Monday, 27 March 2017

Paris in the Springtime!

Beautiful weather and long may it last! With Spring here the trees in St Joseph's garden above the church are getting a visit from a tree surgeon. They were pruned and trimmed a few years back and it is time to give them the same again. Also, tomorrow morning the cleaning of the fa├žade of the building begins followed by the replacement of all our windows, front and back. It will be well into Summer before all this is completed. After 30 years since being built, these kinds of works can be expected to arise. Each Lent at St Joseph's the Pastoral Council chooses a project towards which alms-giving in Lent is directed. In recent years we have reached out to places as diverse as Democratic Republic of Congo, West Indies, Belfast, to mention just a few. This year we are supporting three agencies addressing the needs of the many refugees who have arrived in Paris - Foundation Notre Dame, Caritas International and Order of Malta France. These groups have the capacity to effectively help people who due to war and conflicts have been forces to flee their home countries. Last year St Joseph's raised over €30,000 during Lent to assist with the education of displaced students in Iraq and Syria. We reach out as best we can to those of our brothers and sisters who are struggling to survive. The first three weeks of Lent have seen almost €13,000 raised. Our website is operational again following serious disruption and up to date information is available - www.stjoeparis.org     AT

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Priests for the Future

Pope Francis has my prayers and admiration as he listens to the Holy Spirit and faces challenges from members of the Vatican household. This is nothing new; after all Peter was challenged by the words of Paul shortly after assuming a service of leadership in the footsteps of Christ. I'm not sure that the challenges of those who are unhappy with Pope Francis are of the same value as those of St Paul.

The mention by Pope Francis in an interview with a German magazine that the possibility of married men of proved virtue being ordained is interesting. There is no doubt that since Pope Benedict XVI welcomed married Anglican priests to Ordination, the clerical landscape has changed. It seems that this development has settled in well in places where priests, married and celibate, minister side by side. Parishioners with whom I have spoken, express happiness with this situation. The Eucharistic celebration ranks of greater importance with people than the personal status of the priest presiding. It is necessary for me to remember that there are wives and family members to be treated sensitively in any discussion of married clergy in the Catholic church or in other denominations.

My question about the proposal to ordain men of proved virtue, to what issue is this offered as a solution? If a male priesthood, married and celebrate, is the only one possible, then in one sense, why not ordain more men to celebrate Mass? But, if the question to be answered is not so much about the shortage of priests and a remedy, but about going to the roots of the church as given by Christ, perhaps another set of issues also need to be addressed.

In an interview published in the Sunday Tribune Newspaper [ceased publication], 24th August 2009, I suggested that recruitment of candidates for the priesthood should be suspended for as long as it takes to get to the roots of the revelations of child abuse by clergy and religious. Since then I would add that there is need to address:

  • The treatment of survivors of clerical and religious abuse
  • Why people like Marie Collins find it no longer acceptable to stay on the Papal commission
  • Criteria for the acceptance and formation of future candidates for priesthood and religious life
  • The outcome of the Commission examining having female Deacons (ordained).
Dealing with such serious matters - this is the Body of Christ - new wine will need new wine skins. Patches on the present clothes of the church will tear away quickly. The foundation, Christ, is sound but He has asked us to assist with building the Kingdom.                                               A.T.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

St Patrick's Day 2017

The website - www.stjoeparis.org - that offers a link to this blog has been out of action for some time. I apologise for this. It was hacked - the country where it happened is known - and persistent attacks on it has meant that the whole site is being rebuilt. The great work being done by our webmaster is to be applauded and the hope is that it will soon be back to full health!

There is a wonderful initiative under way to form the group, 'The Irish in France', which is well advanced. There have been a number of productive meetings at the Embassy of Ireland and it is hoped that the Statutes will soon be registered, a bank account opened, the website developed, a June Irish in France Ball held, a July Sports Day planned and perhaps next St Patrick's Day, the Parade will be a significant event in the diary not only of Irish people, but all friends and associates of Ireland. It is with sadness that I read last week that our Ambassador, Geraldine, is on the move to New York and will represent Ireland at the United Nations. I can only salute her contribution made during her years here and to wish her, Brian and Alex every blessing as they move on to this next chapter of their lives.

We have had the Stormont Elections recently and now the hard work of bringing together an Executive. It will not be easy. Having learnt a little about the complexity during my time at Holy Cross, I know that there is no quick fix. It will take courage, vision and tolerance to move the peace process forward. Many times while living there before I was moved in 2008, I could see that until there is radical change in the educational systems in place - from nursery, creche, primary and secondary - there will continue to be a divide society. It was my privilege to know people of all outlooks and political views and to realise that if only they knew their neighbours better, we could build a great society. 'Brexit' will not help and personally,I have real fears for what will happen should a 'hard border' be put in place again. I wish I could say more, but I can only hope and pray that the worst will not happen. It is also a time of great opportunity and it also a responsibility of the European Union not to see this as a local issue.

The Tuam and perhaps other locations where babies were buried is heartbreaking. It calls for a Day of National Mourning in which every citizen is asked to pause and remember the past and also to seek to commit to a different way of treating people, especially women. The churches could also consider coming together to have a joint service of repentance for our role in creating this horror. May these little ones rest in peace.

Pope Francis considering the ordination of 'vir probati' will be the subject of my next post.          AT