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Inequality in America

  Inequality in America                 Gerry OShea Late in 2018 Pope Francis filled St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with almost 6000 poor people and preached to them in words that Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin would have applauded. He pointed the finger of blame for the evils of poverty at greedy and selfish people “who feast on what in justice belongs to all.” These radical words – fully in line with traditional Catholic social teaching - bring to mind a statement by Pope John Paul 11, who many historians applaud as the main driving force in bringing down the ailing communist system in Russia and its Eastern European satellites. Reflecting, later in his life, on the rampant consumerism engulfing the West with all its attendant poverty and greed, he wrote: “I wonder which of the two systems is better.” America, the richest country in the world, is one of the most unequal in the distribution of its largesse. The top 1% own 70% of the wealth leaving the bottom 90% to claim just 27%. Th
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Identity Politics in Ireland - Past and Present

  Identity Politics in Northern Ireland            Gerry OShea Identity politics was the driving factor when Ireland was partitioned a hundred years ago. A section of the island in the northeast was set apart from the rest of the country strictly on the basis of allowing the people living there to maintain their allegiance to Britain, an entirely legitimate aspiration but one that was bound to lead to trouble because nationalists on the island weren’t even consulted about the division. The 1918 Westminster election ended the power of the Irish Parliamentary Party. They had fought for Home Rule for Ireland, and indeed a bill was passed in 1912 that granted a parliament in Dublin with limited power over the whole island. This was fiercely opposed by unionists in the Belfast area who refused to contemplate any allegiance to an assembly with a majority of Catholics. For them, Home Rule would bring about domination by the Catholic majority on the island, leading inevitably to the rele

The Climate Change Crisis

  The Climate Change Crisis                    Gerry OShea Donald Trump’s attempt at a joke about climate change when he said that “it is freezing in New York – where the hell is the global warming!” aptly conveyed his untutored thinking on this vital subject. True to form, during his four years in the White House, he rolled back over a hundred environmental rules, slashed regulations on oil and gas development and weakened fuel emission standards for cars. Amazingly, the Republican Party leaders in Washington, without exception, went along with this neanderthal mentality that disregards the repeated warnings of the overwhelming majority of weather scientists. Many conservatives in past times, led by Teddy Roosevelt, have been at the forefront in calls for respecting nature. A serious approach to dealing with this issue calls for detailed plans for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions as well as a budget that stipulates who will pay for the massive changes that will be required in a

Perspectives on Immigration in America

  Perspectives on Immigration in America              Gerry OShea Joseph J. Salvo, the son of Italian immigrants from the Bronx, retired recently as the chief demographer for the City of New York. His work focused on providing analysis of the city’s changing population. Asked in an interview in the New York Times about the prospects for economic recovery after the Covid crisis, he said that he was optimistic because of the city’s continuing draw of new immigrants. He pointed out that the population of New York City is 37% foreign-born and if you add the first generation, the figure exceeds half of all New Yorkers. Mr. Salvo is convinced that their talents and hard work will bring the city back to its previous glory days. The only real threat, he warned, is “if we stop attracting immigrants.” Immigration policies and attitudes were central to last year’s presidential election. Donald Trump launched his first campaign for the presidency by brashly attacking Mexicans and accusing

Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

  Homosexuality and the Catholic Church             Gerry OShea A few weeks ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) in the Vatican issued a universal edict refusing a church blessing for homosexual partners as part of the wedding ceremony. Their stated reasoning for this blanket rejection focuses on the alleged sinfulness of gay sexual intimacy which the Vatican statement claims God could never bless. Early in his pontificate, on the plane back from a successful trip to Brazil, Pope Francis responded to a question about homosexuality by asking “Who am I to judge?” He wondered why he should condemn a gay person of good will doing his or her best to live a decent life. This is hardly a controversial statement; it would win approval in almost any company. However, the Catholic Church maintains a different perspective. Francis’ predecessor, Benedict, described the homosexual lifestyle as “objectively disordered,” and before him John Paul 11 denounced the intimate behavi

Trumpism

  Trumpism                              Gerry OShea Aesop is the first Greek storyteller on record. He was an illiterate slave who lived in the 5 th century BC and is renowned for his fables, fictional stories pointing to some moral insight about the ups and downs of life, what Shakespeare 2000 years later would memorably call “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” One of the famous stories attributed to Aesop is entitled Belling the Cat. This tells of a group of mice that were terrorized by a marauding cat who regularly visited their domain while they slept, grabbing a few of their members before they could scamper to safety. They met in council to consider how to deal with their predicament. One proposal which was widely applauded involved placing a bell around the cat’s neck thus ensuring that the noise from the pendant would alert the mice and allow them to escape before the cat could pounce. A motion to adopt this proposal was carried unanimously and there were cel
    Unionist Isolation in Northern Ireland              Gerry OShea Joe Brolly, known as a fine footballer and lively commentator on big Gaelic matches on Irish television, writes a regular column in the Sunday Independent in Dublin. Recently, he penned an uncharacteristically bitter essay about the celebrations in Belfast following the victory of Glasgow Rangers in the Scottish Football League. Joe had no problem with fans celebrating the win, their first in ten years, but the carry-on by Rangers supporters in the Shankill Road area left him in a foul mood. The old gutter anti-Catholic tropes were heard throughout the crowd. Hurrah! Hurrah! We are the Billy Boys   --- Up tae yer knees in Finian blood.   Surrender or ye’ll die. He noted that the following day the police superintendent responsible for the area, Nigel Henry, expressed his “disappointment” about a large crowd partying in clear breach of the Covid restrictions on gatherings in the city. A few weeks previously Mar