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Showing posts from 2023

The Rise and Fall of Rudolph Giuliani

The Rise and Fall of Rudolph Giuliani     Gerry OShea “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent only Vaulting ambition.” Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth. During the 70’s and 80’s New York City was seen by many people as experiencing some form of a nervous breakdown. The statistics for neighborhood crime seemed to follow a cascading downward slide, especially in parts of Manhattan and the Bronx. Rudy Giuliani was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1989. He had a reputation for being very tough on crime, whether of the organized variety or just street robberies and muggings. His sterling reputation in this area won him the mayor’s job for two four-year terms ending in 2001. He can justifiably boast about his fine record in emphatically repulsing the crime surge in all five boroughs. The numbers show that it came down nearly 60% during his eight years - 1250 fewer New Yorkers were killed in 2001 than in 1993 and car thievery was cut in half

Crisis in Unionism

                        CRISIS in UNIONISM   A poll taken by the prestigious New Statesman in 2021   clearly suggests that the Ulster unionists’ allegiance to the Crown is not reciprocated. The results reveal that 34% of people in Britain say that they feel no connection with the neighboring statelet off their west coast, and 56% declare little or very moderate connection to the place, leaving just 10% asserting that they share a sense of community with the people in Northern Ireland. Reflecting on these numbers, one commentator wrote: “This is what unionists should be really fretting about because their love for Britain is increasingly unrequited. They are in a cold marriage where their partner is bored, indifferent and disconnected.” Prime minister Sunak went to Belfast with considerable fanfare to sell the Windsor Arrangement. He didn’t have to worry about the nationalist community. All their leaders had welcomed the deal because they want local government in Stormont restored,

The Protocol

  The Protocol               Gerry OShea Great Britain is a class-driven society and the top echelons, most with strong conservative and Tory credentials, operate with inbred delusions of grandeur. Their rhetoric and belief system revolve around their self-perceived history of glorious colonial expansion so extensive one time that the sun never set on its far-flung empire.   In Europe, British leaders boast with good reason that they led the forces of progress and democracy to victory in two horrendous world wars against Germany, a country that they still view with a gimlet eye. They joined the European Economic Community in 1973, after being rejected for membership by Charles De Gaulle twice in the sixties. Now called the European Union (EU) and expanded to include countries in central and eastern Europe, it includes by far the largest supranational trading organization in the world with 27 members and a population of 447 million.   The movement in Britain for leaving the EU w

Different Approaches in the Catholic Church

 Different Approaches in the Catholic Church        Gerry OShea Salvation provides a central theme of Christian apologetics: who will be saved and who will be heading in the other direction presents a major talking point for believers.  Indeed, even acknowledging the legitimacy of a discussion on the topic requires religious faith because nobody has come back to settle the question about how one’s eternal destination is determined. Christians must also be open to realizing that we may well be asking the wrong question. After all, non-Christian religions like the Hindus and Moslems and Jews have very different perspectives on the afterlife. Back to Catholic beliefs. Pre-Vatican Two thinking – up to the 1960’s - offered a clear set of answers for Catholics who were taught that they were members of “the one true church.” Sunday sermons stressed the 3rd century church belief asserting that “outside the church there is no salvation.” Older readers will remember this clear teaching laid down


 Happiness                      Gerry OShea The Harvard Study of Adult Development, better known as the Happiness Project, was started in 1938 and the latest update was completed recently. It tracks the lives of 724 men from their teenage years – about 50 of that original cohort are still alive in their 90’s and they remain part of the research, but they are joined now by about 1200 children and grandchildren, all directly descended from the original members. The group includes people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, from Harvard undergrads to teenagers from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. All male initially, but the project was joined by female family members when it moved to include the second generation and beyond. Investigators survey the group every two years about their physical and mental health, their professional lives, their marriages, their friendships – and also subject them to periodic in-person interviews, medical exams, brain scans and blood tests. The Happiness

Socialism in America

  Socialism in America                 Gerry OShea The two most popular senators in their home states, both with approval ratings close to 65%, are Jon Tester in Montana and Bernie Sanders in Vermont. These are surprising approval numbers because Montana is seen as having a strong conservative population, and, unlike his West Virginia colleague, Joe Manchin, also elected in a red state, Tester’s voting on controversial issues follows the progressive line of most senate Democrats. Sanders’ popularity is even harder to explain because Vermont is considered a rural state, where Republicans usually get clear majorities, and Senator Sanders runs for election as an independent socialist. He is the only member of the upper house openly using the “s” word to define his policies. The Vermont senator has sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency on two occasions. In 2016 he was defeated by Hilary Clinton and in 2020 he lost to Joe Biden, but he performed credibly on both occasion

The Leadership of Jean Vanier

  The Leadership of Jean Vanier         Gerry OShea I read recently about the enthralling and poignant story of Jean Vanier, who started L’Arche, a French name memorializing the biblical ark, where people with intellectual disabilities find a warm welcome and the promise of a vibrant and supportive life. Jean was the son of the governor-general of Canada, and as his biographer, Anne-Sophie Constant, wrote, “he was a child of privilege who had danced with princesses, dined with politicians and philosophers and circled the world twice.” In 1964, his spiritual adviser, Fr. Philippe, a Dominican priest, took him on a tour of the psychiatric facility where he was acting as chaplain. There he discovered what he called “an immense world of pain.” Asylums in those days were notorious for overcrowding and abuse, functioning more as prisons than treatment centers. They were cauldrons of misery instead of places of compassion and hope. Vanier explained that he heard a heartfelt call fro

Monica's Story

    Monica’s Story An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick From William Butler Yeats’s poem Sailing to Byzantium I recall well an unlikely colleague coming to my office during my working years – for convenience, I will call her Monica. She was in tears, clearly distraught, telling me that she needed to talk about an important family matter. I was taken aback because while she was a respected co-worker, I had not really connected with her beyond casual conversation. She poured out her story, sobbing as she explained the details. Her father, a sixty-nine-year-old man, had started working packing shelves in a supermarket. He retired the previous year from a company in Manhattan, but he could not make ends meet on his monthly social security cheque. He lived in an apartment off Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. His wife passed away four years previously and their three daughters were all working and married in the New York area. They offered to supplement t

President Biden's Prospects

    President Biden’s Prospects             Gerry OShea Think back just six months when Republican leaders and all the experts in Fox News were projecting a red wave, a tsunami, in the November elections. Kevin McCarthy boasted confidently that his party would gain a majority of at least fifty seats in the House. Many polls endorsed these exuberant predictions. Inflation was high and prices in the supermarket and at the gas pump were escalating every week. President Biden’s approval rating hovered around a measly forty per cent. Very few independent voters seemed impressed by his outstanding leadership of the West in confronting Putin’s ignominious invasion of Ukraine, and his success in promoting a massive infrastructure bill, admittedly mostly involving projects with future start dates, just wasn’t registering with the electorate. Most Republican candidates rejected the results of the 2020 presidential election – a patently extreme position because more than fifty judges in var

A United Ireland

  A United Ireland              Gerry OShea The census figures for Northern Ireland released last September show Catholics, broadly understood, at 45.7%, and Protestants or people brought up in the Reformation culture at 43.5%. Ten years earlier, the figures were 48.45% Protestant and 45.1% Catholic. The statelet that was officially designed in 1920 to have a permanent Protestant-unionist majority has failed the test of time. During the ensuing century nationalists of all stripes have   complained that they were not even consulted about the partition of the island and their leaders have always advocated for reunification. The census results are significant, but they are far from the whole story. Today, one person in fifteen – a growing number - living in the North was born outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and there is a vibrant Muslim community accounting for 0.5% of the population. A recent major professional study involving polling and some in-depth interviews, led

The Ordination of Women

  The Ordination of Women         Gerry OShea About seven years ago, my wife and I participated in a mass in San Antonio, Texas, where the main celebrant was a woman. We were part of about three hundred people attending a conference under the auspices of Call to Action, a Catholic organization that takes a jaundiced view of how women are treated in the church and which rejects some traditional Vatican pronouncements especially in the area of sexuality. The mass was a memorable event with a pervasive sense of community, and the priest who preached the sermon did a masterful job. We were staying with a priest friend who worked in a parish nearby. At breakfast the following morning we shared our positive reaction with him and two of his colleagues. He and a younger man responded positively saying that, of course, women priests would be a big plus for the ecclesial community. The third man had a different perspective. He pointed out that the “so-called priests” were excommunicated,