Letters: Just follow the heart
Published 26/04/2015 | 02:30
Sir - Having read Niamh Horan's interview with Breda O'Brien, I (like many Irish Catholics) am sick and tired of that Iona Institute crowd telling us how to be good Catholics - putting forward their divisive agenda as being representative of Irish Christian morality.
She was shocked to see how many people respond badly to her views. If you can't take it, Mrs O'Brien, then it's time you stopped dishing it out.
To any young Catholics out there who might feel that it is their Christian moral duty to vote Yes in the forthcoming referendum, but who might be confused by the Iona Institute telling them to vote no. I say pay them no heed.
If you feel that your Christianity is rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and His message of love, understanding and acceptance of all, then just follow your heart and do what you know to be right.
Just because Breda O'Brien and David Quinn and their ilk tell you that you have to follow their rules, doesn't make it true.
Jobless youth are also risk category
Sir - I read Brendan O'Connor's article (Sunday Independent, 19 April) on how Mary McAleese "gives middle Ireland consent to go against the church".
Mrs McAleese refers to the amount of suicide and self-harm among 15-25 year olds, especially among homosexuals, as she sees it.
And so we are being encouraged to defy natural law and allow two men or two women to marry and raise children, because we want them to be happy.
The same threat of suicide was used recently to usher in abortion legislation as well. But while our attention is being focused on this issue, the real problem for this age group seems to be completely ignored.
Thousands of them are unemployed and being kicked round from one meaningless course to the next, or in zero-hour low-paid jobs. A large percentage of them have college degrees which seems to make no difference.
They are deeply unhappy, full of anger and pain and can see no hope for the future.
Why is nobody talking about them?
Coalition affected Enda's faith
Sir - I smiled when in the Sunday Independent (19 April) I read Willie Kealy informing us that "Kenny's impeccable Catholic credentials" allow him to give the hierarchy "a good kicking.."
I don't know where Mr Kealy has been of late, but It's a long time, I think, since our Taoiseach could be assumed to possess "impeccable Catholic credentials" - not surely since he jumped so eagerly into an unlikely coalition with the Labour Party, so as he could get his hands on the top prize in government after the last general election.
To keep that partnership going, our so-called "impeccable Catholic" Taoiseach has had to back the Labour Party move to legalise abortion and also row in with same-sex marriage.
Which hoop will Fine Gael have to jump through next to hold onto power? Time will tell.
Praise for 'Don't mess with Mary'
Sir - Willie Kealy's article on Mary McAleese last Sunday reminded me of a song years ago: Don't Mess With My Tutu.
He was writing about how Mary McAleese is not someone you should mess with.
You have great writers in the Sunday Independent. There is never a dull moment when reading the paper.
Niamh's faith and Enda's credentials
Sir - Niamh Horan ('A la carte Catholicism is fine so long as love is the essence,' Sunday Independent, 19 April), is a masterpiece of confused thinking and misinformed notions.
She thinks of herself as an a la carte Catholic but is agnostic even as to the existence of Jesus Christ ("if you believe he existed at all." )
Can Ms Horan name even one reputable academic scholar in the fields of ancient history or New Testament criticism who thinks Jesus may not have existed?
She thinks many of His words were destroyed 70 years after His death "and what was left ended up in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church". This version appears to be derived in a garbled way not from any study of the relevant literature but from Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code - a novel, not a work of scholarship.
She still wants to think that Christ taught love, forgiveness and compassion and that love is God's message. Does she believe that any well-informed Catholic would disagree with her? Where does she suppose that such a message is derived from if not from the canonical gospels?
I fear that another of your writers, Willie Kealy on the same page of the paper is just as confused in his assertion that Enda Kenny's Catholic credentials are impeccable.
A brief study of any summary of the Taoiseach's recent RTE interview with Gay Byrne ought to convince him of the contrary view. In that interview Mr Kenny stated that he thought God was just an energy or a force, he refused to affirm Catholic teaching on the Eucharistic presence and he spoke of the Mass as just a community event.
These are not the beliefs of a faithful member of the Church. One fears that the so-called a la carte Catholics are choosing from their own menu.
Let McAleese write the book
Sir - The Book of the Christian Society is the Bible.
It is a very old book going back 4,000 years to Moses and 2,000 years to Christ.
If we are to get up-to-date with modern society and retain essential truth in our life are we to accept the Old Book as Gospel or are we to ask an intelligent, gifted and well qualified woman such as Mrs Mary McAleese to bring out a New Book containing much of what is good in the Old Book, up to date and dealing with modern day difficulties?
Have it carefully scrutinised by the Church as an Addendum to the present Bible - and then let the people decide between the two.
Science can't 'fix' everything
Sir - Patricia Casey of the Iona Institute questions the scientific link between young male suicide and being gay ('Making a simplistic connection ignores complexity of issue' Sunday Independent, 19 April).
I remember all those years ago lying on a bed in the A&E department of my local hospital having attempted to take my life.
Patricia Casey may be right on the scientific question, but then there is no science that proves I'm gay, no conclusive evidence that I was not just a deluded and angst-ridden young man.
Many studies though have shown a very high correlation between self-harm and suicide among young men who either know or feel they might be gay.
But it is impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt so it comes down to the credibility of the witnesses and those conducting and interpreting the findings.
As I lay on that hospital bed after my stomach had been pumped, the Chaplin offered some kind and comforting words.
He told me no matter what the problem, "it can be fixed".
As if it was just yesterday I recall my response: "Father, I don't think this can be fixed."
(Name and address with Editor).
Be discerning about this advice
Sir - Mary McAleese as a highly respected President of Ireland, renowned for "building bridges", was an icon to many.
Completing her term of office and leaving to study the higher echelons of philosophy and theology in the Vatican, convinced Irish Catholics she could even be a challenge to the Pope. Canon Law and its strict rulings was the rock she regularly chipped at, but rather than be suspected as liberal, it was believed the Almighty inspired her. Throwing her hat in the ring so positively for a 'Yes' vote in the Marriage Referendum is a mighty bullet in the opposition side.
Her action could swing many churchgoers, who see her as one of their own, to vote against their conscience. I suggest constituents exercise equal discernment in judging McAleese's gesture as is necessary in casting their vote.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
Nothing funny about this trick
Sir - Charlie Weston may have thought he was writing a humorous and insightful article on Michael Noonan's three card trick of trying to prise more money out of hard pressed savers, especially those saving for a first time property but it truly struck a chord with me.
I had just received a statement from my building society with whom I invested my money in a five-year account.
Halfway through my term I was shocked at what the Government was taking in tax on my very hard earned (and already taxed) money. This is nothing short of extortion and to add Mr Noonan's three card trick is the final straw.
Mr Noonan you should learn that sometimes you can be too clever for your own good.
Beaumont, Dublin 9
Myth and legend of 1916
Sir - The piece written by Ruth Dudley Edwards in last week's edition was one of the best articles that I have read in relation to the Easter Rising.
It cut through the myth and legend to the heart of the issue which is that the Rising was conducted by a minority of a minority acting without any democratic mandate who took it upon themselves to declare a republic and conduct a rebellion.
They did this by taking control of strategic buildings in Dublin knowing that the British army would take back these buildings by force resulting in many casualties including rebels, soldiers and civilians.
Whatever about the leaders sacrificing themselves in a noble cause they also sacrificed many of their men who did not want to be sacrificed and who thought that this rebellion had a chance of victory.
This happened in the context of Home Rule being on the statute book and the Rising also obliterated the admittedly slim prospect of any type of arrangement coming about after the Great War was over. The only thing more stupid than the Rising was the brutal way that the British government dealt with it.
I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who believes that an all-Ireland political arrangement would better serve all the people of the island and indeed the people of Britain. Working towards a better future for all Irish people requires an understanding of the past and in this context I hope that the Easter Rising centenary commemoration will be helpful and articles such as the one by Ruth Dudley Edwards help encourage debate.
(Name and address with Editor).
Reading Ruth was a pleasure
Sir - What a pleasure it was to read last week's Sunday Independent, especially the robust article on Islamism by Ruth Dudley Edwards. And what a challenge to modern Turkey was Pope Francis's intervention on recent attacks on Christians.
Another outstanding feature was her generous appreciation of Ayaan Hirst Ali's new book Heretic: Why Islam needs a Reformation Now. Ruth's seemingly modest article is an Aladdin's Cave of treasured insights into the challenges being faced by the West and its enlightened Christian values, and the bare-knuckle challenges to modern Islam by its own Islamist nihilists.
Mountrath, Co Laois
Anti-bullying change is good
Sir - The image of Breda O' Brien comforting her fifteen year old daughter because she was upset at the public reaction to an article her mother had written was indeed poignant.
As a teacher it reminded me of my own role as comforter to so many 15-year-olds on the corridors of our schools who were "very afraid" as they suffered the endless taunts of being called poofter, queer, or faggot.
A growing awareness, anti bullying campaigns, changing attitudes in society but above all else the collective bravery of so many young gay people has now gone a long way to silence these slurs, and they can now actually experience the equality of being taught by a teacher who is openly gay.
Public attitudes like that of Mary Mc Aleese are also very essential and no doubt she too has been privileged to be inspired by a most insightful young man who couldn't declare his true identity until he judged the time to be right.
It's taken rivers of private tears and much comforting over the years to gain initially a reluctant tolerance, then a slow acceptance, so let's not deny this final equality to all our children to be themselves and declare and express their true identity with no hidden clauses added.
Breda is sincere - but wrong
Sir - I don't often agree with her but I read Breda O'Brien's articles because they can be well constructed and argued. This time she seems to contradict herself roundly. "Sex is about bonding… expressing love" but somehow the "complementarity between men and women" is the only context for this bonding and love.
Her usually logical reasoning descends to Yin and Yang, for goodness sake! The fact that she is lost for objective arguments in this discussion highlights what appears to me to be fundamental in the debate.
Breda is sincere in her belief and adherence to her church and she has a right to be heard and to contribute to this important debate. She as an individual will be led by her own moral system, informed by her own experience and background. (and it is saddening that Breda or anyone should be harassed for expressing their views).
The State must operate ethically - it must strive towards the betterment of society.
Civil marriage, the commitment by a couple to live with and support each other for the rest of their lives is good for them as individuals, for their friends and family, as they set about encouraging and supporting that relationship; and for society who can, to some extent, assume their mutual support when one becomes ill, or unemployed or is in need of practical or financial help in their lives.
The family is supported by the State because people prosper better in supporting relationships which result in lower costs to society. There are enough reminders of what happens to people when they are alone, vulnerable and weak. Families are good for all of us.
The issue appears to me to be very clear. Enabling our gay friends and family to publicly declare their love and life commitment to each other is not only good for them, it is better for society that people are supported in stable relationships which are good for them and for society. Otherwise we are condemning people to a lifetime of loneliness which is unkind and unwise.
Civil marriage ought to be available to everyone equally.
Churches are private clubs with rules agreed and adhered to by their members. Church weddings are a matter to be decided by the churches themselves and ought to be kept quite separate from legal marriage.
Otherwise we are confusing ethics (good of society) with morals (individual codes of behaviour), one public and the other private.