Pope John XXIII
Cardinal Roncalli, as he was called before he was elected pope, was a career diplomat who had only a few years pastoral practice as Archbishop of Venice. Imagine my surprise when I read the following in page 268 of Hebbelthwaite’s book:
Maghera FC and Rome?
“With hindsight the Venice years have inevitably been seen as an apprenticeship for the papacy. The truth is that they
were probably the best preparation he could have had. He was dealing with people all the time, of all conditions and cultures. In his waiting room you could meet the art historian Bernard Berenson or Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, or the boys from the Maghera football team.”
I nearly blew a gasket laughing when I read this. I’m not sure if it was the Maghera, County Down or the Derry Maghera about which the author was speaking but the idea of the Maghera team from either place, sitting in the waiting room waiting for an audience with the future pope made me laugh.
I googled Venice at 12.30am; I could not let it lie. Sorry, all you people from Maghera in Derry or Down, it was not you that the author was speaking of. Venice is on an island, the main town over the bridge is Marghera.
An “r” had strategically been left out but what a laugh it gave to me and Mrs. Q!
The funniest things in life are made up of little quirky things like that, and what would life be without them.
On the other side of the coin there are those things that while very serious are also very beautiful. Take John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Connecticut, who said “I do” on Nov. 25, 1932, and have been happily married for 80 years. Together they have five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Now that is lovely, and they are reckoned to be the United States longest married couple.
John, 101, met Ann, now 97, while growing up in the same Syrian community in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Breaking with tradition, Ann defied her parents when they set up an arranged marriage for her. She ran off to Harrison, N.Y. to elope with John. Now, she says she knows she made the right choice.
So Ann started out a rebel and finished up a hero, a bit like Golda Meir, Nelson Mandela or dear old Martin of the “OFMDFM” duo.
Speaking of duos, the Huhne household did not last 80 years. One was speeding and the other was not. The problem was that the one who claimed to be speeding and the one who claimed not to be speeding has got all mixed up.
Chris Huhne and his former wife Vicky Pryce were both taken to court because she was said to have taken the rap for her husband who was caught speeding.
An MP with ambitions of a cabinet post cannot be caught speeding. Chris Huhne, a former Liberal Democrat minister in the UK coalition government was accused of getting his wife to take speeding point for him.
Somewhere in the midst of a broken marriage it all came out. Huhne protested his innocence until the last minute when the following text messages were deemed admissible in court as evidence:
Huhne’s son Peter said: "We all know that you were driving and you put pressure on Mum. Accept it or face the consequences. You've told me that was the case. Or will this be another lie?"
Huhne replied: "I have no intention of sending Mum to Holloway Prison for three months."
His son asked: "Are you going to accept your responsibility or do I have to contact the police and tell them what you told me?" later adding: "It's not about her it’s about your accepting your responsibility to me."
Ambition is a very strong force. Poor Chris has had to apply to join the Chiltern Hundreds. You cannot resign as an MP; you have to apply to join this august group.
Over in the dear old Fatherland of Germany, a second in a duo of cabinet ministers has had to resign over a dodgy piece of scholarly writing. While Ireland has a secondary school teacher as a leader and another as the Minister of Finance, to have any cabinet post in Germany it appears you need to be a Doctor of Philosophy.
However, a Doctorate in Philosophy is not an easy thing to get and requires the writing of a long thesis on some very detailed point. The handiest way to do this is to take someone else’s hard earned work and copy it.
Enter German Education Minister Annette Schavan and Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. These people are far too busy to be doing things like writing long essays; they just copied someone else’s. In fact they probably just “cut and pasted” the whole thing.
Problem was, someone noticed.
Der Spiegel wrote this week:
“German Education Minister Annette Schavan has long been dogged by accusations that she had plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. thesis. Now, the University of Düsseldorf has revoked her degree. She has resigned from Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet.”
Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepped down in the spring of 2011 after it was determined that he had plagiarized large sections of his Ph.D. thesis.
Nowadays even a university degree is suspect!
using banned substances during
his cycling career
A sporting duo in trouble of different sorts this week is Lance Armstrong and Australia. Lance should be getting used to it by now but the people who bought his books are looking their money back.
“Two Californians have filed a class-action lawsuit against the cyclist and his publishers Penguin and Random House - on behalf of themselves and other residents of California who bought the books - demanding refunds and other costs,” read one story in the media last week.
Imagine all the people who ever bought a copy of Armstrong’s book taking it back to Eason’s and demanding their money back. Would the money be adjusted for inflation? Would they be allowed travelling expenses and would they get any compensation for being lied too? Who would be responsible for the compensation if it was agreed too?
Oh, what webs we do weave when we first start to deceive.
If Richard Dawkins turns out to be right and there is no God, can I come back after I die and get my money back for all the Bibles I have bought over the years?
“And what about Australia,” I hear you ask, “what has Australia to do with Lance Armstrong and doping?”
Well, it turns out that drugs “Down Under” are as common in sport as horsemeat in an Irish beef burger.
“The use of banned drugs in Australian professional sport is "widespread", a year-long investigation has found.
The Australian Crime Commission said scientists, coaches and support staff were involved in the provision of drugs across multiple sporting codes, without naming any individuals,” said a report in the BBC this week.
It appears that the use of drugs is so common that every sport in Australia is involved. Home Affairs Minister John Clare summed it all up:
"It's cheating but it's worse than that, it's cheating with the help of criminals," he said.
There was so much going on in the world this week that you could write a book about just one week and what it tells us.
The sad thing is that we are no longer surprised by the cheating and lying; we have come to expect it of our leaders and heroes.
I think of three men, David Cameron, Enda Kenny and Barack Obama, and I have to say that when I see them speak I can take none of them seriously. To me there is something false in them all. David tries so hard to be sincere; the poor lad tries too hard.
Enda Kenny is so desperate to be loved by everyone. He cries when people challenge his position on anything. He looks into the camera and appears so sincere, but his actions in punishing the poor, going back on his promise about abortion and his contempt to the people about the commitments he has made, tell a different story.
Obama is a master at the “look at me, I care so much,” stance on the TV. You have to hand it to him, he is a great man for playing the media.
He cares so much he sends drone planes in to kill everyone in an area because someone is there that the US want to “take out.”
In a drone attack a soldier sits in the US and guides a bomb to its target thousands of miles away. Obama, who was against them as a candidate, has used over four times as many drones a year as George W Bush.
If drone attacks on civilians are not war crimes then what is?
Was there any good news this last week?
Yes, there was plenty!
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