Posts Tagged ‘conscience’

My brother’s death

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

My brother hanged himself this day last month, on 23 March 2015. He was 60.

He took his own life four weeks to the day after I buried my mother.

It’s a lot to take in. I haven’t had asthma for 15 years, but I have it again. Doubtless, stress-related. Grief-related. Struggling for breath as my brother did this day last month.

It’s hard to know what to say. And yet writing is therapy. A poultice. Get it out. Express. Like struggling breath.

David was gay. He had a miserable time at home. And a miserable time in Ireland.

He wanted no prayers at his funeral. He told me so 26 years ago, just after I had left my priestly path. And he told his life partner the very same thing within the last two years.

Ireland was a cold place for gay men. Let us hope that Irishmen and Irishwomen will declare to the world for once and for all in the forthcoming referendum that gay and lesbian people are equal citizens. Let us hope that the fairness and justice of the Irish conscience will triumph over those who seek to muddy the waters.

Those hideous posters that shift the debate from equality – which is what the referendum is about – to canards.

Why is it that people of religious faith so often seek to impose their rules on others who choose not to be of their faith? Who would have gay men and women believe that there is something sick with them. It is the religious mentality that seeks to impose itself on others that is sick.

Why do they not protest to their god whom they claim is in charge of the universe – omnipotent, omnipresent, all powerful – and yet he does nothing about the children who are left orphaned by parents who die. Why don’t religious folk raise their banners and posters against their god found so wanting in compassion for his creatures? And why, instead, take out their unjust ire on minorities like gay and lesbian human beings? Why don’t they protest to their gods and deities, and their priests, about the so-called all-loving god who supposedly wants the little children to come onto him ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ when he inflicts cancers and illnesses upon those whom he supposedly created with love?

But rather than confront their manmade god, they seek to say onto their fellow human beings that equality is not for all. I beg you all: vote Yes for marriage equality.

And for those who seek to deny men like my brother the right to marry in Ireland I say: Shame on you! Be just to all. And be humble. Save your moralizing for your own conscience. Vote Yes!

Censoring priests and the Vatican’s breach of UN Declaration of Human Rights

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Does it not bother Catholics that what they hear from their priests and bishops isn’t necessarily what those selfsame clerics actually think or believe themselves? Or that those who mouth the Vatican line might have more akin to parrots than pastors?

Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights enshrines self-expression as a fundamental human right: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

Does it bother you that well-known and unknown Irish Roman Catholic priests, are, as we speak, denied that fundamental human right by the Vatican?

If it is true that books have been bought and pulped on the instruction of the Vatican, does that not unnerve anyone? Can anyone think of other regimes that burned books and suppressed ideas?

The trite argument that priests signed up to a body of belief and that they can’t pick and choose is simplistic and silly. For instance, the tradition of a married priesthood has a longer tradition within the Roman Catholic Church than that of compulsory celibacy. The ‘you-can’t-pick-and-choose’ brigade might remember that when they cling limpet-like to the Vatican’s current stance.

Does anyone really want their priests to be unthinking indoctrinated automatons who have abandoned their intelligence and critical faculties to become mindless minions of the Vatican?

There are those who argue that priests who can’t swallow the Vatican’s current dictates should simply leave. Simply? What of a man who has spent his entire adult life as a priest? A man who is entirely financially dependent upon the Church, without whose priesthood he has no job, no professional identity and no wife or children to go home to?

Besides, why should thinking Catholic priests allow the current Vatican clique to usurp onto themselves the mantle of Catholicism? The Vatican manifestly breaches the Church’s own teaching on conscience. Thomas Aquinas was clear that one must always follow one’s conscience even when it means disobeying the pope. The current repressive, censoring, anti-free speech, anti-discussion Vatican regime has little in common with the openness engendered by Pope John XXIII or the vision of the the Second Vatican Council.

Given that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, are we to stand idly by while the Vatican violates that basic human right through its censoring and silencing of fellow Irish citizens?

Hitler, Stalin and Mao burned books and silenced dissent. Chilly company, Benedict.

Cardinal Brady’s position untenable

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

It was fun on the streets of Kells, county Meath, this afternoon. I never saw so many people dressed as leprechauns in my life! The weather was mild. It didn’t rain. There was a happy, relaxed atmosphere. A pleasant way to spend an hour with young families. There were tractors aplenty – this is a world away from the Dublin parade, with its cultural themes. Here in Kells were presented all life, all clubs, all activities; and, of course, some commercial advertisements too. There was the swimming club, the scouts, the tennis club, the GAA clubs, the soccer club, the brass band, the Moynalty cycling club. I think I saw a grind school. There was the Cookstown dogs’ and cats’ kennels. St Patrick (a live one!) was held aloft on the front of  – what else but a tractor. There was a leprechaun cheili group. And well drilling vehicles. Old Beatles and a Cortina. Last year there was the actual car used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

You meet people. You have a chat. You shout a greeting as someone you know in the passing parade. You buy ice creams. And within the hour you drift home or head off somewhere to drown the shamrock.

Meanwhile, I’ve checked a press release from the Catholic Communications Office of yesterday 16 March regarding Cardinal Brady which said:

‘Fr Brady was then a full-time teacher at St Patrick’s College, Cavan.  Because he held a doctorate in Canon Law, Fr Brady was asked to conduct this canonical enquiry; however he had no decision-making powers regarding the outcome of the enquiry.  Bishop McKiernan held this responsibility.’

I find that ‘no decision-making powers’ a striking phrase. Every responsible adult human being has decision-making powers. As the Catholic Church itself teaches, we must always follow our conscience. We must always follow our honest judgment. Indeed it is Church teaching that we must follow our conscience even if the pope orders us to do something against our conscience. Or if a process denies us a decision-making role. As a human being, we always have a decision-making power and we must always act in accordance with our conscience.

The press release continues:

‘At the end of both interviews, the boys were asked to confirm by oath the truthfulness of their statements and that they would preserve the confidentiality of the interview process. The intention of this oath was to avoid potential collusion in the gathering of the inquiry’s evidence and to ensure that the process was robust enough to withstand challenge by the perpetrator, Fr Brendan Smyth.’

Could the church not be honest enough to admit that the purpose of such an oath might also be to avoid scandal? Thank God that in the secular world justice is done and is seen to be done in public. Such secrecy led to the concealment of crimes against children and to perpetrators of child abuse, including the rape of children, being able to continue with their crimes.

If an individual has no decision-making powers regarding the outcome of an inquiry, he or she retains the human decision-making power to report a crime to the police, and so help prevent further crimes against children.

In my view, the Cardinal’s position is untenable. We need a situation in the Catholic Church where there is no place to hide for child abusers and where each and every allegation of child abuse must be reported immediately to the police, who are the sole organs for the investigation of alleged crimes.