We are about to witness a new wave of attacks on the Church where she will be condemned for being old fashioned and backward. We will hear all the usual stuff about modernism and people’s rights and how the Church has lost touch with the world.
Sunday October 5th sees the beginning of Synod on the Family at St Peter’s when over 150 Church Fathers shall gather to discuss the family which is so threatened in today’s world.
“The family is seen in an ideal embrace between the Extraordinary Synod of October 2014 and the General Synod of 2015. This is an original approach that involves and calls on people in the Church and beyond. In the choice of the family, with its new challenges and great resources, the Church breathes deeply, for herself and for the whole of humanity.
The Gospel on the Family is the good news about divine love, which is proclaimed to those who live the fundamental, human and personal, experience of the couple and of communion open to the gift of children, which is the community of the family. The Church’s teaching on marriage is presented and offered a communicative and effective way, so that it reaches the hearts and transforms them according to the will of God manifested in Christ Jesus.”
Did you notice a beautiful and very important line in that quote: “The Church breathes deeply.”
Most people believe that the Church moves too slowly and does not react quickly enough to issues. That is not how the Church works; she takes her time and thinks important issues through fully before making a decision. If this takes many years then so be it, because important moral decisions cannot be made on the hoof.
The great advantage of the Catholic Church is that it is the true faith founded by Jesus and it shall never err in its teaching. It has a whole section set up and composed of brilliant men and women scholars whose job it is to ensure that no teaching of the Church strays from God’s truth.
This group is called the ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.’
No other organization in the world guards and protects the truth the way the Catholic Church does. Whereas the Church, which is a divine institution protected by God, can take as long as it wants to reach a consensus, political parties, guided by opinion polls and the politician’s desire for power, often make policy in haste.
Last week we saw a prime example of this difference in two speeches given by David Cameron and Pope Francis.
At the conservative party conference in Birmingham, David Cameron made a great speech promising tax cuts to 30 million people. The crowd cheered like mad; tax cuts are a vote winner and promise people more money to do and buy what they want.
Tax cuts are popular as is hitting the poor. The Tories also said that while they would give big tax breaks to the rich they would put a cap on welfare benefits: all great vote catchers and all popular with the masses.
The Tories appeal to the greed in us all and they also appeal, in hitting the poor, to that nasty side of our nature that believes we are better and more deserving than those who don’t want to work. The fact that there are no jobs because all our big businesses invest in foreign countries with cheap labour, does not come into the equation.
And anyway, more money in my pocket gives me more freedom and independence.
On the other side of Europe, way down in Italy, Pope Francis had a slightly different way of looking at the world and people.
“A brilliantly sunlit St. Peter’s Square was the scene Sunday morning for a great gathering of senior citizens – and especially grandparents – who had come to Rome to be with Pope Francis, to exchange life stories and hear the Holy Father’s reflections on the importance, the struggles, and the beauty of life in the old age.
‘Old age, in particular, is a time of grace,’ said Pope Francis, ‘in which the Lord will renew His call: He calls us to preserve and transmit the faith, calls us to pray, especially to intercede; calls us to be close to those who may be in need.’ The Holy Father went on to warn against losing sight of and appreciation for the inestimable worth of those, who are in the twilight of life. ‘A people that does not have care for the elderly, which does not treat them well, has no future: such a people loses its memory and its roots.’” (Vatican Radio)
For two thousand years the Church has taught the dignity of the human person. For so many of us secular people, the elderly are a burden who interfere with our careers and our life. They are handier when we put them in a home so that we can get on with our holidays, big houses and fancy cars.
In the article Pope Francis goes on, “But there is also the reality of the abandonment of the elderly: how many times we discard older people with attitudes that are akin to a hidden form of euthanasia! The culture of discarding human beings hurts our world. We discard children, young people and older people under the pretence of maintaining a "balanced" economic system, the centre of which is no longer the human person, but money. We are all called to counter this culture of poisonous waste!”
Some things in life certainly stick with you. The last general election in the Free State was in February 2011. The Green Party, who had been in coalition with Fianna Fail, lost all their six seats and were sent packing by the electorate.
In the mind of most people the country had been brought to its knees by the mismanagement of the coalition partners and the electorate had had their revenge.
Shortly after the election one of the members of the Green Party was on the Pat Kenny show on the radio. I don’t recall his name but it was what he said that was important.
The country was in bailout, jobs were being lost wholesale and greatly overvalued houses were now worth a pittance, and suicides were at a record high; Pat Kenny asked the Green Party member if it had been all worthwhile.
“It was certainly,” said the politician, “We have gotten same sex unions.”
There you have it, the country ruined, people dying in despair but it was all worth it, the Greens had brought in same sex unions. Imagine a Green Party member going to the wife of some poor businessman who had taken his own life in despair and saying, “I know you are now a widow, your children have no father and your life is in turmoil, but don’t worry, we now have same sex unions. Ireland is a modern country at last.”
We have the same sort of thing happening in the New North; Theresa Villiers has called for talks on flags, parades and the past to try to move the political process in Northern Ireland along. But wait for it:
“The DUP has said it is not prepared to move forward with inter-party talks until a decision is made on an inquiry into parades in north Belfast.
Jeffrey Donaldson said she needed to respond first to unionist proposals on parading.
‘We are very clear, we have put a proposal to the secretary of state and she needs to respond to that,’ he said.
Speaking on Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster on Monday, he also said his party had made it clear that matters internal to Northern Ireland - welfare reform, parades and flags and emblems - were ‘exclusively a matter for the Northern Ireland and the UK governments.’
‘I don't think the Irish government will want to be involved, but if there was any question of them being involved, then we would make it clear that is simply not on,’ he said.” (BBC News)
There you have it from our Jeffrey, ’no talks until we say that you have done enough for us to go into talks with you.’ An inquiry in Twaddell Avenue is more important than political progress. And our Jeffrey is going to decide who will be allowed to attend and what they will talk about.
Thankfully by week’s end our beloved leader, Peter, had put Jeffrey in his place and had given permission for the Free State representatives to attend; very gracious of him.
But the whole debacle shows us that like the Green Party and their loyalty to the homosexual community, the unionists are still under the command of the Orange Order and have to put the wishes of the Order before anything else. Read this, for example.
According to all reports the cancer treatment in Northern Ireland is under great stress.
Medical experts have warned that cancer services in Northern Ireland are under severe pressure amid health budget cuts and growing demand.
The number of people diagnosed with cancer has risen by about 50% since 2000, and is expected to rise another 50% by 2030.
"We're facing a huge pressure in terms of the projected increase in the number of patients diagnosed with cancer," said Dr Martin Eatock, a consultant medical oncologist at Belfast City Hospital.
"So there is a great pressure on the service because there is more treatment being given to a greater number of patients.” (UTV News)
Someone should tell Dr Martin not to worry, we will get an inquiry into Twaddell and the people dying of cancer will die content in the knowledge that the marchers have finally got home.
“Don’t worry, Mrs, I know your husband is sick and I know the health service needs more money, but we have to march up Twaddell Avenue. Surely you see how important these things are,” says the wee unionist man looking for votes at the council election.
On Thursday night last George Hamilton, not the singer but the Chief Constable, told us an interesting piece of news about Twaddell Avenue: it is costing £40,000 per night to police the protest.
Where in the world would you get a situation such as this: in a country totally broke and with huge cuts being made, a dozen protesters can block a road for a year at the cost of all political progress and £40,000 per night, and no one has the courage to send them packing.
But don’t worry, Ireland shall soon be free at last; we have finally found how to beat the Protestant people into submission, turn off the Christmas tree lights.
The Belfast Telegraph ran a story about Christmas tree lights in Castledawson:
“A County Londonderry village may have fewer Christmas lights this year due to a row over flags.
A community group in Castledawson has been blocked from receiving the decorations from Magherafelt District Council by Sinn Féin councillors, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
The party said the lights would only be released if a policy on the flying of union flags in the town was agreed.
The DUP has accused them of playing politics with Christmas.
Sean McPeake, Sinn Féin group leader at Magherafelt District Council, said the lights were bought after a peace grant application by a community group in Castledawson last year.
‘When this application came in, the town was bedecked in union flags,’ he said.”
It conjures up all sorts of images of the future of Northern Ireland. Imagine in fifty years’ time and a wee Protestant lad is asking his dad how a United Ireland came about:
“Well, son, it was like this. The IRA bombed and blew us up for 25 years but they could not beat us. They tried everything but we, the unionist people of Northern Ireland, were resolute, no surrender. Eventually they called a ceasefire and we thought it was all over, but they had a master-plan. They turned off the Christmas tree lights. At that we had to give in, we could stick it no longer.”
I pity politicians. They have to do what their voters expect of them or they will be ousted in the next election. The Church, on the other hand, has no such worries, the Pope is not up for election again in five years.
After the Synod on the Family, which begins on Sunday, the Church shall be condemned for proclaiming that marriage is between a man and a woman; that human life is sacred from conception to natural death and the every person in this world has equal dignity.
It will be called old fashioned and behind the times. But the Church does not flow with fads and public opinion; her job is not to be liked but to proclaim the truth, she speaks of building community and making life worth living.
What Twaddell Avenue has to do with promoting the union or how turning the Christmas tree lights in Castledawson helps bring about a United Ireland is beyond me, and to be honest, I don’t really care.
But the Church will have plenty to say about family life and society that is very important. It will talk of building the community and shaping society in such a way that it conforms to God’s law and is for the good of all. It will stress the respect for all.
Maybe our politicians need to stop rushing about and making policy on the hoof, making policy just to gain a few votes can be very destructive.
And when you gear your policy for the good of the people rather than the good of the party, the consequences could be miraculous.
The views expressed are not necessarily those of
the editor but are the views of the writer.
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