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Showing posts from February, 2020

Religion and the Presidential Election

Religion and the American Presidential Election             Gerry OShea America is a very religious country. More than 40% of the population attend church services at least once a month, and about half report that they pray every day. By comparison, in most countries in western Europe, attendance at church on Sunday hovers around 10%. Surprisingly, we have heard very little from the candidates for the Democratic nomination for the presidency about their religious convictions. Mayor Buttigieg has spoken very movingly about the importance of his Christian faith as a married gay man. Nearly all the Christian denominations look askance at the homosexual lifestyle, but he attends an Episcopalian church where he and his husband, Chasten, received a full church blessing when they got married. Joe Biden is a practicing Catholic but, because he supports the Roe v Wade decision which gives a woman the right to choose on the abortion issue, he was refused communion in a church a few

Crisis in the German Catholic Church

Catholic Church Reform in Germany                       Gerry OShea                                             The “church tax” in Germany has no equivalent in the United States. It involves the state collecting up to 9% of income from   members of the different religious denominations and passing on the money to the various churches. Because of this lucrative arrangement the Catholic Church in Germany has a deep treasury and supports many major charitable ventures as well as sending millions to the Vatican every year. That is an important source of real power in Rome where big cheques carry a lot of weight. In addition, since the Reformation 500 years ago, German intellectuals have been central to theological developments in the church. Most recently, Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop of Munich before becoming Pope Benedict, was a leading theologian in the liberalizing Second Vatican Council before going on to lead a conservative papacy. The sexual abuse scourge has devasta

The 1950 Election in Ireland

Thomas Xavier Doodle and the 1951 General Election in Ireland Gerry O’Shea Renowned Irish historian, Tom Garvin, cast a cold eye on life in Ireland in the 1950’s. He deplored the backwardness of many facets of the culture, writing that the country was “marooned in insular seclusion, pauperized, pre-industrial and riddled with superstition.” Polio and Tuberculosis ravaged many households with minimal help from the rudimentary hospital system. Babies, many of them home births and part of big families, were reared in an atmosphere where children were encouraged to be seen but not heard. Manliness was defined by stressing the Spartan virtues: robust physical strength combined with an acceptance that suffering and hardship must be endured as part of Christian living. Timothy Corcoran, a well-known Jesuit educator and theologian, had a major influence on the Irish school system. He espoused a dark understanding of church teaching about the results of original sin.   Accordin