Church must ordain women
Sir - This year has the potential to be an important year for Irish Catholics. The scheduled visit of Pope Francis provides an opportunity for us all to reflect on our roles within the Church, and indeed the position of the Church itself within Irish society.
The reality is that the Catholic Church in Ireland has been in decline for more than a decade, as evidenced by a dramatic fall-off in regular church attendances, and in this context, I believe it is imperative that we evaluate the role of women in the Church as a matter of urgency.
In many areas of life in Ireland and elsewhere, women have gained or are gaining parity with their male counterparts. It is simply unacceptable in this day and age that women remain excluded from the Sacrament of Priesthood in the Church.
Yes, women play many important roles in the day-to-day running of the Church, but the ban on women as priests is discriminatory and is actually counter-productive. As an increasing number of people disengage from the Church, the energy and leadership that women priests could provide would be a major boost.
I have two young daughters myself whom I would like to bring up in the Catholic Church, but I find it increasingly difficult to explain to them or justify the inferior position of women within it.
Girls today expect to be treated equally to boys, and if the Catholic Church doesn't embrace this reality, then it will continue to lose relevance.
To put it simply, the time has come for the Catholic Church to permit the ordination of women. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is actually vital for the future of the Church.
I hope that Pope Francis receives a warm Irish welcome later this year. However, I believe we also need to impress upon him that Catholics in Ireland believe in the equality of women within the Church.
I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before this happens, as it has in other Christian Churches, but surely that time is now.
It would be of enormous benefit to the Church and, in reality, there is no convincing argument to deny it any longer.
I know there are many Catholics who share my point of view, and I suspect that Pope Francis may be amenable to change.
A strong voice from Irish Catholics demanding equality for women within the Church can make a real difference. The time to act is now.
If you feel like I do, and think we can work together to make this change, then let's make it happen.
The original ‘fake news’ found
Sir — The Pope has denounced ‘fake news’ as evil and urged journalists to search for the truth. In his annual social communications message, the Pontiff wrote that the first ‘fake news’ was when Eve was tempted to take an apple from the Garden of Eden, based on the serpent’s disinformation.
Surely this comparison was unfortunate, especially as evolution proves that Adam and Eve are a fairytale.
It’s sad that in the 21st Century, billions still don’t believe in evolution, even though there’s no logic in any religion. Charles Darwin said it was a waste of time to argue with anybody indoctrinated with a religion. It’s ironic but religious believers wouldn’t want to meet a God even if one existed, as we humans need lungs to breathe air; if a God needed lungs it would be supernatural, like something from a horror movie.
Donaghmede, Dublin 13
De Gaulle’s daughter a gift of joy to France
Sir — General Charles Andre Joseph Marie De Gaulle was undoubtedly one of the great leaders of France during and after World War II, and he is remembered here because he chose Connemara for his holidays and as a place to find peace. He was the father of three children, the youngest of whom was Anne. She was his favourite daughter, whom he described as “My Joy”. Not known as a man of much emotion to the world, he opened his heart to Anne, singing to her, telling her stories and enjoying her company. She brought out a deep humanity in him that otherwise would never have been known.
Anne died in her father’s arms at the age of 20 from pneumonia, to his indescribable grief. He kept her picture in a silver locket over his heart, which in 1962 stopped an assassin’s bullet.
Anne had Down syndrome, but it didn’t make her any less human — she was a gift of joy to France and to the world, and not just to her father, and because of her the Fondation Anne de Gaulle exists.
William A Thomas,
Silent suffering of the childless
Sir — There are thousands of childless women all over Ireland desperately seeking to adopt a child. How their hearts are crushed to hear politicians enthusiastically seeking to abort babies rather than ease their pain. These are the silent, suffering women that nobody cares about.
It takes two to tango
Sir — Your correspondent James Harden (Letters, Sunday Independent, January 28) agrees with Eoghan Harris’s article (Sunday Independent, January 21) suggesting that women only should vote in an abortion referendum. I always thought it takes two to tango.
Maybe I am getting too old and correct me if I’m wrong — surely men still make a 50pc contribution to bring about a pregnancy and their contribution does not end there. There is still an expectancy that they will contribute to the maintenance and upbringing of the child after birth, or has that gone by the wayside as well?
Michael GM Kenny,
Men do have a say, for good or ill
Sir — As a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment gets closer, the role of men in this troubled debate needs to be examined. Should men be heard during the campaign? And do men have rights when it comes to abortions?
The first question is easy to answer. As there are no mechanisms to exclude men from the debate, or to stop them from having and voicing their opinions, nor indeed to prevent them from casting their votes, there is little point in wishing they would stay quiet on a biological process they will never experience. Men will play prominent roles on both sides of the argument. And they will shout their opinions for all to hear. This letter being evidence of same.
The second question is a bit more difficult to answer. Many men, genuine men, good men, regard fatherhood to begin for them once they are told of the pregnancy they are responsible for. This attachment is, in most cases, a wonderfully positive emotion, with obvious benefits for all concerned.
In some cases, however, the pregnant woman may decide an abortion is the best option for her, despite the potential father’s desire for her to continue with the pregnancy. At present, the pregnant woman is free to travel outside this jurisdiction to access abortion services. This may grieve some men, but this is the constitutional reality.
If the Eighth Amendment is struck from our Constitution, nothing is altered in this regard. Men now, and men in a post-Eighth Amendment Ireland, simply do not have the legal capacity to insist a woman continues with her pregnancy.
While the retention or deletion of the Eighth has no legal impact on men, the amendment does grant some men power, outside of the law, to coerce women to continue with a pregnancy. Poorer women, financially dependent women, women in abusive relationships and women living in isolated parts of the country are more vulnerable to having their right to travel for an abortion severely curtailed.
Removing the Eighth Amendment may not help all women in such straitened circumstances, but it will certainly aid a portion of them to end an unwanted and possibly dangerous pregnancy.
This is the question men have to answer when considering their vote on the Eighth Amendment. Retain the status quo where good men have no say, but bad men do. Or remove the Eighth and good men will continue to have no say but many bad men will also lose the power to coerce.
Paul WS Bowler,
Let women decide for themselves
Sir — Now we are reaching some conclusion about a referendum to get rid of the Eighth Amendment, is it not time we as a nation realise we have been portraying women as second-class citizens by refusing them their legal and natural rights — their right to manage their own bodies and not be held to account by laws (drafted by men) to carry pregnancies to full term, when it is their prerogative to do as they think fit and right for themselves.
No one, especially men, should have any say in what a woman does with her body. What does a man know about pregnancy and birth? He has no place dictating to women about babies. Men should not have a vote — women should be allowed to go it alone and decide for themselves, for their well-being, and that of our future generations.
A chance to effect real change
Sir — I am writing after the post-Cabinet press conference and I welcome the provisional date at the end of May. I am so filled with pride at how far we have come, and how far I feel certain we will go. We must take this opportunity to effect real change and allow the Oireachtas to legislate.
I was very impressed with Health Minister Simon Harris’s words on the uncertainty women currently face and the Taoiseach’s stark reminder that women who become pregnant by rape in this country are expected to give birth under the Eighth Amendment. What kind of cruel State do we live in if we cannot offer proper medical care to women in dire need? Even if people cannot agree on some cases they must agree that the Eighth has to be repealed for these.
The minister’s and Taoiseach’s calls for a respectful debate should be noted — women have to go through enough already, let’s make getting their rights acknowledged as easy as possible.
Sir — As we lament the passing of singer and songwriter Dolores O’Riordan, not everyone might be aware that she spoke out against abortion in an interview with Alec Foege in Rolling Stone magazine on March 23, 1995.
She said: “It’s not good for women to go through the procedure and have something living sucked out of your bodies. It belittles women — even though some women say, ‘Oh, I don’t mind to have one’. Every time a woman has an abortion, it just crushes her self-esteem, smaller and smaller and smaller.”
Pro-abortion feminists believe that abortion is empowering, but O’Riordan’s comment that abortion “belittles women” is spot on.
Legal abortion tells women that they aren’t capable of raising or loving their own child because of their current status in life. In reality, women are smart enough to live alongside their children and still pursue dreams in a variety of ways — as O’Riordan herself proved. Women do not need abortion in order to lead successful lives.
Fintan J Power,
Rights, and wrongs, in the Constitution
Sir — On a recent visit home to Ireland, I found a copy of the Constitution of Ireland.
I opened a random page, which happened to be 146. It talks about fundamental rights and personal rights. It made be laugh.
It’s amazing how these words have so little real meaning in our country today and were probably never really put into practice in the first place.
Maybe it’s time to amend article 40 (1) because good old Ireland clearly doesn’t follow these words set out in our constitution: “All citizens, shall as human persons, be held equal before the law.”
Human rights initiative
Sir — I would like to respond to the article ‘Scientology-linked group “represented Ireland” at the UN’ (Sunday Independent, January 28).
United for Human Rights and its programme for young people, Youth for Human Rights, is active in 195 nations. It is supported by the Church of Scientology.
We collaborate with government agencies and non-governmental organisations to spread awareness and implementation of the principles enshrined in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The UDHR holds that not only are people everywhere equally entitled to their human rights without any discrimination, but that their rights to their own religion, education, employment and justice, for example, are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Our programme is completely secular and is the largest non-governmental human rights education initiative in the world today.
The 14th annual Human Rights Summit at the United Nations in August 2017, organised by Youth for Human Rights and co-sponsored by the Church of Scientology, was attended by people from 64 countries: diplomats from many nations including Ireland, youth delegates from 42 nations, UN ambassadors, human rights activists, educators, and representatives of non-governmental organisations, including former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sanchez, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize.
Director of Public Affairs,
Church of Scientology & Community Centre of Dublin
Non-graduates contribute, too
Sir — I read John Walshe’s article on school league tables (Sunday Independent, January 28) and I think that to judge a school only on the number of students that go on to third-level is ridiculous.
School league tables can only be published if the quality of the intake is taken into account as well as the results and achievements of all students in every school when they leave.
I accept that you paid lip service to the report’s limitations in small print but that won’t be mentioned by the privileged schools when they are recruiting the academically brightest students.
If all students went to these schools, where would we get plumbers, carpenters and mechanics etc?
The Germans don’t treat their students with such disdain. I’m not aware of any other country that does so.
Different roads, different rules?
Sir — Nobody agrees with drink-driving. There are, however, different levels of drunkenness and different circumstances in every case.
It matters greatly to publicans all over the country, who are losing their livelihoods, and it matters greatly to lonely old people, living alone in country places.
The roads in this country are numbered and lettered. The national primary roads are lettered N, P, and M. We have lesser roads marked with the letter R and we have lesser roads marked with the letter L.
Surely it would not be difficult for the gardai to have a different level of tolerance related to the road type.
The motorways are roads of high speed and bigger dangers, whereas the country lanes do not have the same speed or traffic.
There is a difference between people driving at high speed along the motorway and an old man crawling along a country lane.
Michael F Kiely,