office in China to improve relations  with Beijing | УНН

The Vatican made another big overture to China on Tuesday, reaffirming the Catholic Church poses no threat to Beijing's sovereignty and admitting that Western missionaries had made "errors" in past centuries in their zeal to convert the Chinese faithful.

The Vatican hosted the head of China's bishops conference for an unprecedented, high-level commemoration of a landmark 1924 meeting in Shanghai that affirmed the need for foreign missionaries in China to give way to local church leaders.

The presence of Shanghai Bishop Joseph Shen Bin alongside the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the Pontifical Urbaniana University was in itself noteworthy. It marked the first time in memory that a mainland bishop has been allowed by Beijing to participate in a public Vatican event as the keynote speaker.

It was also significant given the controversy over Shen's 2023 appointment. Pope Francis in July was forced to recognize China's unilateral appointment of Shen as bishop of Shanghai. The appointment seemingly violated the Holy See's 2018 accord with Beijing over bishop appointments.

Francis opened the conference with a video message in which he made no mention of recent troubles but instead pointed to the 1924 meeting in Shanghai as a turning point for Vatican-China relations. The first and only Chinese church council, he said, recognized that the church in China must "increasingly have a Chinese face."

"But the Council of Shanghai did not only serve to forget the erroneous approaches that had prevailed in previous times," Francis said. "The participants of the first Chinese Council looked to the future. And their future is our present."

It was a reference to the French, Italian and other Western missionary religious orders that evangelized China over the centuries but refused to cede leadership authority to local Chinese clergy. Their attitudes helped fuel the anti-Western and anti-Christian sentiment behind the Boxer Rebellion, which aimed to rid China of foreign influences.

Shen in his remarks referred to the "superior" attitude of those Western missionaries and their work to "protect foreign powers" through "unequal treaties" that China signed with various European nations over the centuries.

Speaking through an interpreter, Shen said the Catholic Church today must have a Chinese point of view, respect Chinese culture and develop alongside Chinese society. He also noted that the pope has underlined that being a good Christian is an integral part of being a good citizen.

The Vatican has been working for years to try to improve relations with China that were officially severed over seven decades ago when the Communists came to power. The aim is to unite the country's estimated 12 million Catholics, who were divided into an official, state-recognized church and an underground church that stayed loyal to Rome.

Relations had long been stymied over China's insistence on its exclusive right to name bishops as a matter of national sovereignty, while the Vatican insisted on the pope's exclusive right to name the successors of the original Apostles.

The 2018 deal sought to find a middle ground, though the Vatican has flagged repeated violations and Rome has acknowledged it was a bad deal but the only one it could get. It was signed at a time when China was tightening controls on all religions, especially Christianity and Islam, which are viewed as foreign imports and potential challengers to Communist authority.

Tuesday's conference provided a venue for the Holy See to publicly admit to certain errors of the past, reaffirm its respect for a fully Chinese Catholic Church and insist that the Vatican poses no threat to it.

The Vatican secretary of state, Parolin, who played a big role in the 2018 deal, recalled in his remarks that it is the universal role of the papacy that guarantees that the Catholic faith is not piloted by one particular nation or another.

The communion between the papacy and local churches, he said, "is the best guarantee of a faith that is subtracted from foreign political interests and is rooted firmly in the local culture and society."

"Obedience to the pope not only doesn't harm the love that one owes one's country, but purifies it and renews it," he added.

Donegal choir to perform as Gaeilge at the Vatican

Letterkenny-based Cór Ailigh has been invited to sing as Gaeilge at the 12 noon mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday June 1st as part of its tour to Rome.

It will also perform at the 10am mass in the Irish College on Sunday June 2nd

Speaking to  Donegal Daily, co-ordinator Micheál Ó Giobúin described the tour as a wonderful opportunity and a tremendous honour for the members of Cór Ailigh. 

“St Peter’s Basilica is the spiritual heart of the catholic tradition and singing at mass there is really the ‘holy grail’ for church choirs,” he said.

“It’s also a real privilege to sing in the historical Irish College which was founded in 1628.”

Mr Ó Giobúin described Cór Ailigh as being one big close knit family. The members are passionate about singing and enjoy contributing to the celebration of the monthly 10am Irish mass in St Eunan’s Cathedral. 

The choir has been together for twenty three years and the invitations to sing at masses in St Peter’s Basilica and the Irish College are seen as recognition for its contribution to the celebration of the Irish masses in St Eunan’s Cathedral and other liturgical services throughout the year.

Over the past number of years, the choir has sung in other churches around the county. More recently it helped to celebrate mass in St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Annagry and St Crones Church on Arranmore island.

Mr Ó Giobúin paid tribute to Monsignor Kevin Gillespie for securing the invitations for the all Irish choir. 

“He has been a great source of encouragement and support for us since he arrived in St Eunan’s Cathedral. He has a true grá for the Irish language,” he said.

“The choir looks forward to meeting with Monsignor Eamonn Mc Laughlin who will be one of our hosts whilst in Rome. He has recently been appointed by Pope Francis to the position of adjunct under-secretary of the Formation Office of the Dicastery for the Clergy.”

Mr Ó Giobúin also thanked Cór Ailigh’s musical director, Anne Nicholls, for the dedication, professional guidance and support that she has given the choir since taking up the role. She will be ably assisted on the tour by Bridghín Carr (organ/keyboard) Martin McGinley (Fiddle) and Aoife Shiels (Tin Whistle). Mr Ó Giobúin  acknowledged the input of former musical directors, namely Úna Ní Bhriain and Frank Breslin.

The choir would like to thank Donna Bianconi for organising a welcome for them. Donna is a former resident of Letterkenny who’s family used to run the Dolphin Café on the town’s Main Street. She now resides in Rome and run’s a number of successful businesses there including the Druid’s Den.

Message from Fr Gillespie; “I wish the members of Cór Ailigh every blessing as they travel to Rome and participate in Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday 1st June. Cór Ailigh has brought the beauty of liturgical music in the Irish language faithfully to Aifreann na Gaeilge at St. Eunan’s Cathedral each first Sunday of the month at 10am. They will now have the opportunity to sing the praises of God at St. Peter’s, expressing our union in faith and love with Pope Francis and honouring St. Peter whose tomb is there. They will join with the Irish community in Rome at the Irish College for Sunday Mass, the place that has formed a visible link between the Church in Ireland and the Eternal City over the course of four centuries. I wish them every blessing and a profound experience of the universal Church that is found unique in Rome.”

Syro-Malabar lay delegation presents rebel liturgy case to Pope

Syro-Malabar lay delegation presents rebel liturgy case to Pope

A lay delegation from the Syro-Malabar Church met Pope Francis in Rome earlier this month, to present the case of opponents of the “uniform rite” of the Church’s liturgy sanctioned by the Church’s hierarchy.

The four-member delegation visited the Vatican on 6 May, a week before the Syro-Malabar primate Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil of Ernakulam-Angamaly and other members of its synod had an audience with the Pope.

“During our meeting with Holy Father on 6 May we apprised him of the truth behind our opposition to the uniform mode of Holy Qurbana or Holy Mass,” said Kurian Joseph, a retired Supreme Court justice, who led the delegation.

“Thus far, the pontiff was aware of only the perspective of the bishops. Our four-member laity delegation laid all things threadbare in front of him in a 10-page memorandum,” he told The Tablet.

Besides Justice Joseph, the delegation comprised K.P. Fabian, a former Indian ambassador to Italy, Monamma Kokkad, a former Kerala State Women’s Commission member and Lida Jacob, a retired bureaucrat.

The synod has threatened to expel the roughly 300 priests who have refused to celebrate the uniform rite. Another member of the delegation, who did not wish to be named, said these priests represented thousands of the laity in the southern Indian state of Kerala who were unwilling to give up their cultural identity.

These priests and lay groups, largely in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, the Church’s primatial see, believe the entire Holy Qurbana should be celebrated versus populum, facing the congregation. In the synod’s uniform rite, the priest faces the congregation during the liturgy of the word but celebrates the liturgy of the eucharist ad orientem, facing the altar.

“The battle of ideologies has hit a stalemate with the synod, the supreme decision-making body of the sui juris or self-governing church, taking recourse to the whip of forced obedience to further its obstinate and regressive stance of non-inclusiveness,” said the delegation member.

The Syro-Malabar Church is the second largest eastern rite Churches in communion with Rome, after the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, with five million members. It has 35 eparchies in India and abroad and its headquarters in Kerala, where St Thomas the Apostle began his mission in 52AD.

The liturgy dispute has lasted since August 2021, when the synod voted to enforce the uniform rite on all eparchies.

Opponents of the reform said that the versus populum liturgy reflected local tradition, in keeping with the liturgical teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The delegation member said that their opposition was not disobedience but a matter of “sheer helplessness” of the people who have followed their tradition for more than 50 years.

The dispute has resulted in occasional violent confrontations, forcing the closure of St Mary’s Basilica in Ernakulam on several occasions.

Pope Francis sent Archbishop Cyril Vasil as a delegate to the eparchy to address the situation, and also sent a video message to opponents of the liturgy urging them to accept the synod’s ruling.

However, a group of clergy and laity organised as the Archdiocesan Protection Committee of Ernakulam-Angamaly have still refused to relent.

Riju Kanjookaran, spokesman of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, a group of lay people and priests associated with the committee, told The Tablet this had been presented as outright disobedience to the Holy See, but he said their opposition was only to the rubrics of the uniform rite, not the text of the liturgy itself.

The lay delegation told Pope Francis that the decision to mandate the uniform rite was “not a unanimous decision but an ill-informed one by the synod”. They said there were many opponents of it outside Ernakulam-Angamaly too.

Kanjookaran said the Pope had been given to understand that the synod’s decision was unanimous, but 10 bishops had opposed it.

Since 1998, the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly has recognised three options for celebrating the Holy Qurbana – ad orientem, versus populum and partly each (as in the uniform rite). When the synod issued the rubrics for the uniform rite in 1999, several eparchies had dispensations to continue with these variations.

Justice Joseph said the bishops had decided to end the dispensations in August 2021, during the Covid pandemic. The synod met online, and not all stakeholders were taken into confidence, he claimed.

Pope Francis has emphasised the need for unity and obedience in the Church, but Kanjookaran said this did not require “uniformity” in the rubrics, referring to the diversity of the Church the Kerala.

Justice Joseph said there was no question of disobedience, as the people could only be obedient to the Truth, to Christ, to the exhortations of the Second Vatican Council, and above all to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in following Christ’s instruction to “do this in memory of me”.

Quoting the text of Pope Francis’ speech to the synod on 13 May, Kanjookaran said he had asked the bishops why they did not work for “unity as the most important thing”. Kanjookaran blamed the “obstinacy” of the bishops for “ruining” the Church and “fuelling” a fight over a non-issue.

He said it had fractured the face of the Church, driving away young people and discouraging many from participating in the Holy Qurbana.

In his address to the bishops, Pope Francis said that fighting over the Eucharist was “incompatible with the Christian faith”. He said Syro-Malabars should cultivate their sense of belonging to the Church “so that its great liturgical, theological, spiritual and cultural heritage may shine forth even more”. Division, he said, was the work of the devil.

Justice Joseph insisted that none of the parties desired division, and said he “sincerely hoped” the synod would return from Rome with “a Glasnost”, shedding its rigid and opaque stance.

Kanjookaran said that the Pope had refrained from interfering in the dispute as the Church is sui iuris, so it was now the bishops’ responsibility to act.

“If they really love the church, they will agree to the laity’s demands. From our side there will be no dilution in the demand for traditional Holy Mass, if the bishops don’t agree we will go ahead and establish a Metropolitan Church,” he said.