Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Courage of Scots nun revealed as death squad attacks her African hospital

A hero Scots nun kept her terrified patients calm yesterday as a gang of machete-wielding thugs attacked her AIDS hospital in Kenya.

Sister Placida McCann’s priest, Father Gerry Roach, had been murdered by the same gang just days earlier.

But despite still being in mourning, Sister Placida kept her cool when the raiders returned. And she and the patients barricaded themselves inside the hospital until help arrived and the gunmen fled.

A Visit to Kenya

Kenya Diary

Both above from Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh Website

Please pray for all affected and those who have been killed in Kenya.

Late Christmas Present?

Blogging Demotivator

Friday, 11 December 2009

Yet another Quiz...

I would have had a tenner on being Grumpy Smurf...

Take The Test

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


"Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not" (Jn 12:35).
(Prologue to the Rule)

Ch 4 - Instruments of Good Works
47 - To keep death before one's eyes daily.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Anglican Spotting

SUB TUUM has produced a High and Hazy, Low and Lazy, Broad and Crazy - guide to anglican churches.

You could use it to identify Episcopal / C of E churches you know, go to a wedding at or even try to work it out from say your local 'piskie / C of E website.

So for example, where I was baptised would be High liturgy and a progressive parish - An old Anglo Catholic parish which retains a very high liturgy but has gone down the 'inclusive' road. They used 'Affirming Catholicism' publications as well.

Up the road in Balerno the thriving evangelical St Mungo's are a Low & Conservative parish.

As always, it's not always that simple. St Michael and All Saints in Edinburgh look almost off the scale for tradition, their 'Mystery Worshipper' review noted the Mass was celebrated facing East...but they have a lady assistant priest. So do they get a High and Conservative rating or a high and progressive rating...

My local episcopal parish here would be as for my baptism parish, albeit not as high up the candle liturgically, though they do reserve their sacrament, probably enough to get a High as opposed to Broad / Middle rating!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Holiness - St Martin of Tours & Abba Anthony

It was a while back (11 Nov) but in the Office of Readings, St Martin of Tours, when about to die;

He saw the devil standing near and cried out, 'Blood stained beast, what are you doing here? You will find nothing of yours in me, you living death. I go to the arms of Abraham. These were his last words. Then he surrended his soul to God.

I thought, imagine being able to say that at the hour of your death! But then, fine for him, a Bishop, a saint.

But immediately came to mind

It was revealed to Abba Anthony in his desert that there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he had beyond his needs he gave to the poor, and every day he sang the thrice-holy hymn with the angels. (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers)

The bar has been set pretty high for us all

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Black Art of Minute taking

A colleague of mine has not taken minutes before, so I have offered to give a lesson in 'The Black Art of Minute Taking'

I'm tempted to use this...

Monday, 26 October 2009

Archbishop of Tuam on recent 'event' at Knock

I'll be going at Christmas as Cellarer clan going to Mayo to spend Christmas with the inlaws. I'm not expecting to see any apparitions...

Most Rev. Michael Neary DD LSS,
Tuam, Co. Galway.


Statement by Archbishop Michael Neary
on the Shrine of Knock
The Meaning of Knock

Knock is a much loved place of pilgrimage and prayer. Ever since the apparition in 1879, believers from home and abroad have made the pilgrimage there in increasing numbers. The most renowned of all pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock was his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, who came for the centenary of the shrine in 1979, thus reaching ‘the goal of his journey to Ireland’ where he was able to ‘make yet another pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of Peace.’ (Homily at Mass in Knock, 30 September 1979).

The great gift of Knock consists in a particular way in prayer and the celebration of the sacraments, in penance and the conversion of life. ‘All those who have come to Knock have received blessings through the intercession of Mary…The sick and suffering, people handicapped in body and in mind, troubled in their faith or their conscience, all have been healed, comforted and confirmed in their faith because they trusted that the Mother of God would lead them to her Son Jesus’ (Pope John Paul II). It is this trust in the Mother of God, this turning to her divine Son borne out in the practical care of the sick, and in the celebration of the sacraments of reconciliation, anointing and Eucharist that lie at the core of the Knock pilgrimage.

For one hundred and thirty years now the pilgrims to Knock have been pilgrims in faith. They ‘walk by faith and not by sight’ to quote the words of St Paul (II Cor 5:7). This is their great blessing, the blessing in fact that Jesus mentions to the doubting Thomas: they have not seen and still they believe (Jn 20:29).
The Authentic Identity of the Shrine

Such faith makes Knock pilgrims firm in hope and active in love for the sick and suffering. They do not expect visions or seek further apparitions. God has manifested Himself in Jesus Christ and His people have responded ever since. It is not healthy, does not give glory to God and certainly is not good witness to the faith to be looking for extraordinary phenomena.

The apparition of 1879 was neither sought nor expected by the humble, honest people who were its astonished witnesses. Their faith reveals the patience and humility that characterises true belief. The Shrine of Knock is living witness to that faith.

Unfortunately, recent events at the Shrine obscure this essential message. They risk misleading God’s people and undermining faith. For this reason such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged.

The Shrine of Knock will be best served by retaining its authentic identity.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Orthodox thoughts

The spotlight is on the Personal Ordinariates initative at the moment, however relations with the Orthodox certainly appear to be on the move as well.

Strong public condemnation of protests by group of Orthodox opposed to talks.

Protests of radical Orthodox opposed to dialogue with the Catholic Church interrupted the work of the weeklong meeting. The country's police arrested four citizens and two monks of the monastery of Stavrovunio, confirmed Amen.gr.

The Orthodox representatives called the protests "totally unjustifiable and unacceptable, as they present false information which creates confusion," the communiqué stated. "All the Orthodox members of the commission re-affirmed that the dialogue continues with the decision of all the Orthodox Churches and advances with fidelity to the truth and to the Tradition of the Church."

Archbishop Hilarion on recognition of orders and communion.

Most Orthodox responses to questions about Catholic orders I have seen are vague, or some would say yes, others no, or, we do not know.

“To all intent and purposes, mutual recognition of each others Mysteries already exists between us. We do not have communion in the Mysteries, but we do recognize each others Mysteries”, declared Archbishop Hilarion (Alfeev) on the air during a broadcast of the program “The Church and the World” on the television channel “Russia”, on October 17th (video and text, http://vera.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=237432).

“If a Roman Catholic priest converts to Orthodoxy, we receive him as a priest, and we do not re-ordain him. And that means that, de facto, we recognize the Mysteries of the Roman Catholic Church”, explained Archbishop Hilarion.

Responding to the question of whether Roman Catholics can receive Communion from the Orthodox, or Orthodox Christians from the Roman Catholics, Archbishop Hilarion said that such giving of Communion should not take place, inasmuch as ”eucharistic communion has been broken”� between the Orthodox and Roman
Catholics. But, at the same time, he made clear that in some cases such
Communion is possible: “Exceptional cases occur, when, for example, a Roman Catholic is dying in some town where there is no Roman Catholic priest at all in the vicinity. So he asks an Orthodox priest to come. Then in such a case, I think, the Orthodox priest should go and give Communion to that person.”

Until recently, this sort of talk would have had you soundly rounded upon by a large number of senior Orthodox

A Bulgarian Orthodox prelate told Benedict XVI of his desire for unity, and his commitment to accelerate communion with the Catholic Church.

At the end of Wednesday’s general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, “We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together,” L’Osservatore Romano reported.

“People don’t understand our divisions and our discussions,” the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will “not spare any efforts” to work for the quick restoration of “communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”

Bishop Tichon said that “the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together.”

“A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together,” he added.

The prelate told the Pontiff that “this aspiration is a feeling that arose from the works of the assembly” of his diocese, held in Rome, in which all the priests and two delegates from every Bulgarian Orthodox parish took part.

“We have come to the Pope to express our desire for unity and also because he is the Bishop of Rome, the city that hosted our assembly,” he stated.

Friday, 23 October 2009

EWTN in Scotland

EWTN have been in Scotland filming. Commentary with photo's here. Use the archives posts in the side bar on the right to see all posts of trip.

They have been to Pluscarden Abbey, interviewed James MacMillan, Sr Rosanne Reddy of the Sister of the Gospel of Life and Cardinal O'Brien of St Andrew and Edinburgh Archdiocese, among others.

The majority of this weeks tapings are intended for a new EWTN series slated to air in 2010, entitled "My country, My Faith". His eminence, Cardinal Keith O Brien, is among this days guests, although he will appear on another series entitled "Catholic lives Scotland"

There is a great need for the Gospel in Scotland, the only Scottish seminary has closed, the Pro Life movement is small and Catholicism is under siege culturally. Nethertheless, there are many who have 'lit one candle' and who can use our prayers.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Culture of Death works in many ways

Call to end middle class benefits

Benefits for the middle classes should be taken away to avoid higher taxes, a centre-right think tank has suggested.

Reform says payments including maternity pay, child benefit,

Labour has spent years discouraging people to have children with a range of anti family policies, now the biscuit tin is empty there are calls (from the right, here, but they will all be looking at it) for variety of benefits to be halted. Were we to lose maternity pay and child benefit this would be big disincentive to many people either having children at all or having any more.

Standard Political Caveat - No Party Bias here - I can't be doing with labour - p.c. secular agenda. I cant be doing with the liberals. Anti Life Policies. I can't be doing with the Tories. Me, Me, Me laissez faire capitalism. Really struggling to vote for anyone next election!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Any chance of a building swap?

This is St John's. Before the injury, when I could, I stopped in on the way home. It is a beautiful church in which to stop and pray.

Unfortunately it is St John's Episcopal Church. Full photo tour here

My parish, and before I get into trouble, is a great parish with a great priest, is unfortunately in a building sense, this.

The original Church, which had been the diocesan Cathedral, burnt to the ground in 1961 and was replaced by the above. You can see more photo's here. - Need to click photo tab.

On my travels in Scotland and England my shoulders usually drop as we drive past a medieval / Victorian Church on the way to Mass in a late 20th Century box.

At the end of the day, It is a small price to pay though.

A wee thought. Where a C of E / C of S parish folds with a good Church building, should we actively be trying to get a hold of them to use? The 'old buildings are expensive' argument does not always hold, some 60's / 70's buildings were so poorly designed and / or constructed they eat money as fast as older properties.

Anyone know of any examples where a RC parish has taken over a folded C of S / C of E parish Church?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Benedictine Monastery to move after 148 years

The community at Ramsgate Abbey have decided to move after 148 years. Please pray that they find the right property to move to and the right buyer for their current one.

Latest News From The Monks of St. Augustine's

Click here to view our news photo gallery »»

Press Release
News Release

Embargoed until Thursday 15th October 2009

Benedictine Monks of St Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate, Seek New Home.

The Benedictine Monks of St Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate, Kent, have voted to vacate the monastery in which they have lived for 148 years, and to relocate the Community. This follows a long process of discussion and discernment, and after taking professional advice.

The present Abbey, built in 1861, designed by Edward Pugin, the son of renowned Gothic-revival architect Augustus Pugin, can house 40 monks. The Community, which currently numbers eleven monks between the ages of 24 and 88, is no longer able to meet the Abbey’s considerable running and maintenance costs. The monastic Community, therefore, is now actively looking for a new property and location better suited to its size and requirements.

Dom Paulinus Greenwood OSB, the Abbot of St Augustine’s, commented: “We are united in our search for a new site which will enable us to live an authentic, balanced, monastic life of prayer, work, and study, according to the spirit of the sixth-century Rule of St Benedict, and to share that way of life with others who feel truly called to it. This is traditionally characterised by the daily celebration of Mass and the seven Liturgical Hours of the Divine Office, the reception of guests, manual work, and various intellectual pursuits. We look to promote the enduring values of Benedictine monasticism and plan to extend and develop our existing guest ministry to offer residential and non-residential hospitality to groups and individuals, both men and women. We also hope to offer structured retreats, educational courses and spiritual and intellectual study days.”

A new Abbey will need adequate provision for a church, land for market gardening, and other dedicated work areas, especially for producing the Community’s successful range of ‘Sanctuary’ products (honey, beeswax furniture polish, organic lip-balms and skin creams), and a shop in which to display and sell them. There is also a pressing need for a practical, user-friendly structure in which to house the Community’s large monastic library. Moreover, given that all these changes will involve considerable cost, the Community will shortly be launching a public appeal to help raise the necessary funds.

The Abbot and Community sincerely hope that whoever acquires the Abbey property will show sensitivity to its historical and architectural significance, and be mindful of its importance locally as part of the cultural heritage of the wider Pugin family legacy.

Further information will be posted on the ‘News’ page as and when it becomes available.

Registered Charity No. 245415 – Trustees of St Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate.
Note: The first monks arrived in Ramsgate from the Italian monastery of Subiaco in 1856, and successfully evangelized much of the coastal region of Kent, establishing and, for many years administering, all but one of the existing Catholic parishes on the Isle of Thanet, whilst acting as chaplains to the locality’s numerous convents of nuns and Religious Sisters.

The monks also provided independent preparatory and secondary Catholic education in the area for 130 years from 1865 until the closure of The Abbey School and St Augustine’s College in 1995.

On 1st January this year the monks officially withdrew from all responsibility for the running of parishes.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Thousands wait for Knock apparition


From memory, apparitions of Our Lady have tended to be to poor pious folk and not publicised in advance via 'clairvoyants' from Ballyfermot. Notably the local Bishop has not even deemed this 'event' worth commenting on.

Irish Times Article

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Longest Week

As an addition to my assault on Mark I've read ( in 2 days!) The Longest Week by Nick Page which aims to put the last week of Christ into historical perspective for both believer's and non-believers, e.g the politics behind the actions of Pilate, High priest and others, the lives of soldiers and ordinary people, why what Jesus did upset the Roman's / Jewish Authorities and often the disciples. I believe he's a protestant but getting any further info from his website or google drew a blank. Found it fascinating but couldn't find a Catholic review of it on the web. Anyone know of one or read it for themselves?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Assault on Mark

As I'm laid up, I'm going to launch an assault study on the gospel of Mark.

My guides will be

Bible, Catholic RSV version. An old 1966 version, imprimatur is Archbishop Gordon Joesph with nihil obstat by (now Canon) T Hanlon, both of my old St A&E stomping ground.

Bible, CTS New Catholic Bible - Jerusalem version, also the notes

A new Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture Editorial committee had 4 OSB's on it...Interestingly, Cardinal Heenan notes in the foreward reading of the Bible was being encouraged two generations before VII.

What was Mark at? - A commentary - Wilfrid Harrington OP

How to read the New Testament - Etienne Charpentier

Any other suggestions? Particularly online one's!

Sunday, 27 September 2009


I have managed to rupture my achilies. 9 weeks in plaster, another 4 after that on crutches. Please pray for a swift recovery as my wife has not only me but three under five to look after as well. Everyone has been great and rallied around.

Be careful what you ask for. Recently been really craving an end to million mile an hour lifestyle between work and kids. (Health has been rough, I was third member of family in A&E inside a week!) Not really what I was looking for though...

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Vista. Grr.

Vista decided to stick in config updates loop. Some photo's not backed up so hard disc out to haul files off. Vista reinstall. Drivers reinstall. Auto update switched off..

Think I'm going to put XP on after the following liturgy

Do you reject Vista?

I do.

And all it's works?

I do.

And all it's empty promises...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό;)

It is a few years old and may, or may not be, I don't know, on every other blog in Christendom - but if you have not seen it, well worth a watch.

What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό;)

New Deacon to Be Blog

Cursor Mundi

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Even Eastern Catholics have ugly Churches

Thought it was just the west that suffered architecturally? Well No7 in Bored Panda's list of 50 Extraordinary Churches shows you were wrong.

Some really attractive Churches in the list and some... well...

Any of the 50 anyone particularly loves / hates or actually visited?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

QI Fact of the Day

The BBC really just don't like religion... Link will only work today, as it's fact of the day. I'm sure tomorrow you will get something denigrating Islam. Or maybe not.

Of the 13 uses of the word 'laughed' in the Bible: 9 involve people being 'laughed to scorn' (usually accompanied by mocking and/or despising); two are bitter or ironic laughs; and one involves someone being frightened to admit to having laughed ironically. Only one of the 13 references can be reasonably described as cheerful, and that is in Job, one of the most miserable and dispiriting books in the Bible, as he recalls his former happiness before God and Satan conspired against him.

Monday, 7 September 2009

279 Descendants

I thought I had my hands full with 3...

"Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be."

H/T The Divine Life

VERNON, Texas — Gregoria Martinez, 94, might seem like your typical grandma. She made quilts for her grandchildren, encouraged them to go to church, prayed for them, and gave advice.

Except the Vernon grandma didn't have just a handful of grandchildren when she died Tuesday.

She had nearly 300.

Ninety-eight were grandchildren; 164 were great-grandchildren and 16 were great-great-grandchildren — all descendants of her own 11 offspring.

That's without counting her three stepchildren or any of their descendants — or the three great-great grandchildren currently on the way. The family purposely underestimated the total count, but felt if all were included it could be as high as 500.

Actually, they have been losing track. Now, with nearly half the family attending the funeral Wednesday, family members passed out index cards to update names and phone numbers while they had their chance.

Martinez's survivors packed the 500-seat St. Mary's Catholic Church in Quanah.

"Her numbers are pretty astounding," said Jesse Jalomo of his mother-in-law. "It's not no misprint."

The devout Catholic woman, whose husband, Ponciano, died at the age of 94 sometime after their 50th wedding anniversary, "could fill up our elementary school in Quanah with all the great-grandchildren and the great-great-grandchildren," Jalamo said.

And she knew practically all of them.

"If one of my sons would come up to see her, she'd say, 'Are you JJ?' He'd say, 'It's JJ, Grandma.' And she'd say, 'Are you doing right? Are you taking care of your family?'"

Family and faith were her two priorities — and she insisted on talking about both with everyone. But not by telephone. "She'd say, You come to see me, face to face. You want to speak to me, you come to my house, and you drink a cup of coffee with me."

She didn't preach about the benefits of large families, but did believe she was brought into the world to multiply.

"You know Catholics," said daughter Elva Jaloma.

When Gregoria was raising her children, she and her husband were migrant workers, traveling to Wisconsin to pick tomatoes and cucumbers, then back to Texas to pick cotton.

"They had 11 kids, and raised 14, and not one time did (they) draw a food stamp, a welfare check, or an unemployment check," Jaloma said of his in-laws. "They didn't believe in that. They said, 'If you want something, you work for it.'"

Elva, the youngest of the 11 children, said her mother believed a wife should have a meal cooked when the family returned at the end of the day. "Then you wait on your husband hand-and-foot when he returns home."

Only in later years did both Gregoria and her husband work as custodians at a nearby hospital.

Long marriages run in the family, with many grandchildren logging 20-, 30- and 40- year anniversaries.

"They planted something very nice, very family oriented," Jaloma said.

Nearly three-quarters of the family live in Quanah or nearby, but the rest are spread as far away as Arizona and Missouri.

Quanah's Percilla Montes, 20, said she remembers picking pecans off the tree at her great-grandma's house and going to church with her.

"She always said that family was the most important thing, next to God."

Great-grandchild Montes said she knows about half of her family members.

"I'm part of a big crowd," she said. "I'm used to being in a big family."

She spent time listening to her great-grandma. Listening, not talking.

"She was kind of stubborn. What she said, goes."

Rick Martinez, the oldest grandchild at 50 and the oldest of 10 children in his family, remembers childhood visits to her home when she took him into her bedroom to give him a piece of fruit or a dollar to spend at the nearby convenience store.

He took more than 800 photographs at her funeral. A manufacturing operations manager in Tuscon, Ariz., with Raytheon, he will compile them into a life celebration DVD, then distribute them to family members.

The theme of her life was clear to all, he said.

"Look, this is what it's got to be," she would say to each one. "You've got to have God in your life, and then have peace between you."

Friday, 4 September 2009

Benedictine Charism

Right. Moved house, getting hang of new job, must get into this blogging malarky again.

An interesting article from Sub Tuum. Love the last line.

....In short, we have no charism. We're not practicing the spirituality of X while doing work Y and wearing the habit of Z. We have no distinct spirituality, though it can sometimes look as if we do since we have maintained the office while it has gone by the wayside to varying degrees elsewhere. We have no manuals or exercises. We have no distinctive apostolate. We wear a basic habit free of distinctive trinkets. In 1500 years the Benedictine family has produced preachers, teachers, mystics, and theologians, but the first task was always simply to seek God and try to try to save our own souls. A Benedictine monastery is just a place to try to live out the Christian life. It ultimately has no other purpose or mission....

....We pray for our own ongoing conversions and growth in compunction. We sing the psalms, read the fathers, and assist at Mass. Monks and nuns are generally not given to dramatic revelations and those who are generally don't blab about them. Most of our superiors would probably agree with a famous 20th Century abbot who, when asked what he would do if he had a mystic in his house, said he'd drive him out. When asked what if the visions were genuine, he said that then he'd be sure to drive him out. Monks and nuns aren't given to the sudden and the novel. Our forebears generally believed that this suspicion of extremes of sensation is one of the most important ways of breaking ourselves of worldly attachments....

....In summary, if you're looking for a rather pedestrian life, don't mind a boring outfit, think repetition is cool, and can't keep up with trends, the Benedictine charism may be just the ting for you.

(With apologies to St. Dominic, not that he was particularly nice to us.)

Friday, 31 July 2009

How the South will be lost

There has been no posting for a while as we moved to the South West of Scotland at the beginning of June and were in packing hell and unpacking hell until last week. I had to prepare for an interview in the last week of term as the school as I was working in moved from old building to new one (something I have been involved in for the last two years). I was succesful in getting the P.T's post so have had to sort out my old school affairs as I only had two and a half days before term ended. Archdiocese have posted guards with pitchforks on main arterial routes back to St A&E. Laptop died. Broadband took ages to connect. Both sons had chickenpox. Wife got shingles.

So it's been busy.

The really bad news is have new, fast, p.c. so posts may be more frequent.

Monday, 20 April 2009

There's a moose loose about this hoose.

All been a bit nuts recently but we are on the move shortly, hopefully get a chance to detail more soon.

However right now, there is a moose loose about this hoose, however his lair has been rumbled and a humane trap set (spring trap would traumatise the 4 year old and the two year old would almost certainly get hands on any poison. So hopefully tomorrow our little friend is about to move house (to the countryside), his days of stealing bananas and scratching in the walls at 2:00am over!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Blog Resurection

Fellow teacher Jackie Parkes is back, and my link to it is now fixed, I suspect her new blog stats will pass mine by next Thursday!

Friday, 6 March 2009

All Change!


The better half is from, as ex PP put it, 'Holy Catholic Ireland' ( ex PP said with eyes buried in forehead!) and as we now have 3 small children we have decided to move to somewhere closer to the ferry home.

As luck would have it at the same time a job in the Catholic school for the area has come up and have managed to get an interview. Prayers from either of you readers appreciated.

It's been madly busy at work between Lent organisation, retreats and work on new school- with interview looming the internet will be pretty much for swotting up for interview.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Graham Coupethwaite RIP

Central Scotland Police have released the name of the man who died when his car crashed into trees.

Graham Coupethwaite, 34, from Gargunnock, was killed in the accident on the A811, near his village.

Road crash victim named by police

My brother use to kick about with him for a few years at school. Please pray for him and his family. R.I.P.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Life & Strathcarron Hospice, SPUC, Cardinal O Brien.

John Smeaton advises that the time is now for campaigning for pro - life issues for the next general election.

Cardinal O'Brien, who is quoted in the SPUC article, was at the school in Jan. Given the attacks on life and the Cardinal's continual public defence of it, I put together a presentation on the work of the school's Life group and Strathcarron Hospice fund raising efforts which was shown before Mass. The Cardinal then preached on Life before presenting cheques to these two organisations.

Our Life group, run by a colleague has over 70 active pupils involved. Please pray for this groups continuing work.

You can see more pics here, though you won't see me, I don't do photo's!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Cardinal O'Brien on the Holodomor



I appreciate being asked by the Ukrainian Community here in Edinburgh and gathered from different parts of Scotland to commemorate with you the Holodomor – the Ukrainian Genocide which took place in the early 1930s.

Initially I know that you fully understand what happened at that time some 70 years ago now. In the early 1930s, in the very heart of Europe, in a region considered to be the Soviet Unions bread basket, Stalin’s Communist Regime committed a horrendous act of genocide against millions of Ukrainians. An ancient nation of agriculturists was subjected to starvation, one of the most ruthless forms of torture and death. This is the tragedy which has been called by the Ukrainian peoples ‘Holodomor’ – a name based on two Ukrainian words meaning killing by starvation.


Your peoples over the past decades have understood more and more about what exactly happened.

The Soviet Government of the time imposed exorbitant grain quotas, in some cases confiscating supplies down to the last seed. The territory of Soviet Ukraine and the predominantly Ukrainian populated Kuban Region of the Soviet Russia were isolated by armed units so that people could not go in search of food to the neighbouring Soviet Regions where it was more readily available. The result in the Ukraine was quite simply extermination by famine.

Looking back on history the purpose of the Holodomor seems very clear. In 1932 Stalin decided to vanquish the Ukrainian farmers by means of starvation and thus break the Ukrainian national revival that had begun in the 1920s and was rekindling Ukrainian aspirations for an independent State.

Enforced starvation reached its peak in the winter and spring of 1933 when 25,000 people died every day. As a result of the Holodomor from 20 to 25% of the population of Soviet Ukraine were exterminated. Children were especially badly hit. Many children were sneaked through the closed borders guarded by the Soviet Secret Police and abandoned by their parents in areas where they thought there was less starvation. However since orphanages and children’s centres were already overcrowded most of these children died in the streets of starvation and disease.

The genocide that killed millions of people crippled Ukraine’s development as a Nation for many generations.


It is clear that the Holodomor was genocide. It conforms to the definition of the crime according to the United Nations Convention on Genocide. The Communist Regime targeted the Ukrainians, in a sense of a civic nation, in Soviet Ukraine, and as an ethnic group in Soviet Russia, especially in the predominantly Ukrainian Kuban Region of the Northern Caucasus.

In a joint statement by 65 United Nations Member States, adopted by the 58th United Nations General Assembly on 7th November 2003 we read:

“The great famine of 1932 – 1933 in the Ukraine (Holodomor), which took from seven million to ten million innocent lives, became a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people”.

In our own country we have a letter from Gareth Jones the former secretary of David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922 who wrote in March 1933 informing the British Politician about the devastating starvation witnessed by Jones during his trek through Ukrainian villages. He lists those whom he met and states: “the situation is so grave, so much worse than in 1921, that I am amazed at your admiration for Stalin”.

And up to the present time the legislative bodies of Australia, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Hungry, Lithuania, Poland and the United States of America refer to the 1932 – 1933 Holodomor as Ukrainian Genocide.

The Late Pope John Paul II in an address to the Ukrainian peoples on 23rd November 2003 on the 70th Commemoration of the Holodomor wrote:

“I speak of a horrendous crime that was committed in cold blood by the rulers of that period. The memories of this tragedy must guide the feelings and actions of Ukrainians”.


One might ask why should we continue to think about the past, the past of some 70 years ago in the Ukraine.

I suggest that we recognise the Holodomor as genocide for two reasons:

1. The bringing of the Holodomor as genocide to international attention is to pay tribute to the millions of innocent victims of that time and to condemn the crimes of the Soviet Communist Regime thus restoring historical justice and obtaining international recognition of the Ukrainian Genocide;

2. In this way by acknowledging the Holodomor as genocide the Ukrainian peoples seek to increase the international communities awareness of the fact that engineered famines are still being used as a weapon and through this awareness help prevent such deplorable acts elsewhere in the world;

It is Viktor Yushchenko the President of the Ukraine who himself stated; “We insist that the world learn the truth about all crimes against humanity. This is the only way we can ensure that criminals will no longer be emboldened by indifference”.

Consequently, I am happy to join you at this Commemoration – not only to grieve over the past but to ensure that nothing similar will ever happen again. Tragedies have indeed taken place with very much suffering and loss of life. In our world at this present time we must indeed be aware of those horrors of the past while living in the present and doing our best to ensure a world that is free from such evils ever in the future again.

May God indeed grant eternal rest to all those who have suffered so grievously in the past and strengthen us at this present time to work for a better world in the years which lie ahead.


Saturday, 3 January 2009

Suffering World

New Blog here, which appears to be looking, like myself, at how the west (world) was lost and how to win it back, but with a more intellectual approach than my low brow ramblings. Worth a look.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Well, basically to try and do important things well instead of trying to do 'everything', which invariably meant that 'everything' got done o.k / badly in 2008. Hopefully this will reduce stress levels which quite frankly currently will have me dropping dead by 40.

A Happy New Year to both readers!