News Letters

Saturday 20 September 2014

Letters: Romero's death shows faith and politics are never separate

Published 04/09/2014 | 02:30

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A nun plants a kiss on the forehead of assassinated Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980
A nun plants a kiss on the forehead of assassinated Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980

Pope Francis's decision to consider Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador for sainthood dilutes the influence of those right-wing voices in the Vatican who saw Mr Romero's radical siding with the poor, the marginalised, the tortured and the disappeared as more to do with politics than faith. Mr Romero was persistently critical of the ruthless military regime that was complicit in his murder. The people of San Salvador already see him as a saint.

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Mr Romero took seriously what he saw as the Christian calling to serve the poor and outcasts of society, intensifying awareness of their unjust oppression. A key influence on Romero was Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, particularly through his book, 'The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.'

Freire had shown that the education system, far from liberating the poor, confirmed them in their condition. The church served the state well in the inculcation of orthodoxy and resignation; the notion that God loved the poor was equated with the view that he loved poverty.

However, the promise of a better condition for the poor in the next life, allied to the difficulty the rich would experience in getting to heaven, did not fire the enthusiasm of the wealthy for poverty. Central and South America, with the support of the USA, were bedevilled by a series of corrupt and oppressive dictators with a pathological antipathy to democracy.

They served the interests of the rich and powerful, leaving the poor to pick up the crumbs that fell from their tables.

Pope Francis's commitment to pursuing the beatification of Mr Romero represents a radical move towards bringing Christian life back to earth, to face up to our responsibilities for one another; so that all of us, politicians included, do not dispose of our duties to those at the margins of society by praying for them.

Our politics and our faith are inseparable.

Philip O'Neill, Oxford, UK

 

Joan as spacewoman

In the much-acclaimed movie 'Gravity' Sandra Bullock's character is required to save herself. With meagre resources and against impossible odds, she has to extract herself from hostile outer space, avoid the random lethal debris of the space race and return to Earth.

Our own Miss Congeniality, Tanaiste Joan Burton, has a similar task. She has even fewer resources and is facing even more impossible odds, but has the added burden of saving the irradiated and comatose Labour Party. And without the benefit of the best special effects that money can buy.

At the cost of being momentarily serious (and with apologies for the pun), does she and the Labour Party, let alone our good selves, realise that this task will require more than mere gravity?

Maurice O'Connell, Tralee, Co Kerry

 

Time to listen to sex workers

Your report (Independent.ie, September 2) outlining Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's consideration of the criminalisation of the purchase of sex contained a basic factual error. It is not illegal to sell sexual services to another adult in a private place in Ireland.

In addition, I am confused as to why the minister, or anyone, would see the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services as a practical response to the state-sanctioned poverty of people living in Direct Provision.

As was clear from the report on 'Today' with Sean O'Rourke, people in Direct Provision are not selling sex just because other people want to buy sex; it happens because people live in poverty with few or no other ways to earn an income and provide for their families. Perhaps the minister should consider allowing those applying for refugee status to work, and focus on ending Direct Provision, rather than criminalising and stigmatising people in sex work any further. If you are selling something that is illegal to buy, how can you not feel that you are doing something illegal? If the police intercept you as you are working, how can you not feel like a criminal?

The minister would do well to actually listen to sex workers and refugees. They know their own lives. They are the experts. Arresting people who pay for sexual services will not give either of these marginalised groups any more rights, protections or opportunities. Let's not pretend it will.

Dearbhla Ryan, Portobello, Dublin 8

 

US must end support of Israel

Israel's attack on Gaza and its people has taught us a terrifying lesson. Over 2,100 people in Gaza, many of them children, have been killed by Israel and the world just stood by and allowed it to happen.

The United States administration supported Israel and the United Nations did nothing whatever to stop the widespread carnage and destruction of Gaza. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is less than inspiring. And what can one say about Tony Blair? What has he ever done for these poor people? The savagery of Israel's assault on the unfortunate people of Gaza is beyond description. Homes, a hospital and UN-run shelters were attacked and innocent people were killed. Children playing on the beach were killed. There will, of course, be no peace in the Middle East till Israel lifts its blockade of Gaza.

Israel continues even now to steal land to which it has no right and build settlements - and still the USA continues to support it. I listened to brave Israeli journalist Gideon Levy speaking on the BBC programme 'Hard Talk' where he said: "Israelis cannot live in the luxury of no accountability for what's being done in their name."

There will be no peace in the Middle East while the US administration continues to give unconditional support to Israel.

Name and address with Editor

 

State to blame for travel woes

The AA have recently warned that motorists can expect the "worst traffic season" in years, with "traffic volumes up across the road network". In that light, one would expect a government with any semblance of foresight to invest in its public transport network, so as to reduce the need for private cars on our roads.

Instead, our government seems intent on washing its hands of any responsibility for public transport. It has slashed the public subvention to public transport companies by over €53 million a year.

With the prospect of severe traffic congestion looming on the horizon, surely the best way forward is to provide a properly funded public transport system that is capable of reducing the necessity for people to take their car to work.

Instead, we have a situation whereby the number of trains and buses in service is being cut and industrial unrest is being instigated.

Perhaps the imminent constant reports of gridlock around Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick will force the government to explore ways of reducing traffic levels on Irish roads. However, by that stage Irish citizens will have already paid the price for the Government's arrogant and ideological refusal to properly fund a public transport network.

Simon O'Connor, Crumlin, Dublin 12

 

Action needed on housing crisis

My heart goes out to the thousands of students unable to find suitable accommodation in Dublin, but attention must also be given to professionals unable to find the same.

I myself have been searching for over a month, have viewed countless rooms and yet, with my lease ending this day last week, still find myself without a room in Dublin. How are people expected to work and live if they are competing with 100 other people for a €500 p/m box room?

And when is the Government going to address the ever-growing housing crisis in Dublin?

Chris Prendergast, Address with Editor

Irish Independent

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