The President, Michael D. Higgins, today met with the authors of ‘A Dialogue of Hope’

The President, Michael D. Higgins, today met with the authors of ‘A Dialogue of Hope’: Iseult Honohan, Dermot A Lane, David Begg, Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, President Michael D Higgins, Michael Cronin, Donal Neary SJ, Fergus O’Ferrall & Dermot McCarthy.

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For coverage of the launch of the book check below;

We live in an Ireland, and a world, where conventional economic models have failed, politics is fractured, what it means to be human is contested, and there is a Punch and Judy show of opposition between secularists and believers. The dominant narrative supporting the current status quo is spent: what might replace it?

A group of individuals, with some expertise in different fields of Irish life, have come together to make a case for constructive engagement and dialogue between secularists and religious believers, in order to imagine an alternative narrative.

They do so in a new book, A Dialogue of Hope, Critical Thinking for Critical Times, Messenger Publications, 2017, with contributions from  David Begg, Michael Cronin, Iseult Honohan, Dermot A. Lane, Dermot McCarthy, Fergus O’Ferrall and Gerry O’Hanlon.

This alternative narrative, involving a more participatory democracy, would be in service of social and ecological justice and human flourishing. It is a narrative that the contributors believe should have input from secular sources and religious voices, from poor and rich people, from atheists and believers, from scientists and philosophers, from poets and theologians.

The group wishes to be part of a ‘Coalition of Hope’ that can champion a vision of society where all can flourish and feel at home.

‘A Dialogue of Hope’ is available for purchase from



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  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    We live in a world where conventional economic models have flourished, very well mind you, yet we forget what they were (cooperative scale capitalism). Politics by definition is fractured so how else would it look at its pinnacle. What it means to be a woman and the responsibilities this entails are for women to decide, is it not, individually? The Punch and Judy is not between secularists and believers – it is within ourselves first and simply manifests as division in our external complexities.

    The narrative is not spent – it has been raging for 2000 years. It is not something that can be replaced, it has to be transformed under cover of the darkness like a thief in the night. A more participatory democracy is nothing more than an oxy-moron today. Democracy can’t exist alongside the fiat system. It doesn’t work that way.

    I’m all for this type of dialogue but truth has to reign supreme. You can’t colourfully paint the status quo as something that needs to be tweaked. If you were a painter and ended up with this mess, you’d simply destroy the canvas and start over – but that is not an option, ever with humanity. You have to scrape off the layers down to where it made sense and then start from there.

    Cooperative scale is the closest thing we have to our memories of when things made sense.

  2. William Herlihy says:

    I agree completely with Lloyd Allan MacPherson @1.
    I quote ( It is not something that can be replaced, it has to be transformed under cover of the darkness like a thief in the night).
    The Curia is a Theocracy,it has been in existence since the eleventh century.
    Up to Vatican two,it had been all powerful,its wings were some what clipped by the 2nd Vatican Council.
    It has been completely re-energized, under the Papacy of Pope John Paul 11.
    Presently,we are in the Papacy of the humble Christ-like Pope Francis.
    He is chipping away at the Curia, but age is against him.
    The reforms he tries to introduce are being blocked, by a very influential group,simply by sitting on them, hoping he will die.
    The Idea, that the Church can be reformed from the bottom up is simply nonsense.If history has taught us anything, it is that theocracies are a law unto themselves.

  3. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    William @ 2 – it’s not completely nonsense to think that the Church can be reformed from the bottom up but you are correct in thinking that people are sitting on some of the reforms – I see this all the time. I uncovered it in my local area last December with my bishop. But, once you shine the light on certain issues and start to address people one-on-one, you don’t need to worry about converting them – everyone rallies around the victim – it is human nature. In today’s society, these victims are our children in the developed world: cancer, diabetes, obesity, respiratory disease, fertility issues – the list goes on. Unless the environmental load of synthetic hormone disruptors is lessened and controlled, things will only get worse and they are getting worse.

    Endocrine disrupting chemicals, which are a by-product of the fossil fuel industry are found in plastics and are poisoning people slowly but surely.
    Example : the item that shows the highest trace amount of synthetic chemicals is the disposable plastic tablecloth made in China. It is the one thing you don’t want to ever purchase again. Why? Because of lead and endocrine disrupting chemicals. It is recommended to let them air out, outdoors, for hours before using them. As a convenience, people take them from the package, put them on a table and then serve food on them. If it is not recommended to breath in, do you think it would be any more recommended to put food on it or eat off it?

    In North America, we are going through a bit of a problem. China has refused to accept these soft plastics for recycling due to health concerns. Even my municipal government is trying to find a fix for this issue. We send everything there we recycle as most countries do. Not one person has come forward to say “What exactly do they mean regarding health reasons?” It is like we are completely distracted by life’s complexities to be aware of the important lesson. Too many kings in this so called life. Seems like the UK is having the same recycling issue. Don’t worry, Canada will be greening like there is no tomorrow soon. We’ll be producing hemp derived eco-plastics hand over fist. We have the open space and the available resources to do this but it would be nice if parishioners were greening their parishes in any way they can in the interim.

    Now if you are addressing people with the proper victim in mind, they have no choice but to bend. It is an amazing thing to watch. If you don’t reach out to your bishops and start to question them one-on-one, there is no hope. If you don’t have a plan to address some of this generation’s ills, there is no hope. If you don’t have the imagination to see how things can turn around quickly, all is lost. This is built from the ground up and can revolutionise they way we think about Church. Can the Church come together and make a difference? Only if it cares about young people and their futures.

    Thankfully, there are some in our midst whose wells never run dry and are extremely passionate about this subject. But like a lot of articles that we see on this website, unless “sex”, “abuse”, “abortion” is in the heading, it really doesn’t create a stir in the minds of people here. The exchange is one-way. We’d rather talk about others’ failures and not our own. When you couple a few passionate people with a network of morally focused individuals, you can easily change the world. As proof, watch how many people chime in here on this topic – “A Dialogue Of Hope…” – hope that a few people show up, admit we have a massive issue and that we are not collectively addressing it head on. No, we are more worried about who is showing up for mass or how Pope Francis is addressing the global public regarding the sexual abuse “crisis” when the real crisis is unfolding before us with our full support.

    It is a simple solution to a very complex problem – let’s all scrape back a few layers to get to a healthy place where we once were (with all the good technology available today that is non-destructive and supports life) and see where that leads us. Too much for kids to ask for? I don’t believe so.

    Unfortunately, this is going to lead to the death of the fossil fuel industry that has been poisoning us non-stop for decades, in more ways than ten. Is that such a bad thing though? I don’t think. I look at it like digital music versus plastic CD’s. Digital is non destructive – the plastic in CD’s will be on the planet for 200 years and will eventually move into the oceans and in to the digestive tracts of fish.

    This is the reason I get frustrated reading about groups that assemble to tackle issues. Scraping back layers becomes a sort of admittance that we were perhaps wrong in supporting the systems and structures that allowed us to arrive here. The deep-seated shame attached to this boomer generation is as much a hindrance as anything they’ve supported so this becomes the barrier you have to deal with. We are all ashamed but let’s not allow this to prevent us from moving forward together.

    The kids are counting on us. We are the people they’ve been waiting for. All of us, together; on with the coalition.

    “If change is unspoken, we’ll never speak, reborn in a wilderness at the top of our peak – from the bottom, to the top, we are all about to go – and our stare down won’t look away”

  4. Lloyd @3
    I am currently pessimistic about the future of our Church.
    My views are probably colured by events in my own Parish.
    I will give two examples:
    (a) A number of years ago, we had a truly inspirational Priest in our Parish,
    He has since moved on to pastures new.
    I,personally speaking, shed a tear when he was transferred.
    This great man upset what I like to call “the self appointed defenders of orthodoxy”and they are in every Parish, with a ready ear in the Curia.You will find it hard to believe, the reason for this upset,they did not like the wording he used, when making the sign of the cross,consequently he got a rap on the knuckles from Rome.
    Rather than give in to them,for the remainder of his time in our parish he made the sign of the cross in the Irish Language.
    (b)We have since got a new Parish Priest and Curate,they are like, as if they were plucked straight out of the sixties.They see themselves “as being the Church” a situation best described by Father James Mallon, in his great book Divine Renovation and I quote”Managing Decline”.
    Recently a problem arose in the Parish,that required the intervention of the Bishop.A meeting was held between some Parishioners the Bishop and the two Priests.A full and frank discussion took place.The Bishop requested that the delegation go away,have a meeting and revert to him in due course.
    They did, among other things, listing a number of questions for the Bishop to consider.The Bishop replied,showing a complete lack of Leadership, did not at least, reply to even one of the questions and simply threw the problem back to the Parish.
    The reason for this is simple, most Bishops are afraid of upsetting the Curia, as I have already outlined above.
    On the other hand, they have no problem chastising liberal priests,this presents no chance of upsetting Rome.
    In our Parish, as in many more Parishes, I fail to see how reform can take place from the bottom up.
    Progressive Priests, are a key requirement for reform to take place.
    Finally in my opinion, our Church is dying for the following reason.
    The Parents of the present Primary and Secondary School Children,by and large do not go to Church,simply because it holds no meaning for them.
    Consequently, unless everybody starts thinking outside the box,I cannot see my grand Children going to Church.

  5. Margaret Hickey says:

    Indeed, there is plenty’clericalim’around. It is by no means limited to Sixties style clerics. Nor is it in essence limited to clergy. You find plenty of lay’clericalism’ among parish cliques. They might be “self appointed guardians of orthodoxy” or self-appointed promoters of progress.Either way we all need to take a step back and look critically at ourselves as well as others.
    The church’s state of health is known to the Lord alone.It is surely about more than numbers ? In the Sixties we had churches full of socialized Catholics. Nowadays,it takes courage to go to church. Back then it took courage to stay away.
    The church like its divine founder has been dying and rising through history.
    Bishops can be spineless. Lots of people are.But you need to be sure that a bishop is acting/speaking against his beliefs first before you can say that about him.
    Priests and bishops are duty bound to be faithful to church teaching.
    I would imagine this is true for Rabbis, Immans and Ministers of other faiths as well. There is a set formula of words for the sign of the cross that express something very fundamental in our faith,our understanding of the Trinity. Words indeed matter, Truth matters. Consistency matters.
    Across the world it appears Christianity and its message are actually gaining ground. Through authentic witness.

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