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The Ideal and the real in Modern Irish History

The Ideal and the Real in Irish HistoryGerry OShea
Every country has a story told by its own citizens that marks it as different, setting it apart in some way from other places, usually highlighting positive aspects of the country’s culture or geography or tradition.

For the first sixty years or so after independence in 1922, the Irish story promulgated by church and state was that the country had emerged from hundreds of years of abuse and denigration by a foreignpower, but now that the Irish had their freedom the real character of the population emerged – noble and religious people, living a simple but wholesome lifestyle, very different from the pagan country next door.

Eamonn De Valera, who was prime minister for about half of the years we are talking about, added to this positive image of Irish life when he engaged in some idyllic imaginings in 1943, praising the image of “comely maidens dancing on the village green.”

Frank Duff the founder and driving force behind the Legion of Mary…
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The Bishops and Abortion

The Bishops and AbortionGerry OShea
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the outgoing president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) opined recently that the climate change crisis is “not urgent,” directly contradicting Pope Francis who in his encyclical Laudato Si pleaded that saving “the common home” must be a top priority for the church and indeed for all humanity.

DiNardo and a majority of his episcopal colleagues in the USCCB continue to identify abortion as the “preeminent” – their language - issue of our time, meaning that it supersedes all other concerns.

These church leaders have mainly pursued a legal remedy to the widespread termination of pregnancy in the United States. Reverse the Roe v Wade decision and they claim we are more than half way to solving the problem.

Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, supporting this perspective, expounded last month about our times being particularly propitious to achieve their goal because “of a unique moment with the upcoming election cycl…

In Praise of Moderation

In Praise of ModerationGerry OShea
To convey their distaste for extremist views scholastic philosophers in the Middle Ages used a pithy Latin dictum, in medio stat virtus. They hailed the middle or moderate position on various controversial issues as most likely to represent the best and truest option. In today’s parlance, it suggests that virtuous and prudent behavior does not reside at the far edges of the left or the right but somewhere in the middle.

Some readers will remember Senator George McGovern, the Democratic nominee who faced Richard Nixon in 1972. He was a highly-principled and capable leader, but in those tempestuous days when the war in Vietnam dominated political discourse, Senator McGovern was successfully labelled as an extremist by his Republican opponents.

They claimed repeatedly that the senator was outside the mainstream, that he would concede everything to the communists in Hanoi to end the war. The scare tactic worked and he lost to Nixon in every state except Mas…

Advantage Biden

Advantage BidenGerry OShea
It is early times for making predictions, but still a review of all the polling data, nationwide as well as in various key states, and an assessment of the other candidates’ progress point to Joe Biden as the one with the best chance of getting the Democratic nomination.

I suggest that there are four good reasons why he is favorite and likely to be successful.

First, the Democrats are looking, above all, for a winner; they really want the current president out, and the polls show that when faced with a direct run-off against President Trump, Biden consistently fares better than any of his Democratic opponents, winning by as much as ten points nationally and also edging out or matching the president in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michican, North Carolina and Florida. The blue-collar voters who abandoned Hillary Clinton seem ready to leave Trump for the man who is known as “middle-class Joe.”

Democrats are fired up above all else about beating Tr…

It's the Economy Stupid!

It's the Economy StupidGerry OShea
"It's the economy stupid" is remembered as the succinct message James Carvilleconveyed tothe Democratic Party workers during Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency in 1992. He felt that the campaign was wasting too much time focusing on esoteric issues of foreign and domestic policy.
Instead, he wanted those knocking on doors and indeed the wider national campaign to engage people on kitchen- table issues - jobs, salaries, taxes, education and healthcare. He stressed that these are the real challenges that impact people every day.
Carville was certainly not the first to appreciate this approach to a political campaign. When Jimmy Carter ran against the incumbent president, Gerald Ford, in 1976, he highlighted what he called the misery index which he claimed reflected poorly on his opponent. He explained that this measure of progress is derived by adding the unemployment rate to the nationalinflation figure, and Carter s…

Catholic Women Today

Catholic Women TodayGerry OShea
About 700,00 people leave the Catholic Church in America every year. These are not lapsed Catholics who drift away from their religious roots, but members of the church who choose to leave the belief system they were raised with.
There are multiple reasons for these unprecedented numbers, but the most important consideration centers on the dismal failure of the church in dealing with women's issues.
Talking recently at a symposium titled"The Women the Vatican Couldn'tSilence" in Trinity College, Dublin,former Irish president Mary McAleese, who spent six years in Rome earning a doctorate in theology, bemoanedhow "women were deliberately made invisible and programmed to stay invisible" because of church structures that are "designed to create and maintain the invisibility and powerlessness of women."
Speaking to the same packed auditorium, Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun from Pennsylvania and author of nearly thirty bo…

Capitalism or Socialism

Socialism or CapitalismGerry OShea
When John Healy, the great journalist of a past era from County Mayo, was faced with a conundrum that wasn't open to any easy explanation he would challenge his readers by asking "Riddle me that!" I thought of Mr. Healy recently as I tried to understand the policy differencesbetween two of the prominent candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Senator Warren defines herself as a capitalist "to my bones." She says that her goal is to radically reform the economic system and make it work for ordinary people.
However, Senator Sanders always presents himself as a socialist and points to his commitment to that philosophy as setting him apart from his opponent on the left from Massachusetts.
A perusal of the positions of both candidates on the major issues is revealing.
HealthcareBoth Sanders and Warren strongly support a public healthcare system that covers all citizen…