That sinning priest behind the altar!


Tony Blair ran into trouble with WMDs in Iraq or the absence of them.
Leo* got into a right tizzy when he extracted a WMD from his  own armoury. Poor Leo. He didn’t mean it. He supposedly often calls Micheal Martin#, ‘the priest’ which might even be said in a derogatory fashion. I am sorry for Leo. These things happen. Words erupt.
A politician needs  heavy weapons to demolish the opposition at times.  It was good that he had something so obviously wicked, to pitch across the chamber.  Well picked. Well aimed. It was highly explosive and of course so apt!    Now I have no idea what hidden scars Leo carries, or how such a volatile weapon could be the best he had to hurl.  But it happens. He needs to have a look in his own guts to find the reason. As a doctor, he may have done a little psychology which could help him discover something in the entrails of his past.  If he needs the counsel of a few priests; we can arrange that too.  We would be very understanding and empathetic.

Grenades – pull the pin:

The priesthood has become a tool of derision.  I find it laughable it some ways.
I rather prefer that, than being considered a paragon of virtue.
That fall from the pedestal, has been dramatic. It doesn’t really matter. The old business of faith, keeps on going. It is a great business. The product is wonderful. The salespeople aren’t always the best. But we keep at it.  I feel sorry for those who haven’t got it!  Leo or his comrades won’t bother us too much.
I have no idea if some priests have felt hurt, angry or diminished by Leo. We aren’t a cowed caste.  I rather think that he should polish up his armoury and sharpen up his rapier.   The priest- thing or church- thing, (as an insult) is rather passé  or is somewhat a dated cliché by now.  Leo needs to freshen up his grenades to make sure the pin is out. His report card on that performance might go this way:  ‘Could do better.’  I do hope that Micheal Martin wasn’t severely injured by such smelly manure being spewed at him.

The dying church:

As a little follow on, from the above – the broken priesthood;  the hypocritical and ultimate icons of badness,  I think of ‘the dying church’  that some speak of.   I remember the 7thOctober in Finglas West, when the Last Mass was said at the Annunciation.  The closing of a church, was seen as a metaphor of Catholicism being put out of its misery. In fact, the truth was that the Church was leaking, was too big and too cold and not fit for purpose.  However, there is a certain truth in ‘the dying church’ portrait.   The Churches are emptying out.  The folk within, are ageing. The priests are mostly fit for retirement.  There are no replacements (until the women take up their proper places). The Sacraments are moments and events rather than commitment into community.  Some of us spend our time with the dying and death.  We do a good job with the dead and that too is probably a symbol of ourselves.

Our privileged lives among the dead:

The fewer that attend church; the more work is needed for a Funeral.  It takes time. It takes energy. It takes creativity. It takes heart.  To put a funeral together. When people aren’t at home in Church or with the Rituals.   There is a big job to do. But the picture presented by Isaiah  66: 10  today of the mother with the fine breasts welcoming home the exiles, is very special. The Big Mama. The home. The heart. The open arms. The breast feeding. The nourishment. The nurturing. The warmth. The cuddle. The promise fulfilled. (It could be joined with the Prodigal Son story).  This is the Church we are creating. The Mother. That is the God we show off. That has to be us.  This is what we then must present in ‘the dying Church.’
We reach the homes. We hear the story. We respect the history. We meet honesty and spontaneity. We are at home in the homes. It is utterly privileged.   My friend Mary Oliver – looked around with her big eyes and saw God everywhere.  (Devotions).  She does say that she doesn’t care if everyone else doesn’t see God but she does.  If we can’t see God in those homes and at that time; God is not the welcoming mother of Isaiah. So many have become too sophisticated to see the obvious.   And possibly too ungraced and ungrateful.


Leo had his say.   Never mind what he had to say. It is fine.
He has work to do when he wants to have a go. If he wants to snarl; let him snarl.  I just laugh.  Now I will say in an aside:  You have a connection to Waterford; how could you say what you have said….. Can I whisper this to him:   Leo. This is a great life. The life of priesthood. It is full of humour and fun and grace and beauty.  We are privileged. And it is delightful.  You can use us in any way you wish. Even as a WMD. You obviously haven’t a clue.  In this matter anyway.  If you want some advice or help; drop by sometime.  Don’t be jealous. It is a wonderful world.  Those ‘stupid old priests’ at the altar have a great time.

Seamus Ahearne osa

* Leo Varadkar is a member of the Irish political party ‘Fine Gael’ who is Taoiseach, (Head of Government, Prime Minister) He has been a Teachta Dála(Member of Parliament) for the Dublin Westconstituency since 2007.

He was 38 years old on his election as Taoiseach, becoming the youngest person to hold the office. During the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, he came out as gay – the first Irish government Minister to do so

Varadkar was born in Dublin and studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. He spent several years as a non-consultant hospital doctor before qualifying as a general practitioner in 2010.

  • #Micheál Martin isa member of the Irish political party ‘Fianna Fáil’who has served as Leader of the Opposition in Ireland since March 2011.He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork South-Central constituency since 1989. He previously served as Minister for Foreign Affairsfrom 2008 to 2011, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2004 to 2008, Minister for Health and Children from 2000 to 2004, Minister for Education and Science from 1997.ál_Martin

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  1. Paddy Ferry says:

    Excellent, Seamus, one of your best. Sacraments as moments and events rather than a commitment to community— well, that would be a worthy subject for somebody’s thesis. And the Big Mama image from Isaiah 66, what a beautiful metaphor of a tolerant, forgiving and welcoming church. If only. We are here on holiday in Ibiza and we came across a documentary on the life of the great Edna O’Brien. We were awful!

  2. JOHN KIRWIN says:

    For the benefit of those on the other side of the pond, could you tell me who is Leo, and who is Michael Martin? Thanks

    1. Leo Varadkar is a member of the Irish political party ‘Fine Gael’ who is Taoiseach, (Head of Government, Prime Minister) He has been a Teachta Dála (Member of Parliament) for the Dublin West constituency since 2007.
      He was 38 years old on his election as Taoiseach, becoming the youngest person to hold the office. During the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, he came out as gay – the first Irish government Minister to do so
      Varadkar was born in Dublin and studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. He spent several years as a non-consultant hospital doctor before qualifying as a general practitioner in 2010.

      Micheál Martin is a member of the Irish political party ‘Fianna Fáil’ who has served as Leader of the Opposition in Ireland since March 2011.
      He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork South-Central constituency since 1989. He previously served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2008 to 2011, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2004 to 2008, Minister for Health and Children from 2000 to 2004, Minister for Education and Science from 1997.

  3. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    I enjoy jokes.
    But there are some things I don’t joke about. Some people make a great joke of people who are drunk. I don’t. I have seen too much suffering resulting from the abuse of alcohol.
    Neither do I joke about child sexual abuse. In his remark, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, with a broad grin on his face: “I am always amused and bemused that Deputy Martin likes to accuse me … He reminds me of one of those parish priests who preaches from the altar telling us how to avoid sin while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself.” The implication is clear.
    This is what I find offensive: that he makes a joke about something as serious as child sexual abuse, and that he uses it to take a cheap jibe at another politician. His immediate target was Micheál Martin. He didn’t say that Micheál Martin is an abuser, but he compared him to an abuser. Perhaps he could ask some person (priest or lay) who has been unjustly accused of child sexual abuse what effect it can have.
    In his apology he said, “I offended a lot of people who I never intended to offend. I am sorry for that.” One could take from this that there are people he did intend to offend – particularly Mr Martin. He seems to have no idea how serious it is. It is not a joke; it is not just unparliamentary language (for which the Ceann Comhairle should have immediately reprimanded him); it is a gross insult.
    Priests were just collateral damage. Child abuse is always entirely reprehensible, and abuse by priests have received much publicity in this regard. The Taoiseach’s remark serves to perpetuate the idea that what priests are known for is abuse. The percentage of priests who abuse is comparable to that of the general population. Some say that abuse by a priest is worse than abuse by another person. I don’t, because to say that would be to imply that abuse by another person is less serious.

  4. Eddie Finnegan1 says:

    Now John Kirwin@2, you have awarded Leo and Micheál (watch your spelling!) exactly two paragraphs more than the vast majority of reverend members of the ACP have ever claimed on this forum. Leo and Micheál will be quoting these paragraphs in every speech they make in Dáil Éireann (Work that one out for yourself!).

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