A MIX-UP in the schedule of a replacement priest to say mass at the Church of St Therese in Dublin’s leafy Mount Merrion led to Fine Gael Minister, Josepha Madigan, filling the gap.
With no priest available, up she popped to perform some elements of a normal mass, such as leading the faithful in a prayer service and reading a lesson. And, amazingly, she impressed the congregation!
But, although her pious effort was uncontroversial and well-intentioned, in the eyes of some critics she acted in a politically opportunistic way and with an alacrity that was par for the course after her success in directing Fine Gael’s vigorous pro-abortion campaign.
During that legislative operation, Fine Gael created the impression that it wanted Catholic principles emptied of their ethical and moral content so that the platitudes of those seeking constitutional change would be more easily swallowed.
However, in fairness to Ms Madigan, during the ceremony at her local church, she refrained from making any acid comments regarding the Catholic Church. Nor did she usurp the functions of the priest and ‘consecrate’ bread and wine. According to media reports, mass-goers were able to receive Communion as there was already some pre-consecrated bread in the church.
Yet, not too long ago, the politico’s actions would have got her burnt at the stake or hanged. But, in today’s Ireland, where among large sections of the population one of the small pleasures of life is not going to mass, little interest was taken in her ecclesiastical antics until the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, got wind of them – from a programme on the wireless of all things!
In the course of the broadcast, she claimed Dublin dioceses were suffering a shortage of priests and that the time had come for the Pope to change his tune on ordaining women. In fact, during his visit to Ireland, she promised to tell the Pontiff that women would make excellent priests.
The Archbishop of Dublin thought her comments to be ‘bizarre,’ a reaction not too unlike that of Dr Samuel Johnson who, when asked for his opinion on women preachers, said that a woman preaching was similar to a member of the canine species walking on its back legs: ‘It is not well done but you are surprised to find it done at all.’
What’s more, as far as the Archbishop of Dublin was concerned, the FG minister had an ‘agenda’ and that she had caused parishioners in Mount Merrion and elsewhere ‘considerable distress.’ He added that there was no shortage of priests in the diocese and that the absence of a priest on that Saturday evening in the church of Saint Therese was ‘due to a misunderstanding.’
Of course, fuel was added to the fire by the fact that the Minister was the brains behind Fine Gael’s successful campaign for the removal of the constitutional protection of the unborn in the recent referendum.
Which, of course, raised this question: considering that she had triumphantly led the pro-abortion crusade, was it now appropriate for her to lead a congregation in prayers and then, on a subsequent radio show, to stick her political boot into Vatican affairs by calling for the repeal of the ban on women priests and priests marrying?
But, that aside, what baffled this scribe was her criticism of the Archbishop. She said, ‘All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.’
Was she suggesting that the Church’s refusal to ordain women as priests was ‘evil’ and what did she mean by ‘good men doing nothing’?
It was an extraordinary use of the quote (attributed to the Irish politician Edmund Burke) and was presumably intended to cross party political divisions. Nonetheless, we think that she could have been a teensy-weensy bit more discerning in her choice of a literary barb with which to stab the Archbishop of Dublin. It was over the top and she should apologise to the good man.
Models of excellence
That said, we’ve always found religious argy-bargies immensely entertaining if for no other reason than that they attract hypocrites and, as the cynic said, one should never stay away from the church because of the hypocrites. There’s always room for one more!
Which does not imply in any way that Ms Madigan or the Archbishop are hypocrites. Certainly not! She is forthright, frank, genuine, honest, humble, open, authentic, righteous, sincere, and upright but not a hypocrite; and he’s virtuous, honourable, exemplary, praiseworthy, above reproach, highly principled and certainly not a hypocrite.
Respectively, both are models of excellence, having few equals in politics or religion. But, even though we might consider them to be the best thing since sacred sliced pan, it is very unlikely that they’d agree with our assertion that in mixed company religion is not a proper topic for conversation!
But then, although we ourselves can boast of having all the qualities of a saint except saintliness, we also are reminded of the character in Finnegan’s Wake who complained that whenever he prayed to God he found himself talking to himself! And there’s the rub!
Blast from the past
And now for something different: A sad blast from the past was recorded recently when Cork County Council said that no way was it going to purchase the dockyard site in Passage West for €3.5m. Much disappointment all round, considering that it was one of the last waterfront development sites in Cork’s lower harbour and key to redeveloping the town economically.
But what set bells ringing was the fact that Howard Holdings previously paid €25m for the dockyard, only to sell it for the knockdown price of €3m. Once the pride of the Leeside Celtic Tiger, Howard Holdings in 2009 claimed to have €4 billion tied up in development projects around Ireland and Europe. Two years later the company collapsed but, we’re pleased to say, memories of its glorious, rollicking activities – and the so called movers and shakers involved – occasionally surface as a hilarious topic of fun and ridicule in the Cork Arms.
Last week De Paper reported that Fine Gael was sick of the behaviour of the Alliance of Independents – the group that props up Vlad’s government – and that the Blueshirts had no interest in seeking a continuation with ‘headbangers’ after the next election.
So, out of linguistic curiosity, we consulted the urban dictionaries in an attempt to get the meaning of the term ‘headbanger.’ This is what we found: Someone who can’t solve easy problems. Someone who is dense, thick or just plain stupid.
Adjective – bangable: ‘a person that you would have sex with; not a smasher but average.’
Our gorge rising, we called it a day!