The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

My Photo
Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, September 06, 2008


The Irish edition of the Daily Mail reported in an unsigned article this week that the Vatican has taken action against a priest associated with the Medjugorje shrine.
Other Irish newspapers seem to have missed this story or to think it unimportant.
I commend the Mail for reporting it.
The Daily Mail article is headlined: "Rebel Priest banned from Medjugorje."
The article begins: "The Pope has begun a crackdown on the world's largest illicit Catholic shrine - by suspending the priest at the centre of claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared there more than 40,000 times."

I believe the Daily Mail is incorrect in its use of the term "illicit shrine" to describe Medjugorje.
The church has not made any formal pronouncement on the authenticity of the purported visions at Medjugorje.
There have been limitations placed on some of the devotions there.
Some clerics, including some Bishops, have a negative view of the purported visions.
Their view has not been endorsed by the church.

I believe the Daily Mail is incorrect in its statement that Father Tomislav Vlasic is "at the centre" of claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared in Medjugorje.
I believe Father Vlasic is incidental to those claims.
In fact, the purported visionary Marija dissociated herself from Father Vlasic in 1988.
Marija issued a written dissociation of herself from Father Vlasic and his activities.
Father Vlasic was indeed associated with the six visionaries as spiritual director in the early years of the claimed visions which are supposed to have commenced in 1981.
I would contend that this is not the same thing as being at the centre of the claims.

I believe the Daily Mail is incorrect in stating that the Pope is cracking down on Medjugorje.
The Pope has simply and solely authorised a decree of "interdict" against Father Vlasic.
The decree relates simply and solely to Father Vlasic.
My assessment is that this decree does not relate to Medjugorje.
The Pope may in the future pronounce approval or disapproval for the Medjugorje apparitions.

I believe the Daily Mail's extensive list of allegations against Father Vlasic is not contained in any church or legal document. The Daily Mail writes: "He has been accused of the diffusion of dubious doctrines, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders, and is suspected of heresy and schism."
Accused by, and suspected by, whom exactly? I have no acquaintanceship with, and only a little knowledge of, Father Vlasic. I am disquieted by what I do know of him. I am not in a position to defend or condemn him. But this general and unattributed list of accusations and suspicions smacks of innuendo.

My analysis of the church actions against Father Vlasic, is that the Vatican is concerned by his role in a coeducational establishment he has founded in Italy. There are fears it may have cultic attributes.

To sum up.

I have a certain sympathy for the Medjugorje visionaries and their claims.
I want them to be true.
I am deeply touched when I consider certain aspects and testimonies from Medjugorje.
Namely these...

1. An atheistic doctor who came to Medjugorje to study the visionaries had a conversion experience. He told Rolling Stone writer Randal Sullivan that he came to believe in God, not because of any of the more spectacular phenomona associated with the site, but because each evening at the moment of the supposed visions, thousands of birds would be singing in the trees around the church, and as the visions were supposed to be starting, he had witnessed the birds falling silent.

2. The visionaries claim they asked the Virgin Mary to show them a saint in their own town. She indicated the elderly Muslim woman Pasha.

3. Heather Parsons is Ireland's most successful magazine editor ever in terms of sales of the publication she edited. In 1985 she was sent by one of Ireland's national newspapers to report on Medjugorje. She was standing outside the church on the evening of her arrival. She says she saw the sun begin to dance around the sky. She says she saw a figure she instantly knew to be the risen Christ in a fountain of light above the sun.

4. My Uncle Jim runs one of County Kildare's oldest and most successful businesses. He says he saw the host (the bread Catholics believe becomes Christ during the Mass ceremony) rising out of the sun at Medjugorje.

5. I pray to Father Slavko Barbaric as a saint. He is a priest who was associated with the Medjugorje visionaries up until his death in the year 2000. I have obtained what I believe to be a signal grace from the Lord through the intercession of Father Slavko.

Friday, September 05, 2008

soldier x

Coffee with Soldier X in the Whitewater Centre.
"Are we making a mistake sending Irish troops to Chad?" I asked him.
"What do you mean?" replied Soldier X.
"I mean are the troops safe there?" I said.
The discussion related to a recent deployment of about 400 Irish soldiers to Chad as part of a UN peacekeeping mission.
He frowned.
"Well," he said. "You'd probably prefer us to be fighting Jihadi's in Iraq or Afghanistan..."
"Yes," I said. "Yes I would. I'd prefer us to be playing our part in the war to save humanity from Islamic fascism. I would yes. No doubt about it. I would prefer that. To be fighting for a real cause where Ireland's vital interests are at stake."
"Vital interests such as?"
"Freedom, democracy, civilisation, oh and the right of our children to get on a bus without some half wit blowing himself up in their midst while shouting Allah U Akbar, the right of our daughters to walk down the street without some low life who smuggled himself into the country in the back of a lorry from Arabia shouting Infidel Whore at them, those sorts of rights generally, those are the ones we should be fighting for."
"Alright, alright," Soldier X murmured, "Let's get back to the subject. The answer to your question is that the troops in Chad are safe."
"I don't think they are."
"Look," said Soldier X, "it's true that conditions are pretty miserable in our camps. We expected that and we can deal with it."
"My worry," I told him, "is that we're supposed to be protecting Darfurans expelled from Sudan by their own Islamist Sudanese government. I'm not sure these Darfurans want to be protected by us. I wouldn't give one Irish soldier's life for a Darfuran who's liable to shoot us before he'd thank us. And if the UN really wanted to protect Darfurans it should have reconquered the Darfur region of Sudan with overwhelming force, attrited the Islamist Sudanese army and its Arab militias where they hid, detached Darfur from Sudan, enforced the rule of law there indefinitely, established political parties, and ensured that those people got their country back. What we're doing now, protecting Darfurans who have been expelled to Chad, that's just upholding the Islamist Sudanese government's expulsion of those people."
"That's politics," said Soldier X. "Not my field."
Around us the cafe bustled with life.
"Do you think our troops have a sufficient force to threat ratio for the people we're up against?" I asked.
Soldier X considered the question.
"We're up against a few challenges," he mused. "There's more than one Darfuran army wandering around the camps. Then there's the risk of Sudan using its proxies for an attack. But you see James, all of them know we're associated with the French in the UN mission. The French have a big stick when it comes to military hardware. It's like if you've got a large dog in your house. The burglars won't rob you because they know what's waiting for them."
"So you really think the Irish troops are safe in Chad?" I persisted.
"I think we're safe," said Soldier X.
"Do you think we have the tools to do the job we're being asked to do?" I pressed.
"My opinion is that in conjunction with the French, we do," he said.
I had one more question.
"Is the Irish army being deployed in Chad to make a clownish Irish government Minister for Defence look impressive at miserable pretentious Euro socialist parvenu soirees in Brussels?"
Soldier X chose not to answer this question.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

a scientist's prayer

bright the sky
the God of miracles
and molecules
sits on his throne tonight
that the humble
and the mighty
may rejoice

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

an auspicious day

The Mammy and me pile into one of the elevators at the Whitewater Centre.
An elderly couple share the space with us.
It's a little cramped.
As we swoop towards the second floor, the lady addresses her husband in rich Dublinese.
"Do you see that man?" she hisses indicating me. "He looks just like George Clooney."
There are no further words as we alight from the lift.
The Dubliners beetle off towards the pharmacy.
When they've gone I turn to the Mammy whose eyes are wide and innocent.
"That women just said I look like George Clooney," I recall with modest disbelief. "What do you make of that?"
"She probably meant because you're going grey," muses the Mammy. "Or else she's just doting."
Yes indeedy.
I'm telling you folks.
I don't get no respect.
Mother and son betake themselves to the Costa Cafe.
Soon we're sitting with caffe lattes watching the world go by.
And lo!
Right across from us!
The crowd parts.
And it's a face...
Not exactly a friendly face, but certainly one I recognise vaguely from somewhere.
I frown trying to recall who it is.
Weather beaten oddly Bohemian features, stubbly chin, quick intelligent slightly ratty eyes.
Who the heck is it?
Realisation dawns.
Why if it isn't Conal Boyce, Ireland's most famous defence lawyer.
Mr Boyce has blazed quite a trail through the narrow confines of conventional jurisprudence in the green Republic.
His irrepressible cheeky chappy persona has not always gone down well with the judges.
But he gets results.
That is to say, he gets Get Out Of Jail Free cards for the criminal classes.
He is, shall we say, an extrovert.
Today his Bohemian side has been restrained. He's wearing a sober suit. His hair is discreetly tied back in a pony tail. Tied back in such a way that you mightn't notice he's the sort of guy whose hair is long enough to tie back in a pony tail. He's sitting in a pool of stillness enjoying his lunch.
I should tell you gentle readers, that my acquaintanceship with Mr Boyce stems not from his courtroom activities, but from the fact that in former years he has occasionally applied his extrovert talents to the calling of theatre actor.
I kid you not.
In fact I shared a stage with him about two decades ago in a play called Boeing Boeing.
Although to be fair, he didn't really share.
Arf, arf.
That old gag.
So here we are.
"Lil," I tell the mother, "that's Conal Boyce."
The aged parent looks up.
"Are you sure?" sez she.
The noble Heelers nods.
"I'm sure alright," sez I. "Watch this."
I stand up and holler across the cafe.
"Hey Boyce."
The great man looks up a tad warily.
"Oh hello James," he says also a tad warily.
"They're all guilty," I call ignoring his greeting.
Ireland's most famous defence lawyer raises a quizzical eyebrow.
"Who?" he mouths.
"Your clients," I reply.
Ah it was hilarious.
You know folks, I think I'm at my best when preventing minor celebrities from enjoying their lunch in peace.
Back at the Chateau de Healy I brought Paddy Pup for a walk along the avenue.
The sharp tang of Autumn filled the air in the garden of my father.
A gospel shiver rifled through the trees.
For the first time in a long time I knew everything was going to be okay.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

the winter wind blows from russia

Coffee with Doctor Barn in the Whitewater Centre in Newbridge.
The Whitewater Centre must be unique in the western world for being the only upmarket shopping development anywhere that has been named after a Bill Clinton scandal.
Ah my countrymen.
Truly you are Paddywhacks.
But I digress.
The Doc and me are at table number one quaffing coffees.
"You seem worried," sez he.
"Maybe I am," sez I.
"What's wrong?"
"Rooskie is coming back to Dublin and she wants to meet."
"She's KGB. I haven't seen her since I've begun writing articles about the Russian grab for Georgia. I don't know how she'll take it."
The brother eyed me keenly.
He's known me so long that he's no longer surprised by the more unusual special guest stars in my life.
Nor does he instantly assume when I tell him I'm due to meet up with a KGB agent, that it's a joke.
"Are you joshing?" quoth he cautiously.
"Would I josh about a serious thing like the KGB?" shot back me.
The brother was silent for a moment.
"Is she really KGB?" he insisted finally.
I flashed him my famous fleeting grin.
"Let me put it this way," sez I. "She knows the way to the Polonium 90 cupboard. I've gotta tell you brother, if I'm having a latte with her, I'll be keeping my hand over the top of it."
The brother gave an exasperated professorial wealthy doctor snort.
"James I don't understand you," he cried warmly. "Why would you even meet up with a girl that you didn't trust, never mind one that you have formed the delusional idea is trying to kill you?"
Again with the famous fleeting grin.
"Doc old buddy, old pal," sez I, "have you seen this girl?"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

the waiting

grey light upon sleeping fields
the stillness i have come to love
time and tide cease surcease
peace sits like a glove
shadow sifts like memory

the dogs stirs at his chain
and whines and lifts his eyes
for the walk he knows we'll take
though storm clouds steal the skies
and grey light curtains into rain

so waits the world tonight
in darkness and in pain

the world waits for Christ