Wednesday, August 31, 2022

CW Investigates : Operation Easpag (2)


Here in CW, we pride ourselves on keeping you all updated in relation to relevant matters, and Operation Easpag is one such case.

Today, Wednesday 31st August, 2022, we had a very fruitful and informative meeting with a person who is going to provide us with copies of notarised legal documentation, copies of which were sent to the bishop at the centre of this investigation, and these documents will straddle both Operations Easpag and Ainmhian.

Another meeting is scheduled with another person who was 'party' to some of the happenings as outlined in our opening post in relation to Operation Easpag.

Any and all information gathered will be checked out, verified and otherwise by our legal representatives, before we would even consider it for publication. 

This is done so as to ensure that it is published in such a way as to re-assure you of our committment to verifiable and validated information...i.e. truth and fact.

In light of recent happenings, we again here at CW wish to categorically state that Operation Easpag has NOTHING to do whatsoever in relation to the recent passing of a retired bishop in Ireland, on which we have already passed comment.

However, CW is conscious of the fact that the information that has been published in relation to this aformentioned deceased bishop contains very little truth, and even less evidence to verify it as having any fact associated with it.

Any further updates will continue to be published as is legally permitted.

Pope renews calls for peace in Iraq

Pope Francis urges Iraq to embrace its Christians on historic visit - The  Irish News

After a series of deadly clashes erupted in Iraq, Pope Francis said “dialogue and fraternity” were needed to overcome the current situation and to become a nation of diverse communities living in peace.

The Pope said he was following the news of “violent events” unfolding in the country, which he recalled visiting in 2021.

It was during that visit, he said at the end of his weekly general audience today, that he experienced firsthand the people’s “great desire for normality and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities” in Iraq.

“Dialogue and fraternity are the right path for facing the current difficulties and to reach this goal” of peace, he said.

He asked that people pray that God give the gift of peace to the Iraqi people.

At least 30 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Baghdad in clashes yesterday and the day before when supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace after fighting with Iraqi security forces and militia groups allied with Iran.

The violence also spread to other parts of the country when supporters of al-Sadr attacked places linked to groups aligned with Iran.

The cleric called for calm and an end to the fighting late yesterday.

The Associated Press reported that Iraq's government has been deadlocked since al-Sadr’s party won the largest share of seats in October parliamentary elections – but not enough to secure a majority government. That led to months of political infighting between al-Sadr’s Shiite followers and his Iran-backed Shiite rivals before it became violent on Monday, AP reported.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said the government needed to find out who fired on the protesters, despite orders not to use live ammunition, and who opened fire on governmental institutions.

Sexual abuse claims mount at Buenos Aires school where Pope Francis once taught

Colegio del Salvador - Wikipedia

Gonzalo Elizondo and Pablo Vio are two 32-year-old friends who attended Colegio del Salvador, a century-old educational institution run by the Catholic religious order of the Jesuits in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

It’s the same school where Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, used to teach. 

Elizondo and Vio remained friends after they graduated, but it took them almost 20 years to realize that they shared a painful memory. 

Both were sexually abused by the same teacher, Brother César Fretes, when they were 11 years old. When they broke their silence and began seeking answers, they discovered that Fretes had victimized dozens of students: the latest count is 42.

Fretes died in 2015 without ever facing justice. School officials acknowledge the sexual abuse, but have refused to offer a public apology or financial compensation for the victims. Nor have they heeded the victims’ demands that those in charge of the school at the time face sanctions. 

“There were many adults who didn’t do what they were supposed to do. They neglected and abandoned us. They knew that there was a predator, and all they did was move him somewhere else and cover it up,” said Vio in a joint interview with Elizondo for EL PAÍS.

Vio and Elizondo say that Fretes abused them in 2002 when he was their sixth grade teacher, but they didn’t tell anyone and tried to forget. 

A year later, the school suddenly transferred the Jesuit more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) away. 

Rumors of sexual abuse spread among the students. Elizondo began to rethink the incident at a spiritual retreat the year before when he woke up in the middle of the night and felt Fretes’ hand down his pants. 

“He told me that I was sleepwalking and that he had led me back to the room, but I never sleepwalked,” said Elizondo. “When I heard the rumors, I realized that that he was actually molesting me.” But since Fretes had already been transferred out, he decided to keep quiet.

Vio took longer to realize he had been abused because he lacked the tools to understand it when he was growing up. Back then, they didn’t teach sex education in school, now a mandatory course. Many students didn’t know how to act or what to think when Fretes raised sexual topics in class. 

“He was grooming us little by little,” said Vio. “One day in his office, he asked me to pull down my pants. He touched my penis, ran his hands over my body, and asked me to compare myself in the locker room with my classmates, and then to tell him about it,” he recalls. “I even thought at the time that I was lucky to have someone to teach me about these things. No one had ever told me that this was wrong.”

Elizondo first approached school officials in 2019 about the abuse. Three years later, Vio and dozens of other victims have joined his cause. But they are frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the institution, which has refused to talk to the media claiming that it has already apologized to the school community and has taken measures to prevent more abuse.

“We are ashamed”

“First, we ask again for the forgiveness of those who suffered what they should not have suffered at this school. We are ashamed. We are deeply sorry. That is why we are publicly asking for your forgiveness,” says a letter sent earlier in August to the school community. The letter was co-signed by the current rector, Jorge Black, and the rector in 2003, Rafael Velasco. 

“The school leaders and the Society of Jesus did what they thought was best at the time, which was to remove the accused man from his position and protect students from further harm,” said the letter in reference to their decision to send Fretes to the city of Mendoza in western Argentina.

Although he was theoretically forbidden to have contact with minors, Fretes returned to the school on occasion and participated in student activities until he was finally expelled from the Society of Jesus in 2007, supposedly as a result of an internal investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse.

“They won’t let us see the expulsion document. We know that there was no investigation because they didn’t talk to any of us,” said Vio. The victims also claim that the school knew about two complaints of abuse even before the allegations in 2003 that led to his transfer to Mendoza.

The first allegation was made in 1998, just a year after Fretes, who was never ordained a priest, joined the teaching staff. “A family went to the rector, Luis de Maussion, saying that their son had been abused by Fretes. 

De Maussion dismissed their story and decided to keep Fretes in his position,” according to a timeline of abuse painstakingly developed from victim testimonies. The second allegation was made in 2001, when a sixth grader told Rector Velasco about Fretes’ attempt to molest him. 

“The rector not only dismissed his testimony, but publicly called the boy a liar in front of his classmates.”

A Pope’s silence

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known to the world as Pope Francis, is a Jesuit who taught at Colegio del Salvador in the mid-1960s. 

When Elizondo heard the Pope denounce pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote a letter to the Vatican in 2020 asking for the pontiff’s help. 

He never received a reply. 

“He’s protecting them. Acknowledging the abuse would mean ending that protection,” said Vio.

After several fruitless years of struggle, the former students are very critical of the Jesuit-run Colegio del Salvador and the entire Catholic Church hierarchy. 

“The Church’s objective is to wear us down until we get tired and forget about it all. That way they can keep covering it up and pretending that nothing ever happened. If the Pope were to speak up about this, no one could turn a blind eye anymore. But it’s not going to happen,” said Vio.

Pope at Audience: ‘Discernment requires loving relationship with God’

 Pope Francis to struggling parents: Don't condemn your kids. Pray to St.  Joseph instead. | America Magazine

Pope Francis kicked off a new series of catecheses on discernment at the Wednesday General Audience, reflecting on the question: “What does it mean to discern?”

Discernment, he said, is a process which everyone must learn to master in order to live well.

“One chooses food, clothing, a course of study, a job, a relationship,” he said. “In all of these, a life project is realised, and so is our relationship with God.”

Brains, heart, hands

The Pope said Jesus often spoke about discernment by employing images from ordinary life, such as choosing the better fish, or the best pearl, or even knowning what to do when we find a treasure.

“Discernment presents itself as an exercise of intelligence, of skill, and also of will, to seize the opportune moment: these are conditions for making a good choice.”

He added that making the best choice between a set of options also involves our emotions, since a well-made choice can bring us great joy.

Pope Francis said Jesus uses everyday images to describe discernment because the Kingdom of God “manifests itself in the ordinary actions of life, which require us to take a stand.”

“This is why it is so important to be able to discern,” he said, “great choices can arise from circumstances that at first sight seem secondary, but turn out to be decisive.”

Hard work & freedom

Discernment requires several indispensable elements, including “knowledge, experience, emotion, and will.”

“Discernment involves hard work. According to the Bible, we do not find set before us the life we are to live. God invites us to evaluate and choose. He created us free and wants us to exercise our freedom. Therefore, discerning is demanding.”

The Pope noted that most people have had the experience of choosing something we thought was good for us, but which later turned out to be the wrong choice.

Choices & consequences

At the same time, said Pope Francis, many of us have also known what our true good was but did not choose it.

Even in the first pages of the Bible, God gives Adam and Eve a specific instruction on how to live to be happy.

“If you want to live, if you want to enjoy life, remember that you are a creature, that you are not the criterion of good and evil, and that the choices you make will have a consequence, for you, for others and for the world; you can make the earth a magnificent garden or you can make it a desert of death.”

Relationship & love

Pope Francis noted that discernment is “indispensable for living” and requires us to know ourselves and “what is good for me in the here and now.”

“Above all, [discernment] requires a filial relationship with God. God is Father and He does not leave us alone, He is always willing to advise us, to encourage us, to welcome us. But He never imposes His will.”

Finally, the Pope concluded his catechesis at the General Audience by reminding us that God wants us to love Him and not fear Him.

“Love can only be lived in freedom,” he said. “To learn to live one must learn to love, and for this it is necessary to discern.”

Synod official expresses confidence in Germany's Synodal Path

 Pope Francis leads a meeting with representatives of bishops' conferences from around the world at the Vatican Oct. 9, 2021.

Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, said he continues to have confidence in the Synodal Path of the Catholic Church in Germany.

"Perhaps the communication on the reform project could have been better," Grech said in an interview with Anna Mertens, editor of the German Catholic news agency KNA, published Aug. 29. But he said he trusted the German bishops "that they know what they are doing."

The cardinal was critical of other bishops for issuing open letters criticizing the German church's Synodal Path. "Fraternal correction and dialogue" were something very positive, he said, but a "public denunciation" was not helpful and only led to further polarization.

The cardinal's remarks were contained in "Universal Church in Motion: Synodal Paths," a special publication of the Freiburg-based publishing house Verlag-Herder. It contained essays on the synodal process in several European countries as well as essays by theologians such as Rafael Luciani of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, who also teaches in Venezuela and serves as theological adviser to the Latin American bishops' council; Medical Mission Sister Birgit Weiler, who teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru; Christina Kheng, who teaches pastoral theology and leadership at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila, Philippines; and Thomas Söding, vice president of the Central Committee of German Catholics. U.S. Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, a prominent speaker and author, also contributed to the booklet.

In a question-and-answer piece titled, "We cannot not be synodal," Grech said he tried to follow the process in Germany, but it was "one thing to follow what is published and another thing to follow what is really going on."

The cardinal said he could not comment specifically on Germany's Synodal Path or Australia's Plenary Council.

"We have to respect the local churches," he said. He also said he had the impression that some of the subjects being discussed in Germany were being discussed in other countries, and he thought the synodal process was "on the right track."

"The main goal of this process is to find God's will and better understand it," he told KNA. "And 2020 is not 1020, nor is it 2000. So, we have to be faithful to God. At the same time, we have to find the right answers for the people today."

The German bishops' conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics launched the Synodal Path in 2019 in the wake of Germany's clerical abuse scandal. The process includes forums in which questions are discussed and assemblies at which people from the forums report back and proposals are discussed and voted on. Some texts not only must receive approval of more than two-thirds of all delegates, clerical and lay, but also must have the approval of more than two-thirds of the bishops.

The fourth plenary assembly is scheduled Sept. 8-10 in Frankfurt. Approximately 230 delegates will discuss 14 papers, reported KNA. These include texts on church sexual morality, the role of priests, the participation of women and the mandatory celibacy of Catholic priests.

The Synodal Path is due to end with a fifth plenary assembly in Frankfurt in March.

The process has led to growing discord in recent months, with bishops in other countries openly criticizing reforms being discussed and some commentators talking of a German schism.

But in an introduction to "Universal Church in Motion," the presidents of the Synodal Path said Catholics in Germany have no intention of dissociating themselves from the universal church.

Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, and Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops' conference, noted that Catholics in other countries were discussing similar issues.

"We, as Catholics in Germany, are not alone in these concerns; the universal church is in transition," they wrote. "But this gives us courage and hope for genuine change in a church that credibly proclaims the Good News and is sincerely concerned for the people, the 'hearers of the Word."

Gorbachev, St. John Paul had great appreciation for each other


Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who died Aug. 30 in Moscow after a long illness, met several times with St. John Paul II, and the two often exchanged words of appreciation for each other.

The two leaders met in 1989 and again in 1990, when Gorbachev was still president of the Soviet Union and was introducing political and economic reforms in his country, as well as on other occasions. Both men were key in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as papal spokesman for St. John Paul II and often reported on their meetings, later called Gorbachev the most important figure in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the wall in an article published Nov. 5, 2009, in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica, Navarro-Valls cited Pope John Paul’s support for the Polish labor union Solidarity as a key development in the pro-democracy movement in the region. But he said Gorbachev saw that the political movement in Eastern Europe was popular and unstoppable, and the Soviet leader avoided military repression and even verbal opposition.

Navarro-Valls said that when Gorbachev first met with Pope John Paul in December 1989, less than a month after the wall’s collapse, the two leaders “understood each other immediately.”

“Both clearly understood the direction that history had begun to take. Both felt that freedom was not a political fact but a human dimension that was essential and not able to be suppressed,” Navarro-Valls said.

A transcript of that 1989 meeting showed St. John Paul and Gorbachev expressed broad agreement on the need for greater religious freedom in the Soviet Union, for a renewal of ethical and moral values, and for improved Catholic-Orthodox relations.

The two leaders also agreed that at a time of upheaval in Eastern Europe, the region should not be expected to simply import Western values wholesale.

“It would be wrong for someone to claim that changes in Europe and the world should follow the Western model. This goes against my deep convictions,” the late pope said.

“Europe, as a participant in world history, should breathe with two lungs,” the pope added, using one of his favorite metaphors for harmony between East and West on the continent.

“That is a very appropriate image,” Gorbachev replied.

Pope John Paul pressed Gorbachev on the possibility of the Vatican and the Soviet Union exchanging diplomatic representatives, which he felt would aid in resolving religious freedom problems and other issues. Gorbachev responded positively, saying that “we approve such an approach” while cautioning against acting too quickly.

In the year that followed the papal audience, Gorbachev followed through on several issues raised by the pope: The Soviet Union enacted a law to protect religious freedom, allowed the Ukrainian Catholic Church to come out from underground and welcomed a Vatican ambassador to Moscow.

After St. John Paul died in 2005, Gorbachev called him “the No. 1 humanist on the planet.”

Gorbachev, 91, was general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991 and Soviet president 1990-91. At its height, the Soviet bloc included 15 countries in Eastern and Central Europe, and in most countries, Catholicism was repressed.

But in 1988, Gorbachev welcomed a top-level church delegation to Moscow for ceremonies commemorating the millennium of Christianity in the region. Early 1989 saw the restoration of the Lithuanian Catholic hierarchy, the return of the Vilnius cathedral and the freeing of a Lithuanian archbishop from house arrest.

In that period, the then-Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, summed up what Gorbachev meant to the church: “We are always ready to dialogue. What was lacking was a partner. Now a partner exists.”

Under Gorbachev’s leadership, in 1990 the Soviet Union passed a freedom of religion law that rolled back decades of communist restrictions on churches, including those against religious instruction and freedom of association. It legalized the 5-million-member Ukrainian Catholic Church and restored some of its churches and other properties.

Several bishops were named in Soviet republics with no interference from the government. The government extended an invitation for a papal visit — which has never occurred — and policy statements by Soviet officials indicated growing recognition that religion represents a cultural strength.

Surprises in the Irish Synod Report (Op-Ed)

 Home - Irish Synodal Pathway

About five years ago, I attended a lecture in Manhattan by an Irish Redemptorist priest, Fr. Tony Flannery. The event was sponsored by Call to Action, an organization that is critical of the Catholic Church because of its ineptitude in applying the gospel message to the realities of our time. Fr. Flannery was and still is banned from speaking publicly in any church-owned facility.

In his speech he explained why he is considered a persona non grata, an outcast, by the powers in Rome. He named three areas of disagreement, pointing out that he does not question any of the traditional Catholic dogmas.

He objects especially to the second-class status accorded to women in all areas of ecclesiastical life. He cautioned that while he favors full ordination rights for females the focus for now should be on achieving deaconate status, a step below the priesthood.

He favors ending mandatory celibacy and welcoming married priests, and he was adamant that his church’s attitude to the homosexual community could only be described as pathetic. He spoke with conviction and left no doubt about his continuing commitment to radical changes in his church.

Amazingly and ironically, in response to Pope Francis’ Synodal Way, the Irish church recently submitted what they call the National Synthesis of its recommendations to Rome, and they have come out in favor of the positions which led to Flannery’s exclusion from practicing as a priest.

The big boys in Rome silenced him, but what will they do now with the whole Irish church?

The National Synthesis document was based on reports prepared by all 26 Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland following widespread consultations with the people over many months, culminating in a countrywide national symposium in Athlone in June.

Over 19,000 people participated in Dublin with about 5000 in Limerick and a few hundred in the mini-diocese of Achonry in the west of Ireland. Reports from all sides suggested enthusiastic involvement throughout the country with members over the age of 60 showing the highest level of interest.

Cynics warned that the submission to Rome would be a watered-down version of the ideas for change that emerged from the consultations. The bishops would wrap the radical concepts in language acceptable to the Vatican hierarchy.

Not this time! The National Synthesis document pulls no punches and fairly represents the thoughts and feelings expressed up and down the country, as well as during the big weekend in Athlone.

In a cover letter sent with the report, Archbishop Eamon Martin explained to Cardinal Mario Gresch, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, that that there is a crying need in Ireland for healing, especially “among those who have suffered abuse by church personnel and in church institutions.”

He stressed that clear calls were heard in every diocese for “fresh models of responsibility and leadership which will especially recognize and facilitate the role of women. Our listening process has identified the need to be more inclusive in outreach, touching those who have left the church behind and, in some cases, feel excluded, forgotten or ignored.”

Pope Francis’ words are genuine. We believe him when he says he wants to hear from ordinary parishioners. Will he lead the response when the cry for change arrives in Rome from people all over the world?

In order to dampen expectations, he insists that the church is not a democratic institution. So, despite the strong support for radical changes, backed by a clear majority of the faithful, their ideas may well be set aside as traditionalists assert the pre-eminence of the church’s historical beliefs and practices.

During the struggle for democracy in Europe in the 19th and early 20th century, successive popes favored the old European autocracies with single strong leaders, which, of course, defines the Vatican. They still diminish the democratic process which claims that, despite its limitations, the people’s wisdom is the nearest we can get to an optimal system for selecting leaders and determining policy. Why is the church so dismissive of this approach? What are they afraid of in Rome? Is it just a power game?

Take the widespread belief that women should be ordained at a time when their services as pastors are clearly needed in many parishes. Most people in the United States and in Europe strongly support this needed alteration of church discipline. The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), a very credible Catholic organization, affirms the many women who feel called to priestly service.

A tribute to Francis, information about WOC is included in the Vatican website as part of the synodal discussions. However, it is very unlikely that he will overrule John Paul II’s arrogant and dogmatic statement that women should never be permitted to say Mass.

Back to the real world of male hierarchies who preach their openness to the Spirit of Wisdom, but always seem to revert back to glorifying tradition. In October 2019 the Amazon Synod of Bishops met in Rome to consider the church crisis in that region of South America. The people in large parts of a few countries there have very irregular access to the sacraments.

The Synod passed, with a big majority, two recommendations to help ameliorate the situation. First, open the deaconate to permit nuns and other dedicated women who are serving there to provide communion for the people. Second, allow viri probati, married men of sterling character from the local communities, to be ordained to the priesthood. Pope Francis took their recommendations under advisement. No action. That was almost three years ago. Tough luck on the people pleading for communion in the Amazon region.

Former Irish president Mary McAleese, who has had a conflicted relationship with the church, especially with John Paul II, was elated by the document and congratulated the hierarchy for not doctoring the recommendations to placate Rome. The adjectives she used to commend it left no doubt about her satisfaction: “explosive, life-altering, dogma-altering, church-altering.”

Mrs. McAleese has a particular peeve with the church’s puerile insistence that the gay lifestyle is unnatural and sinful. Her son is a homosexual. This demeaning thinking has been repudiated by science for more than half a century. Rome, however, keeps beating the old drum based on an outmoded belief in their version of natural law.

Fr. Tim Hazelwood, one of the leaders of the Irish Association of Priests, described the document as “stunning” because “it is not trying to uphold any of the old negatives from the past.” Those “old negatives” did immense harm to the preaching of the gospel message.

Pope Francis will meet with a full synod of bishops in October of next year to decide what changes they will institute, based, supposedly, on the recommendations from Catholics all over the world. We live and hope!

Ireland Bishop criticises synthesis report sent to Rome on behalf of Irish Catholic Church

 AFCM Ireland – Anointing Fire Catholic Ministries

A Catholic bishop has said the national synthesis sent to Rome earlier this month revealed “an attitude to what could be termed ‘traditional’ faith which is mildly dismissive.” Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Phonsie Cullinan also felt that the synodal process which led to the synthesis “was somewhat rushed. The time limitation given by those tasked to oversee the Synod in Rome was insufficient.

“Discussions or parish conversations or listening sessions or whatever one wishes to call them were completed under a certain pressure with little time to ensure deep reflection, have meaningful conversations and prayerful consideration of the questions posed on the themes of communion, participation and mission.”

It was also the case that “a number of things emerge from the synthesis which challenge church teaching which she has held since the beginning”, added Bishop Cullinan.

The process to which he referred began in Ireland’s 26 Catholic dioceses, as elsewhere in the Catholic world, last October when consultations about church reform began at parish level with findings published in a report on each Irish diocese’s website last June. These, along with a further 29 submissions from various Catholic organisations and individuals, were considered in Athlone at a national assembly of the Catholic Church in Ireland last June.

Synod of Bishops

Subsequently, a steering committee prepared the Irish synthesis report which was sent to Rome on August 15th in preparation for a Synod of Bishops there in October 2023.

Among other matters, the synthesis report called for equality for women in the church, up to and including ordination, an embrace of LGBTI+ people, the divorced and remarried, as well as of single parents, and removal of the mandatory celibacy rule for priests.

Bishop Cullinan, believed to be the only Irish bishop who is a member of the Catholic Church’s conservative Opus Dei organisation, said that “from my own interaction with some ‘conservative’ or traditional’ believers it was clear that many did not engage with the synodal process at a parish level”.

In a posting on his diocesan website he continued: “It would be interesting to research why this was so. Is it because they themselves feel marginalised? Or because they felt that Church teaching cannot be changed and that there was no need for this synodal process and that little fruit would ensue? Or perhaps they felt they simply had better things to do with their time?”

He suggested that “if the Church in Ireland is worried about groups on the margins of Irish society then we will have to dialogue in a more serious way with what might be termed ‘traditional Catholics’”.

On the national assembly in Athlone, which he attended with other Catholic bishops, he said “there was far too much introspection”. He left it “realising that we had heard very little on mission and the missionary outreach of the church”.

He wondered “where was the challenge to the prevailing culture of individualism and secularism? Are we just giving in to current trends and forgetting about the wisdom of past generations and the long tradition of the church?”

Final synthesis

Bishop Cullinan also felt that “generally speaking many of the submissions from the 26 dioceses show a difference in emphases to the final synthesis”. This was, he said, “my subjective take on it and I do accept that there will always be different subjective attitudes at play in the writing up of any summary of people’s views.”

Findings in the report published by Waterford and Lismore diocese itself last June, following consultations at parish level, were broadly in line with those of other dioceses. It said that as an issue gender equality was “very visible throughout the conversations”.

Women, it said, “were considered to be powerhouses of the organisation but undervalued in their role within the Church.” It was asked “that women be allowed to be priests and deacons in the future”.

Young people asked that “the Church be more welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community” and were open “to the idea that the sacraments would be taught through a ‘Sunday School’ model in parishes” rather than “through the current school structure. Students said that the schools were doing the work of the Church.”

Lay involvement was seen as “a crucial element” to church and parish survival, “allowing the clergy to focus on the pastoral & sacramental side of parish life”. It was also noted, “that when Our Lady appeared in Knock, Fatima and Lourdes, she appeared to lay people and not to priests”.

As with the other dioceses, people in Waterford and Lismore also believed “priests should be allowed to marry if they wish”.

And, as in the other 25 dioceses, there too “the vast majority of those who gathered for the faith conversations were of the midlife to senior generations.” They concluded, “the hierarchical Church must now LISTEN [their emphasis], and, more importantly, ACT [their emphasis] on what has been said during these faith conversations”.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

St Bernadette relics begin two-month tour

 St Bernadette's relics to cross Britain

The relics of Lourdes visionary Saint Bernadette will begin a two-month-long tour of England, Wales and Scotland this week beginning on 3 September and concluding on 1 November. 

The relics’ journey around Britain will see the remains of St Bernadette make special visits to Scotland’s Carfin Grotto, HMP Wormwood Scrubs and the Anglican and the Catholic cathedrals of Liverpool.

Churches from each of England’s 22 Catholic dioceses will host the relics, including Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs in Cambridge and St Winefride’s Well Shrine in Holywell.

The tour, first announced in November 2021, also includes a stop specifically for the Roman Catholic Bishopric of the Forces in Clifton Cathedral on 7 September and HMP Wormwood Scrubs on 30 October.

The Ukrainian Catholic and Syro-Malabar eparchies will also host the relics for a day, in London and Preston respectively. When first announced, the visit was compared to the tour of Thérèse of Liseux’s relics in 2009, which attracted unexpectedly high numbers.

In a letter released through the tour’s official website, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that the visit “offers us a welcome opportunity to bear active witness to our Faith, joining with one another across our many communities to encounter God’s love and find spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing and renewal”.

He asked Catholics to take part in the tour and to continue that participation by considering pilgrimage to Lourdes itself in future. Concluding his letter, the Cardinal thanked God “for the faith of St Bernadette and for the many gifts and graces the relic tour will bring”.

Bernadette Soubirous, the child of a miller from Lourdes, southern France, experienced visions of Mary, Mother of Christ, between 11 February and 16 July 1858. After a canonical investigation, Church authorities declared the visions “worthy of belief” in 1862 and Lourdes rapidly became a major site of pilgrimage.

Around 70 miracles attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes have been validated by the Church to date.  

Bernadette was canonised in 1933, and her remains were preserved in a shrine in the town of Nevers, central France, the location of the convent Bernadette joined in 1866 and died in in 1879. They are now ordinarily held in the Upper Basilica of Lourdes, which before the coronavirus pandemic hosted around 3.5 million pilgrims a year.