Two Powerful Saints who helped Change the World

All roads led to Rome last Sunday as four Popes took centre stage. Pope Francis was joined by the Pope Emeritus as two very recent and charismatic pontiffs – John XXIII and John Paul II were proclaimed Saints amid scenes of great joy and celebration. John XXIII and John Paul II were formidable world leaders who left a huge mark on the era in which they lived and worked. Older Catholics will remember the avuncular poor farmer’s son, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, for the extraordinary range of changes he ushered into the Church after convening the Second Vatican Council in 1962. One of the great imponderable questions lingering to this day concerns the direction the Church might have taken had John XXIII’s reign not been cut short by his untimely death in June 1963. Karol Wojtyla was also one of the most charismatic people of his time, a tireless pilgrim who visited many parts of the world as Pope John Paul II. As the first non-Italian Pope in 400 years and as a proud Polish man, he played a huge role in political change in the old Eastern Bloc. He will be long remembered for his visit to Ireland in 1979, the first ever by a reigning Pope. The double canonization comes as Pope Francis enters his second year in office. He has already shown himself to be an unusual and charismatic figure, the first Pope from Latin America and one who has modeled himself on St. Francis of Assisi. Many will see the twin canonizations as an effort to unite the more authoritarian elements in the Church – epitomized by John Paul II with advocates of change who look to the legacy of  John XXIII. Pope Francis has already taken steps to open up a new dialogue within the Church later this year. That process and the work of the Holy Father will be watched with great interest in Ireland and across the globe.

An Unfair Tax on Illness

The Irish Medical Organisation deserves to be congratulated for its stance regarding the prescription charge. Delegates drew attention at their conference to the appalling situation where people on Social Welfare or small incomes cannot afford to pay for all medications and are opting to take only some of their medication. Each item on their prescription costs €2.50 and even with the monthly upper limit set at €25, it is just too much for many people. Surely it is wrong to target people who are struggling with life-changing or life-threatening diseases or simply trying to recover form an illness using prescribed medication.

Skin Cancer

A major increase in cases of skin cancer directly linked to more people taking sun holidays has been identified by new research. The number of Irish skin cancers almost doubled between 1994 and 2011 – but the biggest increase was among young people from 2002 when Irish consumer spending and sun holiday bookings reached record peaks. Onwards the number of cases began to sky rocket with a year-on-year increase of between 6% and 10% from 2002-2011. The study, based on data compiled by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) has been published in the “British Journal of Dermatology”. It revealed that between 1994 and 2011 the number of skin cancer cases treated in Ireland soared from 5,146 to 9,190. Data from 2011-1013 is still being compiled. However both the NCRI and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) said the number of skin cancer cases was expected to double again by 2040. The study drew a direct link between the spiraling number of cases and lifestyle issues among affluent urban populations. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) remains the most common type of skin cancer detected, though the most dangerous kind of cancer is melanoma. The report strongly endorsed the need for “vigorous” public health campaigns on the dangers of sunburn. The Irish Cancer Society stressed that while skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in Ireland it is also the most easily prevented through proper skin protection. The ICS also stressed that 90% of cases are curable, so if you notice a red patch, an itchy mole or a bleeding skin lesion go to your doctor and get it checked out.

Best Wishes

Kathleen Ambrose moved into her new hairdressing salon last Friday. It is great to see Kathleen upgrading her business here in Athea and giving such a great service to local people without having to travel outside of Athea. Kathleen and her husband Declan, family, friends and staff worked very hard last week to have everything ready and organized for last Friday. It was lovely to go in there during the weekend and the place looks beautiful. Kathleen and her staff always make people feel very welcome. Wishing Kathleen and her family and staff every success and happiness in her new adventure.