A new way to support churches
Published 17/05/2015 | 02:30
Sir - It's no time since the Vatican's representative here wouldn't go before a parliamentary committee to account for Rome's actions in respect of the abuse of Irish children at the hands of their priests here.
The Vatican claimed to be a State and thus made its unseemly escape, insulting our parliamentarians in the process.
Now in the midst of a referendum of the people concerning civil law, its bishops, not one of whom were selected or approved by Irish people, are intruding into our secular affairs.
If any other State's representatives in Ireland dared to tell us how to vote they would get short shrift. The institutional churches here are highly privileged, being subsidised by the Exchequer for the reason that the advancement of religion is classified as a charitable activity.
The advancement of politics is not a charitable activity. It's time to replace our system of hidden endowment of religion by all with a more open one, like that in Germany, where taxpayers opt in to be members of a church and have a levy of eight or nine per cent of their income taken to remunerate their chosen church.
It's no pay, no services, and little involuntary endowment of religion by everyone.
Leilxip, Co Kildare
Civil partnership should be enough
Sir - As the referendum on same sex marriage approaches, I feel compelled to articulate a logical examination of the real reasons around the push for same-sex marriage. As an engineer, I'm supposed to have an ordered mind and I've been considering the ramifications of this Referendum.
The Government and an emboldened gay lobby would have us believe that this Referendum would simply add an element to the Constitution, which would allow gay marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead of addition, subtraction from our matrimonial institution is required for this proposed amendment.
Subtract the complementarity between the two sexes. Subtract the uniqueness of marriage as between man and woman. Subtract its openness to having children by natural means.
Subtract its compliance with the natural law.
Having carried out the above surgery, the remains would then be called marriage. But of course, it would not be marriage. It will simply be civil partnership by another name.
So, this forceful gay lobby is chasing an illusion, and compelling the rest of society to participate. If this referendum passes, all marriages (including existing ones) would be legally reclassified to the status of glorified civil partnerships.
If the amendment is passed the gay lobby would then have a weight of constitutional support that encompasses children. It has always been about children. After all, a loving relationship can be realised within the present civil partnership arrangement.
Same sex union is not marriage
Sir - Shame on Eamon Gilmore for trying to mislead potential No voters by insinuating that they "hold it in their hands to reject the gay community or embrace them", (Sunday Independent, May 10).
We are embracing them already with civil partnership, but perhaps could embrace them more closely by having that put on a constitutional basis. We do not reject them by rejecting same-sex marriage.
The No vote relates to the validity of installing same-sex unions into the Constitution under the title "marriage". Article 41 is explicit in defining marriage as the institution "on which the family is founded".
Although a same-sex union may well provide a solid foundation for a loving family, it is, of its nature, infertile. Therefore, being incapable of begetting children, it is not entitled to be recognised in terms of the Constitution, in the same way as marriage.
In no way is it, or ever was, or ever can be, the institution "on which the family is founded".
Kingscourt, Co Cavan
Surrogacy is not a referendum issue
Sir - Here's why the civil marriage referendum is unconnected to surrogacy:
Many on the No side have claimed that with marriage comes a constitutional right to procreate which cannot be limited by the Oireachtas, and they then fear that a same-sex couple would use this to demand surrogacy. However, the Supreme Court has never held that marriage automatically provides such an unlimited right, in fact recently doing the opposite and calling for the Oireachtas to regulate surrogacy.
Some on the No side nonetheless claim that a right to marry includes an unlimited right to procreate, and argue that if the referendum is passed it will be impossible to regulate surrogacy because a married male couple will claim an unlimited right to procreate through surrogacy.
But even if this was true (and the Supreme Court has held it isn't), whether the referendum passes or not, there will be infertile opposite-sex married couples who might demand that same "right" to procreate through surrogacy.
Remember this vote is about affording gay couples exactly the same equal marriage rights as straight couples, no more, no less. That means that two married men would have no more right to surrogacy than infertile couples who can marry today regardless of the outcome.
Allowing more people to marry will have no effect on the legal status of surrogacy.
Ballincollig, Co Cork
A chance to end discrimination
Sir - I am 64 years of age and I decided many years ago that the worst catastrophe to befall me was to have been sent away to be educated at two boarding schools for ten years of my young life.
But I now realise, there were worse catastrophes.
I can only imagine how many people suffered greatly in my day for just being who they are, gay.
By the way, I survived - the main reason, a wonderful marriage of nearly 40 years.
Just like the great Mandela in South Africa, we really must put an end to any kind of discrimination.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Political concensus is unnatural
Sir - It is natural that politicians, as political opponents, would do or say all that is necessary to get re-elected. It is unnatural that all our elected representatives, with the exception of two, are ad idem in relation to same-sex marriage.
The reason is they pander to the mass movement for this social change. It is also a great distraction for the governing parties while they enact new laws to enforce the outrageous layers of austerity already afflicted on their constituents.
At present - after six years - a charade is being conducted into the banking collapse with the express purpose of condemning Fianna Fail for the disaster.
A cynical government after two wasteful referendums are rushing headlong into another, the most radical and profound social engineering exercise ever undertaken. A vulnerable 10 per cent of the population is being used for electoral purposes. In the name of equality, inclusion and compassion and all the emotional circumstances and situations they can muster, they are seeking to condemn both gay and straight to have their private lives controlled by state law.
Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim
No Turkish link with Drogheda
Sir - Regarding John Bellew's letter (Sunday Independent, 10 May). The coat of arms of Drogheda does indeed feature a star and crescent - but this has nothing whatsoever to do with Turkey or the Ottoman Empire, nor with any alleged Famine relief from Turkey in the 1840s.
It is in fact taken from the Arms of King John, who presented Drogheda with its first charter in 1210.
There is no socumentation that substantiates claims of any alleged donation of food to Drogheda from the Ottoman Empire during the Famine, though this is a common myth.
Let's call the Armenian Genocide what it was, and not try to "remember Turkish kindness," as your headline suggested.
Dundalk, Co Louth