We need a miracle

In a time when Catholicism has become synonymous with scandal, a reminder of the true essence of the church in its role of providing a message of hope and a link to something more.

In 1844  Bernadette Soubirous the 14 year old daughter of a miller, lived with her family in misery and squalor in the small town of Lourdes at the foot of the Pyrenees in Southern France. The family had become homeless after losing their mill and the only place left to them was a single room, formerly the local jail. Bernadette attended a convent–run school where she was considered a slow learner, illiterate; she was put in a “pauper’s class” with no fees to pay, in the company of 7-year-olds.

On 11th February she went with her sister and a friend to gather firewood by the banks of the River Gave at a grotto named Massabielle. The day was bitterly cold, so when the other two girls took off their shoes and crossed a small stream, she waited behind, concerned not to catch cold because she suffered from asthma. Minutes later she decided to brave the stream and began to take off her stockings to cross.  As she did so she heard a sound like a gust of wind and turned her head towards the meadow but saw that the trees were quite still. Then the sound came again, and when she looked towards the Grotto she saw a lady in a niche of the rock, wearing a white dress with a blue girdle; on each foot was a yellow rose and in her hands she carried a white beaded rosary. The lady made a sign for her to approach but she was frightened thinking this was an illusion. She rubbed her eyes but she could still see the lady who made the sign of the cross and slipped the beads through her fingers, as she silently said the rosary. Bernadette accompanied her and as she finished the lady disappeared.

Three days later Bernadette felt compelled to return to the grotto despite being told by her mother not to. This time she took holy water with her, when the lady appeared again, she threw holy water at the figure, saying unless you are from God, be gone. The lady smiled and remained but did not speak. Bernadette described her third visit on February 18th:  “The Lady only spoke to me the third time. I went to the grotto with a few grown–ups, who advised me to take paper and ink, and to ask her, if she had anything to say to me, to have the goodness to put it on paper. I said these words to the Lady. She smiled and said that it was not necessary for her to write what she had to say to me, but asked if I would do her the favour of coming for a fortnight. I told her that I would. She told me also that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next.  Bernadette kept her appointment for the next two weeks and the lady appeared each day apart from on two occasions. One when some in the crowd who were now drawn to the Grotto were disrespectful, the other a seeming test of her faith. No one else was ever able to see the lady but all were deeply affected by a sense of reverence which pervaded Bernadette and the site when she appeared.

  • Feb 24th The lady gave a message asking for prayers for sinners.
  • Feb 25th The lady again asked for prayers  and also asked Bernadette to ‘wash her face in the water’ there was no sign of water but the lady indicated a spot and obediently Bernadette washed her face in the mud. The crowd laughed at her, believing she was mad, she left feeling humiliated. That day a spring appeared, followed by the first healing miracles.
  • March 2nd The lady requested that Bernadette ask the parish priest to build a chapel and that processions of prayer take place. The priest dismissed the request, telling Bernadette to ask for the lady’s name.
  • March 3rd The lady simply smiled when asked her name and repeated her request for a chapel
  • March 4th 10,000 people attended for the final day of the fortnight.  Bernadette was escorted by military escort and examined by a doctor during the visions.

March 25th a Catholic feast day ‘The Annunciation’ celebrates the day when Mary received the message from Archangel Gabriel that she would become the mother of Jesus. The lady again appeared to Bernadette who repeated the priests request for her name; after the third request she answered “que soy era Immaculada Councepciou“. Bernadette hurried to tell the priest the name she had been given, repeating the unfamiliar words all the way so that she would remember them“que soy era Immaculada Councepciou.”  translates as ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’  Only four years earlier in 1854 this title had been bestowed on Mary the mother of Jesus, by the Catholic hierarchy, something not yet broadly discussed. Bernadette who was illiterate could not possibly have known this. Local dignitaries had become concerned regarding the thousands of people now attending the Grotto and closed the site, Bernadette was unable to visit the Grotto until 16th July when she watched from the meadow across the stream.  The lady appeared to her for the last time. “I thought I was at the Grotto, at the same distance as I was the other times. All I saw was Our Lady … She was more beautiful than ever.”

Bernadette entered entered the Convent of Nevers and became a nun, the Vatican set up an enquiry into the apparitions at Lourdes and after three years gave its approval of the authenticity of the apparitions.  A church was built as ‘the lady’ had requested and today processions of prayer take place twice daily. Over 5 million pilgrims visit Lourdes annually. Healing miracles attested to by independent medical professionals continue, many attributed to the water from the spring which gives 72,000 gallons daily and is distributed worldwide.

Bernadette was made a saint of the church in 1933. Throughout her life she was hounded and asked to repeat the story which never changed. She died on April 16th 1879, the story however was not over. In line with Vatican protocol Bernadette’s body was exhumed three times, during the course of research into her beatification. The first time 30 years after her burial, the second ten years later and for a third time in 1929. Medical autopsy was carried out  and each time the body  was reported “incorrupt” and remains so today, almost 140 years after her death. After nuns washed the body and changed her garments, the body had some discolouration and a layer of wax was placed over her features. Her body is now kept on open view in a crystal casket on the side altar at her convent of Nevers.


* SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES BODY IN THE SHRINE IN NEVERS FRANCE (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P4tn6fqhI4&t=16s


CARDINAL SIN – ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive…’

 In 2003 the Boston Globe newspaper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for its groundbreaking work in revealing the cover up of pedophile priests in the Boston diocese. The archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law became a central figure in the court case of   ‘criminal abuse,  denial, payoff and coverup that resonates around the world’.  Globe reporters eventually confirmed that 70 ‘out of court’ settlements had  been made previously which barred catholic victims and their families from ever talking. Even more shocking than the abuse by priests was that bishops and cardinals knew and engaged in a sustained cover up. ‘We had letters from parents, letters to and from priests and masses of internal church documents showing abusive priests being repeatedly moved rather than reported to the authorities.‘  Continue reading


So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country.

According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq. The US spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism, which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary gun crime.

  • On average there is more than 1 mass shooting per day in America.
  •  America has 4.4% of the world population but owns almost half of the civilian owned guns around the world.
  • In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides.
  • Before the deadly shooting at  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February there had already been 18 incidents at schools involving gun shots in 2018

The particular horror of the  Sandy Hook shooting shocked the world, it was assumed that the massacre of 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years old would initiate stronger gun control. It did not. The National Rifle Association boasted that  its membership surged to around five million in the aftermath. There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, at least 239 were school shootings In which 438 people were shot, 138 being killed. Researchers and gun control advocates say that since 2013, they have logged school shootings at a rate of about one a week. Katherine W. Schweit, a former senior F.B.I. official and the co-author of a study of 160 active shooting incidents in the United States said, “We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings, and I think that will continue.” Continue reading

Papal ‘Letters to Priests’ – When is a secret a secret

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has said he would  ‘rather  go to jail  than break the sanctity of the confessional. The Confessional Seal prevents any Catholic priest disclosing information given in confidence in confession, it applies even to the most serious crimes including where someone admits to  the sexual abuse of children. The cardinal regards the Confessional Seal  ‘to be of higher importance than any legislation’ and explained:  “The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication, being cast out of the church, so it’s a real, serious, spiritual matter,” he said.. For whom, we might ask?  For few people could think of a more ‘real, serious spiritual matter’ than the sexual abuse of children.

The cardinals comments follow the report by Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. Of all the survivors who reported abuse in religious institutions, more than 60 per cent said it had happened at the hands of the Catholic Church, the average age of abuse victims at Catholic institutions was 11 years old. The royal commission report said the Catholics had demonstrated “catastrophic failures of leadership”, particularly before the 1990s. The Commission   called for sweeping  legislative and policy changes, one of which would force priests to inform the police of anyone who confessed  to the sexual abuse of children, stating that there should be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for clergy and  recommending that priests should face criminal charges for failing to report information heard during confession.  Continue reading

Letter to Pope Francis – Contradicts his denial

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The Open Secret- Children of Priests

It is perhaps inevitable that Catholic priests would have been breaking their vows of celibacy and fathering children for centuries, through both abusive and loving relationships. The Vatican has kept the ‘open secret’ never addressing the question of responsibility for the emotional and financial support of these children and their mothers.

Vincent Doyle a psychotherapist based in Galway, learned at the age of 28 that his godfather, a Catholic priest in central Ireland — was, in fact, his biological father. His parents had met at a wedding in the early 80s when Fr Doyle was home in Ireland from the US diocese of Camden, New Jersey and his mother was already married with three children. He arranged for a transfer back to Ireland where he served as a priest until his death in 1995 by which time Vincent was 12 years old.

Throughout his childhood the priest maintained a close bond with his son (pictured) ringing him each morning before school; they spent Friday evenings together watching television before Vincent went to sleep in the bedroom provided for him. The tone of poems written by the late priest and his mother’s tearful response to Vincents query – ‘He was my father wasn’t he?” confirmed his suspicions. Vincent Doyle adopted his father’s surname and states “he did everything he could for me in the circumstances, they loved each other and I loved him as a son…. “ The big problem with children of priests is that they technically don’t exist, until someone says they actually exist, it is a psychological battle that the children face…. When secrecy has been imposed on a child for their whole life, it is a form of abuse that must be addressed” Continue reading

Catholic Christian Brothers and Sexual Abuse

Hearing impairment is by its very nature not only disabling but isolating as communication is compromised. Prior to advances in technology many profoundly deaf children were also mute, unable to speak, making them among the most vulnerable in society. The idea that anyone might take advantage of this disability is repugnant however historical child abuse in its many forms has been perpetrated by a minority of staff in residential care settings. This  is increasingly being revealed as an international problem, a sad commentary on society as a whole.

See http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/10/113_96847.html

Saint Josephs School for the Deaf opened in Dublin Ireland in 1845, run by the Catholic Christian Brothers, a teaching Order known for its strict and sometimes harsh discipline. The school gained a reputation for a high standard of education and vocational skills training boys as cobblers and tailors as preparation for financial independence.

Language is the foundation of culture, historically used, knowingly or unknowingly as  a powerful tool of Continue reading

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME – Sexual abuse of disabled children by priests

As Pope Francis’  continues to defend the Bishop of Chile, long identified as covering up abuse by a fellow priest who was later found guilty by the Vatican, we might remember the famous quote: “All that is necessary for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men to remain silent”. The growing scandal of pedophile Catholic priests reveals the magnitude of institutionalised sexual abuse of children over decades, perhaps the greatest shock is the lengths to which the church hierarchy have gone to conceal and deny the abuse. Under the spotlight of the ‘Me Too’ movement, a pause to consider the survivors who do not have the privilege of a celebrity platform from which to speak…who did not in fact even have a voice to speak with…. those who were hearing impaired or mute.  In considering the depth of depravity of pedophile priests we need look no further than the Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Verono Italy and the filmed confession of Father Nicholas Corradi:

“I never screamed..I could not speak”   

Corradi worked in the Provolo Institute for deaf and mute children in Italy for many years and was one of several priests accused of sexual abuse by disabled children. When the church hierarchy failed to respond to their disclosures the children went public, naming their abusers. In 2012 (during the pontificate of Pope Benedict) The Congregation for the Defense of the Faith determined that Corradi had sexually abused deaf and mute children in Italy. The Vatican sanctioned four priests but Carradi went unpunished and relocated to Argentina where he  took up employment at the Argentine Antonio Provolo Institute for hearing impaired children. Continue reading


The world reels from the gutter language used by the President of the United States as he manages to insult  a quarter of the countries of the world, concerning his views on immigration policy.  His response to accusations of racism,  a thinly veiled excuse – ‘it’s not racism it’s a financial problem‘  reveals the billionaire businessman beneath the presidential facade. By comparison the dignified response of the people of Haiti and Africa to his derogatory description of their countries provides an example that he would do well to emulate.

As we spare a thought for the 65 million people currently displaced  by conflict, war and persecution, the latest report shows that while the richest nations ponder on possible ways to curb immigration, many of the worlds poorest nations are hosting  56% of the global refugee population.  An Amnesty International report for 2016 states that many of the world’s wealthiest nations “host the fewest and do the least”.

The United States has historically led the world in terms of resettlement, admitting 84,995 refugees in the fiscal year ending in September 2016. In 2017 President Trump cut the refugee quota by 50%, a policy currently being challenged in the Federal Court. In 2017 only 42,000 refugees were resettled in America; Canada in contrast  resettled 30,000 refugees in 2016.  Continue reading

Weapons for Peace?

The text message received by residents of The State of Hawaii  warning of a ballistic missile threat, confirmed as ‘This is not a test’,  sent thousands  rushing for cover and sending final messages to family and friends. Thirty eight interminable minutes later they were informed that ‘someone clicked the wrong button on a shift change’ Most experts agree that human error is the most likely trigger for a nuclear engagement, an event to which the opposing side should be expected to respond. The awesome military power which now rests in the hands of leaders who have repeatedly demonstrated their instability coupled with the spectre of fallible technology raises risk factors exponentially.

The farewell speech of President Eisenhower, a former general,  as he prepared to hand over power to President Kennedy on January 17th 1961 was “a solemn moment in a decidedly unsolemn time’, He warned a nation “giddy with prosperity, infatuated with youth and glamour, and aiming increasingly for the easy life.’ to be vigilant of the potential rise of the military industrial complex and potential abuse of power. Continue reading