St Peter's Square Rome
However, even though Cardinal Dolan finished as an also ran, the excitement reached fever pitch when the news came that a Cardinal from the Argentinean city of Buenos Aires had been made Pope. La Plata, a city some twenty miles south of Buenos Aires, is the birthplace of my beloved wife.
She waited patiently for Pope Francis to say something in Spanish. She was disappointed; his Italian is flawless.
Pope Francis is a surprise to us all. But should he have been; I don’t think so. We in Europe tend to think of the Catholic faith as our faith that we have exported to the rest of the world. This is the remnants of our imperial past.
Europe is an old, dying continent. If you travel to the Far East or Australia you shall see a picture of life that is vibrant and outward looking.
Here is a pertinent question; is there any leader in Europe that you would follow? Is there any cause in your life that you would consider worth dying for?
Kilrea, Co Derry, Ireland
The European and Western mindset has stopped looking out and only looks in. We are concerned simply with what we can get for ourselves, with what we want. Children, the source of life and joy, are seen as an economic burden. One, perhaps two, enough to satisfy an instinct, is all we want; we prefer big houses with secure gates.
Pope Francis walked out onto the balcony of St Peter’s a humble and meek man. He is an insult and direct confrontation to a world obsessed with material greed. And they shall do everything they can to destroy and discredit him. They have to; he stands before them, a reproof to their way of living.
But the Pope shall not be an insult to the millions of people who live on the breadline; he shall be a source of hope for them.
And he shall also be a source of hope for the new poor, the poor of the West. While we may be able to keep some semblance of welfare state here for years to come there is a spiritual poverty arising in the West that is pervading every level of society; the use of alcohol and drugs are simply the modern methods of keeping real feelings at bay.
Poverty of spirit cannot face the reality of a life without hope; it takes refuge in illusions.
in Exchange for a Bailout
Cyprus has 0.2% of Europe’s economy but Greek banks are so exposed to Cyprus that if it was allowed to fall the whole European banking system could crash via Greece. There is not an independent country left in Europe!
It appears that some of the really big deposit holders in the Cypriot banking system are the Russian oligarchs who go around the world buying up football clubs for a hobby. They are going to have to pay a one off tax of 9.9% on their deposits. That might make the free economies of the West a little less seductive for a man with a few billion lying around.
Jacob Funk Kierkegaard, of the US-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that there is a potential problem with bailing out Cyprus; it is believed by many to be a place where a fare deal of money laundering goes on.
"There is a general political sentiment that it is not acceptable to be bailing out a country, and thereby putting European taxpayers' money at risk, to basically protect Russian depositors in Cypriot banks," he said.
So there you have it, we in the UK and Ireland are going to have to pay to bail out Russian businessmen who have made money from God knows where. But the Euro shall be kept afloat, that is the main thing!
I read all this in the press so it must be true; the press can be trusted.
Well, not in England.
Lord Justice Leveson's had a bit of a nosey around Fleet Street and decided that the whole place was a rotten cesspit and in need of some fundamental change. He put forward his proposals and the politicians huffed and puffed about what they were going to do.
The British Triumvirate of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband promised to follow whatever Lord Leveson proposed and the three of them had a tête-à-tête or two on the phone and everyone thought that they were in agreement.
Then out of the blue, a couple of hours after the agreement was almost but not quite signed, Mr Cameron decided, without consultation, to change the whole thing.
Now the coalition in Westminster has changed. On Monday the Labour/Lim Dem coalition shall take on the Conservatives.
It makes you wonder what could have happened in three hours to put Cameron in a position where he is now willing to risk his coalition, his time as Prime Minister and his government by unilaterally changing an agreement he had already made with the other party leaders.
By the time you read this you shall know how the vote worked out, but will we know the reason?
The British had a good idea; invade some place, populate it with people from Britain, give these planters everything in the line of power and property and then say that the place can remain British as long as the population wants to remain British.
In the Falklands they drove out the natives, the mistake they made here was they let the natives stay. And natives breed.
Why does Britain insist on holding on to a group of small islands in the South Atlantic, thousands of miles away?
It could not possibly have anything to do with the huge reserves of oil found off the coast or the lucrative fishing areas in the seas there. Mike Summers and Kyle Biggs were two names mentioned in reports about the vote on the islands.
They sound like a couple cockney blokes rather than inhabitants of a foreign land. 2841 planted people holding up all political progress and distorting relations between countries. What a sham.
Well, at least it couldn’t happen here!
They should make me king of the Islas Malvinas, and then I would be a commoner who became a king. I have a certain regal bearing and royal look about me.
This transformation is not as unlikely as it sounds. According to reports this week it seems that marrying into royalty has become a sort of modern fad.
Lillian Davies, Kate Middleton, Mary Donaldson, Daniel Westling and Charlene Wittstock are part of a long list of names of people who have married above their status.
The name for this habit of marrying outside one’s social group or standing is “exogamy.” This is something like a Catholic marrying a...... or a Jew marrying an........ You can fill in the blanks yourself.
They have also lost 36-0, 28-0 and 26-0 in other matches this season. You would think that with scores like that they would take a hint.
But you have to admire their spirit, or as the old Olympic motto used to be “It is not the honour of winning, it is the honour of taking part.”
If you ever go across the sea to Wales, tell the women of Caerphilly Castle Ladies football team that taking part in a soccer match means kicking the ball sometimes.
Silicone fingers are a handy thing if you want to pull a little stroke on your bosses. Thaune Nunes Ferreira had six of them actually.
Thaune decided to make the fingers from a cast and complete with fingerprints she fooled the “clocking in” device at her hospital that her friends were at work.
Who can we trust these days? Doctors, bankers, politicians and all the nice people have been shown to be just like the rest of us; a collection of sinners.
I like that, I really do. For years us common folk have been made to feel that anyone who donned a suit, drove a nice car and had a pension was deemed to be better than us. Now we find that they are made up of the same stuff as the rest of us; greed, fear, ambition and a nice helping of good old criminality thrown in.
If any bank in Ireland, North or South, sent you a letter tomorrow complaining about the behaviour of your account what could you do except laugh? It is great to learn that we are all equals, that we are all feeble people and that wearing a suit or having a few letters after your name does not automatically make you better than anyone else. Nor does it make you any worse.
You know, you could nearly start a religion based on the fact that we are all weak human beings, prone to the odd bit of dishonest and disordered behaviour.
Then you could say that we are all in need of help, let’s call that help ‘grace,’ and a place where we could all go and talk about our behaviour and the way we have hurt others, let’s call that ‘confession.’
Why did nobody ever think of this before? I must be very smart!
It’s a pity Europe won’t forgive Greece. The people of that country are fast running out of essential drugs. Medicines needed for cancer and other serious illnesses cannot be found in the country’s pharmacies.
Greece is now in its 6th year of recession. Eh, if a policy is not working after six years and the people are beginning to starve and leave day old children at the doors of orphanages, as well as no medicine in a European country, is it not time someone somewhere began to ask a serious question or two?
Of thirteen multinational drug companies operating in Greece, eight are at unacceptably low levels of stock. Perhaps they are afraid that they shall not be paid and would rather see the people die.
On Thursday last week, just a day after a humble pope walked on to the balcony in Rome, the leaders of Europe met in Brussels to figure out what to do next with the Euro.
“But the German government has insisted in the run-up to the summit that eurozone governments stick to their austerity plans. Berlin said on Wednesday that it would balance its budget in 2015, a year earlier than required under its fiscal rules,” wrote the Financial Times.
There you have it: Germany wants to balance its books by 2015 and if a few hundred Greeks die in the meantime then so be it.
With a humble Pope standing in the Vatican and an arrogant Europe watching, it’s people die so that bondholders can be paid; the division lines between secularism and those who want a community are becoming more and more marked.
“Community” means ‘with unity;’ it is the coming together of people for a common good. This was the original intent of the EEC, the European Economic Community.
Now it is no longer the common good that is wanted. It is the good of certain institutions and countries while the rest beg.
A house divided against itself.......
The real legacy of Pope Francis shall be that he highlights in his attitudes and writings the fissure between the secular world and the people who have belief in God. These lines are becoming ever more clear and increasingly people are going to be put into the situation where they are going to have to choose.
These choices won’t be in the big things. They shall be in the hundreds of little decisions each one of us makes in our daily lives. But the choices shall be clearer and that shall leave us with fewer excuses for saying we don’t know.
The poverty and social disintegration of Greece is no longer news. The social upheaval of hundreds of thousands leaving Ireland was never allowed to become news. As usual Irish mothers weep alone and the banker’s children go to Australia on holiday.
I might not be able to afford a holiday by the time you read this. On Wednesday George Osborne shall deliver his speech from his little red briefcase.
We shall all tremble as we await the news of our dearly beloved pint, cigarette or the price of diesel. Income tax rates don’t really affect us that much but the rate of VAT and the hidden taxes all put together take their toll.
The British economy, like that of the rest of Europe, is in a mess. While we wait on Frauline Merkel and her mates to sort out the Euro we may as well get used to living at the edge of poverty.
Pope Francis revealed how he chose his name.
After he had been elected the cardinals came up one after another to congratulate him. Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil, whispered in his ear, “Don’t forget the poor.” Because of this he took the name Francis, the saint of the poor.
If anyone reading this gets a chance to have a word in the ear of George Osborne or Frauline Merkel, whisper something similar.
You never know.......it might work!
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