I did not got time of late to post - pastoral duties. But, as I survey the weekend, it has been very eventful in the Church and in Ireland.
The Holy Father's visit to Germany was a triumph: his homilies and talks were wonderful. I was particularly taken with his homily at the first Mass which was very consoling and felt it was a real message for us in Ireland in these difficult times. As you know there is now a push by some in the Church here to break from Rome. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin revealed that he has received a number of letters asking him to allow people call themselves Irish Catholic as opposed to Roman Catholic. I'm sure he explained a few things to those making this request. The Holy Father's homily on the vine and the branches serves as a wonderful response to these requests. If you have not read the homily, do so.
In the last couple of days RTE has turned its attention to Direction for our Times, based in the diocese of Kilmore, and led by a lay woman, Ann. Joe Duffy on Liveline interviewed Fr Darragh Connolly, the chaplain to the apostolate, yesterday. I was in seminary with Fr Darragh and he is a fine man and a good priest. I listened to the interview online - you can get it here. No friend of the Church, he is Ireland's "agony uncle" and loves to get his teeth into controversy. I personally do not find him very objective in his work and it seems to me that he has a chip on his shoulder with regard to Catholicism. In his interview he brought in the topic of the divorced receiving Holy Communion - a topic that had absolutely nothing to do with the issue being discussed. I think Duffy was trying to make hay out of the fact the Ann has had a divorce and an annulment and this was a springboard to get at the Church for her refusal to bless irregular unions. For much of the interview Duffy was antagonistic, and in his later interview with theologian Mark Miravalle he was just as truculent.
As regards Direction for our Times, it seems Sr Briege McKenna's statement has caused a lot of concern - Sr Briege has distanced herself. She has not given a reason for this, so I cannot comment any more on it. Personally I am not drawn to Direction for our Times - I have read some of the books and I have formed my own opinion, which is my own personal opinion, and I am not inclined to accept that they are authentic. At best, at this stage, I believe them to be personal meditations rather than locutions. However, I do heed the wise and prudent direction of the Bishop of Kilmore, and he seems happy to allow the apostolate continue and his decision carries weight. There is a commission examining the claims at the moment, and we await their decision. That said, a lot of good work is being done.
As regards the presidential election - the race is on by some potential candidates to secure nominations. Dana is doingh her best, and I think she will get the nomination. She has a number of County Councils to visit, and I think four will nominate her.
Meanwhile David Norris has 18 TDs and Senators backing him - he needs 20. Failing that he has a number of County Councils considering his application. Disturbing news is emerging with regard to the skeletons in his closet - it seems he wrote seven letters in attempt to win clemency for his lover who had been convicted of statutory rape of a fifteen-year old boy. But there are other skeletons: a friend of his, a journalist, has admitted that there a three other scandals in the senator's life - so when will they break? Plus the fact that members of his campaign team resigned in July over other matters which have yet to emerge. Is Ireland going to take the risk of giving him the highest office in the land when these scandals may become public and our Republic and the office of President is disgraced? By all accounts it seems the answer to that question is yes.
More disturbing developments are the antics of supporters of Senator Norris: it seems some are resorting to violent threats and abuse as they try to force public representatives to back their candidate. One independent senator has revealed that she has received abusive communications from Norris supporters because she made a decision not to sign his nomination papers. Senator Jillian van Turnhout is chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, and she made the decision not to support him: in all honesty, how could she given the organisation she works for. I am aware that she is not the only one who has fallen foul of the Norris camp - I have been reliably informed that death threats have even been made to another individual.
I'm sure Senator Norris would deplore this and these threats by some of his supporters is not his doing. He may need, however, to distance himself from them and clarify that these people are not representing him or his campaign.
UPDATE: Dana has secured the nomination: a fourth County Council - my native County, Offaly, has backed her.