Melanie McDonagh Ireland is treating Rome like Tehran
COMMENT, PAGE 12
Nigel Baker Our new man in the Vatican
INTERVIEW, PAGE 6
Ronald Rolheiser How to overcome the fear of death
THE LAST WORD, PAGE 20
November 11 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Ireland closes its embassy to the Holy See to save money
Benedict XVI offers tips for seminarians
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE IRISH government has announced its intention to close its embassy to the Holy See, prompting accusations that the cost-cutting measure is a deliberate snub to the Vatican.
The papal nuncio to Ireland was temporarily recalled to Rome in July after the country’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, accused the Vatican of “dysfunction, elitism and narcissism” following a report into the handling of clerical abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.
Relations between the government and the Holy See were further strained when Mr Kenny proposed a law that would force priests to report to civil authorities admissions of sex abuse by a penitent in the confessional.
A visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland next year during the 50th International Eucharistic Congress also appears unlikely now after Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and the foreign minister Eamon Gilmore both dismissed the idea.
Mr Gilmore said the decision to close the embassy to the Holy See was taken with “the greatest regret and reluctance”, alongside the closure of Ireland’s diplomatic missions in Iran and East Timor. He said the country’s interests could be “sufficiently represented” by a non-resident ambassador.
Mr Gilmore denied that the decision was a result of tensions prompted by reactions to the Cloyne Report.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi also played down the political significance of the decision. He said: “Naturally every state that has diplomatic relations with the Holy See is free to decide... whether to have an
This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See
For the latest Vatican diplomacy news, visit CatholicHerald.co.uk ambassador to the Holy See who is resident in Rome or resident in another country. What is important is diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the states, and this is not in question with Ireland.”
But Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said that he hoped the Irish government’s decision would be reviewed.
He said: “I wish to express my profound disappointment at this decision which means that Ireland will be without a resident ambassador to the Holy See for the first time since diplomatic relations were established in 1929.
“This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries.”
David Quinn of the Iona Institute, which promotes religion in civil society, said it was hard to see the government’s move “as anything other than an insult to the Holy See”.
He said: “The government claims it is trying to save money, but it is keeping open embassies to countries like Lesoto and Malawi from which we make little or no economic return. Tiny Luxembourg aside, we are now the only traditionally Catholic country in Europe without a resident ambassador to the Holy See.
“[Mr Gilmore] is the leader of the Labour Party which has grown increasingly hostile to the Catholic Church over the years. This move is part of the secularising trend in Irish politics and Irish life generally,” Mr Quinn added. Interview: Page 6 Mary Kenny: Page 12 Melanie McDonagh: Page 12
POPE BENEDICT XVI has proposed three conditions for seminarians and priests who seek to grow in conformity with Christ.
The first, he said, was to be fascinated by Christ, “by his words, his gestures, his very person”, and to feel “the radiance of the Good and Love that emanate from him”. The second, the Pope said, was to be “administrators of the Mysteries of God ‘not for personal gain but with a generous soul’ ”.
The third condition, he said. was to live as a servant.
The Pope was speaking at Vespers last Friday to mark the start of the academic year for pontifical universities. He said his suggestions applied to the laity, too.
Reshuffle at bishops’ education service
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE GENERAL SECRETARY of the bishops’ conference has taken over as interim director of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW).
Fr Marcus Stock will temporarily replace Oona Stannard, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence “for personal reasons”, a Church spokesman said. She has been director of the bishops’ agency for more than a decade.
Fr Stock said that his new role was temporary and that he would have “strategic oversight of, and responsibility for, the CESEW”.
As general secretary he is already in charge of the bishops’ conference secretariat and so will not have time to run the CESEW in the long term.
The future of the education agency is expected to be discussed at the bishops’ plenary meeting later this month.
An agency of the bishops’ conference, the CESEW negotiates with the Government on behalf of the Catholic bishops. Its mission is to promote Catholic education.
Miss Stannard was appointed chief executive of the CESEW in August 1999. Her tenure has been marked by a growing hostility to faith schools from teaching unions and politicians.
Her leadership was particularly controversial during the passage of the Children, Schools and Families Bill in February 2009.
The Bill, of which former Education Secretary Ed Balls was a key architect, stipulated that Catholic schools could not opt out of lessons on sex and relationships, which included advising pupils on where to access an abortion. The CESEW welcomed the Bill and insisted that it safeguarded the rights of Catholic schools.
Miss Stannard also made headl ines in June last year when she expressed reservations concerning academy status for Catholic schools. She later adjusted her judgment and concluded that academy status was an option.
Vatican cardinal urges priests to spice up ‘dull, irrelevant’ sermons
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A VATICAN cardinal has appealed to clergy to liven up “dull, flavourless” sermons in an address at a conference in Rome.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, claimed that homilies had become “irrelevant” to worshippers who were used to the thrill and excitement of modern technology such as the television and the internet. He said: “The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour.”
The cardinal described the theological language used by priests in their sermons as “grey, dull and flavourless” and appealed to priests to use the graphic and dramatic imagery of the Bible to illustrate their sermons with colour and intrigue.
The Bible was “crowded with stories, symbols and images”, he said, which were appropriate for “the children of television and the internet” who grace church pews.
Speaking at the conference the cardinal encouraged priests to use social media networks to communicate the faith and the Word of God. He said: “We need to remember that communicating faith does not just take place through sermons. It can be achieved through the 140
characters of a Twitter message.”
Cardinal Ravasi was appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Culture in September 2007. In November last year Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the College of Cardinals.
The cardinal, who some see as a possible future pope, blogs regularly for the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. Editorial Comment: Page 13
Bolton boss thanks priest after victory BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
Wanderers.’ So I knew He was on side as well.”
BOLTON WANDERERS manager Owen Coyle has thanked God after his team’s surprise 5-0 win against Stoke in a Premier League match on Sunday.
The 45-year-old was raised near to Celtic Park in Glasgow and is renowned for his weekly church attendance alongside his passion for football.
The proud football boss said: “When I went to Mass last night the local priest was brilliant and announced: ‘Let’s pray for the
The match on Sunday was Bolton Wanderers’ biggest ever home win and brought to an end a miserable run of defeats.
Steve Jobs made a prank call to the pope BY ED WEST
THE LATE computer pioneer Steve Jobs once made a prank call to the Pope, a new biography has disclosed. Walter Isaacson reveals in his new biography of the Apple chairman that as a teenager he and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak tried to call Pope Paul VI, having built a “Blue Box”, a device that allowed them to make long-distance calls for free by fooling the phone companies’ systems.
The two pranksters called the Vatican, with Mr Wozniak pretending to be Henry Kissinger and asking to speak to the Pope. They spoke to several Vatican officials but never got through to the Holy Father. Isaacson’s book is based on 40 interviews with Jobs over two years.
Robin Harris Cameron and the Church: the honeymoon is over PAGE 9
Freddy Gray Were our ancestors nastier than us? PAGE 12
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