Posts Tagged ‘Kells’

It’s a wonderful life

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

I began watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ each Christmas a few years ago. It gets to me every time. This year, I cried seven times during it – maybe because of recent high profile suicides. It’s a magnificent celebration of the wonder of life, to be grasped even in the midst of trials and terrors. Although an unbeliever – and possibly even more so on that account – the carefully crafted frame of the story, begun from the perspective of imagined celestial beings that look on us from an alternative viewpoint, and the opening line that the hero isn’t ‘sick’ but, ‘worse than that – he’s discouraged’ sets the tone and vantage point of the psycho-spiritual purpose of the movie: our need for hope against discouragement.
The person on the brink of suicide might find it difficult to bring to mind the positive things they have done in life, and yet that is the tack taken by the ‘angel’ who, charmingly, wants to earn his wings. And so, at the hero’s moment of despair, he is led to people and places familiar to him and he realized that he has not been all bad. Far from it. Yes, he shouted at his kids and crashed his car and money went missing from his workplace during his watch and yes he faced jail and public shaming yet, after his journey with his ‘guardian angel’ he realizes that that is not the sum total of his life. He has done good. And life is to be embraced and rejoiced in, even in the midst of trial and tribulation.
Today, the Meath Hunt gathered in Kells, county Meath, Ireland. It lashed rain but it was a magnificent event: colourful, powerful, energetic, exciting. Riders on their steeds quaffed hot mulled wine while their hounds got friendly with the crowd. I petted two fine hounds and then, after the bugle blew, I and my daughter headed off following them, along with scores of other cars. Kells was a vortex of excitement and smiles, as tourists and locals and horsey people and blow-ins like me savoured the atmosphere. And I felt just like George Bailey, hero of It’s a Wonderful Life, appreciating the moment and thrill of it all.
Before any of us were born, the world spun on its axis and the world knew nought of our non-existence. After our short span is done, the earth will go on spinning without us. Right now, we are alive! Life is wonderful. Relish it, savour it, live each moment to the full.

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.