Friday, 21 July 2017


Vatican offers 'time off purgatory' to followers of Pope Francis tweets

Papal court handling pardons for sins says contrite Catholics may win 'indulgences' by following World Youth Day on Twitter

    Image result for pope francis twitter

Tuesday 16 July 2013 18.50 BST

In its latest attempt to keep up with the times the Vatican has married one of its oldest traditions to the world of social media by offering "indulgences" to followers of Pope Francis' tweets.

The church's granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.
The remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century.

But a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse clicks away.

"You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine," Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.


Indulgences these days are granted to those who carry out certain tasks – such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome (reportedly brought from Pontius Pilate's house after Jesus scaled them before his crucifixion), a feat that earns believers seven years off purgatory.

But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican's sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the "rites and pious exercises" of the event on television, radio and through social media.

"That includes following Twitter," said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis' Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. "But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet."

In its decree, the penitentiary said that getting an indulgence would hinge on the beneficiary having previously confessed and being "truly penitent and contrite".

Praying while following events in Rio online would need to be carried out with "requisite devotion", it suggested.

Apart from the papal Twitter account, the Vatican has launched an online news portal supported by an app, a Facebook page, and it plans to use the online social networking site Pinterest.

"What really counts is that the tweets the Pope sends from Brazil or the photos of the Catholic World Youth Day that go up on Pinterest produce authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone," said Celli.

In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, an indulgence is "a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins".[1] It may reduce the temporal punishment after death, in the state or process of purification called Purgatory.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".[2]
The recipient of an indulgence must perform an action to receive it. This is most often the saying (once, or many times) of a specified prayer, but may also include the visiting of a particular place, or the performance of specific good works.

By the late Middle Ages, the abuse of indulgences, mainly through commercialization, had become a serious problem which the Church recognized but was unable to restrain effectively. Indulgences were from the beginning of the Protestant Reformation a target of attacks by Martin Luther and all other Protestant theologians. Eventually the Catholic Counter-Reformation curbed the excesses, but indulgences continue to play a role in modern Catholic religious life. Reforms in the 20th century largely abolished the quantification of indulgences, which had been expressed in terms of days or years. These days or years were meant to represent the equivalent of time spent in penance, although it was widely taken to mean time spent in Purgatory. The reforms also greatly reduced the number of indulgences granted for visiting particular churches and other locations.Indulgences were introduced to allow for the remission of the severe penances of the early Church and granted at the intercession of Christians awaiting martyrdom or at least imprisoned for the faith.[3] They draw on the treasury of merit accumulated by Christ's superabundantly meritorious sacrifice on the cross and the virtues and penances of the saints.[4] They are granted for specific good works and prayers[4] in proportion to the devotion with which those good works are performed or prayers recited.[5]


With its vast wealth you would think that the RC Church would employ better PR people. 

Everyday the Vatican or some bishop or priest shoots themselves in the foot by doing or saying something stupid.

Now Rome brings back one of the things that contributed to the Reformation - INDULGENCES and the selling/provision of them.

The existence of Purgatory is a doubtful doctrine in itself. But now you can BUY time off Purgatory by following Pope Francis on Twitter and saying prayers while you are doing it.

You can also get an indulgence if you go to World Youth Day or follow it on TV and pray.

We have already seen recently that for many priests and young people WYD is nothing better than a f### fest - with city rubbish authorities having to clean up thousands of used condoms from fields and beaches.

Image result for world youth day condoms

We have also seen how young gay priests and seminarians are using WYD to seduce and have sex with young Catholic men.

Image result for gay priests

Remember the Armagh Farmer on this Blog who wrote to Amy Martin about a priest who came on to his on World Youth Day.

Remember he is STILL WAITING for a response from Amy to his letter.

The world is going one way and the Vatican and the RC Church are out of touch and going in the other direction - that is - back to the middle ages.


If you believe in God and think you have sinned you tell God you are sorry and receive God's forgiveness and go away to try and not do the same bad thing again.

Why believe that God is an ETERNAL JAILER going to let you out of jail early if you follow a pope on Twitter or jet off to big holy party on the other side of the world where the behaviour of many, including priests, can be "strange".

Things like indulgences get Christianity a bad name.

Thursday, 20 July 2017


The essay below does not necessarily represent my views. But I find it provocative and interesting - especially in the context of our recent discussions.

From  a Lutheran writer.

Was Jesus Intersex?

Let's talk about this, y'all. Since gender identity and fluidity are a big part of the national discourse lately, and also in the churches, it makes sense for us to consider the relationship between Jesus Christ as the Incarnation of the Word, and intersexuality.

First disclaimer: I write this with the full intention of supporting those of varying gender identities, and as a Christian am opposed on moral and theological grounds to discrimination against anyone based on their gender identity. That such discrimination is often couched in religious terms, and perpetuated by the churches, grieves me.

I think it's important to look at Jesus as regards his gender because it can offer us some unique insights... so here goes.

What we know about Jesus' gender is rather complicated. Clearly, Jesus represented as male (his phenotype). He was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2:21), and every indication we have during his earthly life was that he lived as and was understood as a man.

Since he was crucified naked, and there were many eye-witnesses to this, and his circumcision, and more, I think we can confidently conclude that Jesus was male as regards his phenotype.

But in terms of his genotype, frankly, we have no information. The Shroud of Turinnotwithstanding, we do not have a DNA sample to work from. We do believe, based on the creeds, that Jesus Christ was fully God andfully human, so we can say confidently that the Word became flesh, took on a human genome, and lived among us.

But we do not know the structure of that genome. We only trust that God took on a genome.

Furthermore, we confess as a faith community that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. Okay, I admit, there is some discussion in the exegetical community about the origins of the term virgin to pertain to the mother of Jesus, because Matthew appropriates language from the Septuagint, Isaiah 7 in particular, which may actually be "young woman" rather than "virgin."

But the broader New Testament witness, the narrative itself, as well as the theological tradition of the church catholic, holds to the virgin birth, so as a Christian and theologian I do also. Jesus was, as Scripture says, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, a virgin (Luke 1:34-35). There is no explanation of the how. It just is.

Well, we know a few more things about conception than they did back in the day. One thing we know: a woman provides the X chromosome, and the man provides a Y chromosome. In the case of parthenogenesis, an exceedingly rare occurrence among higher life forms, the chromosomal structure would typically be a duplicate of the X, or just a single X. The one thing that would not be present would be a Y.

Now, of course, if we are allowing that the conception by the Holy Spirit is a miracle, which it is, then of course God could provide a Y chromosome. But if it is a miracle, which it is, then just as easily God could have had Jesus be phenotypically male but genotypically female.

In the end, we don't know. All we have is what we have: he was a man, he was born of a virgin, and God was involved in his conception.

Presumably, we can assume that God does not have DNA, or a Y chromosome, even if a lot of people wish God had a Y chromosome, and some others hope she didn't.

Of peculiar interest for our not knowing about all of this is the fact that Jesus never married, and never had children, so the passing on of genetic material from one generation to the next did not happen in his case.

This is another way in which Jesus was transgressive. He didn't procreate.

Lately, in a few circles, I have pondered the question with which I began this post, "Was Jesus Intersex?" I have been surprised by the confidence, and the vehemence, with which people say "No!" I think sometimes they say "No" because they know very little about intersexuality. Other times, I think it is simply very important to them that Jesus was a male both phenotypically and genotypically.

Honestly, I don't understand why they are so vehement. I can't think of any way it matters doctrinally. The church is committed to the saying unequivocally that Jesus was fully human. I don't know anywhere in the tradition where the protein strands of his cell structure are the basis for a confessional position of some kind.

All of this leads me to believe that perhaps offering a more fluid, intersex Jesus offends some sensibilities because people like to put Jesus into safe categories. Perhaps they would much prefer that Jesus was a traditional, masculine, heterosexual, domestic contributor to society.

It's quite a bother that Jesus wasn't. Instead, Jesus was a-traditonal, strangely open in the way he related to men and women, single, unemployed and homeless.

He was even more transgressive than that, when it comes right down to it. He ended his life offering his body and blood for his followers to eat. He was taken up in theological tradition as the groom of the church, so he is married (eschatologically-speaking) to the Beloved Community.

He initiated a faith tradition that drowns the faithful in the waters of baptism that they might die to themselves in order to live, and he sent a life-giving Spirit to his followers so that he might no longer be just himself, the fully human one, but rather the entire community gathered up into God.

Which is to say something far more radical than Jesus as intersex. Christians actually think that all of us, corporately, ARE Jesus. Or married to him.

Why does this matter? Some people will argue that all of this is baseless conjecture, idle speculation. I argue that the things we already assume about Jesus' gender identity are themselves idle speculation that most people now accept as fact. So re-considering some of our assumptions is a good thing.

It's a particularly good thing to re-consider assumptions that keep Jesus from being as fully human as Jesus actually was. According to Hebrews, we have Jesus the high priest who is able to sympathize fully with the human condition (5:15). For those who are intersex, there may be great comfort in knowing that Jesus' own genetic composition is potentially similar to their own.

At the very least, knowing that Jesus' incarnation and life transgressed many of the preconceived boundaries is worth remembering. I'm reminded of this every time a non-Christian joins us for Christian worship, and they see us eating the flesh and blood of our Lord.

We've gotten so used to the transgressions we know, while living in fear of the trans-whatever we don't know, or don't understand.

We should also be reminded that Jesus himself taught about intersex people. In Matthew 19:12, he teaches about "eunuchs" who have been so since birth. This is to say, as much as some Christians like to emphasize Old Testament passages that see gender as binary, Jesus himself taught about and was aware of a greater level of gender fluidity.

This Jesus, rather than the rigid Jesus of binaries and dominance and control, is the Jesus I think it is worth contemplating whenever the topic of minority communities come up. One could only wish that more people who get their shorts in a knot over gender identity would first teach themselves a bit more about the gendered experience of intersex people, and not reify their own personal experience as the only or pure one.

This same Jesus who was aware of and sensitive to the existence of intersex people, deeply sympathetic to them, had a heart for the vulnerable. The very next thing he does in that gospel is welcome children and bless them. The disciples don't get it, and immediately try to keep children from being brought forward, but Jesus sternly rebukes them, and says, "It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."

Such a transgressive Jesus is a bit hard to take. But it's the only Jesus we've got, whatever his genome may have been.


We Christians believe that Jesus became MAN and not necessarily A MAN.

The Godhead is neither male or female.

We must not talk of God in human terms. He/She is beyond all that.

Let's open our minds to the vastness and un-grabability of God.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017




Wikipaedia explains the condition:
In biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes.[1] Many taxonomic groups of animals (mostly invertebrates) do not have separate sexes.[2] In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which either partner can act as the "female" or "male". For example, the great majority of tunicatespulmonate snails, opisthobranch snailsand slugs are hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also found in some fish species and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates. Most plants are also hermaphrodites.
Historically, the term hermaphrodite has also been used to describe ambiguous genitalia and gonadal mosaicism in individuals of gonochoristic species, especially human beings. The word intersex has come into preferred usage for humans, since the word hermaphrodite is considered to be misleading and stigmatizing,[3][4] as well as "scientifically specious and clinically problematic".[5]
A rough estimate of the number of hermaphroditic animal species is 65,000.[6] Since the estimated total number of animal species is 8.6 million, the percentage of animal species that are hermaphroditic is about 0.7%. 

Wikipedia on human hermaphroditism:

Image result for hermaphrodite

Hermaphrodite is used in older literature to describe any person whose physical characteristics do not neatly fit male or female classifications, but the term has been replaced by intersex. Intersex describes a wide variety of combinations of what are considered male and female biology. Intersex biology may include, for example, ambiguous-looking external genitalia, karyotypes that include mixed XX and XY chromosome pairs (46XX/46XY, 46XX/47XXY or 45X/XY mosaic).
Clinically, medicine currently describes intersex people as having disorders of sex development, a term vigorously contested.[22][23] This is particularly because of a relationship between medical terminology and medical intervention.[24] Intersex civil society organizations, and many human rights institutions,[25][26] have criticized medical interventions designed to make intersex bodies more typically male or female.
Some people who are intersex, such as some of those with androgen insensitivity syndrome, outwardly appear completely female or male, frequently without realizing they are intersex. Other kinds of intersex conditions are identified immediately at birth because those with the condition have a sexual organ larger than a clitoris and smaller than a penis.

Fetuses before sexual differentiation are sometimes described as female by doctors explaining the process.[29] This is technically not true. Before this stage, humans are simply undifferentiated and possess a Müllerian duct, a Wolffian duct, and a genital tubercle.

Image result for hermaphrodite
Over the past 41 years I have ministered to a number of people who wanted/needed to undergo sex change.


The priest in question had led a very lonely life having to keep this secret all to himself. In one parish he had even been accused of fathering a child - something that would have been physically and chemically impossible for him to do.
He got the courage to talk to me about his difficulty after reading about a private health issue of mine that had been made public.
The priest and I became friends. I arranged and accompanied him on a number of hospital appointments.
The hospitable arrange very specialized counselling for him.
He was offered surgery and decided not to proceed.
He is still in ministry and is in a much happier place. His bishop, fellow priests, family, and friends have no idea about his condition.


Featured Image


Vatican says 'sex-change' operation
does not change person's gender
By John Norton Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After years of study, the Vatican's doctrinal
congregation has sent church leaders a confidential document
concluding that "sex-change" procedures do not change a person's
gender in the eyes of the church.

Consequently, the document instructs bishops never to alter the sex
listed in parish baptismal records and says Catholics who have
undergone "sex-change" procedures are not eligible to marry, be
ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life, according to a
source familiar with the text.

The document was completed in 2000 and sent "sub secretum" (under
secrecy) to the papal representatives in each country to provide
guidance on a case-by-case basis to bishops. But when it became clear
that many bishops were still unaware of its existence, in 2002 the
congregation sent it to the presidents of bishops' conferences as

"The key point is that the (transsexual) surgical operation is so
superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If
the person was male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains
female," said the source.

The Vatican text defines transsexualism as a psychic disorder of
those whose genetic makeup and physical characteristics are
unambiguously of one sex but who feel that they belong to the
opposite sex. In some cases, the urge is so strong that the person
undergoes a "sex-change" operation to acquire the opposite sex's
external sexual organs. The new organs have no reproductive

The document's conclusions close one area of controversial
speculation that arose in Italy in the late 1980s when a priest
publicly announced he had undergone a "sex-change" operation.

Given church teaching that only males can be validly ordained
priests, the question posed in newspapers at the time was whether a
priest who undergoes a "sex-change" operation remains a priest --
the answer is "yes" -- and whether a woman who undergoes the
procedure can be ordained -- "no."

Image result for sex change surgery


I believe that the experts in this field are those who have studied it from the scientific, medical and psychological aspects.

I think that the Church and clerics should be very slow to comment on these issues - especially in a harsh and judgemental way.

The human person is a vastly complicated creature - created by God - and only God can fully understand and appreciate the specialness of that person and the vastness of their makeup.

No one has a sex change lightly. They do so after many years of suffering and pain. 

For me the Christian response is to accompany each of these special people on their unique journey - through their initial confusion and pain, their decision making, their medical and psychological assessments and if required through their years of surgery and resettlement in life.

For me the MORAL ISSUES are the pain of the individual and our COMPASSIONATE response to them.

It is especially difficult when the person involved is a priest.

Whatever happens and whatever they do they retain their son-ship, daughter-ship of God and indeed their priesthood.


Monday, 17 July 2017




The PP - Father Ricardo Geoghegan, is the PP in Ballyneale Parish near Carrick - on Suir in Waterford diocese is on a culinary tour with RTE's Francis Brennan.

As you can see - even at home - Father Ricardo has a liking for the exotic shirt. When did you last see your PP or CC in this red and black number?

But of course in Vietnam and Asia, in general, there is great scope for the shirt lover. Here is Father Ricardo's in this week's programme:

And here's Ricardo getting his anointed fingers into the stir fry:

I bet Opus Dei member Phonsie is looking forward to the Confirmation Dinner in Ballyneale in 2018 all cooked up by his very own Ricardo. 

I wonder what will be on the menu for "The Terminator" Cullinan and the deanery clergy:

STARTER 1: Dunmore East Death Watch Beetle marinated in Noire Valley dandelions and holy water.

STARTER 2: Ballyneale Frogs Legs served with Carrick on Sewer Trout caviar.

MAIN: Brain of Comeragh Mountain Goat en croute served with Ballybricken Golden Wonders and Dungarvan Dock Leaves.

DESERT: Kilgobinet Spotted Dick with Pink Grapefruit compote and Ardfinnan Friesian Clotted Cream.

The RTE site says of Father Ricardo and his cousin accompanying him on the Vietnamese trip: 

Fr. Richard Geoghegan & Benita Ahearne
Co. Waterford and Co. Tipperary

These long-lost cousins 'discovered' each other at a family wedding only a few years ago and since then have become best friends. They share the same sense of humour, they like the same music, he's into butterflies and she's into dragonflies. Originally from Dungarvan in Waterford, this tattoo-loving priest joined the seminary when he was 19 years old and has now taken a year's sabbatical. When he saw the TV appeal for the new series of Francis Brennan's Grand Tour, he believed; "Francis was talking only to me!" He immediately contacted Benita to ask her to travel with him. Benita is a housewife and hasn't travelled much, but she wanted to go to Vietnam to get acquainted with Richard, her new bestie.


And talking of things culinary a Waterford priest has sent me a copy of Phonies' suggestions for Lent:



1. Takes a break from Eastenders and Fair City.

2. Has a suggestive biscuit instead of a chocolate suggestive biscuit.

3. Gives to the Trocaire Box.

Is that the same Trocaire that flew him and other bishops to Africa on a recent fact finding tour I wonder ???

Image result for irish bishops on trocaire mission

Phonsie has put Waterford on The Terminator map.

Fr Ricardo has put Waterford on the culinary and shirt map.

The Church in Waterford, to use a Treanor term, is certainly a LIVING CHURCH.


The following letter arrived this weekend from a Maynooth seminarian:

"Dear Bishop Pat,

It has taken me a while to put pen to paper to you. I have put it off for so long.

I am a former seminarian in Maynooth. I decided to take time out of Maynooth to reflect. 

I decided to withdraw from seminary as I was unhappy with the place - not so much with my formators - but the student/seminarian group. 

When the story broke last Summer about Maynooth I was not one bit surprised. My time away from Maynooth has been good for me as I was offered a good job with xxxxxxxxxxxx which gives me the time to travel the country.

Since Easter I have been working in the xxxxxxxxx area which means I can get home every weekend. 

The people I meet in my current job are very nice to deal with - as was not the case in Maynooth. 

I did not like the Cork seminarians in Maynooth. They were very immature and bitchy. A friend recently attended two Cork ordinations. 

Image result for father evin o brien cork

The first was in Cork and Ross for Rev Evin O'Brien. It was certainly not a joyous occasion - lots of LATIN. When Evin started in Maynooth he was a nice, normal, ordinary guy but then was taken in by the old style church and he got a liking for the latin. I wonder does he really understand latin as he is not the brightest guy on the planet. I wish him well but feel sorry for the people he will minister to as he lacks personality.

Related image

The second ordination was for Rev John Magner. It was totally different - uplifting, God filled occasion. At that ordination the seminarians dressed in choral dress and all received Holy Communion on the tongue. They had that look of arrogance. 

Newly ordained Evin O'Brien from Cork and Ross did not concelebrate but sat with soutane and lace surplice and stole on his arm. Why Maynooth allowed this guy to be ordained and let behave in this manner, one wonders.

There were interesting characters at the ordination you often refer to in your blog. One such person is Ronan Sheehan. You, Pat, never developed any story on him. He is so far up his arse with his own importance. Why he is still in Maynooth, one wonders. He always got to do his own thing, got cosy numbers. I heard he is off to Gay Paris for the summer to learn French. His time in Paris will be "interesting". I know you have lots of material on him because he is not liked by anyone. He is the type to bring everyone down with him, if he was asked to go. The Dublin deacon is a saint in comparison!

Image result for father thomas deenihan

Last year you wrote about Father Thomas Deenihan who is the Cork priest who is working in the CPS MA in Maynooth as well as holding down his powerful post in the diocesan office in Cork. I got to know him well through his comings and goings in Maynooth. He was friends with some of the seminarians.

You wrote last Summer about Kevin McElroy. When the story broke that he was in Cork Kevin fled back to Down and Connor and his priest "friends" washed their hands of their good-looking, dashing friend.

People like Ronan Sheehan and Kevin McElroy have stories to tell about seminarians and priests. They will talk if they are axed.

Anyway, I better finish and get back to my job - but please do not reveal who is the writer of this letter.

You can do what you want with it.

I'm sure there are others that will help you get these stories off the ground. 


If a few more at Maynooth go then our Church in Ireland will be a lot better off with fewer good ones.

Sincerely yours,



Dear Xxxxxxx,

Thank you for your letter to me. I have changed parts of your letter to protect your identity. 

I have also lfet out some of the material you shared with me - but you know that this was very informative. I have it filed. It fills in some blanks in the Maynooth story. 

I am happy for you that you feel happier away from Gaynooth and that you have a job you enjoy.

God is still guiding you and He has a plan for you and your life that nothing will disrupt. Keep listening to him for guidance.

The MAYNOOTH PROBLEM has not been solved and is a continuing abscess on the Body of Christ.

It must be lanced once and for all.

The Irish Bishops - in cowardice - have decided to try tweak the situation. 

You do not put ointment or plasters on cancer. It needs RADICAL SURGERY.

That will eventually happen - and it will be helped by people like yourself coming forward and giving information.

I will be sending your letter - without identifying you - to my contacts in Rome. 

I hope to hear from you again.

God bless,


Pope Emeritus Benedict's words at Cardinal Meiseners funeral in Germany on Saturday>