Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a substantial collection of my journalistic writings. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from these writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
November 7, 2018
I say farewell with a joy in my heart, so thank you all
It is nearly ten years since we first met here, and what a joy it has been ever since. This column has given me so many gifts, so many memories and, most importantly, so many friends. Each week, you followed my life and allowed me to enter yours. That this is our last meeting in this context is not, however, a source of sadness. For I gaze back across the years with a sense of thanksgiving for all the happiness this column has given me. I gaze back without a single regret. You have journeyed me in my role as a father of three wonderful boys. You have watched them grow up in ‘real time’ and, I hope, learned something of one man’s struggle to preserve their tender innocence. This column is as much their story as it is mine. Despite all its challenges, life is such a beautiful thing. To wake up and watch the sun rise, to take that first tantalising sip of your morning brew, to hear the simple sounds of a family greeting the new day – all this is the stuff of wonder. Shining a light on those little miracles of everyday life was such a great privilege. That so many of you responded with such kindness through the years proves that we hunger for light and love. We yearn for the things of the heart because only they can provide glimpses of eternity. The eyes of a child and the smile of your beloved contain the whole world. We mourned the dead and gave thanks for their beautiful lives. We gave new life to people long forgotten and to those whose stories stirred our sympathy. We did all that together and I am certainly the better for it. Those of you who wrote, and who have since become dear friends, I thank you…Read more
- Moral Matters ran each week in the Irish Daily Mail from 2009 to November 2018. Columns from 2013 to the present are available by hitting the ‘Columns’ tab above.
September 29, 2018
A Question of Faith
Last week, my family and I went to Sunday Mass in a neighbouring parish. It was a beautiful morning and the church was packed with people of all ages. But, as the priest began his homily, a sudden gloom fell across the congregation. His topic was the recent appalling revelations of systemic clerical child abuse from America, Chile, Australia, Germany, Holland and, quite shockingly, Argentina where Pope Francis was Cardinal until his election to the papacy in 2013. Thousands of children were abused by thousands of Catholic clerics while the official Church apparently turned a blind eye. Mirroring our own bitter experience here in Ireland, it seems there was a widespread culture of abuse that stretched right across the globe. The priest didn’t pull his punches. ‘The Devil’, he said, had got right to the heart of the Church, had corrupted cardinals, bishops and priests. There was, he continued, no other way of explaining how such evil had managed to work its way into the Church’s bloodstream. It wasn’t simply that a few clerics had turned bad, but that countless thousands across the world had embraced the diabolical. That is why, he concluded, the Irish Church must continue to implement its stringent child-protection policies. Children and vulnerable adults must always feel safe in every church, in every parish in Ireland. Nothing else would suffice. It was a powerful homily that made no excuses for evil. For me, as a parent, however, it was agony. Looking around at my boys, I could not help but ask what impact this would have on their faith and their beautiful innocence. Our eldest is aged 13, has served Mass for six years, and has a deep and powerful faith. He is prayerful and profoundly sensitive. In everything, he tries his best to conform to Gospel values. Our middle son is ten, and has only recently started serving Mass. Like his older brother, he has taken at face value what we have told him about his religion. He is blessed with a rare purity that shines through whenever we speak about God or the Church. But, as we listened to that difficult homily, I could see the pain etched on their faces…Read More