Archives for March 2012

Open Thread

William Crawley | 18:48 UK time, Saturday, 31 March 2012

talktalk.jpgI don't often post an open thread, but some of you tell me it's a good idea because it lets you get stuff off your chest without throwing the direction of other threads. It also permits you to make suggestions about subjects we might give some more substantial space to on Will & Testament. Let's see. Expatiate at will (sorry about the pun). Keep it legal. The house rules still apply.

Big Build 12

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William Crawley | 16:37 UK time, Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Most of us might think it impossible to build one home in one week but how about building 10! That's the challenge people from across Northern Ireland have been set by Habitat for Humanity who are looking for 100 volunteers to build 10 homes between 29th September - 6th October 2012.


'Big Build 12' will see the first hammer come down on a Roma integration project that will deliver 50 homes over the next three years for families trapped in the cycle of poverty in the town of Caransebes, Romania.

The build will be helping families who are currently living in cramped, unhealthy conditions with no running water or proper sanitation facilities.

No skills are needed just a big heart and the determination to help transform lives! If you would like further information about Big Build you can go along to an information session on Wednesday 28th March, 7-8pm, Common Grounds Cafe, Belfast or visit Habitat for Humanity NI's website (here).

The Irish Catholic Church: "a time of trial"

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William Crawley | 12:41 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, Cardinal Sean Brady and papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles Brown

The Vatican's team of high-ranking investigators has published their findings. Here's the executive summary of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. The Holy See has re-echoed the "sense of dismay and betrayal" already expressed by Pope Benedict in his pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland. And the findings of the Visitation are as many commentators have already predicted: a call for renewal of faith and spirituality; and encouragement to grow the involvement of the laity in the life of the church; proposals for the reform of pastoral training; and suggestive comments about a possible re-organisation ("adapting") of the diocesan structures of the Irish Catholic Church.

The Visitation also calls on Irish Catholics to "establish a proper relationship" with the media. Many public commentators have expressed criticism, over many years, of the official Church's media strategy (or lack thereof) in dealing with the abuse crisis in particular. Some priests have, in the past year, expressed concern that the Visitation would turn into a heresy hunt, with the focus on rooting out non-orthodox, radical or progressive ideas: they will no doubt find some comments in these findings to confirm their fears. This sentence in particular will raise some concerns: "It must be stressed that dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path to renewal."

Significantly, the findings also comment on the lack of a "common line of action" by bishops in responding the the abuse crisis.

Read the Summary of the Apostolic Visitation here.

Learning from The Estate

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William Crawley | 08:46 UK time, Sunday, 18 March 2012

Have you been watching the BBC series The Estate? It's a fly on the wall look at life on the Ballysally Estate in Coleraine, and many people have found it absolutely gripping because of what it reveals about life in our society today. Does The Estate present us with evidence of an abandoned generation with no jobs and no hope?

Presbyterians and the Ulster Covenant

William Crawley | 10:35 UK time, Sunday, 11 March 2012

Was the Presbyterian Church right to support the Ulster Covenant campaign 100 years ago? Did it become the de facto religious wing of a paramilitary movement? The covenant committed those who signed to do everything necessary to oppose Home Rule, and this was well-understood at the time as including, if necessary, an armed insurrection.


The church even offered amendments to the Covenant, which were accepted by the Unionist leaders, and participated in a campaign which took Britain and Ireland to the brink of civil war, with the emergence of the UVF and a provisional Unionist government.

On today's Sunday Sequence, we debated the morality of the church's involvement in the Ulster Covenant. What's your view?

Have we airbrushed the history of the Titanic?

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William Crawley | 10:56 UK time, Tuesday, 6 March 2012



Titanic under construction at Harland and Wolff

On Sunday morning, we debated that challenging question in a discussion many of you were moved to comment on by text, tweet and email. This year, Northern Ireland is commemorating the sinking of RMS Titanic with a loss of 1,517 people. When launched from the Belfast shipyard in 1911, Titanic was the world's biggest ocean liner, and Harland & Wolff was the world's biggest shipbuilding company. The loss of the Titanic was a massive assault to the industrial pride of Belfast, but we rightly celebrate the immense creativity and extraordinary hard work of those who built Titanic.

The question we asked this week was this: why was this shipbuilding feat completed by an overwhelmingly Protestant workforce? This answer to that question, our guests were agreed, remains a deeply troubling one: Catholic workers were very often excluded from the workforce because of their religion. Some spoke of "clear outs" of those Catholics who were employed at the shipyard. One even said the clear out was so comprehensive that we might properly regard Titanic as itself Protestant. You can listen again to this week's programme here and join the debate yourself.

Have we airbrushed the history of Titanic in this centenary year to make the story more acceptable to tourists?

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