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The Partition of Ireland

  The Partition of Ireland                 Gerry OShea   A historic debate took place in the Irish parliament a hundred years ago about whether to accept or reject the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which was negotiated in London by an Irish team led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. The heated discussion started on December 14 th and lasted until January 7 th , 1922. The Treaty was carried by 64 to 57 with most of the opponents walking out of the Assembly in protest, leading a few months later to the unfortunate Irish Civil War. The debate focused on the issue of sovereignty, the extent of independence that the new state would have in dealing with other countries and especially with Great Britain. Surprisingly, the partition of the country, which happened about a year earlier with the passage in Westminster of the Government of Ireland Act, was only mentioned once during those emotional days. The negotiators in London were offered Dominion Status, equivalent to the relationship of t

Synodality and the Catholic Church

                                     Synodality in the Catholic Church          Gerry OShea The clearest divergence between Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict, lies in their different expectations from church members. The last pope emphasized traditional beliefs and rules that Catholics are expected to follow. To maintain these high standards, Benedict would   accept fewer church members favoring a kind of ecclesial purity. Francis certainly carries a different banner. His pronouncements are always cognizant of people who are struggling, and his first priority is to extend a helping hand to them. He shows no interest in inquiring about   their belief system or their religious observance; instead, he follows the biblical injunction: “Go into the highways and byways and invite everyone you meet to the wedding feast.” This focus on the human dimension by Francis spills over into the Synodal Path which he announced for the universal church on October 10 th last. In this hist

The Climate Crisis

  The Climate Crisis                  Gerry OShea A major row erupted in 2019 between Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, and the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, as thousands of fires engulfed the Amazon rainforest. Macron angrily accused his Brazilian counterpart of “ecoside” for allowing the world’s largest forest to be despoiled. He accused Bolsonaro of a despicable crime against the planet. Needless to say, the Brazilian strongman was enraged and he countered by asserting that Macron “was treating Brazil as a colony or no man’s land.”  “Our sovereignty is non-negotiable,” he exclaimed. Sovereignty is indeed the issue. Is Brazil the rainforest’s guardian or owner? Must the world just grin and bear it while Bolsonaro demolishes this indispensable carbon sink and vital repository of plant and animal life? Most people would agree that the Brazilian leader’s behavior is completely unacceptable, but what about Australia, a highly-developed country, still expanding its coal produ

Takeaways from the November Elections

  Takeaways from the November Elections           Gerry OShea James Carville, President Clinton’s top advisor, believes that economic issues determine the outcome of elections. Recent price increases in supermarkets and the big jump in gas prices surely help to explain the Democrats’ poor results in the governorship races in Virginia and New Jersey, the two big November contests. The Biden administration knew that their performance was on the line in both states. They hoped to get credit for dealing much better with the COVID crisis, ending the pathogen chaos that prevailed under Donald Trump. And, they wished that families would recall at the hustings that they received large support checks from Washington to help defray the extra costs of the medical crisis. On the other hand, the Democrats, with admittedly small majorities in the House and Senate, could not pass the two big infrastructure bills which would have provided a major boost, especially for families in the areas of ch

The Unionist Dimension

  The Unionist Dimension              Gerry OShea A hundred years ago, the unionists in Northern Ireland saw themselves in a very hostile environment.  They felt hemmed in, surrounded by a clear majority of nationalists on the island, all of whom aspired to some kind of united country ruled from Dublin. So, their top leader, Edward Carson, made no bones about the reasoning behind the sectarian partitioning of the country which involved lopping off six counties from the thirty-two in the whole island “in order to achieve a decisive Protestant majority in which unionist power would be guaranteed in perpetuity.” They feared Catholic domination at a time when the Catholic- Protestant divide still impacted political divisions in Europe, hearkening back to the religious wars of previous centuries. The Roman church was in its pomp, passing a decree of infallibility in 1870 that claimed the pope could never be wrong in matters of faith and morals because he alone was unerringly guided by

The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church

  Ordination of Women In May 1994 Pope John Paul 11 issued an apostolic letter whose goal was to end for all time any discussion in the Catholic church about ordaining women to the priesthood. The solemn declaration has a ponderous Latin title Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which marks it as a pronouncement of the highest order. The papal message deals with “the reservation of priestly ordination for men only.” John Paul leaves no doubt about his message:   “In order that all doubt be removed about a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution, I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be held definitively by all the Church’s faithful.” So, that is it – the matter is now verboten. The highest authority has spoken categorically on the subject. The many women who feel called by the Spirit to serve as priests must be delusional because Rome has spoken in unambiguous

Perspectives on Immigration

  Perspectives on Immigration The Know-Nothings were a powerful, semi-secret nativist movement in mid-19 th century America. Their members were instructed that if questioned about their beliefs their standard reply should be “I know nothing” – an early version of what Seamus Heaney wrote in his poem about the numbing secrecy in his home place during the Troubles “Whatever you Say, Say Nothing.” The movement condemned the arrival in America of hundreds of thousands of Irish Catholics, fleeing the awful famines in Ireland in the middle of the century. Many came to America hungry and with no possessions, the detritus of a beaten people. The Know-Nothings believed that this mass exodus of refugees from Ireland joined by a fair number of German Catholics indicated that Rome had designs on their homeland. They demanded new laws to keep the Catholics out and to mandate that new arrivals should wait twenty-five years before being eligible for citizenship and the right to vote. Texas

Irish Partition - Past and Present

  Irish Partition – Past and Present             Gerry OShea Joseph Plunkett, the poet and youngest leader of the Easter 1916 Rebellion, often bemoaned Ireland’s total economic and cultural domination by Britain. He argued that his country should also affirm its many ties to continental Europe where, over the centuries, Irish people living there made distinguished religious and literary contributions. A mere fifty-seven years after his execution in Kilmainham jail, Ireland joined what is now called the European Union (EU), and today that powerful body stands with the Irish government as Prime Minister Johnson tries to wiggle out of the controversial Irish protocol, a central part of the Brexit negotiations. David Lloyd George, the British prime minister a century ago, assured the unionists then that he would not implement the Third Home Rule Bill which passed the House of Commons in 1912. That Westminster Act granted a parliament in Dublin for the whole island, the long-sought go

Clericalism in the Catholic Church

  Clericalism in the Catholic Church            Gerry OShea Consider the following imaginary meeting arranged to discuss the demeaning treatment of women in the Catholic church. In attendance are five mothers from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds who meet just two requirements for inclusion: they must identify as Catholics and they must all have at least one daughter. Also in the room, representing the church, are five members of the hierarchy. The gathering takes place in New York, so Cardinal Dolan has summoned other bishops with strong credentials in theology to make sure that the Vatican perspective is fully represented. The women explain their grievances, focusing especially on the fact that, because of their sex, they are prohibited from any jurisdictional involvement in their church. They stress that there are no similar restrictions on them from assuming leadership roles in any other area of their lives.   One of the prelates with a string of degrees from

Anger in America

  Anger in America                     Gerry OShea Rage is dominating the American body politic. The culture has become so toxic that we can no longer just agree to disagree.   In April of this year, reputable pollsters revealed that 70% of Republicans declared that the presidential election was stolen and Donald Trump should be re-installed in the White House. A September gauge of opinion showed that the figure of Republican disbelievers in the Biden presidency has grown to a whopping 78%. It is important to explain that there is not a scintilla of evidence supporting this erroneous contention. Mr. Trump’s lawyers’ claims of electoral impropriety were considered by close to sixty judges, some of whom were appointed by the former president, and none of them even allowed the case to be heard because no evidence of wrongdoing was presented in court. The Supreme Court with a strong influence of Trump appointees refused even to consider the case. The Department of Justice under Wil