Ireland

Image via REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/RNS

A religious order covered up the sexual crimes of an Irish priest who abused more than 100 children, some as young as 6, according to a new report.

The failures of the Salvatorian order to act on the crimes of a priest named “Father A” were outlined in a report released May 4 by Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Bono on the #U21e tour in Arizona on May 23, by aliza sherman on Flickr.com

Bono on the #U21e tour in Arizona on May 23, by aliza sherman on Flickr.com

When Ireland became the first country to legalize same-gender marriage by popular mandate, double rainbows appeared over Dublin, and an Irish rock band transformed their Arizona concert into a gay-rights celebration. Almost 30 years ago, Bono endured threats from angry Arizonans for his support of the U.S. national holiday for the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But on Saturday, Bono invoked King as peacemaker as U2 celebrated the victory of love, turning the song “Pride (In The Name of Love)” into an anthem for gay pride.

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Bono shared, “This is a moment to thank the people who bring us peace. It’s a moment for us to thank the people who brought peace to our country. We have peace in Ireland today! And in fact on this very day we have true equality in Ireland. Because millions turned up to vote yesterday to say, ‘love is the highest law in the land! Love! The biggest turnout in the history of the state, to say, ‘love is the highest law in the land!’ Because if God loves us, whoever we love, wherever we come from … then why can’t the state?’”

Kim Hjelmgaard 05-26-2015
Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

A couple walks in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015.Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

In many ways, Ireland remains a heavily Catholic country.

Yet the emphatic “Yes” vote to same-sex marriage rights on May 22 represents a seismic shift in the nation’s social liberalization and challenges the Roman Catholic Church to rethink its role in Irish society.

Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

A poster supporting the Yes vote is displayed in Dublin on May 19, 2015. Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

“In Ireland,” says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, “the people is the Church, and the Church is the people.”

But not so much anymore.

On May 22, voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country’s constitution should be amended to allow for gay marriage. If the amendment passes, Ireland will become the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / RNS

St. Patrick of Ireland. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / RNS

For Catholics, Episcopalians and some Lutherans, March 17 is the Feast Day of St. Patrick. For the rest of us, it’s St. Patrick’s Day — a midweek excuse to party until we’re green in the face. But who was Patrick? Did he really drive the snakes out of Ireland or use the shamrock to explain the Trinity? Why should this fifth-century priest be remembered on this day?

Q: Was St. Patrick a real guy, and would he approve of green beer?

A: Yes, Patrick was a real person, but not much is known of his life. He was born in the late 300s when the Roman Empire extended to England, so he was not “really” Irish — like the vast majority of people who celebrate his day. In his “Confessio,” one of only two surviving documents attributed to him, Patrick wrote that while his father was a Christian deacon, he was not devout. At age 16, Patrick was captured by Irish marauders, carried across the Irish Sea and enslaved. Patrick spent six years alone in the wilderness tending his master’s sheep, praying constantly. “It was among foreigners that it was seen how little I was,” he wrote. He began to have visions and hear voices that told him: “Look, your ship is ready.” So Patrick left his first flock and walked 200 miles to the coast. It’s a pretty safe bet he would have loved a beer, green or otherwise, as he stepped into a boat bound for England.

Sean McDonagh 10-06-2014

The oldest known redwood in the United States was a sapling during the Babylonian exile. Why trees should be part of Christian core curriculum. 

Gareth Higgins 08-05-2014

Brendan Gleeson in Calvary

Calvary is a rare and beautiful film, one that tells the truth, or at least asks for it honestly.

Christian Piatt 12-04-2013
Courtesy of Burnside Books

'Cinematic States' explores fifty films that help define something about each state. Courtesy of Burnside Books

Lots of people like movies; Gareth Higgins loves movies. But the founding director of the Wild Goose Festival and long-time peace activist engages popular culture with a different eye than most of us. And he’s used that keen eye for deeper meaning to create his latest book.

I asked Gareth about his new book on American film, his peace work, and what it’s like considering American culture both as an insider and as a non-native. Here’s what he had to say.

Paresh Dave 05-21-2013
Photo by Paresh Dave

A Patrician cross, Ireland’s dominant religious symbols, marks a burial at Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery. Photo by Paresh Dave

DUBLIN — Patricia Wojnar left a 32-year career in interior design to pursue a degree that wasn’t in demand: a master’s in bereavement studies.

Having seen four family members die early, she wanted to understand how to adapt.

As it turned out, the degree perfectly prepared her to enter one of Ireland’s emerging professions.

Wojnar is now a registered civil celebrant, presiding over funerals and weddings for people who refuse to associate with Ireland’s scandal-tarred Roman Catholic Church. She’s not alone; many newly minted civil celebrants are starting their own businesses as part of Ireland’s “post-Catholic” economy.

Although many observers have noted the impact of secularization and child abuse scandals on church membership and finances, only now are the Irish seeing the cultural and socioeconomic reverberations. These include a class of people willing to observe life’s most significant milestones outside the church.

Sarah Parvini 03-27-2013
RNS photo by Sarah Parvini.

Ruth Bowie and her husband Michael (pictured here with their son Dougie). RNS photo by Sarah Parvini.

DUBLIN, Ireland — Ruth Bowie was in the throes of grief when she found out she would never know her unborn child. At the 12-week mark, a pregnancy scan showed the baby had anencephaly, a fatal condition in which a portion of the brain and skull never form.

Bowie, 34, a pediatric nurse, knew the implications of the birth defect even before the doctor explained. But the life-changing news didn’t stop there.

“The doctors said we will continue to look after you, or else you can choose to travel,” she recalled.

Put another way, if she and her husband wanted to seek an abortion, they would have to travel to England to end the pregnancy.

Adam Ericksen 03-17-2013
St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. jordache / Shutterstock.com

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. jordache / Shutterstock.com

I love St. Patrick’s Day.

The one day of the year when, for better or worse, Western culture allows me to claim my non-existent inner Irishman.

Kiss me, baby.

Okay. I’m done.

There are many stories and legends about the fascinating life of St. Patrick. One of the most famous legends recounts how this great 5th century saint banished all of the snakes from Ireland. Bad snakes. Bad.

My work at the Raven Foundation during the last few years has taught me to be suspicious of such legends. In fact, we might call them myths. Myths cover up scapegoating of human beings by telling the story in a more innocuous way. So, instead of saying we banish humans, we say we banished snakes.

Interestingly, the last glacial period (some 10,000-100,000 years ago, depending on whom you ask) beat St. Patrick to the snake banishing. But, Christian tradition has given Patrick all the credit. So, if there weren’t snakes around during Patrick’s day, what’s with the legend?

Cathleen Falsani 10-25-2012

God Girl's New Favorite Thing for Oct. 25, 2012: Two Irish boys cover Rihanna's "We Found Love (in a Hopeless Place)"

http://youtu.be/sckIDFNEjRY

Now who are these talented young lads?

UPDATE: WE FOUND 'EM!

More info from the singer's father inside the blog...

Brandon Hook 10-16-2012

Top o' aftornune to ya!

Francis Chan recently sat down with the Northern Irish Christian band The Rend Collective to test his Northern Irish speaking skillz. Chan holds his own. Most of the time he mimics his Irish friend well.

But what do I know? I'm not from Ireland. 

I do, however, enjoy accents. And hopefully you do too. Enjoy.

Tracy Gordon 03-20-2012
Clergy abuse protest in Dublin, 2002. Photo via Getty Images.

Clergy abuse protest in Dublin, 2002. Photo via Getty Images.

VATICAN CITY — Following a yearlong investigation into decades of rampant abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the Vatican today called for more rigorous screening of would-be priests and compulsory child protection classes in seminaries.

Pope Benedict XVI ordered the "Apostolic Visitation" of Ireland's seminaries, religious orders and four main archdioceses in 2010 after a string of Irish government commissions detailed the extent of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions and exposed a cover-up by several senior churchmen.

The team of church investigators included New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was tasked with inspecting Ireland's seminaries, and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

A seven-page summary of the investigation's final report was released by the Vatican on Tuesday, and said investigators identified past "shortcomings" that led to an "inadequate understanding of and reaction to" child abuse, "not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors."

But the investigators also stressed that the child protection initiatives undertaken since the 1990s were "judged to be excellent."

Cathleen Falsani 03-16-2012
Image of John O'Donohue via www.JohnODonohue.com

Image of John O'Donohue via www.JohnODonohue.com

To bless someone, in the most literal sense of the word, is to confer your hopes to them.

That's why so many traditional blessings begin with the word "may."

Take, for instance, what is perhaps the best-known Irish blessing (or toast, as the case may be this time of the year):

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

"May" doesn't mean "so be it." May implies that something is possible, but not a done deal. May hopes that God puts it in play and that you get out of your own way and allow it to happen.

John O'Donohue, the great contemporary Irish poet/philosopher (and former Catholic priest), knew the power of "may."

Cathleen Falsani 03-16-2012
Chains, Malin Head, Co. Donegal. Photo by Cathleen Falsani.

Chains, Malin Head, Co. Donegal. Photo by Cathleen Falsani.

Howling wind whipped my long, unruly hair in penitent lashes across my face as I stood in the rain, staring at the churning sea at the northernmost point of Ireland. This place, Malin Head in County Donegal, for some mysterious or mystical reason — perhaps because it is such a broody, dramatic place, or maybe it’s got something to do with ancestry, or both — is the spot I love most in the world.

It is a wild land, the kind of place where myths are born, where giants and saints might come bounding over the next hillock followed by a troupe of little people or a herd of magical sheep.

Whatever the reason, I feel at home here and have returned time and again over the last 15 years, drawn to stand on its rocky cliffs like water to the shore.

Gareth Higgins 06-29-2011

1100629-gandhifilmAh the joy of watching movies in the summer! Of course, there are a number of summer blockbusters coming out that will woo crowds to the theaters, but with the sky-high prices of theater tickets these days, nobody will fault you for wanting to stay home and kick back with a rental. If you're looking for a film that will entertain and inspire you, consider adding some of these excellent films about social change to your online queue. If you have any other films to add to this list, please contribute your favorites in the comments section below. (To read more of my film reviews, check out my monthly column in Sojourners magazine.)

Lynne Hybels 06-06-2011

No, I am not submitting a belated entry into the heated conversation about Rob Bell's latest book.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow 06-01-2010
On May 31, I awoke to news reports that the Israeli Navy had boarded and fired on 10 small ships in international waters approaching the coast of Gaza and bearing humanitarian supplies for Palestin
Douglas Kmiec 04-15-2010
It is far too easy to blame the highly publicized priestly scandal for the alienation of Catholics in Europe or the United States.

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