Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Late Bishop Martin Drennan remembered for his “bright mind” and love of Galway


Bishop Martin Drennan has been remembered by his brother Fr Michael Drennan for his bright mind, sense of humour and love of Galway.

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan passed away at the age of 78 last weekend and his funeral took place today.

Mourners gathered at Galway Cathedral to celebrate his life, including bishops and priests from across the country, Mayor of Galway Clodagh Higgins, TDs and Senators.

Words of condolence also came from as far away as the Vatican, as Pope Francis passed on a message for Bishop Drennan.

The funeral service was opened by Bishop Michael Duignan, with music by the Galway Cathedral Choir and Homily delivered by Fr Michael Drennan.

Live animal crib gets a new home in Dublin

 Pictured are (l to r) Katie Morrisroe, Head of National Historic Properties OPW; Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O'Donovan TD; and IFA President Tim Cullinan, with Stanley Griffiths (11 months), Mary Jane O’Connell (2 years) and Bob the Border Collie in Stephen’s Green, at the launch of the Live Animal Crib. The Live Animal Crib will be back on 8 December in a new, central location in the Summer House in St Stephen’s Green Park. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

Dublin’s live animal crib will return this year after finding a new home in St Stephen’s Green.

The Christmas staple, in place since 1995, had been cancelled this year after the Lord Mayor decided to remove the live animals element from the crib outside the Mansion House.

However, following discussions with the Irish Farmers’ Association, the OPW has announced that a new home has been found for the live crib in the Summer House in St Stephen’s Green.

It will return to the capital on Thursday, December 8, and provide shelter to Lilly the goat, Daisy the donkey and two lambs to tell the story of the Christmas nativity.

For nearly 30 years, members of the Sherlock family have shepherded animals to the specially installed stables, previously located outside the Mansion House.

It has been a fixture outside the Lord Mayor’s offices each Christmas since 1995, part of a joint initiative between the council and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

However, the live element of the crib was cancelled last month by the current Lord Mayor, Green Party councillor Caroline Conroy.

She said there would be no reversing the decision to remove live animals, but they are working on an alternative crib.

In a statement, the IFA said St Stephen’s Green will provide “a calm setting for the farm animals and for families to bring their children to view the crib in the weeks leading up to Christmas”.

The animals will be tended to onsite every day by their owner and will return to their farm in Wicklow each afternoon.

US Senate passes landmark bill to protect same-sex marriage

 Page 11 | Gay usa Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

THE US SENATE has passed a landmark bill protecting same-sex marriage, as lawmakers from both parties moved to forestall the possibility of the conservative-led Supreme Court taking away this right, as it did with abortion.

“With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” President Joe Biden said in a statement released after the 61-36 vote.

The Senate vote sends the bill back to the House of Representatives, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi said would approve it next week before sending it to Biden to sign.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer hailed a “momentous step forward for greater justice for LGBTQ Americans.”

Twelve Republicans joined Democrats to pass the legislation on what had for decades been a deeply divisive issue in America.

In the United States, same-sex unions have been guaranteed by the Supreme Court since 2015. 

But after the court’s historic overturning of a longstanding ruling protecting the right to abortion in June, many progressives feared that same-sex marriage may also be under threat.

Democrats have worked with urgency to get the bill passed while they still control Congress.

They held on to the Senate in this month’s mid-term elections but lost the House to the Republicans, although the latter eked out a much thinner majority than they had expected.

So when the new Congress takes power in January, gridlock is expected.

The bill passed Tuesday does not require states to legalize same-sex marriage.

But it repeals previous legislation defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and does require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

So if the Supreme Court were to overturn the 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriages, a state that bans them will still have to recognize such unions carried out in other states. The bill also applies to inter-racial marriages.

“Today’s vote is deeply personal for many of us in this chamber,” said Schumer, who wore the same tie he had on at his lesbian daughter’s wedding.

A similar bill was already passed in June by the House of Representatives. All the chamber’s Democrats voted in favour, along with 47 Republicans.

The new vote in the House is needed to reconcile the two bills but this is seen as a formality.

The powerful American Civil Liberties Union hailed the “historic step forward” but denounced the rise of laws attacking the right of transgender people in several states.

“While we welcome the historic vote on this measure, members of Congress must also fight like trans lives depend on their efforts because trans lives do,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Rights Project, said in a statement.

Polls show a strong majority of Americans back same-sex marriage but it is still contentious.

Thirty-six Republicans voted ‘no’ on Tuesday and the religious right remains mostly opposed to such unions.

Fomer Rockwell College pupil claims he was raped by a priest in the college church

 Secondary Boarding School for Boys and Girls, Tipperary Ireland - Rockwell  College

A former pupil at Rockwell College has claimed he was raped by a priest in the college church and spent his days in the college “under a cloud of fear”.

When aged 14, David* (not his real name) claims he was raped in the school church by Fr Henry Moloney and was sexually assaulted by him on two other occasions, it is claimed.

He has taken High Court proceedings against a nominee of the Irish Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit - the Spiritans - alleging he was subject to assault, sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass to the person, and intentional infliction of emotional harm, due to negligence and breach of duty, including fiduciary duty, on the part of the order, its servants and agents.

As a result, he suffered severe personal injuries, both physical and psychological, mental distress, damage and loss, it is claimed.

It is alleged the Spiritans, who ran the college, knew, or should have known, that Moloney - who died last year and was a member of the Congregation until 2014 - “had a proclivity towards the sexual abuse of minors” but took no, or no adequate, measures to protect pupils.

Moloney, it is claimed, was moved from one place to another following repeated allegations of sexual abuse by him dating back to the 1960s.

Moloney was convicted in 2000 for sexually assaulting two boys at St Mary’s College between 1969 and 1973. He was moved in 1973 to an elite school run by the Spiritans in Sierra Leone where he was also said to have abused boys. In 1979, he was appointed to Blackrock College in Dublin before being removed to Rockwell in 1980 where he remained until removed in 1996 and put under strict supervision.

In 2009, Moloney was convicted of abusing two other boys at St Mary’s College between 1969 and 1973 and in 2015 was convicted of abusing another boy at Rockwell. He left the priesthood about seven years before his death.

In his action, David says his life was devastated by the abuse he suffered and it caused him to feel such a deep sense of guilt and shame he was unable to tell anyone about it until he went for counselling after his father’s death in 2020.

He claims he deals on a daily basis with anxiety, depression, a very negative self-concept and self-esteem, disordered sleep and eating patterns, and requires medication for cardiac issues.

The case was initiated earlier this year and a statement of claim has been served. A defence has not yet been served.

David went to Rockwell in Co Tipperary in 1986 as a third year residential boarder. On his third day, he claims he was punched in the stomach by a teacher over being late for class. On another occasion, a dormitory master struck him on his rear with a leather strap while he was sleeping.

He was in the music prefab playing the piano one day in September/October 1986 when Moloney came in, put his hands on his shoulders, asked him his name, how he was getting on and whether he had brothers at the school, he says. He replied he had no brothers there and told the priest about a recent episode where he had been beaten up by three boys.

Moloney told him he would “look after him” and check up on the boys who had beaten him before hugging him and leaving, David says.

Some weeks later, he was again playing the piano when Moloney came in, sat down beside him and sexually assaulted him through his clothing, David claims. After Moloney left, David says he was “numb with shock”.

Around Christmas 1986, after he met Moloney on a corridor, the priest said “I have a treat for you” and brought him to the church where he sat him down at the organ in the gallery, David says. He thought of pressing down on one of the organ paddles in a bid to alert someone to his presence but was nervous of repercussions if he did so.

The priest, he claims, moved him around to the back of the organ, trapped him in a corner and raped him, continually telling him: “This is between you and me.” David says he suffered extreme pain then and for days afterwards.

Moloney sexually assaulted him on another occasion, some weeks after Christmas 1986, after taking him to the arts and crafts building in Rockwell, he claims. While he managed for the remainder of his two years there to avoid Moloney by spending a lot of time with other boys, he remained in fear and was very unhappy.

He once went to the principal, Fr James Hurley, “as a last resort” and told him he was having trouble without explicitly explaining the abuse by Fr Moloney and Fr Hurley reassured him, he says. He ran away home once but was returned to Rockwell after a few weeks.

David told The Irish Times he supports calls for a statutory inquiry into allegations by more than 200 people of historic abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans here and overseas, and into the handling by the congregation of those allegations. 

A Garda investigation into his allegations against Moloney was underway when the latter died, he said.

Tusla expects increase in reports of historical abuse in schools

 Tusla | Family Resource Centres (FRCs) Ireland

Tusla, the child and family agency, is preparing for an increase in reports of historical child sex abuse following revelations linked to boarding schools run by religious orders.

The Government is currently considering options for an inquiry into abuse in schools, with discussions ongoing about whether it would be limited to schools run by the Spiritan congregation or extended more widely.

Speaking on Tuesday, Tusla chief executive Bernard Gloster said the agency was anticipating an increase in reports of alleged historical abuse in schools as a result of “what has been reported in recent weeks”.

“We would expect that increase as people move into counselling and therapy, where they make disclosures and those disclosures are subsequently referred onward to us. Of course people can self-refer to us as well,” he said.

Previous events that received significant media attention “do tend to trigger instances of increased reporting” to the agency, he said.

“It wouldn’t be of surprise to us to see an increase of referrals,” he said.

Tusla is tasked with investigating reports of alleged child abuse it receives to determine if there is any risk to current children. Mr Gloster was speaking at the launch of abuse survivors support organisation One in Four’s annual report.

Maeve Lewis, chief executive of One in Four, said she believed there would likely be a “flood” of reports to Tusla about past abuse in schools.

The organisation had been receiving on average 20 calls a day from adults reporting being abused as children in schools in the past three weeks.

The alleged abuse related to schools run by the Spiritan congregation, such as Blackrock College, St Michael’s College and Rockwell College, as well as fee-paying schools run by the Dominican order, the Vincentians and the Jesuits.

One in Four has called for any proposed inquiry launched by the State into the abuse to not be confined to schools run by the Spiritans.

Scores of further alleged victims have come forward to report being abused in Spiritan schools, following an RTÉ Radio 1 documentary in early November, where two brothers spoke about being abused by priests in Blackrock College during the 1970s.

Minister for Education Norma Foley is expected to brief ministerial colleagues at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, on current discussions within Government about a possible inquiry, and what form it might take.

Spiritans told to retain records and assets in anticipation of abuse inquiry

 Spiritan Irish Province - One Heart, One Spirit

The Government has requested that the Spiritan order retain all its assets and maintain all records related to sex abuse allegations in its schools, which have been at the centre of recent allegations of abuse by former pupils.

The move is thought to be in anticipation of an inquiry into the handling of historical abuse allegations in several high-profile schools run by the order, formerly known as the Holy Ghost Fathers, and a potential compensation scheme for victims.

Minister for Education Norma Foley has written to the leaders of the Spiritans, reminding the order of its obligation to retain all records in relation to abuse allegations and also requesting that all its assets in Ireland should be retained, given the potential future need to support survivors, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Spiritan order recently said it had congressional assets worth more than €57 million.

Ms Foley is expected to brief ministerial colleagues at this morning’s Cabinet meeting, as discussions continue within Government about a possible inquiry, and what form it might take.

It is understood that preliminary discussions have taken place in the Department of Education about who might be approached to lead any proposed inquiry.

Senior sources have warned, however, that the criticism levelled at the members of the Mother and Baby Homes inquiry after it published its report could act as a deterrent for anyone who might be asked to conduct such an inquiry.

Officials are examining whether the inquiry should be limited to past child abuse in schools that were run by the Spiritan congregation, or extended wider to cover other religious orders who ran schools.

Sources familiar with the discussions have suggested that containing an inquiry to a small number of schools could be very difficult, as further allegations of past abuse elsewhere continue to surface.

Discussions have also focused on what form an inquiry might take and whether it would be a full statutory inquiry, such as a commission of investigation, or if it could be carried out on a non-statutory basis.

Recent non-statutory investigations have included Dr Gabriel Scally’s scoping inquiry into the CervicalCheck controversy, as well as Dr Geoffrey Shannon’s recent independent investigation into historical child sex abuse in St John Ambulance. The review into past abuse in the voluntary paramedic organisation took more than a year and a half, with a final report sent to the board of St John Ambulance on Monday.

Some sources have suggested that an interim “scoping inquiry”, to determine the nature and extent of a future inquiry could be an option, though it is understood that no decisions have yet been made.

The Spiritan order, which runs some of the country’s most prestigious and high-profile schools including Blackrock College, St Michael’s College and Rockwell College, have been plunged into controversy following a RTE radio documentary in which victims of abuse told their story.

The Spiritans apologised to all victims in the wake of the recent Blackrock revelations and have set up a “restorative justice” programme comprised of independent experts to engage with survivors of historical abuse at schools and institutions run by the congregation.

However, some victims have demanded an inquiry into abuse at the order’s schools, while others have said the order should pay compensation to its victims. The Blackrock College Union, representing past pupils at the south Dublin school, called for a “full inquiry” into sexual abuse that took place at both the senior college and its junior school Willow Park. The order has pledged to co-operate with any inquiry.

About 70 people have come forward to make complaints since an RTÉ documentary was broadcast on the abuse of two Dublin brothers in the 1970s by priests at Blackrock College, Dublin. The new complaints brought the total number of allegations about abuse in the order’s schools in recent decades to 300.

Over 130 allegations of child sexual abuse received by Irish wing of St. John of God order

 Saint John of God Community Services (@sjogcs) / Twitter

Thirty four fresh claims have been made since a safeguarding review seven years ago.

Over 130 allegations of child sexual abuse against its members have reportedly been received by the Irish wing of the St. John of God order which ran special schools in Ireland.

The Sunday Times says 34 fresh claims of abuse have been made since a safeguarding review was carried out in 2015.

The newspaper says the religious order was aware of 97 allegations of child sexual abuse at the time of the review and 12 civil cases are being taken against the order for child sexual abuse in school.

No members of the order in Ireland have been convicted of child sexual abuse or placed on the sex offenders register.

According to the Sunday Times, the allegations are made against 41 congregation members and 10 of the abuse claims relate to incidents which allegedly occurred in Africa and the UK.

RTE presenter says church is alive thanks to priests like Fr John Joe


Retiring RTE newsreader Eileen Dunne has said the church in Ireland is not dead and that’s thanks to priests like Fr John Joe Duffy.

Ms Dunne recently shocked viewers when she announced her retirement after four decades in the Montrose newsroom.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Irish Times, Dunne reflected on her life covering news events acros Ireland and the world in since the 1980s.

A practising Catholic, during her career with RTE she presented a weekly radio show, The God Slot.

Dunne said that although she was “shocked and disappointed” by the clerical sex abuse scandals, she says she is uncomfortable with the notion that the practise of religious faith has passed.

In fact, she points to Creeslough priest Fr John Joe Duffy who has been a rock for his parish since the tragedy of October 7th.

Dunne said “I kind of feel we are blaming priest for everything that ever happened and that is just not fair.

“I think that sometimes the media likes to pretend that the church is totally dead in this country. But it’s not. It’s not.

“Look at Fr John Joe (Duffy) up in Creeslough. I do think it is a more caring church and this pope is a more caring pope.

“There is a lot you couldn’t agree with about the church. I could have been born a Muslim in Islamabad or a Protestant in Belfast. I was born with the gift of faith: Catholicism is the means by which I express it.”

Buildings lit for Red Wednesday as report shows growth in persecution

 Buildings Turned Scarlet For Red Wednesday In Solidarity With Victims Of  Religious Persecution

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in Whitehall was among the public buildings lit in red on 23 November, as the UK marked the plight of persecuted Christians on Red Wednesday.

In Westminster Hall, MPs met the Bishop of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, whose Nigerian diocese includes St Francis Xavier’s Church where 41 worshippers were killed by Islamist militants during Pentecost Mass on 4 June this year.  

Bishop Arogundade asked the UK government to intervene on behalf of Nigerian Christians.

An Aid to the Church in Need petition, supported by 15 parliamentarians, has called on the government to act on this persecution.  A report published by the charity on 16 November, Persecuted and Forgotten? warned that evidence of violence towards Christians in Nigeria “clearly passes the threshold of genocide” and that the country “teeters on the brink of becoming a failed state”.

More than 7,600 Christians were killed in Nigeria between January 2021 and June 2022.  Globally, the report found that persecution of Christians had increased in three-quarters of the countries surveyed.

The Bishop of Clifton, Declan Lang, who chairs the international affairs department of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, welcomed the report.

“I encourage fellow Catholics to share this report with their local MP,” he said. “I also urge Catholics in England and Wales to join me in prayer for our sisters and brothers who have been affected by human rights abuses and for all those working for change.”

Marking Red Wednesday itself, Bishop Tom Neylon, an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Liverpool and the bishops’ conference’s lead on Asia, noted Pope Francis’s emphasis “that freedom of conscience and religious freedom are inseparably linked to our innate dignity” and “that this is not limited to freedom of worship alone, but the right of all to live in accordance with their religious convictions”.

In his pastoral letter for the first Sunday of Advent, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, cited the “daily threat” to Christians described in Persecuted and Forgotten?

“Their brave witness reminds us of what brings us together, Sunday by Sunday in the face of perhaps trivial difficulties and inconveniences,” he said, emphasising the importance of the sacraments at Advent.

“Remembering today those Christians who will begin Advent at personal risk and exposed to violence, may your example with its own quiet heroism help many to find in the Church Christ founded the sure road to everlasting happiness,” he told his diocese’s congregations.

Bishop challenges policies that led to 'avoidable tragedy' of migrant drownings

 Pray for those displaced by war, persecution and climate change, says Bishop  Paul McAleenan - The Catholic Network

A senior Catholic bishop has marked the “avoidable tragedy” of migrant deaths in the English Channel last year, challenging the policies and “unacceptable discourse” that rob them of their human dignity.

Offering prayers for at least 27 migrants who died in the Channel a year ago, Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead bishop for migrants and refugees for the bishops of England and Wales, said: “This avoidable tragedy challenges us to reflect on our collective responsibility for protecting refugees and migrants from life-threatening danger. As more of our brothers and sisters attempt to make this crossing in search of a better life, unacceptable discourse and policies continue to rob them of their human dignity.”

He said: “We pray for those who died on their journey to a hoped-for new life. We pray too for their families and all those forced from their homelands, and we recommit ourselves to the Holy Father’s plea to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate all those seeking a home in our communities.” More than 40,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats in 2022 so far.

The first anniversary of the worst maritime disaster in the Channel for 30 years on 24 November 2021 was marked by vigils on the south coast, organised by refugee support groups. All called for safer routes for refugees to come to Britain. Around 100 people gathered on the beach at Folkestone in an evening vigil where one participant said: “The horrible weather just made it even more moving and poignant.” Great sadness was expressed that the migrants died in the dinghy disaster while countries bickered over who was responsible for saving them. One participant wrote on Twitter: “Whether in the Channel, in detention centres, camps, on the street etc, people seeking safety are dying because they are ignored.” 

Phil Kerton of Seeking Sanctuary told The Tablet: “Ramsgate witnessed a similar event and flowers left on the Folkestone beach were later taken to Dover and laid at the memorial plaques for the dead near the ferry terminal.” 

Grieving relatives gathered in London’s Parliament Square on 24 November, holding photos and candles in the driving rain to remember their loved ones. Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, which organised the vigil, said the families are still waiting for answers on why their loved ones’ lives were not saved by the UK or French authorities. “They haven’t had the courtesy of a meeting or basic information of what happened,” she said.

The names of the dead were remembered at the start of last week in London, during the monthly lunch-time vigil outside the Home Office. And there is increasing concern as current diphtheria cases have risen to more than 50 among asylum seekers recently arrived in the UK. A migrant who died on 19 November after being held at Manston processing centre in Kent had contracted the disease. 

Last Sunday, Justice and Peace Scotland joined Ayrshire Hope Not Hate at Scotland’s only immigration detention centre, Dungavel, to witness peacefully against immigration detention and the hostile environment for refugees and asylum seekers. “As part of our witness we marked the first anniversary of the tragic deaths in the English Channel – with the names of each victim read out loud,” Frances Gallagher told The Tablet