At the end of last week’s article I wrote about the beginnings of papal visit reviews. It was mixed, with some positive commentary at times.
One of the most positive was an engaging interview with the Richardson family on the Ray D’Arcy Show (RTÉ Radio 1) on Tuesday of last week. Mary and Damien, the parents, with their 10 children, had spoken to the Pope on the stage at the Festival of Families in Croke Park. Both had a history of drug abuse but had managed to break free of addiction.
Damien credited the Cenacolo movement, which he came across in Medjugorge but engaged with in Knock. Mary got ‘clean’ with the help of the HSE, motivated at a particular point when she was bringing her first child to school. As Ray D’Arcy said, their story gave hope to others, and what a well told story it was.
They had taken part in an early launch event for the World Meeting of Families and were gobsmacked to be asked to meet the Holy Father at Croke Park. They were “blown away” by Pope Francis, Damien describing him as having an aura, “a holy man…a peaceful man”. D’Arcy was very positive and interested, but declared himself an atheist and critical of the Catholic Church. Predictably he brought up the child abuse issue. Damien said it was “the most abominable thing to do to a child”, and also felt the injustice of good priests getting abuse just for being priests.
That item had me curious about the Cenacolo movement, and as if in answer last Sunday EWTN aired an inspiring documentary – From the Darkness to the Light (repeated this Saturday) in which Fr Aidan Crowley outlined how the movement came to Knock, inspired by the work of a Sr Elvira that he had met in Medjugorge. The approach is to tackle the underlying problems behind drug addiction through prayer and work in particular.
In the testimonies of the residents Jason spoke of his days of booze, drugs and violence, but at Cenacolo he had learned self-discipline and love of truth. Frank told of how the community relied on providence to supply material needs.
Jamie remembered how he had been like a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in his family and apologised for the hurt he had caused. In a touching moment he said “I ache and long to make it up to them”. Amit said he was a poet and artist but early recognition went to his head, he dabbled in Satanism, but now he was on the road to recovery, experiencing a “constant daily struggle”. Frederico said the most beautiful thing was to see his mother smile when he met her after five months with Cenacolo.
The film was made in 2005, though the technical quality suggested a much earlier time. It felt rather home-made, though admittedly much of the slickly produced material out there hasn’t nearly much heart as this show. Still, an updated version would be good, as would consideration of the concerns raised about the approach, e.g. curbs on individual freedom and the apparent lack of professional medical and counselling staff, at least back then.
With child abuse getting such coverage during the papal visit I was disappointed that some of those highlighting concerns about it (and it surely needs to be spotlighted) had recently campaigned with enthusiasm for a different kind of child abuse, namely abortion. That issue surfaced on Thursday of last week on the Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk) when guest presenter Jonathan Healy interviewed Mark Murphy, one of the prominent pro-choice doctors from that campaign. All the old euphemistic clichés were rolled out, like calling abortion “health care” and “service”.
Healy suggested that some doctors would be “uncomfortable” with being involved, though I think for them it’s more a matter of morality than comfort. Why didn’t we hear from one of these doctors with conscientious objections? Whatever about individuals, Murphy was against giving any opt out to institutions. He favoured restriction zones outside hospitals, but Healy reminded him about freedom of expression.
He wanted “flexibility” on the three-day waiting period proposed, but Healy suggested that might save a woman from making a mistake she’d regret later.
He wanted the removal of criminal sanctions against those who would operate outside the abortion scheme proposed and warned against other “potential restrictions” (which would in fact save lives!).
Scary times ahead.
Pick the week
CENACOLO: FROM THE DARKNESS TO THE LIGHT
EWTN, Saturday, September 8, 9 pm
Program about a Catholic drug rehabilitation centre in Knock.
SHALOM/SALAAM – KIDS4PEACE
RTÉ1, Sunday, September 9, 5.10 pm
Teenagers from the Holy Land, Muslims, Jews and Christians visit Ireland in the hope that seeds of friendship and peace may be planted.
THE JOHN PAULS
RTÉ1, Monday, September 10, 9.35 pm
Telling the stories of the one in 10 people that were named John Paul after the historical papal visit of Pope John Paul II to Ireland in 1979.