• My Christmas reading was a tale of three sermons.
The Archbishop of Dublin's Christmas sermon was a breath of fresh air, contrasting radically with that of Cardinal Brady and Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster.
Archbishop Martin's sermon focused on the inspiration of Christmas, it was positive, thoughtful and clearly relevant to our experience of living; it was a genuine Christmas sermon.
On the other hand, the cardinal's contribution was typical of a long-lost age where the church sought to sustain its influence by generating moral panic around a particular issue, in this case that of abortion, thus distracting us from more deep-rooted sources of socio-economic disruption and social fragmentation that have weakened the bonds of marriage and community.
More importantly, it was a distraction from the significance of the truth at the heart of the Christmas celebrations – that generosity, self-giving and fraternity make for human happiness.
I must say, however, that the Archbishop of Westminster made the most extraordinary leap from the truth embodied in the Christmas season to the question of same-sex marriage, contributing insensitively to the assumption that the gay community are in the business of threatening the social order. His appeal to all of us to do battle against a presumed societal menace can only produce an amplification of discrimination against the gay community.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Brady's call to man the barricades would be more appropriate if he was spreading the message of compassion for the poor.