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POPE TELLS NUN HELPING TRANSGENDER WOMEN, “GOD WILL REPAY YOU”.

Elise Ann Allen Crux Now Aug 18, 2020

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT

ROME – In the latest sign of papal outreach to the transgender community, Pope Francis has written to an old friend in Argentina to say that he is praying for her and the women who will move into a new condo complex she built to help transgender women living in poverty.

Formally called the Costa Limay Sustainable complex for transgender women, the new building has 12 studio apartments and is part of a permanent housing solution for around a dozen transgender individuals between the ages of 40-70 who are currently in situations of poverty.

It was inaugurated last week in Neuquén, Argentina, by a Discalced Carmelite nun by the name of Mónica Astorga Cremona, who serves as the superior of her community in Neuquén.

Speaking to Argentine news agency Telam, Astorga Cremona, who has ties with Pope Francis going back to his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, said she received a letter from the pope backing the initiative.

According to the nun, she had written to the pope telling him about the inauguration of her new housing complex, and received a reply telling her that, “God who did not go to the seminary or study theology will repay you abundantly” for the work she has done.

In the brief response, Francis told her that he is praying for her and the transgender women she is assisting, adding, “Don’t forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin guide you.”
Born in Buenos Aires in 1967, Astorga Cremona, 53, lives in the cloistered monastery of Santa Cruz and San José de Neuquén, where for the past 14 years she has worked with transgender women, encouraging them to stop addiction and helping them to get out of prostitution by teaching them other trades.

After receiving her habit at the age of 20, she immediately went to work with young drug addicts and alcoholics, and for years has also ministered to prisoners in the area.

The new complex in Neuquén was built on land donated to Astorga Cremona’s monastery by the district and was funded by the local provincial government.

Many of the individuals who will now be living there had been prostitutes and had been living in situations of poverty, selling themselves to get by, however, with quarantines imposed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, those who were prostitutes have been unable to work.

Built by the Provincial Institute of Housing and Urban Development, the complex is located in Neuquén’s Confluencia neighborhood and was immediately handed over to the Order of Discalced Carmelites for administration.

An initiative of Astorga Cremona, who is often referred to as “the nun of the trans” due to her work with the transgender community, the project took roughly three years to complete.

It consists of a two-story building with six 430.5-square foot apartments on each level, as well as a multipurpose room, a large park to be used as a vegetable garden and space for recreation and parking. Each of the apartments also has a kitchen, a bathroom, heating and a hot water tank, as well as a balcony and a small internal patio.

In total, the complex cost around 27.6 million pe
sos to build, amounting to just under $380,000.

“This must serve as a kickoff,” Astorga Cremona told Telam, “because if a nun could make her dream a reality, then how much more can the government do!”

Astorga Cremona cut the ribbon to the new complex during an inauguration ceremony Monday, Aug. 10, alongside Neuquén governor Omar Gutiérrez and the city’s mayor, Mariano Gaido.
As part of the inauguration, Astorga Cremona accompanied each of the new tenants to their doorstep.

“They couldn’t even hold the key because of the crying,” she said, noting that one of the individuals told her the bathroom was bigger than the entire house where they used to live.

According to Astorga Cremona, the new condos are not “a refuge nor a trans home,” but they’re houses given as if they were a loan, “as if it were a rent, but without paying anything and without installments.”
Those who comply with the regulations, which are the same as any rental, are able to stay for life, however, those who disobey will be given three warnings before getting kicked out.

Four of the new tenants have moved in with their partners, however, Astorga Cremona insisted that if they die, their partners will be asked to leave, as the complex is specifically set aside for transgender individuals.

Without having to pay rent and with a food basket and a non-contributory pension, some of the tenants are able to get by without working during Argentina’s quarantine during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Others have begun making food, sweets, and preserves to sell while they wait to resume their jobs in different professions, such as hairdressing, or caring for the elderly.

Pope Francis’s letter to Astorga Cremona is not the first time the two have corresponded. They have history dating back to Francis’s time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, when he would visit her while traveling to Neuquén.

“He never opposed what I do, and for me it is a great support,” she said, recalling one visit from then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 2009 in which he told her not to abandon her “border work, which the Lord gave you,” and to contact him if she were ever in need.

The word “border,” she said, has a lot of meaning in the Catholic Church, particularly when it implies working with people who have been “discarded” by society, and “with whom few want to get involved.”


According to a 2017 census, transgender people in Neuquén have a life expectancy of around 45, with only five percent making it to 56 or older.

Since his election to the papacy in 2013, the two have stayed in touch. Astorga Cremona said that when the pope responds, she usually receives an email with a picture of his hand-written letter, as Francis does not personally use a computer.

In a letter received from Francis in 2017, the pope had told Astorga Cremona that he was praying for her and her convent, and on another occasion, he wrote expressing opposition to discrimination against transgender individuals, saying, “at the time of Jesus, lepers were discarded like this.”

“Sometimes I ask him how to do it when they say ugly things to me,” she said, noting that Francis repeatedly tells her not to stop praying and to continue with her work, and assures her that he is accompanying her.

PAT SAYS

It is very good that Francis is encouraging the ministry to the transgendered.

They are a very much misunderstood and shunned community.

They have very special needs and deserve that we give them a lot of love and respect

The transgender Road is a very difficult road to travel down.

I have a little experience of ministry to this community.

They face a lot of rejection from society and family.

Francis’ compassion for these folk is deeply at odds with his support for McCarrick.

FATHER PAUL PRIOR RETURNS TO CAVAN MINISTRY.

Fr Paul Prior has been appointed as a temporary curate of the parish of Glenfarne, Co Leitrim in Kilmore diocese.

He is living at his home in Ballyconnell and commuting to Glenfarne.

I’m sure Paul has suffered in recent years through the Maynooth and Jesuit upheavals. No Christian or decent human being can rejoice in the suffering of another.

But Paul also caused a lot of hurt in Rome and Maynooth. I hope, somehow he will find a way to reconcile all that in the future.

120 replies on “POPE TELLS NUN HELPING TRANSGENDER WOMEN, “GOD WILL REPAY YOU”.”

What a wonderful good news story about this great and good Carmelite Sister. These projects are the essence of gospel living. I suspect Pope Francis might give more support to similar initiatives for people on the “borders” because of sexual identity issues, but the Curia would erupt! This is an admirable stiry. I am delighted that the people of Derry have unveiled a mural in memory of Sr. Clare Crockett, who was tragically killed on mission saving children in an earthquake in Ecuador 2016. These are the people we should honour, imitate, celebrate and remember, not the nonsense about the Fr. Gates….or Fr. Pryor.

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A tragic story indeed and an individual deserving the attention she is getting. However, to say the stories about Gates et al is nonsense is entirely unjust as they are the antithesis of the good Carmelite Sister.Their errant ways should continue to be highlighted with the hope(vain) that in Gates case, his uselessness in Armagh does not continue to abrogate his duties and deals with the little narcissist and bully.

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8.42: I did not intend to minimise the bullying Gates or any errant behaviour by other clerics. It’s just the narrative abiut these men and ither is repeated too frequently. The bullies of whatever the gave to be exposed and confronted and that task is the sole responsibility of the Bishops. They have enough information to make necessary decisions. When we get repeat stories it gives others the moment to thrash all of us. Yes, the bullies are the complete antithesis of people like the go8d Carmelite Sister and Sr. Clare, of which there are hundreds who quietly but powerfully give heroic witness to Christ. I look to such women and men. I worked with a bullying priest once but I walked away from the circumstances, much to my sorrow. The Bishop told me to offer it up, to which I responded by telling The Bishop this was pious waffle and unacceptable. I walked away from him too. Bullies do not belong to working in the name of Christ.

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10.45
Pope Francis’ support for people on the sexual and gender margins is highly qualified. His praise of this nun is most certainly NOT support for Transgenderism: Francis has crticised what he calls ‘gender ideology’ in schools, that is, ‘telling children that they can alter their biological sex’.

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The trans issue seems to have come from nowhere and seems big and contentious all of a sudden. Perhaps like many things it was well hidden. I cannot imagine that life is easy for them.
My only concern is that you read about parents allowing their children to have hormone treatment and even surgery that some regret and want reversed.

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Thoughts and prayers for Paul Prior, starting out on the adventure of parish life. A rural parish in Leitrim is a nice, gentle introduction. He’ll be able to put into practice all the theory he taught in the seminaries and it’ll be a lovely contrast to Rome, Maynooth and the SJs.

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Wonderful news for all those young fellas in Ballyconnell and Glenfarne who have been needing their erections, wet dreams and masturbatory habits studied and analysed.

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It’s a big moment for Paul but he should be ok because he has had a 28 year wait since his ordination to serve in a parish so he will be mad keen to crack on.

As a beginner he is bound to make mistakes. We all did in our first parishes but Kilmore has plenty of seasoned campaigners to keep him right.

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Just now watching Gerry Anderson ‘s “A City Dreaming ” on BBC1, where he refers scathingly about the days when the bishop of Derry, accompanied by all his minions, made his “grand entrance ” to Derry cathedral. This isn’t religion: it’s show business,” he said.
Very true I thought. You got it right Gerry.
MMM

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Reminds me of a similar story about McQuaid, onetime Ab of Dublin. Story goes that at an evening of classical music, a Dub 4 type highbrow thingee, in some grand theatrical setting, the RTE orchestra was warming up when a hush came over the auditorium. The spotlight swung immediately away from the conductor and focused on the lone figure of McQuaid standing in full Ab regalia with silk cappa magna as the choir gave a full throated rendition of Ecce Sacerdos Magnus.
With deference like that is it any wonder that so many of the catholic clergy rode roughshod over the people and abused their chequebooks and their children for years.

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I suppose Dick, if you pump up a dead pig’s bladder it will bounce higher. But shure in the end it’s just a bag of wind……like most of those hierarchical pointy hats.
MMM

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Dalriada Dick at3:59pm
You’ve got it wrong Dick it was performance by Our Lady’s Choral Society of Handel’s Messiah and His Grace Dr.McQuaid entered as the choir were singing Behold the man. It was in the old Theatre Royal, I was their it was a wonderful never to be forgotten experience, and it was not all Dub4 types there were people from all over the city, even from The North side. The only time The Ecce Sacerdos was sung was when a prelate entered a Church for a liturgical function.

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Paul Prior has made a full recovery. Hopefully no more relapses. We all know the dangers he posed when wee Prior gets aroused.

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Pat off record of cource. In patient treatment for his abnormal behavior patterns and by polar personality. Treatment was group therapy sessions and psychiatric medication. Prior is now deemed from a psychological medical view as fit to renter the norms of society and no longer at threat to adult men.

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I suppose for many transgendered people it how it feel on the inside is paramount?
Transsexual is different from transgender.

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Absolutely. And whatever one’s sexual orientation and the tensions that may create, I cannot imagine how terrible it must feel to be trapped in a body that does not feel right or match the gender identity which you feel you have. For several years, my husband’s secretary was a member of the transgender community who had had surgery in the 1970s. She was alienated from her family in North America, lived alone and suffered daily verbal abuse as she went to and from work. I’m pleased the Church is showing mercy and compassion, something it too often fails to show to those who are not in standard Catholic heterosexual marriage.

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I’m torn between “Parish Dodger given Parish”, “Parish Dodger refuses to live in Parish” and “Captain Underpants rides again!”

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28 years, actually. He entered Maynooth in 1986 and mounted exhibitions of his keks there from 1986 – 1992.

He did the sem course so was ordained after six years, in 1992 and successfully evaded parish service until this year.

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Nothing wrong with the seminarist course. At least two current Irish bishops did it also. So he’s in good company.

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Apart from Tom Deenihan, who is the only seminarist course bishop?
It must be one of the younger ones because the sem course only started relatively recently in Maynooth when the numbers were dropping and they started for the first time to accept sems who didn’t have the requisite grades to embark on degree courses. Until then Maynooth had been strictly for those who could matriculate as undergraduates in the National University of Ireland.

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3:00
I doubt that Tom would be advertising that fact – or his theological qualifications.
Is it possible to gain admittance to a doctoral programme without a primary degree?

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4.56

The title ‘Doctor…’ here refers to his role as a teacher (bishop), not to an academic degree.

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4:46, The National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) did not come into effect until 1997, breaking away from the Pontifical University. Admissions to degree courses for sems was at the discretion of the Pontifical prior to 1997. I suspect all sems back then did a degree.

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There seems to be Maynooth lay students commenting. They don’t know that the sem course is the diploma in philosophy and arts, taught by the Jesuit. It is for those who do not take degrees in Maynooth University, it lasts two years, it is awarded by the Pontifical University. It is overseen by the Board of Seminarist Studies. All of this info in in the online Kalendarium.
Even prior to 1997, seminarians doing BA or BSc degrees had to matriculate in the NUI, and satisfy the NUI in Merrion Square. The seminary or Pontifical University had no discretion to change that it. It was a NUI rule.
In the 1980s, 60% of first year sems enrolled in the diploma in philosophy and arts, taught in the seminary by Fr Flann Markham and a layman, Donal McMahon. It was a big group, maybe 30 or 40 students a year did the sem course.
The other 40% of first year seminarians undertook NUI degree courses. The two class groups never met jointly academically, and after second year the initial cohort who had entered together divided, with the sem course group jumping a year and going into First Divine. The NUI Third Arts/Third Science group formed their own class and lived separately in New House before going into First Divine a year later.

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5.13
In his case it does refer to an academic degree – a doctorate in education most likely. The question is: how to gain admission to a doctoral programme without a primary degree?

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5:08
Wrong. When they were going through there was a seminarist course in both philosophy and theology. In the case of the latter, there were four separate examination papers, namely, for BD honours; general; diploma in theology; and seminarist course in theology.

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@6:31 This is frustrating. You are obviously a lay student and do not know what happens with seminarians and has happened for years. The example you referred to are the theology courses. I am referring to what seminarians do when they first enter Maynooth. They either do a degree through Maynooth University, or they do the seminarist diploma in philosophy and arts, taught in the seminary. Every priest and ex-seminarian of Maynooth knows that – see page 228 of the Kalendarium.
Seminarians do not just study the three year theology course, which leads to the BD for the higher achievers.
https://maynoothcollege.ie/kalendarium

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6.31
No, not wrong. At least, not in my time at Maynooth. Here seminarians on the so-called ‘Seminarist Course’ took all the subjects taken by the BD general students, and answered all the same questions in examinations.
For the general degree, the pass mark was 40% in each paper, but the ‘seminarist’ pass mark was considerably lower.

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Pat, have you ever been to Glenfarne? It’s in the middle of feckin nowhere. No Calvin Klein shops there and hardly any shops at all.

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I’ve passed it on the road from Enniskillen to Sligo. Its just a kind of crossroads. But Im sure there are good people there.

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I’ve no doubt that Glenarne people are great, but isn’t Paul Prior a bit underused in a charming rural parish? For over two decades he was the paid, full-time expert on what made a good priest and he trained others how to be good priests. Given the expertise that he must have, surely a PP posting to a tough urban parish, on loan to Dublin, Down and Connor or Limerick would be more suitable? A temporary curate job wouldn’t have been considered in Sean Baptist’s day.

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I rang Armagh earlier to speak to Archbishop Eamon regarding the abusive treatment of an elderly man by Fr John Gates, PP of Magherafelt. I was told that the Archbishop was busy and I should put my concerns in writing.

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Shouting in public at an elderly man with dementia is unforgivable – especially for a priest.
Gates will get his cumuppance one day.

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No surprise there. An Archbishop totally out of his depth – not my words! Mr Gordon controls everything in Armagh. He gets paid thousands for doing it.

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John abused Sr Regis in Maynooth. His continual abuse of people should be a matter of grave concern

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All the negative comments about Fr. Prior are from the same person. He is probably a seminary REJECT who is in denial. I bet he thinks that every man he meets WANTS him sexually. I remember he thought ALL the seminarians wanted him; no one wanted a blown out midget who looks like shrek. In the future, the penny will drop and he will leave his wife and kids for a man. 🙂

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I have a suspicion I know who this might be. I heard a very interesting story about a seminary ‘reject’ now married. Could you maybe indicate the diocese or the place where he lives now?

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I was in Maynooth with John. I left. His name mentioned here brought back memories. I will be diplomatic and say he has a massive ego. I am being very kind. D

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If young people say they are interested in RE and it’s their favourite subject then you know they are being taught utter rubbish. I visited a catholic school where the Headteacher boasted about the students love of RE the lessons I saw were YouTube clips about Islam in fact every class seemed to be doing the five pillars or Islam as a PowerPoint or a tourist guide to Mecca, the school was named after an English Martyr his statue was in the foyer but don’t worry they are a welcoming, inclusive and diverse community of learners with a mission to excel in gospel Values guaranteeing a lifetime of success, the Headteacher was hoping to get the school renamed to something more user friendly “ Do you want a school for Catholics or a catholic school” he said , yeah right

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I have often shuddered, as I accelerated through Glenfarne and thought, to myself, imagine stuck in this miserable hole on a wild November night!

Wee Pauline the Pry-er will at least have lots of lovely underpantses to keep any damp chills at bay.

One did note – how very apt – the Rainbow Ballroom is situated near the village of Glenfarne. It won’t exactly be the salubrious ambience of the renowned Cafe Bum Bum; but, hopefully, Pauline will find some diversion and pleasant converse there when – and if – Covid restrictions are eventually lifted.

Anyhow, the very best of luck to her in her new parish. I’m sure Fanny Melange and de bauld Mick d’Extractor will make the odd excursion up to sit and commiserate with Pauline and cry, into their sweet sherries, about all that could have been – and might have been.

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The comment about John Gates and Sr Regis brought back many memories for me. He was a capricious bully even then. Reading today about Jerry Buttimer resigning in the Seanad/ Senate did too. Jerry was a seminarian for Cork and Ross. He left the college chapel one evening in gales of laughter after a now-deceased Armagh seminarian, and later priest, read an infamous reflection. It was about a little boy and a cherry tree. The infamous catch line was, ‘come, boy, climb up my trunk and play with my cherries’. People just lost it, but Jerry sticks in my mind running out laughing. Oh, many a word spoken in jest!!

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Sr Regis, God rest her soul, was no pushover. She would have ate ye without salt. I doubt she would have taken any lip from Gates. Buttimer was as much a clown then as he is now.

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I didn’t know she’d gone to the great convent in the sky, though she was no spring chicken in the John Gates era. Most people were a bit frightened of her and the much-loved infirmarian, Sr Vincent. The nuns are long gone now, and their oratory is now where the episcopal conference has its meetings around a coffin shaped table.

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Yes, she was very different to the saintly Sr Anne (Sr Ponst-Anne, because, bless her, she prescribed Ponstan for everything). Regis was on duty in the infirmary one day, and a seminarian expressed reticence about removing articles of clothing so that she could examine him (pity they weren’t all so reticent!!!). Her infamous comment was, ‘drop ’em, nothing I haven’t seen before!!’. Mind you, Sr Anne was steely in her own way. She took on Niall Ahern several times when students admitted themselves to the infirmary over stress.

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Jerry Buttimer was great craic. I think he was assistant sacristan (or am I thinking of Iomar Daniels) in the year John Gates was wresting with Sr Regis for the prized title of senior sacristan.
I wish I could remember who the Armagh preacher was.
Paul Prior wasn’t given any of the jobs that were doled out as patronage by the deans. He was bland and inoffensive, as was Michael Mullaney. Their contemporaries would never have predicted their progress.
The only thing Paul Prior was known for was the underwear issue, but people laughed about it behind his back, gossiped about it, ignored it or refused to believe it happened.
Just to emphasise that he wasn’t wearing them when he asked you if you wanted to see them when you were in his room. If you agreed out of politeness or because you didn’t know what to say he would simply spread the vast collection out on his bed and you would just say something like “right” and there would be a long awkward pause while he put them back in the drawer.

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Ah yes, I know who you are referring to know. Despite being his bishop, Amy did not celebrate or attend the funeral, claiming a prior engagement. What prior engagement would take precedence for a bishop over the funeral of one of his own priests who had died suddenly in his 40s?

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Several people turned down Armagh before Amy was offered it. I’ve heard that there were 5 refusals before she said yes.

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Hayes will be a disaster for Kilmore. Staff member at Thurles. Knew about the death of Michael Deegan. Enough said. Did nothing – tainted. Paul Prior’s new,bishop

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There seems to be a divide forming between the lesbians and the trans people in the LGBT family. I think it’s because the trans downplay women and also because, now than trans want to use ladies loos, some butch lesbians have been mistaken for trans and have got dogs abuse from other when they used women’s loos.

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They talk about them being cis women, compete unfairly in women’s sport and invade female only spaces such as public loos, changing rooms, which makes some women feel uncomfortable.

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I don’t see how Pope Francis’ compassion towards the transgendered is at odds with his ‘support’ for McCarrick. On the contrary, there is concordance here, since Francis expressed mercy and compassion to both.

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McCarrick must face justice as well as mercy and compassion. Francis, in the name of mercy, has a bad habit of reversing or reducing penalties imposed by the CDF, and in doing so he gives a two-fingered salute to victims, and in the notorious case of Fr Inzoli, allows an abuser access to new victims.

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Pat Fr John Farren speaking on the news about Donegal car tragedy. Wearing a black shirt with no collar. Is this the new style?

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7.00pm: You are an idiot and a moron. In the awful tragedy your only concern is a priest not wearing his collar. You gombeen. Utterly absurd concern.

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About transgender: I too used to make fun of them. Shame on me. But, experience of working with a few transgender people left me in awe of the COURAGE AND BRAVERY. Which of us would put up with the shit they have to put up with ? When I come across someone who is transgendered, I think simply now of their courage. Good on them ! Get over all the jokes and prejudices, these are people who are brave enough to do what they want to do, and to hell with the rest of us. Respect !

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Should have transgendered migrants fleeing Eritrea living in it , that will lead to a return to the number of vocations and a new springtime

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+Tom turned his experience teaching religion into a distance learning Masters and later PhD. They’ll consider professional experience in lieu of academic qualifications.

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Yes, also from the University of Hull in 2001.
“Religious education and religious instruction in the Irish post-primary school curriculum in the aftermath of the introduction of an examinable, non-denominational syllabus for religious education.”

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Credit where it’s due to the good Sister in Argentina. As for Fr Gates the alleged attitude may well need to be closed and locked but

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