Saturday 22 October 2016

It’s time for us to stop scapegoating the Catholic Church

Published 06/10/2015 | 02:30

‘The leadership of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis (centre) has been intelligent and compassionate’.
‘The leadership of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis (centre) has been intelligent and compassionate’.

Whenever I visit Ireland, I am immediately aware of the innate goodness and respect for others that defines the Irish character. What saddens me, however, is the understandable but unforgiving attitude to the Catholic Church, making it the scapegoat on which to pile the evils of the land.

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In the face of persistent, unjust vilification, there are many dedicated, innocent priests and religious who soldier on, supporting and encouraging those to whom they minister.

Of course, the institution of the church has let people down in the deeply flawed way that the clerical abuse scandal was handled by the bishops, who saw themselves as guardians of an institution rather than leaders of people.

The system for appointing bishops is driven by the emphasis on finding a safe pair of hands rather than by the urgent need for intelligent, imaginative and compassionate leadership as reflected, for instance, in the life and work of Pope Francis.

 The reduction of faith to unquestioning obedience has clouded over the great spiritual and intellectual tradition of Christianity.

Ireland has lost not its faith but its patience with unbending authoritarianism that seeks to silence the critical voice.

The image of the bishop with the shepherd’s crook is seriously out of place.

The community of believers is more akin to a herd of Kerry mountain goats than to a collection of docile sheep.

There are great differences in the thinking and understanding of their personal faith amongst individual Christians of whatever denomination; for me that is the great strength of the Christianity that lies at the heart of Irish life.

I look forward to the day that the leaderships of the churches in Ireland escape from the shackles of denominational thinking and becomes a more open and inclusive force for good, learning to live with difference.

By the way, have you heard of the bishop who, when starting to preach, declared, “There is something wrong with this microphone”,  which triggered the knee-jerk response from the congregation: “And also with you”?

Philip O’Neill

Oxford, UK


Excuses on rural crime

It is amazing how rapidly the Department of Justice amended the drug laws, and the Dáil and Seanad passed the legislation.

The attacks on residents in  rural Ireland have been ongoing for several years, yet no immediate action is deemed necessary: more than strange inaction by the legislature.

The excuse that some of the perpetrators of heinous and violent crime came from “broken homes” is, in my view, utter hogwash.

 Innumerable Irish families were effectively reared by “single parents”, as the breadwinner had to go to England for work: yet there was little, or no, crime perpetrated by these families.

In the 21st century, there is much more assistance available in Ireland to all families in need, most of which was unavailable throughout the entire 20th century.

 That any person would drape rosary beads on their neck whilst appearing in a court of law – as did one of the criminal gang recently sentenced for an aggravated burglary of a family home in Co Tipperary – illustrates either blatant hypocrisy, or an ignorance of what being a practicing Christian actually entails.

Perhaps the teachings of the Christian churches have failed to imbue the responsibility a practicing Christian has to society. This includes legislators as well as criminals.

 In the meantime, we will hear all about “the economy” from the politicians between now and the election: but very little about human beings, who are living in fear. And when the people are attacked they are left high and dry by the State, while the perpetrators get taxpayer-funded legal aid.

One has to ask, is there something completely rotten in politicians throughout Ireland, or is it mere ineptness, added to a total lack of nous, of the actual responsibilities of a legislator?

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia


Mairia Cahill’s Seanad bid

Mairia Cahill’s decision to run for Labour as a senator has surprised me somewhat.

She is a lady who has endured a lot of pain but nevertheless remains very articulate and capable of robust debate when the occasion demands.

But her choice of political party would indicate a naivety when it comes to Irish politics.

Choosing Labour is equivalent, in my mind, to jumping onto a speedboat and heading out to sea to board the Titanic before it sinks beneath the waves.

I would hope Ms Cahill would reconsider before it’s too late and take the Independent route, as I believe her experiences would

bring a different kind of truth across a whole range of issues

to the Irish political table.

Eugene McGuinness



US health and safety priorities

In the United States, the sale of Kinder Surprise eggs, chocolate eggs containing a toy with small parts, is banned on health and safety grounds.

However, in the same country, the sale of guns is not banned on health and safety grounds.

John Flanagan

Rathfarnham, Dublin


Matchmaking in Clare

The Irish Independent’s coverage of the recent Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival was good.

However, we here in Lisdoon always say we live in North Clare.

Dom Clancy

Lisdoonvarna. Co Clare


Pick an election cliché

It appears that the election might be sooner than later.

If that’s the case, get ready for ‘going forward’; ‘turning the corner’; ‘a lot done, a lot more to do’; and, my favourite, ‘we are where we are’.

I will not vote for any candidate that uses any of these slogans. I will vote for the candidate that says ‘we have crossed the bridge and we’re not going back to where we were once before’. Onward and upwards.

Kevin Devitte

Westport,  Co Mayo

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