Tuesday 21 November 2017

Deference to church has gone too far

Let bishops contribute to the national debate, by all means; but let others, particularly our elected politicians, also be allowed to criticise them without being accused of insulting them. (O'Toole's rebuke to the church insulting -- December 29).

Let us hope that we have left that kind of deference behind and that both the lay and the clerical can voice their views, for was this not the same church that spared no effort to gag and censor opinion in the Ireland I left in the 1950s? And was this cleric not the censor that swore a recent child victim of clerical rape to silence? None of us must be afraid to speak truth to power.

It is commonplace now to find Catholic apologists in newspapers quoting Voltaire's famous remark about defending to the death his opponent's right to free speech, but less often quoted is Voltaire's remark as a 35-year-old exile in London to Mr Pope on being asked as to why his constitution was so bad: "Oh," he replied, "these d-d Jesuits, when I was a boy, b(u)g-g(a)r'd me to such a degree that I shall never get over it as long as I live."

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