Yet another prominent dissident Irish priest censured (Open Thread)

Wow this is quite a trend. From BBC News:

Media priest Fr Brian D’Arcy censured by Vatican

Fr Brian D'Arcy
Disciplined: Fr Brian D’Arcy

Father Brian D’Arcy, one of Ireland’s best known priests, has been censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican, according to the Tablet newspaper.

Fr D’Arcy, a broadcaster and newspaper columnist, is making no comment.

It is understood that his column is now run past a church censor, though none has been changed as a result.

The disciplining of Fr D’Arcy brings the number of Irish priests silenced by Rome to six.

The action against the priest was taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) last year after an anonymous complaint.

Fr D’Arcy has spoken out against mandatory celibacy for priests, church teaching on contraception and has been a vocal critic of the handling of clerical sexual abuse. In the wake of the Murphy Report into clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin Fr D’Arcy called for reformation of church structures and accused the Holy See of using legal procedures to shield itself from criticism over its handling of abuse.

The action came after Fr Ottaviano D’Egidio, the Passionist Superior General, was summoned by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the CDF, 14 months ago.

“Some time ago the CDF was in touch with our General about some of Brian’s views and since then Brian has been co-operating to ensure that he can continue to make a contribution to the religious journalism that he is involved in,” Fr Pat Duffy, the Irish provincial of the Passionists told the Tablet.

Five Day Traditional Retreat for Men in Donegal

From the Ards Friary Retreat Programme:

Sun 15th – Fri 20th July

Five Day Silent and Guided Retreat for Men

Guided by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Joseph.

These five-day retreats are a shortened form of the full Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The Exercises are a synthetic and practical presentation of the central truths of the Catholic faith—God, the meaning of life, the eternal destiny of mankind, the life of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race—in the form of meditations, examination of conscience and prayers, to find peace of heart, rid oneself of worldly attachments and discover the will of God for the salvation of the soul. On the purely practical level, the day consists of 4 or 5 talks given by one or other of the two priests who are guiding the retreat. After each talk there is time for private prayer, and then free time to converse with the priests. There is of course daily Mass and Rosary, as well as opportunity for Confession.

Daily Mass is generally offered according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Priest, retreatants, celebrate Mass privately according to the form of their choice.

Commences: 5:30pm
Concludes: 5:30pm
Cost: €285

Contact: Monks of St Joseph Abbey – Fax 00 333 80 96 25 29 or email

The Brandsma Review on modern Ireland

The Brandsma Review is a bimonthly Irish Catholic periodical that has been running since 1992. Peadar Laighléis, president of the Latin Mass Society of Ireland, took over as editor of the publication from Nick Lowry at the beginning of this year. The March-April edition should be out at the end of this month and can be purchased in Veritas on Lower Abbey Street in Dublin. The Review is always a stimulating read and is one of the few organs in Irish society articulating an orthodox Catholic perspective on all important aspects of social life.  It needs and deserves the support of every Irish Catholic interested in a renewal of the faith in Ireland.

Peadar sketched an outline of his editorial policy in this year’s January-February issue:

Like most Brandsma Review readers, I am sad to see Nick Lowry’s retirement, but whatever gifts Nick has, eternal youth is not one. As a result, the BR must either replace him or fold. I know Nick’s last editorial (as editor — he is not about to vanish from the Review) enumerated how far the situation in Ireland deteriorated since the first Brandsma in June-July 1992. It is because the situation has got worse that this magazine has to keep going.

I have been a reader of the Review since its first issue and a contributor since the fourth. I have been involved in the editorial team since 1997. This is the experience I am bringing to the BR. My editorial policy is very simply summarised in the masthead “Pro Vita, Pro Ecclesia Dei et Pro Hibernia”.

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Abortion Bill Protest

There will be a protest outside the Dail at 1.30 p.m. today (Thursday) in opposition to the pro-abortion Private Member’s Bill tabled by Socialist Party TD Clare Daly.

Even if you are not able to attend, please pray fervently for the defeat of this proposed legislation and all future attempts to legalize abortion.

Brilliant Collection of Old Irish Postcards

The Linen Hall Library in Belfast and the Belfast Telegraph have put up a fantastic collection of old Irish postcards from over 100 years ago. There are selections from almost every county in Ireland. If you want to see a postcard of a specific town, click on the Province in which it is located and then the county. Click on the covers of each postcard to expand them in full.

Another dissident Irish priest silenced

Following similar, recent treatment of Fr Tony Flannery, the Irish Independent reports that Ireland’s most prominent dissident moral theologian Fr Seán Fagan S.M. has now also been silenced:

The 84-year-old Marist priest was ordered to stop writing and commenting in public after he had called for an inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in all dioceses of the State.

All available copies of a theological book written by Fr Fagan were also bought up by his religious order and he was required to give an undertaking not to write again.

The move came after he had advocated allowing women and married men to be ordained as priests.

Read it all…

Notice how the Irish Independent reporter contradicts himself. He suggests that Fr Fagan is being silenced for calling for an inquiry into clerical sex abuse but later admits that this move has been prompted because of Fr Fagan’s advocacy of the ordination of women. Is this just another example of journalistic incompetence in religious reporting, or is the Irish Independent deliberately trying to mislead its readers over the motives behind this move?


My apologies to all for the delay in approving your comments. Unfortunately I cannot seem to access the WordPress dashboard on my home computer (my laptop is in repair). Extremely frustrating!

Standards in Sacred Music

The following letter by Fr Patrick J. Doyle, P.P. was published in The Furrow in April, 1953. Fr Doyle was parish priest of Naas, Co. Kildare, from 1938 until his death in 1962.

Dear Father Editor,

In the March number of The Furrow Sir Shane Leslie (see here – Shane) asks “why does Catholicism attract so few Irish Protestants?” He assures us that in England they are attracted by “the liturgy, music and beauty of Catholic services.” He expresses the opinion that “many Protestants could be drawn by real Church music, but what do they hear? Far less melody than their own hymns.” We cannot deny that the average of our Church music, apart from some outstanding exceptions, falls far short of what is desirable, even of what Church discipline requires. One cause is the lack of competent musicians with sufficient knowledge and training to know what, and how, to teach our choirs, and train them to adequate performances. There seems to be little hope of filling this educational lacuna, until a national School of Church Music subsidised by all our dioceses, similar to those of the Continental countries, has been established. Can Catholic Ireland not do what, for instance, half-Catholic Belgium has done? Even if competent choir directors were available, for many parishes there would still remain the financial problem of providing an adequate salary. Musicians cannot live on audible notes alone; the other species, palpable and expendable, is a grim necessity. This problem could be solved, partly by an appeal to the religious generosity of our people, explaining what the Church expects and deserves in the domain of music, insisting on the clear teaching of successive Popes in this matter; and partly, by having a regular quota of young priests from each diocese trained in the national School of Church Music, who would be thus equipped to take control of the choir, each in his own parish, and give fraternal advice and assistance to his fellow priests in his neighbourhood.

It is possible that Sir Shane, in his commendable zeal for reform, takes too depressing a view of the situation in Ireland (see Church Music in Ireland – Shane), though it is a healthy and honest reaction to face the worst in any plea for reform. He asks — “Do you ever hear Gregorian of Plain Chant in our parish Churches?” May I reply from my experience of the church I know best? I have just returned from the High Mass on St. Patrick’s Day in our parish church in Naas, Co. Kildare. The whole Mass, Proper and Common, was sung in Plain Chant by a choir of men and small boys. At the Offertory was sung a polyphonic motet — Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, by the 16th century Vittoria. At the conclusion of the Mass we had the rousing Maynooth Hymn to St. Patrick (1) — Dochas Linn Naomh Padraic, in a setting by Michael Van Dessel, the first verse being sung a capella, while the last is in unison with a massive organ accompaniment. At an earlier Mass a children’s choir had sung three-part polyphonic music with refreshing aplomb.

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Holy Week in Spain (1911)

Fr Michael James O’Doherty, then Rector of the Irish College of Salamanca (later Archbishop of Manila), wrote a fascinating series of articles on Spanish Catholicism and society in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record in 1911. Here is his report on Holy Week from April of that year:

Outside Oberammergau with its Passion Play, there is no place in the world where the story of Calvary is brought so vividly home to one as in the streets of the Spanish cities during the days of Holy Week. Spain is famous for its beautiful processions, and amongst them those of Holy Week easily hold the first place. For the subjects of a Protestant government, especially where the Catholic religion has been banned for centuries, it is difficult to form an idea of the magnificence of the public manifestations of an entire Catholic people, their importance in the religious life, or the enthusiasm evoked on the occasions of the great anniversaries.

During Holy Week in Spain many well-to-do country families change their residence to the cities, in order that they may take part in the more important religious functions which are held there; the poorer folk who live near a city pass the days or part of them in it, and the villagers in the remote districts celebrate their own ‘Holy Funeral’ in a less ostentatious manner.

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Vatican moves against dissent

From today’s Irish Times:

Vatican moves to quell internal dissenting voices


The Vatican has moved to suppress dissent in the Irish Catholic Church by clamping down on two well-known liberal Redemptorist priests as well as the congregation’s monthly magazine, Reality.

Restrictions have been placed on Fr Tony Flannery, a founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, whose monthly column in the magazine has been discontinued. A clampdown has also been imposed on the magazine itself and its editor, Fr Gerard Moloney, who, it is believed, is no longer allowed to write on certain issues. Neither priest would comment when contacted by The Irish Times yesterday.

Fr Flannery, a brother of senior Fine Gael adviser Frank Flannery, is well known around Ireland through retreats he has conducted in Galway, Limerick, Belfast and elsewhere.

Yesterday Pope Benedict delivered an unusually direct denunciation of dissenting priests and laity in a sermon at a Holy Thursday Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. Responding specifically to a call to disobedience by Austrian priests and laity on celibacy and women priests, he said they had challenged “definitive decisions of the church’s magisterium”.

Irish SSPX District says faithful should not attend ‘Motu Proprio Masses’

This is from this month’s newsletter (p. 6) of the SSPX in Ireland:

Motu Proprio Masses: One thing is to encourage priests to celebrate the true Mass, but it is another thing to encourage our faithful to attend such Masses. The reason being that in addition to the Traditional Liturgy, sound doctrine is also required, and this latter is called into question when a priest, albeit in good faith, accepts the doctrinal rectitude of the NOM in theory or in practice.

This development certainly does not augur well for the reconciliation process between the Vatican and the SSPX. While I love traditional liturgy, identifying the ‘true Mass’ so narrowly with the 1962 Roman Missal does seem suspicious, to say the least. (What would eastern Catholics make of that?) As for priests “accepting the doctrinal rectitude of the NOM”, I am no theologian but I do not see how it is possible for a Catholic to take any other view without repudiating (at least implicitly) the indefectibility of the Church. Is it even possible for the Church to promulgate heretical liturgical rites? And advising the faithful on which Masses they should and should not attend does seem needlessly paternalistic, and indeed offensive. Does Fr Paul Morgan genuinely fear ordinary Catholics will be corrupted by those dangerous modernist heretics like…errr…Fr Gerard Deighan or Fr Gabriel Burke?

Communism and Religion

Breaking News: Pope Benedict announces 3-stage plan for ‘gradual replacement’ of Novus Ordo

This is just shocking. Has the Vatican considered the resistance this will arouse? Many priests and laity will be outraged. Though the first change isn’t due for another year, I think the next few months will be very interesting. I wonder if it will provoke a schism?

If you’re interested in the details, you can read the full report here.

Holy Week: A Guide to the Ceremonies

I posted this pamphlet last year but I am re-posting it again for those attending the Holy Week ceremonies.

Fidel Castro: A Traditionalist?

This is from yesterday’s Washington Post:

After the Mass [in Havana] the pope met with Fidel Castro at the Vatican Embassy, where the ailing former leader quizzed Benedict about the changes in the Catholic liturgy since the long-ago days when Fidel was an altar boy, educated by Jesuits.

One assumes that Castro, now an atheist, has not been to a Mass since the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. He must have got some shock! Let this be a reminder of how important good liturgy really is in witnessing to non-Catholics and those raised in the faith but who have subsequently lapsed. Unfortunately that is something Benedict’s three predecessors never realized, with disastrous results. It is also the reason why the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin this year will be a failure, and why I would encourage you not to waste your money donating to it.

Article in the ‘Irish Times’ on new Irish traditional Benedictine monastery

This is from today’s Irish Times:

US order to open monastery in Meath

The former Visitation Sisters' convent at Stamullen, Co Meath, which is to house the new monastery.The former Visitation Sisters’ convent at Stamullen, Co Meath, which is to house the new monastery.Photograph: Picasa

SET IN spacious grounds overlooking the Irish Sea, a new monastery will be home to a community of 10 Benedictine monks and four candidates who are considering a monastic life.

For hundreds of years, Ireland sent missionary priests and monks all over the world. Partly in a gesture of gratitude for the thousands of religious people who went to America, a US community of Benedictine monks from Tulsa, Oklahoma, are establishing the new monastery in Co Meath.

Run by American religious of Irish ancestry, the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle will be based at the former Visitation Sisters’ House in Stamullen, Co Meath. It is set to open in the coming weeks.

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Centenary of the Church in New Zealand: Letters of the Bishop of Auckland to Cardinal MacRory and Éamon de Valera (27th April, 1938)

NB: See also Centenary of the Church in New Zealand: Irish Hierarchy’s Letter of Felicitations (1937)

Your Eminence,

Our Centenary celebrations have come and gone, leaving us with the happiest memories and a lively sense of God’s blessing over them all. Bishops, priests and people alike feel that the presence of his Grace of Tuam, representing our Mother Church, and the gracious inspiring letter of the Hierarchy of Ireland gave our commemoration of thanksgiving a spiritual quality and significance all its own.

The letter, read from the Cathedral pulpit on the opening day, Sunday, February 27, was heard over the radio by all Catholic New Zealand, and a large part of non-Catholic New Zealand, and gave us all deep joy.

His Grace walked right into our hearts, and everywhere his presence and his words made us understand more than ever the privilege and greatness of our Irish inheritance. In the name of us all, New Zealanders and visitors alike, I offer, with a full heart, thanks to Your Eminence, and through you, to the Archbishops and Bishops for the joy and inspiration you have given us on this occasion.

I sent copies of our Zealandia Centenary issues to all the Bishops, and his Grace promised to give his impressions of his visit here.

Our own Catholic people entered into the celebrations with enthusiastic fervour, and non-Catholics were cordial and respectful to a degree. The daily Press was excellent in every way. We feel that as God blessed our Centenary so richly he must have some special purpose in it for us and our country.

Renewing our heart’s gratitude to Your Eminence, the Archbishops and Bishops,

I am with deep respect to Your Eminence,

Yours Sincerely in Christ,

Bishop of Auckland.


Dear Sir,

I wish to thank you from my heart in the name of all who took part in our Centenary celebrations for the message of greeting to us from yourself and the Government and people of Ireland. The message was received with joy and enthusiasm at our first public gathering of 6,000 people, and was read next day with delight throughout New Zealand.

Along with the letter from the Irish Bishops and the presence of their representative, his Grace the Archbishop of Tuam, your own letter renewed in our hearts the sense of our immense debt, past and present, in things spiritual and temporal, to Mother Ireland. We pray that we may not be unworthy of all that we have received.

I feel that you will be interested to know that the celebrations were notable for the fervour of our Catholic people, and the cordial good feeling of our non-Catholic fellow citizens.

The Archbishop and Bishops of New Zealand, along with our priests and people, join me in this expression of our heart’s gratitude to yourself and through you to the Government and people of Ireland.

Believe me, with deep respect and regard,

Yours Sincerely,

Bishop of Auckland.

The Guile of the Communists

Christian Worship: The Teaching of Pope Pius XII on the Sacred Liturgy

What is Sin?

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin welcomes secularization of Irish society

This is simply unbelievable. In his address yesterday to the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association Conference, the Archbishop of Dublin spoke positively about the decline in Catholic influence over Irish society:

The change in Irish society and the change in the life of the Church in Ireland are linked together. There is a growing secularisation in Irish society.  This is not entirely a bad thing, if we understand the complex phenomenon called secularisation correctly.  Very few of us would wish to return completely to the type of society many of us grew up in, where the Church dominated so much of Irish culture, and where the bishops and the clergy dominated the Church. Irish society and the Church in Ireland have changed and it must be said that the change has in great part been good. (emphasis mine)

Shamefully His Grace also takes it upon himself to impugn the faith and piety of past generations:

What I wish to affirm is the fact that in many ways our older culture was not always one which in the long term really strengthened the Church.  We may have thought that it did.  In many ways we felt that the strength of the Irish Church was in its numbers.  But those numbers at times hid a faith and a commitment that was not as strong as many had imagined.  They hid the fact that the faith was not being nourished sufficiently. They hid the fact that the faith was not being nourished in the best possible way to address the changing culture.

This is not only scandalous, it is also arguably sacrilegious. Who the hell does Archbishop Diarmuid Martin think he is to set himself up as a judge over the religious sincerity of our faithful forebears? I am outraged at this sickening arrogance! He would be lucky indeed to witness again the immense popular devotion and packed churches (that long-forgotten spectacle!) presided over by his predecessors.

His Grace returns to his pet theme of hope, confusing his sentimental and exaggerated optimism with the eponymous theological virtue. Yet again he also singles out traditionalist and conservative Catholics for criticism, repeating almost word-for-word his previous comments at Mater Dei:

 I am not an advocate of unnecessary pessimism about the future of the Church.  Only last week I was speaking about the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and I reminded my listeners of one of my favourite homilies, that given by Pope John XXIII on that occasion on 11th October 1962.

Pope John’s first words to the Vatican Council at the beginning of his homily were Gaudet Mater Ecclesia:  Our Mother the Church rejoices.   Polarisation in the Church can and has led to a loss of the sense of joy which should be a mark of the community of believers.  Reformers and traditionalist alike can all too often be men and women with a mission, but also men and women with gloomy and stern faces. Polarisation leads to a lack of common purpose. The Church at all times has reason to rejoice.  Jesus loves his Church and will be with his Church.  The Church’s agenda is driven by Jesus and it is from his fidelity to the Church that we draw hope.

[...] There have always at the same time been reasons of hope and reasons of concern in the Irish Church.  It will always be so.  We have to prove wrong the doomsayers both inside and outside the Church, both conservatives and traditionalists.  Gaudet Mater Ecclesia: gloom about the Church and its future – from whatever side – is most often a sign of a faith that is weak.

With bishops like this, who needs atheists?

Four vocations for new Irish traditional monastery

Dom Mark Kirby OSB posted the following letter from David Craig on his blog:

Dear Friends of Vultus Christi and of Father Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B.,

Saint Patrick, all the great Irish saints, the thousands of contemplative monks of ancient Ireland, and the tens-of-thousands of Irish missionary priests and religious who left Ireland must be well pleased today, Saint Patrick’s Day. They know a new monastery under the Rule of Saint Benedict has begun this month at Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. And, the founding is by a small group of Americans! Love is being returned to Ireland. My name is David Craig and I am writing to ask you to financially help this new priory and new community.

In addition to publishing the popular Catholic blog, Vultus Christi, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby has brought his monastic vision to Ireland: a life of liturgical prayer, adoration, reparation, and intercession for priests. In continuity with the age-old Benedictine tradition of hospitality, the new monastery will welcome priests in search of silence and spiritual refreshment for days of recollection and retreats.

Just prior to the his move from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Stamullen, Co, Meath, Ireland, I spent two days with Father Prior Dom Mark at his former monastery in Tulsa. I have volunteered to take an unpaid position to help find supporters for this new monastery. Dom Mark needs our support for this vital work of adoration, reparation, and intercession for all priests, but especially for those wounded in spiritual combat or tempted to lose hope.

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The Passion II: Thoughts for Lent

Archbishop McQuaid on Higher Education for Catholics

See also: Archbishop McQuaid on Catholic Education: its function and scope

Apostolic Visitation to Ireland: The Blind Leading the Blind

Regarding the just released summary report of the Apostolic Visitation I’ve basically said all I wanted to say here at Rorate Caeli.  How on earth can these churchmen be so blind?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Communism and the Home

See also: Communism from the Inside

The Plight of Latin

click above to expand and read in full (pdf)


I would like to acknowledge with immense appreciation a bundle of old Catholic pamphlets which Kieron Wood kindly sent to me. I will scan them in over the next few days: the first one will be an excellent pamphlet of his own from 1992 entitled The Plight of Latin, the last one will be on Catholic Schools (1974) by Cardinal Conway.

These old pamphlets are of incalculable importance, for both their religious and historical character.

The Dialogue Mass in Ireland: Letter of Fr. Clifford Howell, S.J. to Alfred O’Rahilly (1953)

The following letter was sent by the noted liturgical scholar Fr. Clifford Howell, S.J. to Irish Catholic academic (later Monsignor) Alfred O’Rahilly, then recently retired president of University College Cork. It is dated 22nd December, 1953.

Dear Professor O’Rahilly,

Many thanks for your letter. That is good news indeed, that the Archbishop of Dublin has given permission for the dialogue Mass. And I hope very much that His Lordship of Cork will follow suit in due course.

It occurs to me to add a few points that might be of use to you later on. (It would be too precipitate to attempt them at once.) The real value of dialogue Mass is that it restores externally to Mass that social nature which is intrinsic to it but which, with the present Low Mass liturgy, has been totally obscured. De facto the Mass is the sacrifice of all; in appearance it is a one-man show. But when the liturgy was devised, before the accidents of history had petrified it, the Mass was in appearance also a social sacrifice. Moreover its social nature was visible according to the intrinsic nature of the sacrificing community which is hierarchic. The community consists of members of different rank: priest, deacon, subdeacon, acolytes, schola, people. In High Mass all these still have different and mutually subordinated functions (though the matter has become obscured by the priest doubling-up on jobs which are not his — for he now recites what the choir sings, what the deacon announces, etc. etc.) The goal in dialogue Mass is, I maintain, the restoration of this social and hierarchic form by differentiation of functions within the community. And at the same time to make it intelligible so as to give to the worshipping community the spiritual riches which the liturgy enshrines.

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Dublin Institute of Catholic Sociology: ‘Red Week’, January 1st-4th, 1963

click above to expand and read in full (pdf)

See also: Dublin Institute of Catholic Sociology: Manual of Social Ethics; 1956

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Refers to this Blog

At the Irish Bishops’ Media Briefing on 7th March His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin was asked by a reporter:

And in the week that’s coming up to St. Patrick’s Day, what is your response to the American-Irish media’s description of you as the greatest living Irishman?

He responded:

Well, I can go to two other blogs, one which said that the Archbishop of Dublin has gone mad*, because of the article I wrote in, I gave to Mater Dei, and the other one (this refers to The Heeler’s Diaries – Shane) which regularly says that I’m actually, along with my brother, a spy for the former Soviet Union. So I take all these blogs very seriously.

*This refers to this post: Has Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gone bonkers?

You can listen to the whole interview here. Go to Part 2, and fast forward to 16.13.

Nice to know that the Archbishop is a reader of Lux Occulta!

Do keep it up Your Grace, it’ll do you the world of good!

Perfect Contrition

See also: How to Make an Act of Perfect Contrition

Abuse scandals: Is the Irish medical profession next?

From the Irish Independent:

Scale of sexual abuse by medical practitioners worse than Catholic Church scandals – claims

THE SCALE of sexual abuse by medical practitioners against patients could be far worse than scandals that rocked the Catholic Church, it was claimed today.

Dignity4Patients, which is supporting more than 250 alleged victims, has demanded a state inquiry into the abuse of patients after allegations were made against male and female consultants, doctors and nurses from all over the country.

Bernadette Sullivan, executive director, warned medics are able to abuse more than other professions, with most privately seeing a new patient every 10 to 15 minutes.

“The scale of numbers a doctor can abuse as compared to a priest are huge,” said the former nurse-turned-whistleblower.

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Bishop Michael Browne on War Sacrifice

The following letter from the Most. Rev. Michael Browne was read out in all the churches of the dioceses of Galway, Kilmacduagh, and Kilfenora on 13th Dececmber, 1942:

My Dearly Beloved in Christ,

The pressing needs of the existing situation urge me to address you on the duties of Catholics in the present crisis.

‘Though shalt love thy neighbour’ is, next to the love of God, the greatest commandment of our religion. It binds us to help all men, but in a special and particular way it binds us to love those of our nation. With them we form one family, one community. At all times it is a duty of conscience for every Christian to co-operate with his fellow-countrymen in promoting the peace, welfare and security of their common fatherland.
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Heart of St Laurence O’Toole stolen

From RTÉ News:

Relic of St Laurence O’Toole stolen

The 12th Century preserved heart of the Patron Saint of Dublin, Saint Laurence O’Toole, has been stolen from Christ Church Cathedral.

His heart was preserved since the 13th century and has been a major pilgrimage site

His heart was preserved since the 13th century and has been a major pilgrimage site

The Cathedral was opened at 9.30am, to no alarm activation and no sign of any break-in.

The heart was believed to be stolen between last night and noon today.

The Heart of St Laurence O’Toole was kept in a wooden heart shaped container sealed within a small iron barred box.

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While Catholicism dies in the West, Orthodoxy is flourishing in Russia

Catholicism in western Europe seems to be on its last legs but Orthodoxy is enjoying a ‘colossal’ revival in Russia.

I seen this encouraging news today on Voices from Russia:

Russians are Becoming “More Orthodox”

According to a poll taken by the all-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), over the past 16 years, the proportion of Russians attending services increased from 57 percent to 71 percent. VTsIOM said that the results indicate that 7 percent attend services at least once a month, 30 percent attend occasionally, and 34 percent go sporadically. The number of those who never attend services fell from 42 percent to 26 percent. Amongst those baptised Orthodox, the proportion of those who attend services is 83 percent. At the same time, 11 percent of unbelievers said that they occasionally went to church. According to VTsIOM, 33 percent of respondents received charitable aid at one time or another, whilst 29 percent donated money to the church. VTsIOM took the poll on 18-19 February 2012; they interviewed 1,600 people in 138 locations in 46 Russian oblasts and republics.

1 March 2012

Please vote in this poll!

The Irish Government confirmed this week that the EU Fiscal Stability Pact will be put to a referendum. I would be very interested in the opinions of my readers on the Pact (or on the EU generally) and how you intend to vote. Has the EU become a threat to Irish sovereignty and independence? Or is closer fiscal integration necessary to stem the debt crisis?

Bishop John Brenan’s Report to Propaganda (1675)

The following report was sent by Dr. John Brenan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore (later Archbishop of Cashel) to Mgr. Urbano Cerri, Secretary of Propaganda. It is dated Waterford, 20th September, 1675.

In the year 1672 I forwarded to the Sacred Congregation a detailed report on the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, and, since then, I have not failed to send from time to time an account of other matters, as well, to the Internuncio, as to the Secretary, and having held and completed Visitation of the two dioceses during the past Summer I resolved to send to headquarters an account of any matters of importance.

In the united Diocese of Waterford and Lismore there are thirty secular priests, all engaged in the care of souls. Notwithstanding that the Protestant clergy hold all the churches and their revenues, the titular possession of the parishes is distributed among the Catholic clergy, some receiving the charge of one parish, others two or more, each one attending to his own assigned district and not interfering with the rest. The greater part of these have studied in foreign parts and are sufficiently competent. Some of them preach, others give exhortations, and all at least teach the Catechism. There are some who have never been abroad; these are the weakest, but for the most part they are zealous and lead a virtuous life, as, indeed, do all the rest.

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Bishop Daniel Cohalan and the Nazi Legation

 Bishop Daniel Cohalan

From The Irish Times,  27th February, 1939:

The German legation in Dublin in 1939 was irritated by Catholic bishops’ criticisms of Nazism and was probably not amused either by the Lord Mayor of Cork’s refusal to welcome the crew of a German naval ship because of German criticisms of the recently deceased Pope Pius XI 

WHILE ONE hundred men from the German naval cadet training vessel Schlesien were at Mass at St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cove , yesterday, the Bishop of Cork (Dr. Cohalan) announced his support for the action of the Lord Mayor of Cork (Councillor James Hickey, T. D.) in refusing to welcome the officers and crew.

Dr. Cohalan, speaking to the Cork Catholic Young Men’s Society, said: “I congratulate the Lord Mayor, and thank him.”

The Lord Mayor said his refusal was because of “the insult given to the Catholic world on the death of the Pope, when the responsible German Press termed our Holy Father a political adventurer.”

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The Forest and the National Life

Note: This is the text of a lecture delivered in the O’Connell Hall, Dublin, on 1st December, 1937, under the auspices of An Rioghacht (lit. ‘The Kingdom’) or the League of the Kingship of Christ, founded by Fr Edward Cahill S.J. in 1926.

Some Reminiscences and Thoughts of a ‘Dub’

Fr Coyle with his father, John, his mother, Mary and his brother, Paddy, on his ordination day, 20 December 1967 in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin.

I am immensely grateful to Fr Seán Coyle for these fascinating reminiscences: (Make sure also to check out his reminscences of the 1961 Patrician Congress/Vatican II and Liturgical Reform in the Church in Ireland)

These memories and thoughts represent only one man. Others who grew up with and went to school with me, or who are my confreres in the Society of St Columban, may recall the same or similar events and interpret them in a very different way. I thank Shane for asking me the questions that led me to put these recollections on virtual paper and for putting my answers together. I’ve done a little editing on his collated version. To my surprise, this edited document is a little longer than what Shane sent. I am wryly amused at the fact that a young historian finds my recollections of interest.I feel a bit like ‘The Oldest Member’ in PG Wodehouse’s golfing stories. But I am also inspired by the fact that I have been in a position for some years now of being able to speak to young men from the Philippines and from Fiji starting off their formation in preparing to be Columban priests about our founders and early members. It is truly a grace to have known these pioneering missionaries to some degree.

I was born in 1943 and grew up in a working-class environment in what is now considered inner city Dublin though it wasn’t then, but it was one where for many of us, though not for all, the future was hopeful. The majority of my contemporaries in O’Connell Schools belonged, I would say, to the first generation in our families to have a secondary education. Nearly all of us in my section who did the Leaving Cert in 1961 stayed in Ireland and did well professionally. I had a sense of being privileged in having a chance to go to secondary school. I think that most of my classmates probably had a similar sense of being privileged. My parents were largely responsible for my educational opportunities.

1950s Ireland was not as insular as many say it was. As a child I was aware from listening to Radio Éireann and reading The Irish Press of much of what was happening in the rest of the world, including the trials of Cardinal Mindszenty, of then Archbishop Stepinac, later Cardinal and now Blessed, of the Korean War, of US presidential elections, etc. My teacher in Fourth Class in O’Connell’s School, John Galligan, encouraged us to read the newspapers beyond the sports pages and we sometimes discussed the news in class. I also got a good grounding in geography in primary school

The Korean War was also widely reported and ‘the 38th parallel’ became embedded in my young mind.

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The Vatican Council and You (1962)

A Council Father on the Legacy of Vatican II

The late Archbishop Thomas Morris, emeritus of Cashel and Emly, was interviewed in 1992 by RTÉ’s religious affairs correspondent, Kieron Wood. Many thanks to Kieron for allowing me to repost the text of the interview:

I’d been a Bishop for two years at the start of the Council. I’d been teaching dogmatic theology and it depended at that time on consulting the authorities, what former Councils had decided. But I was quite insular in my outlook on the Church and my theology. I didn’t know what sort of issues were likely to come up in Rome. In any case the issues didn’t come up that one would have expected.

It wasn’t until we came to the schema on the Church that the newer thinking became apparent– thinking that we weren’t familiar with. I only vaguely guessed at the combination of the North European bishops. I’d heard of a pastoral issued by the bishops of Holland; the late Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin told me about it; he would have regarded it as too advanced, unorthodox. But I didn’t know about the cleavages within the theology schools.

We got the drafts of the various schemata beforehand. They were labelled sub secreto, so that I didn’t even show them to my secretary. I found of course that drafts had been circulated to an awful lot of people besides!

I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aimed at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council statements as tentative and liable to be reformed.

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Historical Scrapbooks on Vatican II: Another Reminder

Every few weeks or so I email a new scrapbook concerning the Vatican II and/or liturgical changes in the Church in Ireland to those on my mailing list who have previously expressed their interest in receiving them. If you haven’t already subscribed and would like to receive these scrapbooks via email you are welcome to do so by emailing me at (replace ‘at’ with @)

The Holy Year

Bishop Boethius Roe Mac Egan’s Account of the State of the Diocese of Elphin (3rd January, 1637)

The town of Elphin is totally possessed by English and Scottish Protestants among whom no Catholic is permitted to live or remain: scattered throughout the rural areas of the entire diocese live both Catholics and Protestants, with the Catholics in greater number. In all things we proceed, (to the extent that the difficulties of the times allow) according to the norms and prescriptions of the Council of Trent. At this time, besides several other priests, we have (praise be to God) forty-two priests in our Diocese, in which, before our promotion to the same, there were only thirteen parish priests. Our diocesan and provincial statutes, recently confirmed by the Apostolic See we cause (with the aid of the Almighty) most strictly to be observed by our priests. For fear of the Protestants we do not dare to convene all our priests together in a synod (as the canons prescribe) but year by year in a solitary place we convene in an almost synodal fashion the priests of a deanery and at that place we perform a visitation according to the exigency of the law, since indeed this our Diocese was anciently divided into seven small deaneries. Each parish priest teaches Chrisian doctrine to his parishioners at least on Sundays in secret and wooded places; there he celebrates Mass sustained only by the alms of faithful Catholics without any income coming from any ecclesiastical property, just as we ourselves are sustained and fed by the devotion alone of Catholics and by participation in the alms of our priests without any Ecclesiastical revenue, sustaining (praise be to God) the burden and anxiety of the time and fleeing from house to house and from mountains into woods following the footsteps of our Saviour, led by his Spirit, not having here a permanent residence where we could recline our head.

Whence it seems very expedient (if it shall seem so to His Holiness) that in future while the schism lasts in this afflicted kingdom nobody should be promoted to the episcopal state unless having been found by witnesses, worthy of credit, to have good and intimate secular friends and relations able to sustain, favour and feed him, otherwise certainly, unless miracles are permitted, the Episcopal state will cheapen and be despised in these lands. Because now to all the Catholics of this desolate Kingdom a mortal danger of complete supplantation of both secular and spiritual goods threatens (unless our compassionate and merciful Lord should swiftly succour our poor people). Since indeed the Protestant Primates of this kingdom in this present time have issued certain canons (as they call them) entirely destructive of our religion (if the Almighty permits this) in which it is strictly warned that all the inhabitants of this kingdom under pain of maximum punishment should acknowledge and accept our most serene king [Charles I - Shane] as Supreme Head in Spiritual and Temporal matters in all his dominions and it is warned also and has been proclaimed that all young people and schoolchildren of whatever age should be instructed and educated by Protestant schoolteachers and that all the inhabitants (which let God avert) of this miserable land should enter the protestant churches every Sunday, and those who contract marriage in the presence of a Catholic priest are forced to pay at least one mark and similarly those who give infants to be baptised by our parish priests; and that none in future can be buried in the tombs of their ancestors lying in Monasteries, in which practically all the tombs of this nation lie, and only very few in the parish churches, on account of the constant and singular devotion of the people and of the nobles of our nation towards the regular orders. These and many other portents of the same ilk which I omit to mention in the interests of brevity but I should add one other canon in which it is ordered that our tender youth should all be brought to the Protestant pseudo-bishops to be confirmed, which up to now we never knew to be done or ordered to be. Furthermore that all should acknowledge the legitimate power of conferring sacred orders which they themselves see in the same pseudo-bishops. In both cases our Catholics suffer and will suffer a great deal.
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Irish ‘Catholic Voices’ is established

From the Catholic Herald:

By ED WEST on Friday, 17 February 2012

An Irish equivalent to the lay group Catholic Voices has been established.

Catholic Comment, like its British equivalent, has been formed to prepare a team of lay people to speak about the Catholic faith in the media. It is currently looking for potential speakers, and those selected will be offered media training and briefings on topical issues as they prepare for TV and radio appearances.

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Irish Hierarchy’s Statement on Dancing (1925)

The Irish hierarchy issued the following statement in 1925 at their October meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth:

We have a word of entreaty, advice and instruction, to speak to our flocks on a very grave subject. There is danger of losing the name which the chivalrous honour of Irish boys and the Christian reserve of Irish maidens had won for Ireland. If our people part with the character that gave rise to that name, we lose with it much of our national strength, and still more of the high rank we have held in the Kingdom of Christ.

Purity is strength, and purity and faith go together. Both virtues are in danger these times, but purity is more directly assailed than faith. The danger comes from pictures and papers and drink. It comes more from the keeping of improper company than from any other cause; and there is no worse fomenter of this great evil than the dancing hall.
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A Changed Church

From the Irish Catholic Directory, 1969:

JULY 11 — Cardinal Conway said that there has been “a very marked change in the Church in Ireland.”

At a news conference in Dublin Airport, on his return from the European bishops’ conference in Chur, Switzerland, he recalled his earlier reference in Chur to his impression (from talking with other bishops) that “there has been a swing toward change in the Church since the Vatican Ecumenical Council.”

However, the change in Ireland had been at a steady pace, with the result that people might not notice it.

He illustrated his contention: “If you could switch a time machine to the year before the Vatican Council, I think you would be startled at the change that has come over the Church here since that time.”

And there were many reasons for this, including the fact that in several dioceses there was a Council of Priests. They met regularly and discussed matters of Diocesan policy with the bishop. This was a very important change.

In addition, Parish Councils were coming into being, sprouting up all over the country. The changes in the Liturgy had had a profound effect, and the methods of teaching religion in the schools had been revolutionised. All of these things, he explained, had produced a change — and, of course, a change for the good.

See also his speech at the annual prize-giving in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (19th June, 1966).


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