All posts by Ethan Loughrey

The Future of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church’s Future

A report by Ethan Loughrey

At a time when the Church faces fresh challenges in the wake of sexual abuse scandals, lower mass attendance and most recently, further implications about Cardinal Brady by This World’s programme; how do the young men and women that make up the Church feel about its future?

Many young Catholics in the country today are understandably disheartened, given the scale of problems their Church has faced, with little to no end in sight.

What some may be surprised to learn however is the air of hope that exists.

Reverend Ryan Mc Aleer, a twenty-three-year old seminarian currently studying in the Vatican, told me, “There’s certainly no denying that this has been a very difficult time in the Irish Church, and continues to be so, but as an institution whose sole purpose is to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to people of every generation, we always have reason to hope… since the message we proclaim does not depend on us, nor on our own worthiness…  it is a message which answers the deepest yearning of every human heart.”

Francis Mc Caughan, a member of the Domincians – a lay organisation of the Church – believes there is reason to be positive. He likened some of the trials currently faced by the Church, to those of the Church at the time of the group’s founder, St. Dominic, 800 years ago.

He said, “This week is proving exceptionally challenging… Catholics woke up today feeling a wide range of emotions, not many of them good… Is there a better time to consider what it is you’re being called to? Being an adult in the Church means working for its mission. In times like today, we need Saints.”

He added to this, that “We [Catholics] had best get started.”

Claire Corr is a student at Queen’s University Belfast, and has just set up a new Chaplaincy Woman’s Group.

‘Really exciting things are going to be happening. It’s not exclusively for Catholics, anyone can come along. In the long term, we’re hoping to fundraise to go to Brazil and be a part of a social outreach program, as well as be a part of the next World Youth Day!”

Young Catholics are by no means dismissive, nor naive of the seriousness and scope of the trials that face the Church. This hope, in a line, can be summed up from a phrase given by Rev. McAleer, “”Ecclesia semper reformanda est” – the Church is always being reformed.

A Review of “The Cabin in the Woods”

A Review of “The Cabin in the Woods”

By Ethan Loughrey

It is hard to imagine a more stereotypical horror archetype than four American college students visiting a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and being gradually picked off in increasingly brutal ways by some mysterious and evil force.

It would be easy, therefore, to be confused by the rave reviews that Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s film is attracting, when it is about just that. The film is literally called, “The Cabin in the Woods.”

A poster for the recently released film

So how have Whedon and Goddard succeeded in a genre that see’s more flops that almost any other?

The key to their success lies in two parts. The first is that they manage to keep their film a horror. There are moments of genuine fear that appear frequently enough so as to never quite allow the viewer to relax. A remarkable number of allusions to other cult horror films illustrates the director’s knowledge on the subject, whilst also giving fans of the genre something to look out for throughout the film.

The Cabin in the Wood’s greatest strength however, lies in its self awareness. It goes beyond the references to other films to becoming itself a critique of the genre.

In a pertinent example, the characters at one point begin to act differently to their original personas, adopting the stereotypical traits of a “jocks”, “nerds” and so on. So used to such people being the leads in modern horrors that it isn’t until one character, unaffected by the recent mood swings points out “Why’s Curt acting like a jock? He’s a Sociology major!”

As the film progresses, it becomes clear that Goddard and Whedon are targeting everything they see as wrong with the genre, as has been expressed by them in numerous interviews.

When its protagonists become aware of their ridiculous position, they manage to escape the clutches of the people controlling their perilous situation. These people – an obvious analogy for mainstream horror director’s – try to explain that the protagonists have to die under their rigid rule system, for if they don’t everyone will die. The heroes still refuse and the film ends with the world apparently about to end.

Goddard and Whedon are saying that rather than continuing with the trend of putting out poorly made and unoriginal (hence the numerous other horror film references) films, it may be better to simply let the genre die.

The Youth Acting to Stop ACTA in Europe

The youth acting to stop ACTA in Europe

 

With almost 3 million signatories in protest against a bill that is still to be ratified by the European Parliament, one would assume the bill in question would be fairly well known amongst the public.Ethan Loughrey considers why two surveys on this very question  presented very different answers.

The bill in question is known as ACTA – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, described by the EU as a step towards “ensuring that the EU’s already high standard of protection for intellectual property rights can be enforced globally.”

Of 100 respondents to an online questionnaire, 86% replied that they had both heard of the bill and knew what it was.

Of these recipients however, nearly all were between the ages of 18 and 24.

A separate survey, also carried out for this piece, questioned 100 members of the public and subsequently showed that than ¼ of the initial estimate, with only 13% of people knowing of ACTA.

The huge disparity seems to be due to what many believe could be the biggest threat if ACTA is ratified; a massive clampdown on internet freedom.

During a recent visit to the EU Parliament in Brussels, I met with the Head of Press for the UK Office of the European Parliament, Paola Buonnadonna. She informed me that the biggest debate of the day would centre on ACTA, and that there was a strong buzz amongst many of the journalists waiting to cover it.

The debate in question was even more fraught following the resignation just prior to the meeting of French MEP, Kader Arif. Mr Arif, who was the chief investigator on ACTA spoke out against it saying that the bill “goes too far”, regarding restricting internet freedom and having the potential to limit access to life saving drugs (on the basis that generic drugs are the intellectual property of somebody and therefore can’t be used without prior permission).

The European Commission who negotiated ACTA, obviously conscious of the damage this could have on the bill, has numerous pages of “common myths of ACTA” on its website, disputing both of these claims.

It reads, “There are no provisions in ACTA that could directly or indirectly affect the legitimate trade in generic medicines or, more broadly, global public health.”

The bill is also available to download in full from the website in every EU language.

Yet despite this defence, ACTA continues to draw controversy, most recently following British MEP David Martin’s outspoken criticism of it.

Mr. Martin was unavailable for comment, however a statement provided by his office said that “the intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties.”

This same sentiment was expressed by one of the many millions of online opponents to ACTA, Stephen Donnelly. Mr Donnelly told me that, “any agreement which infringes any person’s human right to freedom of expression is a path not worth going down.”

Similarly, Jordan Foy – another online protestor – explained the severity of the damage to the various elements of the internet that many today take for granted.

“… for me the biggest problem with ACTA is the fact that the copyright laws would be so stringent that comics, reviews or videos that reference anything could so easily be taken down for “violating copyright”… if you can’t say an opinion freely on the internet, where can you say it?”

The next step of voting for ACTA was due to take place on June 12th, for member states to ratify it. It has however hit a snag having been referred to the European Court of Justice. This comes after an open letter, which was signed by numerous multinational European corporations (including Consumers International and the Free Software Foundation), accusing it of restricting, “the fundamental rights and expressions of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy.”

The bill is the latest in a series of international laws being passed by governments to establish a greater control over the privatised and almost completely restriction-free internet. All of these bills have faced, what many commentators believe is an unprecedented wave of opposition, ironically made possible by the very freedom many feel will be taken away by ACTA and its American counterpart, CISPA.

Whatever the decision taken by the European Court of Justice, ACTA will eventually be determined by a vote, however the recent change to the system had made it more complicated. The European Parliament must vote on whether or not to ratify it, given that all but five of the member states have signed for its support. If accepted by the Parliament, the actual act of ratification will then be passed back to the national authorities who must decide on how best to do so. Any comments made by the European Court of Justice will at that time be taken on board by the governments.