MANY years ago I was carried to the church in swaddling clothes. I was carried there against my will and baptised at the font. I do not know if I wailed or not and those who might have a memory of that are all gone or have forgotten about the matter.
I was introduced to an organisation to which I have been faithful despite its bad history, its scandals, and glorious times. It has had its glorious times and that is well recorded in the litany of the saints.
Sometimes my confidence in the organisation has been weak, sometimes strong and sometimes normal. Like Thomas the apostle I have had my doubts. Theology is not an exact science like mathematics. Scandal never shocks me and goodness surprises me. I like the simple saints like the Cure d’Ars.
In 1806, the curé at Ecully, M. Balley, opened a school for ecclesiastical students, and Jean-Marie was sent to him. Though he was of average intelligence and his masters never seem to have doubted his vocation, his knowledge was extremely limited, being confined to a little arithmetic, history, and geography, and he found learning, especially the study of Latin, excessively difficult.
He was less than average but he lived simply and gained notice. Eventually he was elevated to sainthood.
There have been good Catholics and bad Catholics, good popes and bad popes, but despite it all the Church has muddled through, as it is muddling through at present.
Here is a list of bad popes, as they were called.
Pope Stephen VI (896 - 897), who had his predecessor Pope Formosus exhumed, tried, de-fingered, briefly reburied, and thrown in the Tiber.
Pope John XII (955 - 964), who gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with his wife.
Pope Benedict IX (1032 - 1044, 1045, 1047 - 1048), who ‘sold’ the Papacy.
Pope Boniface VIII (1294 - 1303), who is lampooned in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Pope Urban VI (1378 - 1389), who complained that he did not hear enough screaming when cardinals who had conspired against him were tortured.
Pope Alexander VI (1492 - 1503), a Borgia, who was guilty of nepotism and whose unattended corpse swelled until it could barely fit in a coffin.
Pope Leo X (1513 - 1521), a spendthrift member of the Medici family who once spent one-seventh of his predecessors' reserves on a single ceremony.
Pope Clement VII (1523 - 1534), also a Medici, whose power-politicking with France, Spain and Germany had Rome sacked.
All that does not scandalise me in any way. As I said, goodness surprises me and there is a lot of goodness around and always has been.
Now when Christ chose the Apostles he did not seek university degrees, knowledge of theology or an acquaintance with the philosophy of Greece. They were weak men. One of them sold him out, another ran from the scene and one became know as Doubting Thomas.
They were the least candidates to run an organisation.
Knowing all this and more I hold on to my beliefs. I do not belong to a perfect church and when I hear about clerical scandals I say to my self that I have heard it all before.
I pity those priests who have led blameless lives and have been tainted as a result of others. For them, these are tough times and a white martyrdom.
We all need a name and a name is important. Now some names can be quite embarrassing and none worse than the name Sue as sung by Johnny Cash in ‘A Boy names Sue’.
My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me.
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don’t blame him cause and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me Sue.
And it got a lot of laughs from a lot of fold,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I’d get red
And some guy’d laught and I’d bust his head.
I tell ya, life aint east for a boy called Sue.
Hollywood actors have changed their names. The most famous was John Wayne. His real name was Marion Morrison. He did not have a name tough enough so they called him John Wayne.
Charlie Sheen’s real name is Carlos Irwin Estevez. Demi Moore was born Demitria Gene Guynes and Cary Grant was called Archibald Leach. He changed his name when he became an American citizen.
There is a story told of an old Jew named Samuel Yakovlevich Adlivankin. He changed his name to Murphy and then to Kelly. His old friend Samuel Lazarevich Kamenetsky met him and asked him why he changed his name from Murphy to Kelly.
He replied: “When they asked my what my names were before I changed it to Kelly I tell them Murphy.”
In late 2005, Kerry County Council approved the holding of a plebiscite for the change of name to the bilingual Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis, which took place in October, 2006. The result was announced on October 20 and 1,005 of the 1,086 returned ballots favoured the change to the bilingual version.
Éamon Ó Cuív stated, however, that there was no remit to act on the results of the plebiscite.
Nevertheless, in 2008 Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley announced his intention to amend the local government laws to allow names chosen by plebiscite to supersede any place names order under the Official Languages Act 2003. This would mean Daingean Uí Chúis would be the official name of the town in Irish, with Dingle the official name in English. However, the name of the town on road signs within the Gaeltacht will continue to display the name of the town in Irish only.
I hope no councillor will bring forward the idea that Castlebar should be renamed Lucanville.