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Priestly Celibacy

Priestly CelibacyGerry OSheaSt Augustine is recognized as a distinguished Doctor of the Church with learned writings dealing with obscure topics like the Christian idea of three persons in one godhead. However, his pronouncements in the area of sexual ethics have done serious damage to the Christian story.Until his mid-thirties he lived the life of a libertine who, in his own words, “was a slave to his sexual impulses.” He had a concubine who bore him a son. His mother, Saint Monica, pleaded with her son to join the Catholic Church and leave behind his wayward lifestyle. The family was well-off and the matriarch felt her son’s partner should not be a commoner but ought to come from an aristocratic family.Augustine was baptized at age thirty-two and, similar to many converts throughout history, he spent the remainder of his long life as a very committed Christian. He was ordained a priest after his son died and later was appointed Bishop of Hippo where his learned sermons enhanced his …
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Trade Unions in America

Trade Unions in America                  Gerry OSheaIn April of last year some of the heads of the country’s biggest banks appeared before the House Financial Services Committee in Washington to address questions about various monetary issues and for a general review of the banking industry ten years after the Financial Crisis.These men – yes, all men – also knew they would face some questioning about their own salaries, all in annual multi-millions, which some members of the committee considered a bit brazen especially after their unimpressive leadership in the banking crisis.Congresswoman Katie Porter from California used her time on the mic to deal with a constituent’s concerns. She explained that a woman, Marie, had contacted her with a very challenging story. She is a single mother working for JPMorgan Chase and earning a post-tax annual salary of $29,100. The congresswoman documented her expenses for food, housing, childcare and the cost of running her 12-year old car.Ms. Porter…

The Irish War of Independence in 1920

The Irish War of Independence in 1920Gerry OSheaAfter the 1916 Easter Rebellion was crushed, Michael Collins, the future leading Irish revolutionary, reportedly said to one of his colleagues as they were marched off to jail that an Irish army should never again directly confront the military might of the British Empire. He promised that the next time they would face England on their terms, not as doomed targets in open warfare.After the Sinn Fein victory in the December, 1918, Westminster elections, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) started a guerilla war, where local battalions of their forces ambushed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and British army groups on patrol or just moving from one place to another.While they were very short of weapons, they took advantage of their superior knowledge of the local terrain and used the powerful element of striking first in surprise attacks to inflict serious losses on the enemy before withdrawing to nearby mountains or other safe havens. This war…

Perspectives on Religion

Perspectives on ReligionGerry OSheaWho are your gods? was a common opening question when educated Greeks met their counterparts from other Mediterranean regions during what is called the golden era of their culture in the 4th century BC. It was widely accepted that all tribes had gods with stories that explained how the human race started and what rules the deities expected people to obey.Brian Friel touched on a similar theme in his wonderful play Dancing atLughnasa. Fr. Jack is sent home from his ministry in a leper colony in Uganda, heroic work that should guarantee an abundance of prestige and admiration in his birth place in County Donegal where his five sisters live.However, it emerges that Jack talks admiringly about the tribal customs and beliefs that he experienced and celebrated as a missionary for many years. He never criticizes Catholicism but he identifies more with the gods he experienced and the way of life and culture he was part of in the imaginary village of Ryanga i…

The Friends of Irish Freedom in America

The Friends of Irish FreedomGerry OSheaAccording to the 1900 American census more than five million people identified themselves as born or first-generation Irish, a higher number than actually lived on the island of Ireland at that time.Many of these immigrants joined their county associations in the cities where most of the Irish congregated, and they also affirmed their roots by supporting other fraternal organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), the Gaelic League and the Gaelic Athletic Association.Clan na Gael - often referred to simply as the Clan - was an oath-bound society where members used passwords and special handshakes to protect their secrecy. They were an elite group with a relatively small membership. However, led by John Devoy, a crusty, determined Fenian,they played a central role in the Irish community. They maintained a close partnership with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), another Fenian offshoot headquartered in Dublin, and it was mostly C…

American Foreign Policy and the Presidential Election

American Foreign Policy and the Presidential ElectionGerry OSheaForeign policy rarely figures as an important factor for voters in peacetime American presidential elections. Polls suggest that this year is not an exception. The coronavirus and its impact on jobs and education tops the voters’ concerns followed by the serious agitation for change in the area of race relations, and, finally, more concern than ever about the worsening economic inequality in the country.These are the main issues that will drive turnout in November. America’s standing in the world is at its lowest in recent memory but that is not showing as a major worry in any of the polls. If Joseph Biden emerges victorious, he will inherit a dismal world order, with the standing of the United States in the doldrums, which will require major bridge-building strategies by a new administration.President Trump has little positive to show in international affairs as he completes his first term. He seems to be unwilling even …

Polarization in America

Polarization in American LifeGerry OSheaCalling someone a renaissance man is a big compliment. It conveys an image of a well-rounded intelligent individual with an eye for the needs of other people, especially the less-fortunate. The renaissance historical period lasted for most of two hundred years, stretching from the 14th to the 16th century. It was an epoch of change, a response to the passing feudal system with its acceptance of superstitious medieval beliefs that gave way to a more rational approach to life. It was the era when the promotion of human intelligence and inventiveness came to be greatly valued and resulted in the development of the printing press and of the mariner’s compass – and of gunpowder.The famous philosophers of ancient Greece, especially Aristotle and Plato, were studied in the renaissance schools in cities all over Italy and in particular in Florence. Teasing out the intricacies of rules for logical thinking led to a focus on the art of debate where truth …