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God and war

•Your correspondent John Rodgers (Letters, September 21) finds it strange that the Republic starts the law term with a Mass attended by representatives of the judiciary, legal profession, gardai and Defence Forces.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg as regards state deference to the Catholic Church. I served in the Defence Forces during the 1990s, where we were subjected to forced Catholic religion lessons, forced Catholic Mass attendance, and forced Catholic religious retreats as well as such nonsense as airplane, boat and gun blessings.

The number serving in the Defence Forces now stands around the 10,000 mark and, for this number, the State sees fit to "employ" 17 Catholic chaplains on salaries of between €62,000 and €73,000 per annum with an unearned military rank equivalent to Commandant.

The question must be asked, why do the Defence Forces employ priests? Why is more than €1m handed over by the State to the Catholic Church to pay chaplains?

While private citizens have done much to free their lives of Catholic Church influence, the state institutions are still held firmly in its grasp.

Gavin Tobin
Celbridge, Co Kildare

Irish Independent