New Bishop for Down and Connor…

As Robin Eames’ successor is to be chosen today, William Scholes in the Irish News today has the three runners for one of the top jobs in the Northern Irish Catholic Church:

The Irish News understands the leading contenders are Dr Donal Mc Keown (56), an auxiliary bishop of the diocese, Dr John McAreavey (57), the Bishop of Dromore, and Clogher priest Monsignor Noel Treanor (54), who heads COMEC (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community), the Brussels-based body which lobbies the European Union on behalf of the Catholic Church.

He further notes:

The appointment comes at a significant time for the Church because – with new bishops due also to be appointed to the dioceses of Achonry and Ossory – the combined changes give Pope Benedict XVI his first opportunity to shape the make up of the ageing Irish episcopacy. Down and Connor is the north’s largest diocese and is regarded as highly important by the Vatican because in addition to pastoral responsibilities its bishop plays a role in issues such as education, politics and liaising with government.

  • kensei

    “Dr Donal Mc Keown (56), an auxiliary bishop of the diocese”
    And also former Head of St Malachy’s College.

    Da Whizz for the win.

  • Pete Baker

    Probably worth adding the Irish Times’ Patsy McGarry’s tip[subs req]

    The Church of Ireland Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh,Right Rev Kenneth Clarke, is front-runner to be elected Church of Ireland Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh tomorrow. He was being spoken of as such last night following strong indications that the Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev John Neill will not exercise his prerogative to succeed to Armagh, which has been vacant since Archbishop Robin Eames retired on December 31st.

    He mentions a few others as well.. but none from the Irish News’ list..

  • Pete Baker

    Oops.. wrong job..

  • Mick Fealty

    So you are not infallible Pete? Wha Hey!!!

  • Pete Baker

    All too human here ;o)

  • Shamrock

    Donal Mc Keown should be the one!
    I remember him in St Anne’s in the early 80’s and he was a very down to earth man – think he did the Belfast marathon at that time to raise funds for the Parish!?
    Of course I was only in the pram at that time!? lol

  • Yokel

    Has Paddy Power run up odds for this at all?

  • Sammy Morse

    Da Whizz for the win.

    Giving yourself away there, kensei.

    Da Whizz taught me German too.

  • URQUART

    Must be McAreavey. It needs some fresh blood (which could rule out McKeown) while still someone who’s on the ground in the North (which rules out the other fella).

    Is anywhere giving odds?

  • Dino

    Don’t think it will be Donal Mc Keown – check out reference to him in wikepedia which suggests his support for catholic education is weak and mentions something I can’t remember – his attending a “Save the RUC” rally at the Ulster Hall – anybody know more?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donal_McKeown_(Bishop)

  • Sammy Morse

    Wikipedia article looks like a hatchet job from a disaffected neo-Francoite cleric.

  • Splurge

    Sammy Morse could well be right (though don’t really know what Franco has to do it) but you’d have to wonder why someone would want to do that. No smoke without fire and if you can’t see the smoke the sneaky bastard has hidden it well. We don’t want another Archbishop of Warsaw fiasco. I saw mckeown doing mass on xmas eve on rte from australia and he looked a bit past it frankly – and that 1970s “dead on” “Da Whizz” crap is hardly what the church needs in 2007.

  • Sammy Morse

    though don’t really know what Franco has to do it

    Just musing on the 2nd of Jan’s Irish News, which had a report on Paddy Walsh’s last New Year sermon, slagging off the Sexual Orientation Regulations and their “in the past” feture which had a report from the Irish News of 2 Jan 1938 where a previous Bishop of Down and Connor was extoling the virtues of Generalissimo Franco.

    Alan Harper has got the CofI job.

    and that 1970s “dead on” “Da Whizz” crap is hardly what the church needs in 2007.

    Just what does it need then? More right-wing authoritarianism from the likes of Paddy Walsh – who, unlike McKeown, is not remembered with fondness by those who attended St. Malachy’s when he was in charge.

  • Splurge

    We want someone who is orthodox, outgoing, friendly, genuine and absolutely committed to the truth. Paddy Walsh was probably orthodox, though like most Irish bishops he preferred to hide it under cover of blandness. Donal Mc Keown, despite being liked by some school children, has a reputation for beign deceitful, ill-mannered and not strictly orthodox. I want a cross between John Paul II and Benedict XVI if that’s not too much to expect

  • kensei

    “I saw mckeown doing mass on xmas eve on rte from australia and he looked a bit past it frankly – and that 1970s “dead on” “Da Whizz” crap is hardly what the church needs in 2007.”

    Only ever had him for some RE in Sixth form, but he was “dead on” in the sense he was easy to approach. But he actively discussed issues with us and was clear on what he wanted the school to achieve – well rounded people rather than focusing solely on results. He had quite a bit of respect from the students – surely exactly what the church needs? His defense of Catholic education on H&M was crap though.

    Personally, I think they should elevate Father Magee to the position. Scrap that, Pope.

  • Cantata

    Franco was the saviour of Spain. The loyalists burned 20,000 churches and butchered thousands of priests, nuns, bishops and lay people not remotely involved in politics. Perhaps that’s why the Bishop of Down and Connor was praising him.

  • JFK

    As regards Paddy Walsh, apart from his personality, he never really shook off being the Head Master. Everybody was treated as if they were an errant schoolboy or a lazy teacher.

    My question is – do we want another headmaster in donal mckeown? What real pastoral experience has he? Had he ever served in a parish? don’t think so.

  • Captain Caveman

    My experience of Bishop Donal McKeown is that he always behaves as if he is the smartest boy in the room and never takes advice from anybody.

  • Plunkett

    Captain Caveman has put his finger on it. I’ve met mckeown a few times at meetings with school principals and he has that insufferable air you get from a Minister for Education who used to be a teacher – they really do think they know it all.

    Also dresses like a bit of scare-crow.

  • Tomas

    “Da Whizz”? I always thought his nickname was “Dicky Donal”.

  • McKeown claimed after the anti-Patten really that he was duped into it, saying he was asked to go along and say a prayer thinking it was a cross-community event.
    For such a smart man this was a very dopey thing to do. Some have suggested that this was only an excuse and he knew what he was at all along until being caught out.
    During my days at St Malachy’s McKeown was approachable and fairly well liked. He took up the presidency after Conway, not a tough act to follow, and this made him appear better than what he was.

  • wee rubber

    Didn’t know that so many rejects from St. Malachy’s perused Slugger.

    Is this what Wee Duff taught you perfect English for? lazy blogging with bad grammar?

    Long live Paddy Sniff, say I.

  • URQUHART

    “I want a cross between John Paul II and Benedict XVI if that’s not too much to expect”

    Spot on.

    Also, I’ve never really liked the St Malachy’s crowd. Wannabe english public schoolboys who can’t play football…

  • pete

    Also, I’ve never really liked the St Malachy’s crowd. Wannabe english public schoolboys who can’t play football…

    tell Martin O’Neill that….

  • URQUHART

    Pete, you’ll find that O’Neill learned his considerable footballing skills elsewhere.

    ALthough you could probably claim credit for his switch to soccer.

    I don’t know the timeframes – was he under Bishop McKeown?

  • Captain Caveman

    Urquhart, are you by any chance a close friend and relative of Urquart from the last page? If you’d got into Malachy’s or even Park Lodge, you’d have learned something about consistency…and spelling.

  • Sammy Morse

    Also, I’ve never really liked the St Malachy’s crowd. Wannabe english public schoolboys who can’t play football…

    I really hope you’re under the age of 20 Urquhart. I’d worry if anybody past the age of daily shaving actually thought about that sort of nonsense.

  • URQUHART

    the point is made I think. Ho ho!

  • BeardyBoy

    Well done cantata – thank God for Franco or else Europe would be communist – I would extend the hand of friendship to England on this one – in a spirit of graciousness and reconciliation – Bishop Richard Williamson or even the great Father Boyle of Newry now preaching the True Faith in Preston

  • Comrade Stalin

    I was at Malachy’s 1989-1997 and remember Da Whizz fondly. His RE classes in sixth form were great crack – I remember very little religion from the sessions that he did, just a lot of banter about philosophy, marxism and atheism 🙂 He can be seen often around Fortwilliam shops. Bumped into him there a couple of years ago, still seems like a decent guy.

    I’m used to people on here seeming completely anonymous, but I’ve a feeling that I probably know some people fairly well …

  • Still Depressed

    I spent a year in seminary under the “guidance” of mckeown and saw the “dead on” facade fall away pretty sharpish. He used to sit in the dark in the common room in case anyone came in to get a cuppa after lights out – a man in his forties catching men in their twenties. And his sermons were consistently negative. He also had favourites and could be quite vindictive to people he didn’t like, with bitchy remarks behind their backs. I think his appointment would be an absolute disaster.

  • Ex Mal

    That’s funny (Still Depressed). I was at St Malachy’s at that time and mckeown (always thought da whizz a particularly stupid name) used to tell us stories about “the wing” – there was a crowd he called “the Latin Brigade” (Francoesque?) – always wanting benediction and agnus deis. and he told us about catching them after dark – always wondered did he mean something more. anyway, thought at the time he was bit indiscreet and crowd pleasing.

  • Sammy Morse

    the point is made I think. Ho ho!

    Hi Urquhart – did Santa bring you a Sponge Bob Square Pants game for your Wii this Christmas?

    I would extend the hand of friendship to England on this one – in a spirit of graciousness and reconciliation – Bishop Richard Williamson

    Is that Richard “Holocaust Denier” Williamson who said that: “here was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies. The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel…. Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.”

    Interesting how this thread and the one about Alan Harper being appointed CofI Primate bring out the real falangist fringe of Irish Catholic society.

    PS – I never heard the wing stories from Donal although I have heard a few “after lights out” stories about the wing from other people who’d spent time there over the years.

  • Green Glens of Antrim

    Why no talk about Paddy Delargy (former principal of the Tower) or Tim Bartlett (works for the Bishops)? Da Whizz is definitely not popular with priests – he doesn’t bother with them! Delargy is stronger on education and a listener. Bartlett’s name is popular – too young though (early 40’s). Heard him preach at Masses in the Glens – impressive. Ticks the friendly, confident, orthodox box and is good on the media. Priests say hes much stronger on education than McKeown and a good negotiator with civil servants and politicians – may be why he is working for the Bishops. Heard Mandelson didn’t like him – seems he played a big part in getting name and symbols of RUC changed and in getting Bishops to speak out more strongly on eduation. No prayers over a union jack with him then! Notice in a piece on Sean Brady over Christmas Sunday Tribune called him ‘a very, very astute and sharp fella’ – a name to be watched in years ahead. Is this the dark horse coming up on the inside? Believe he comes from Ardoyne – if he knows President McAleese this will be a help! INews was right about our ageing Irish Hierarchy. Time for a younger man – Bartlett or Delargy!

  • Captain Caveman

    “He doesn’t bother with them”

    I’d heard that but an advantage maybe if he has to act as an honest broker between bickering clerics? And on education, why does the state have to continue funding two separate systems? Da Whizz has attended some high level fundraisers for the integrated education sector which requires courage considering who he is.

  • NormanIvan

    I’m surprised by some of the hostility to Donal McKeown. I’ve always found him very pleasant. I’ve been involved in integrated education for many years, from the early days of Lagan and Hazelwood and always found donal quietly supportive, though he does make the point that it’s better to make Roman catholic schools more integrated rather than having a new sector. I think that’s probably why he’s always tried to downplay the overtly RC elements in his schools – devotion to Mary, any Latin in services and specifically RC moral positions like abortion or contraception. Think the same is true in his sermons. There’s more that unites us than divides us you know.

  • Green Glens of Antrim

    Norman – you’re right. I have never heard anyone say Bishop McKeown is anything but a nice man. Also, any one who is willing to be a Catholic priest/bishop nowadays must have a deep faith and a lot of courage. I’m delighted that we have priests and bishops like Donal McKeown. But that’s not the point. Down & Connor is the second biggest Diocese in Ireland. It requires a strong leader with confidence and very good judgement, particularly on education. Unfortunately, your suggestion that he has always tried to downplay the RC element in schools will only confirm the worst suspicions of many! Many Catholics want a more confident presentation of Catholicism not a watering down. Bartlett and Delargy have always given me the impression that they are more willing to do this while also being committed to ecumenical relations – while not apologising for their Catholicism!

  • Garibaldy

    Surely his point on education is that he sees the challenge coming from secularism to religious education in and of itself. Hopefully we’ll see the end of religious education in his lifetime.

  • Ruth

    As a supporter of integrated education, I think NormanIvan is wrong to associate the integrated school movement with controversial issues like abortion. Most of the schools have a strong Christian ethos and all of them encourage clergymen to be part of the governors. So far only Protestants have taken up the offer but hopefully in the future Catholic priests will be able to join. I have heard Bishop Donal McKeown speak and have found him open and quietly supportive. He’s a very modern sort of churchman – he doesn’t take diktats and has the ability to think for himself.

  • Shamrock

    I agree Green Glens of Antrim

    I would be extremely concerned if the Catholicism was taken out of education! We need to ensure that our religion is very much a part of our children’s education and although I have met Donal Mc Keown and he seemed to me to be a lovely down to earth man I would be concerned that he might not protect this!

    I of course welcome integration, however, if this is the way to go then we need to include all religions in the teachings and cannot lose our heritage and tradition. We do, however, need to understand and appreciate other religions, traditions and culture and integration should bring this but dont lose the Catholic ethos in our education altogther!

    Which one of the potential candidates does anyone think can bring this necessary mixture?

  • BeardyBoy

    It is not just the ethos, which is open to interpretation, we need to keep. We need to establish a return to true Catholic education, which does not mean only the teaching of catechisms, preparation for sacraments and Catholic prayers and so on, but an entire Catholic curriculum. That means Catholic History, Catholic Economics,the entire gamut.

    The present Catholic education is a very dilute version, (I have at present 4 children in Primary School, and I had to teach them their catechism), we still have what P Pearce called the “Murder Machine” in operation, but then this suits the socialists in SF and SDLP.

    We really need a Bishop who can look at the English Proconsul in the eye and tell him that we will teach our children our way – stuff their key stages.

    It is heart warming to see that the interest in our childrens schooling can still unite us, it is one of our main bastions against integration into a protestant “British” morality and keeps us defined as a people.

    One thought to keep is that the difference between the secularist and the Catholic is that the secularist will tell you that the purpose of education is to get you a good job and a career, (you become a useful cog in the wheel of industry, the Catholic will tell you the purpose of education is to attain Heaven, you end up being a person as opposed to an individual.

  • we still have what P Pearce called the “Murder Machine” in operation

    I’m notso hotso on Padaig Pearce’s quotes – what did he call the “murder machine”?

  • Moderate

    Why are so many Roman Catholics attacking Bishop McKeown? Writing as an Anglican, I find his views on most things moderate. From what’s written here by co-religionists, I think he might find a warmer welcome in the Church of Ireland – maybe as successor to Alan Harper in Connor!

  • Instonian

    “He’s a very modern sort of churchman – he doesn’t take diktats and has the ability to think for himself.”

    Isn’t that a good thing? In the Presbyterian Church we reflect both wings amongst our members by electing a moderator of different opinion – liberal and conservative – each year. And thinking for himself – that’s got to be a key leadership skill? He sounds like most of the educated Roman Catholics I know – thinking for themselves and a bit tired of conservative leaders. Perhaps a Roman Catholic bishop with a more liberal view might keep liberal Catholics on board? They can always have a conservative one after.

  • Still Depressed

    Sammy, the Murder Machine was Pearse’s term for the British education system and title of a book of his.

    Since most people seem not overly keen on donal mckeown as bishop, any suggestions for an alternative.?

  • Captain Caveman

    “Donal Mc Keown, despite being liked by some school children, has a reputation for beign deceitful, ill-mannered and not strictly orthodox. ”

    Any facts behind this or just your opinion, Splurge?

  • Splurge

    “Deceitful” – as in lies to you, pretends he doesn’t know things that he does, blames other people for things he was responsible for, says something happens for one reason when really it was something else.

    “Ill-mannered” – ignoring you when in better company, using words like “fucking” when referring to conservatives.

    “Not strictly orthodox” – where to begin – doesn’t hold up the host after the consecration for starters. Take a look at his photo on wikepedia – wearing a green and gold rope instead of a chain with his pectoral cross.

    I had several years of him at Our Lady and St Pat’s Knock and then a year in the Wing and that was quite enough for me.

  • To the teeth

    Debates getting a bit nasty, isn’t it? Can’t say I’ve any real insight to Donal Mc Keown, but one thing that did strike me is that he’s a bit of a light weight when it comes to theology. I’m not saying you have to be a Ratzinger but can a bishop really get by on being nice and bland – before you all rush to say that’s whay they’re all like, I agree. In Ireland we have had far too many men with either too much theology and no sense of life or vice versa. Where are the Fulton Sheens, Jean-Marie Lustigers, or the Pells in Ireland. At least with Cardinal’s Daly and O’Fee there was a sense of some brains. I just think it says a lot about how awful the church in Ireland has become if we are even considering someone like Donal Mc Keown. Where to go? I’d look broader, at some of the religious orders. I bet you there are some good men from Down and Connor in orders that we forget about.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Au contraire, To the teeth, the debate is centering on exactly what organised religion is about, politics, power and control.

  • Captain Caveman

    Woo! You’re still carrying a lot of hurt from your Catholic schooldays, Splurge! Whats wrong with a bit of colourful language from a bishop…Queen Victoria’s been dead for a long time now! A bit of humanity coming through?

  • Since most people seem not overly keen on donal mckeown as bishop, any suggestions for an alternative.?

    Most people, in this context, meaning a few posters on Slugger O’Toole.

    I had several years of him at Our Lady and St Pat’s Knock

    If you’d have had a few years of Paddy Walsh at St. Malachy’s you still wouldn’t be able to sit down.

    Can’t say I’ve any real insight to Donal Mc Keown, but one thing that did strike me is that he’s a bit of a light weight when it comes to theology.

    Compared to Paddy Walsh or Desmond Connell he’s Thomas Aquinas himself.

    Oh, well, what do I care I’m a member of the Church of Ireland anyway.

  • Randalscity

    Chech out this blog http://www.bobsblob.net/?p=67 which is from someone who was at the televised Mass from australia at christmas – good description of receiving communion from mckeown.

    Not sure why Sammy is linking Pwalsh with des connell – one was a gifted scholar and the other has 2 MAs in maths.

    When is the church of Ireland going to give back the churches they stole from us, by the way?

  • Pwalsh with des connell – one was a gifted scholar and the other has 2 MAs in maths.

    Des “My PhD Thesis Was on How Men Communicate With Angels” Connell? You are joking, right.

    PS – anyone else suspect sock puppetry around here?

  • Captain Caveman

    Are you calling Catholic bishops sock puppets, Sammy? As if the pope would! Uumm…waitaminute: maybe a logical extension of infallibility? Anyway, lighten up and don’t be so bitter and queenie.

  • BeardyBoy

    to the teeth – if you want genuine Catholic orthodox teaching, uncompromised, from the pulpit go the the SSPX Mass in Andersonstown, 11:00 Sundays – bring yer Missal if you have one and remember you are in the presence of Christ so come dressed appropriately