Thursday 23 January 2020

Sinéad Ryan: 'Time Church took charge of communion'


'Even the Church sees no point in filling up the pews for one day when the punters don’t turn up the rest of the year so at least they would be sure that indoctrinated members are, at least, reasonably committed ones.' (stock photo)
'Even the Church sees no point in filling up the pews for one day when the punters don’t turn up the rest of the year so at least they would be sure that indoctrinated members are, at least, reasonably committed ones.' (stock photo)

Sinéad Ryan

Communion season is as regular as taxes (and just as expensive), and despite the Church's insistence every year that the whole thing isn't really about bouncy castles and money, for most families it is.

Many won't have seen the inside of a chapel since the last child got 'done', or there was a wedding or funeral to go to, so it's quite right that the entire ceremony is taken back by the religion that owns it - Catholicism.

This radical view isn't mine. It is the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who is proposing the significant change which will see primary schools handing over the preparation for the sacrament, which can take up the lion's share of second class to the detriment of proper schooling, and placing it back where it belongs - in the Church.

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The vast majority of schools are still stubbornly under the patronage of the local bishop, despite many faiths and none enrolled as pupils. This places a disproportionate emphasis on what is effectively a private ceremony outside of the Department of Education curriculum.

The Church is not given to democracy, however it did consult parishioners and parents before coming to the conclusion that, actually, religious ceremonies aren't core subjects and if parents want the white dress, veil and horse-drawn carriage they really shouldn't rely on teachers, paid by the State, to do the heavy lifting.

Perhaps if parents themselves had to troop their little darlings along every single Sunday to Mass or Sunday school, for ooh, say, a year, it would result in those who want their kids inculcated in the faith to do so fully or else give it a miss.

Even the Church sees no point in filling up the pews for one day when the punters don't turn up the rest of the year so at least they would be sure that indoctrinated members are, at least, reasonably committed ones.

Mind you, they've got bigger issues at the moment. Despite ex-Pope Benedict promising to keep his mouth shut on policy matters when he stepped down in 2013, he has turned up with contradictory comments embarrassing the current incumbent Francis, who wants to ordain married men as priests (as opposed to letting priests marry, but the Church was always an expert at semantics), to address the crisis in vocations.

Anyone who has seen the excellent 'Two Popes' (completely fictional but brilliant) might have thought they'd ironed out their differences, but the 92-year-old Benedict is having none of it, putting poor old Francis in a fix.

This is the problem with abdication versus the natural handover of death … it causes all sorts of problems. Harry and Meghan take note.

Hey Alexa, can you please just stay out of my life entirely?

Somebody got someone in the house an Alexa for Christmas.

It didn't take long for her to annoy me. This is unsurprising since I don't like being told what I can and cannot do, any more than she does.

I also don't like the anthropomorphising of objects.

I asked it, for example, to put on a commercial radio station. Cue a string of ads before it agrees.

Could it read a book to me while I potter around the kitchen? Yes, if I signed up online first.

I asked it to play a song instead. Uh oh, not a chance, unless I link it to my Spotify account.

I asked if it was a joke: it told me a Christmas cracker funny, which wasn't.

As information collection devices go, I'm sure it's good at its job.

For me, I'm sticking with my trusty radio in the corner and a book off the shelf.

Irish Independent

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