07Feb Thinking outside the Confessional Box

Stan Mellett calls for a little thinking 'outside the box' when it comes to celebrating God's mercy and forgiveness.
"How are we to celebrate the mystery and miracle of our forgiveness?" Stan argues that in the past we got it wrong. "God was a hard taskmaster; grudgingly would forgive but all the conditions had to be met. What a travesty of the Gospel! What an abuse of Church authority!"
"Any hope that the faithful and the unfaithful will once again wait in queue to whisper their ‘sins’ in a box, behind a curtain or in a private encounter, is, I think, remote."
"Why hesitate to celebrate forgiveness for congregations in one liturgical celebration? "

05Feb Sharing an intimate act of love

Chris McDonnell suggests that the Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday is in danger of being seen as "seen as a liturgical dumb show with little meaning other than a mimed re-enactment of the gospel of John."
"...we shouldn’t regard the Washing of Feet as an action related only to the liturgy of Holy Thursday, but rather as an action that can and should be shared on other occasions of prayer.......... The Washing of Feet is an action of gentle kindness, an act of service and an intimate act of love .....We shape communities not by being the audience at events but by our actions in a shared act of love. Messy, untidy, with water spills during washing and the drying of feet with a towel afterwards, but that’s life, that’s how it is. ."

03Feb How can we protect the Oceans?

Seán McDonagh continues to draw our attention to the wealth of knowledge and teaching there is to be gleaned from 'Laudato Si’ and to the urgency of Pope Francis' message.
"Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide. This has been caused by climate-change warming of the oceans and deforestation in the tropics. Even though they constitute only 1 per cent of the ocean seabed, coral reefs are home to 25 percent of the species of the ocean."
"there is time for humans to halt the damage with effective programmes limiting the exploitation of the oceans."

02Feb Bread and circuses during the Year of Mercy? No, grazie!

Robert Mickens casts a critical eye on some of the planned events for the Holy Year of Mercy.
To say he is not impressed might be to understate his view.
Looking at two events, the commissioning of 'missionaries of mercy' and the displaying of the bodies of Saint Leopold Mandić and Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina for public veneration he says "Both of them are aimed, fundamentally, at one thing -- getting people to go back to confession, a practice most Catholics gave up a long, long time ago. ...... this is one verdict of the "sensus fidelium" that it seems the pope does not want to acknowledge."
The Holy Year of Mercy was announced "at a time when the world has never been more aware of its divisions or more uncertain about how to resolve its seemingly irresolvable conflicts and heal its apparently incurable wounds; when it has never been so incapable of achieving peace and bringing about reconciliation.
The Holy Year is the pope's attempt to help the world -- but even more so the church -- find the solution to this impossible situation. And he is convinced that it will only be done when people allow themselves to be healed by God's mercy and then, in turn, offer it to others; when they allow themselves to be forgiven and, in turn, begin forgiving others."

Mickens states that most reasonable Catholics -- Italians included -- disagree with the need for such props and gimmicks the jubilee committee is using to promote the Holy Year."

01Feb Removing Planks

John Shea addresses an open and challenging letter to Cardinal Maradiaga, and to the other members of the Council of Cardinals, asking they consider again attitudes towards women in the church.
John Shea is an Augustinian theologian in Boston,

01Feb A Second Chance for some Endangered Species

Sean McDonagh keeps the teaching and insights of 'Laudato Si' before us.
"The destruction of biodiversity is a disaster for planet earth. Scientists now estimate that 100,000 species become extinct each year through deforestation, poaching and pollution. The current rate of extinction is estimated to be 1000 times what it would be in the absence of human intervention."
But all is not bad news. Sean writes that "Amid all the gloom, there is a flicker of hope through targeted breeding programmes."

01Feb The Church: Always in Need of Reform – Book Review

Paul Graham OSA reviews Gabriel Daly's, "The Church: Always in Need of Reform".
He says of it 'I expected to find an intellectual outlook that had become passé, full of the thoughts of an old man unable to accept that the theological frontline has moved on. Quite the contrary, in fact. This book is a distillation of the best of liberal Catholic thought, expressed clearly and with conviction.'

31Jan The Ballot Be Yours

Brendan Hoban, in his Western People column, counsels against the temptation of directing people how to vote in referendum or general election. "Been there, done that in the last two centuries. It made little sense then. It makes even less now."
"Telling people from the pulpit what to do in respect of a constitutional referendum or, even implicitly, who to vote for (or not to vote for) would do incredible damage not just to the cause espoused but to the Catholic Church"

27Jan Is ‘secularism’ just another ‘religion’?

Sean O'Conaill raises some very relevant questions about "the dichotomy of 'secular and 'religious' ".
"In Ireland a militant secularism is obviously bent on 'binding' together all those alienated from the remnants of the 'Catholic state' into a significant political constituency."
But Sean asks "How exactly can something so obviously evangelical, pacifically inclined, moralistic, charismatic, 'binding' - and salvational - not qualify as a 'religion'? "

25Jan The Chorus line in Church Life

Seamus Ahearne draws on the experiences of varied people, 'the chorus line in church life', because they 'are the ones that help us create a different model of priest and church.'