Articles

A complete chronological listing of shorter pieces written since 1995.

Any of these articles that are not the copyright of a specified publication may be freely copied and distributed.

Articles are listed in inverse chronological order – i.e. more recent articles first.

  • 2018: A year of rescue from the belly of the whale?
    ACI Website Nov 2017
    The Bible story of Jonah is a sacred allegory about the paradoxical nature of apparent disaster. It tells us that the radical recovery of the Irish church needed to begin with the catastrophe of scandals that would reveal its faults. Thrown from its pedestal in Irish society the church may now be ready to realign itself with the interests of the poorest and, in 2018, respond to the expected call from Pope Francis to resume its missionary tradition.

  • Is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin failing Dublin?
    ACI Website Dec 2017
    Justly respected for his handling of the clerical abuse issue since coming to Dublin in 2003, Archbishop Martin must nevertheless accept some responsibility for the fact that the church in Dublin has not changed to meet his own hopes.

  • The Scandal of the 2011 Missal
    ACI Website Nov 2017
    A review of 'Lost in Translation' - an invaluable account of the origins and shortcomings of the new English-language Missal introduced in 2011.

  • ‘A Lost Tribe’ – a story that should not have ended this way
    ACI Website Nov 2017
    Review of 'A Lost Tribe' - a novel by William King. Tracking the disillusioned lives of Dublin seminarians who watched the opening of Vatican II on TV in 1962, this novel suggests that the meaning of the Council did not 'catch fire' for those who stayed with the priesthood, to any life-changing degree. This helps to explain what followed not only in Dublin but throughout Ireland - the disgracing of a model of church that refused to change.

  • The ‘war’ against Pope Francis: where do Irish bishops stand?
    ACI Website Oct 2017
    A Guardian article describing Pope Francis as an 'extrovert' misses the mark. The pope is opposed by some because he models a way of leading the church that abandons the role of exalted rule-maker and seeks to accompany us as we travel towards the kingdom of God. Just like the church's founder!

  • The Mass: a ‘Holy Sacrifice’?
    ACI Website Sep 2017
    A review of an article (by Anthony Lusvardi SJ) that argues strongly against opposing the idea of the Mass as Sacrifice to the 'communal meal' aspect. When Christian sacrifice is understood as self-giving - following René Girard - the apparent dissonance of these ideas disappears.

  • ‘Faith Formation and Fear of Shame’: History of an Article
    Sourcing July 2017
    Why have Irish bishops not yet published details of any research (planned or completed) into the wide-scale absence of school-going Catholic teenagers from church? Do they fear the possible impact of such research on the ongoing campaign against faith schools? Here I outline the history of an article that appeared in 2017.

  • Faith Formation and Fear of Shame
    The Furrow July/August 2017
    Why has the Irish Catholic Education establishment published no research on the drift from religious practice of school-going teenagers - noticed over a decade ago by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin? In a media climate of opposition to faith schools, is there a fear that such research would be exploited by media as an 'own goal'?

  • Resurrection?
    ACI Website Easter 2017
    Is it persuasive to speak of the Resurrection of Jesus, a foundational belief of the Church, as though it happened only in the minds of those who bore witness to it? For me this is ruled out by the insistence of the witnesses that they had encountered a physically verifiable bodily Jesus, not an interior vision - and by their readiness to die in affirmation of this.

  • Was Jesus a whistleblower too?
    ACI Website Feb 2017
    Where does integrity come from? The moral strength to stand alone against injustice is so often absent today that we need to wonder if it can happen at all without the inspiration given by 'whistleblowers' of the past. Standing alone against the injustice of an oppressive religious system in his own time, Jesus should be seen in that light.

  • No research, ever, on school-centred faith formation in Irish Catholic Schools?
    Sourcing 2017
    How a letter in the Irish Catholic in June 2016 received no response from the Irish Catholic Education establishment - prompting the question why?

  • Media: Cruel arbiter of youthful self-respect
    ACI Website Nov 8th, 2016
    Are we too relaxed about the power of modern media to determine how young people value themselves?  Do Christians - and parents and teachers especially - urgently need to respond to this growing danger - with the strong Gospel message that every person without exception is of equal, constant and infinite value?

  • Sexuality, Nature and Justice
    ACI Website Sep 2016
    What do conscience, justice and mercy require of us Catholics in regard to the participation of those in same-sex relationships in any public aspect of lay ministry in the church? Here I state a very personal view.

  • Imminent: A new ‘Left’ / Green / Faith Alliance?
    ACI Website July 2016
    The word 'imminent' reflects my eternal optimism - I guess that this development could take half-a-century. Nevertheless, the logic is inescapable!

  • Faith Formation? Take it out of schools altogether!
    ACI Website March 2016
    With the continuity of Catholic tradition in Ireland now seriously in question - and with controversy growing over 'faith schools' - it is time to realise that our continued over-reliance on school-centred faith formation is itself a barrier to the radical change needed to ensure the growth and continuity of adult faith.

  • Laudato Si’, Technocracy and Technobuzz
    ACI Website July 2015
    What explains our obsession with technology, the 'technocratic paradigm' identified by Pope Francis as the root of the global environmental crisis?

  • New Light on the Problem of Atonement
    ACI Website May 2015
    René Girard's insights into the origins of violence and over-consumption help to explain how the Crucifixion reconciles us humans to God.

  • Jesus and Violence: The importance of René Girard II
    ACI Website Mar 2015
    René Girard argues that by revealing the injustice of 'scapegoating' - i.e. punishing one person to save the community from greater internal conflict - Jesus obliges us to find another way to deal with our violence (by repentance and forgiveness). Failure to do that leads to the persistent unpredictable violence of these times.

  • Christendom compromised Christianity – and gave birth to Secularism
    Sourcing Dec 2014
    This followed a letter from me to the editor of the Irish Catholic, protesting at the paper's misreporting of Archbishop Michael Neary's declaration that the era of Christendom was over in Europe. Archbishop Neary had not used the word 'secularism', had not said that 'secularism' had won its battle with the church, and had distinguished 'Christendom' from 'Christianity'. Here I summarised the case for welcoming the end of Christendom - essentially an era of merely nominal state adherence to Christian belief - as a deliverance for the Church.

  • Time to prioritise Catholic Social Teaching!
    ACI website Nov 2014
    With church leadership focused on 'culture war' issues such as abortion and euthanasia, and clergy apparently absorbed with internal struggles with hierarchy, how can the Church rouse itself to address the social deficits in Irish society, such as homelessness, loneliness and depression? It's surely high time for Catholic Social Teaching.