One of the most enjoyable programmes I saw last week was Mí na Meala, one of TG4’s treasures, featuring married couples revisiting their honeymoons. The photo-album motif was appealing, with music ranging from apt to cheesy!
Last Wednesday it was the turn of Etaín and Séamus Ó Síocháin, a couple very much in love and grateful for it, 40 years after their wedding.
Seamus went to join the Redemptorists at a young age, but left in the 1960s, when times were changing and people were questioning life directions.
He continued to value his Redemptorist connection and had two of his former colleagues on the altar when he got married in 1970. Etaín was a teacher and they met when Seamas was working for Gael-Linn. After a study trip to Cornell University USA, Séamus returned to marry Etaín and they spent a short honeymoon in Dingle. In the programme they revisited the area and it still had a strong emotional resonance.
Their love and respect for each other was inspirational and they were a wonderful advertisement for lifelong loving marriage. It has also whetted my appetite for more episodes in the series – kudos to Good Company Productions (goodcompany.ie) for this understated little gem.
I’d be less enthusiastic about last weekend’s Sunday Sequence (BBC Radio Ulster).
One of the items focused on the environment and population issues, and it could have done with a lot more diversity of viewpoint.
Presenter Audrey Carville was eager to bring the debate back to population control while her guests tried to focus on broader concerns, though she did at one stage question whether the West should be telling people in the developing countries how many children to have.
Prof. Jane Falkingham said that population control was part of the issue but that it was more complicated than that – with population falling below replacement levels in some countries, and she wanted more concentration on consumption issues.
Fr Seán McDonagh agreed and was critical of the Irish Government’s lack of progress on greenhouse gasses. He also stressed that developing countries needed access to means of population control, wasn’t clear on the methods, and thought the encyclical Humane Vitae needed to be revisited.
Would it have been too much to expect that we might have heard from someone (a Catholic priest even!) who supported that teaching? Rev. Chris Hudson, a Presbyterian minister, suggested that some areas needed more people, with governments needing to give people more opportunities to move to different areas.
Fr McDonagh praised the Church’s development work and Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, but Carville wondered if the Pope had undermined his message by not talking about population growth.
Later Sunday Morning Live (BBC One) tackled the issue of new forms of screening for Down Syndrome and the danger that it would lead to more abortions. Lynn Murray of ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ had those very concerns and feared greater discrimination against those with DS.
The figure of 90% of babies pre-natally diagnosed with DS being aborted in Britain was mentioned and nobody challenged that. Dr Evan Harris didn’t think the new test would increase the detection or abortion rate but added this telling comment: ‘even if it did increase the abortion rate that’s still giving people the choice’. And typically choice rather than right to life seemed to be the top value for most contributors.
Despite evidence on the show of people with DS leading fulfilled, independent lives (including testimony from actor Sarah Gordy who has DS), Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain displayed what Murray called a “very outdated idea” of DS. It was as if he wasn’t listening to the others, as he spoke for example about parents having to give up their child with DS to a “care institution”. Conveniently for his chilling views he distinguished between a “life that already exists” and a “life in potential”.
There was no such pussyfooting on last Monday’s Breakfast Show (Newstalk) when Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute debated with Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council.
Uí Bhriain was sharp but courteous in her lambasting of ‘enormous’ media bias on the abortion issue (ironically presenter Shane Coleman is one of the fairer journalists on the issue), and she spoke of healthy babies being “torn apart”, “killed” and “dumped in the trash” – the harsh reality of abortion that the media consistently fail to show.
Pick of the week
RTE 2 Saturday, August 27, 9pm
(2014) Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly. Director: Darren Aronofsky. An offbeat take on the Bible story.
WHERE GOD WEEPS
EWTN Saturday (night) August 27, 2am
John Allen Jr. explains how Christians in different parts of the world are facing blatant persecution.
LIFE AND DEATH ROW
RTÉ 1 Wednesday, August 31, 11:45 pm
Series on capital punishment cases.