If you ban sign of peace, then outlaw hand shake in GAA as well
In the past few weeks, there have been different directives by bishops in Ireland in relation to the issue of some parishioners shaking hands as a 'sign of peace' at Mass during the serious outbreak of influenza.
What concerns me is that there appears to be an understanding that the sign of peace is now being omitted from the Mass, which should not be the case, and will lead to confusion across parishes and diocese.
The sign of peace is embedded into the Mass as: "…here follows the Rite of Peace, by which the Church entreats peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesiastical communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament" (from the 'General Instruction of the Roman Missal').
What we have implemented into the parish of St Peter and Paul's here in Clonmel, following a directive from Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore, is to maintain the sign of peace but to refrain from shaking hands at this time.
He suggests to use the custom of bowing to the other person, hold up your hand and nod saying "peace be with you" or to simply pause and pray for peace. I am happy to report this is working well here. So while we have discontinued exchanging peace by the shaking of hands at Mass, we have not omitted it from the Mass, as we cannot do this.
I would hope that the Irish Bishop Conference could recommend a new local custom for Ireland across all dioceses and parishes be implemented, as "…the manner is to be established by the Conference of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples".
We cannot just omit the sign of peace - as I already said it is an integral part of the Mass in preparation of ourselves before receiving the blessed sacrament.
I'm wondering if those calling for a total ban of shaking hands during the celebration of the Eucharist will also be calling for sports clubs like the GAA and soccer clubs to implement the same restrictions before and after games, or indeed if funeral directors will ask mourners to refrain from shaking hands from the bereaved?
When will it end?
Fr Michael Toomey
Clonmel, Co Tipperary
Nothing has changed in 35 years
In 1983, after deliberating on the pros and cons, one voted in the referendum in support of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, to protect the equal right to life of the unborn.
Since then, no cogent argument has been proffered to undo that constitutional protection.
Consequently, to protect the equal right to life of the unborn child, the proposition to repeal the Eighth must be rejected.
Clontarf, Dublin 3
The 'church' of Fine Gael
The Fine Gael party has recently taken to describing itself as "a broad church", a term originating from the 17th-century latitudinarian clerics in the Church of England, who believed that "adhering to very specific doctrines, liturgical practices, and church organisational forms was not necessary and could be harmful".
Having described itself as a church, it is reasonable to expect that some comparisons will be made between its beliefs and those of the founder of the world's first church, who was born out of wedlock as a result of a crisis pregnancy.
To help would-be devotees to understand the party's position, it is fair to say one of its 10 commandments reads as follows: "You shall not take innocent human life, except in situations where there is cross-party support for doing so".
I respectfully await its clarification on this matter.
Bullock Park, Carlow
Churchill's view of 'sullen' Irish
Winston Churchill's comment on Michael Collins was indeed generous, as referenced in John Daly's Notebook column, 'Speech trumps written word' (Irish Independent, January 15).
Less kind were Churchill's words a few years later describing the nascent Free State: "a sullen, impoverished group of agricultural counties....detached from the march of Britain and the British Empire, incapable of separate appearance in any but the small and discordant roles upon the world stage".
Nenagh, Co Tipperary
Keep party politics out of abortion
It is regrettable to see that political point-scoring has begun even before the Dáil debate on the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.
Accusations of a lack of leadership against the Taoiseach and the leader of the Opposition are both misplaced. Each is the leader of a large party whose members have disparate views on the issues.
The members of those parties are not accustomed to being told what their beliefs should be, which may be a more customary practice in left-wing or radical parties.
More significantly, it is important that the issue of abortion does not become party-political, as it is in the United States.
I might suggest that it would be prudent for both Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin to facilitate debate on the issues but to avoid personally attempting to influence the outcome of any referendum.
Terenure, Dublin 6
Leave Leo be on the fence
In reference to Shane Coleman's comment article telling Leo Varadkar to get off the fence and tell the nation his stance on repealing the Eighth (Irish Independent, January 17), firstly, I am not a member of any political party or pro-life/pro-choice grouping. Like Leo, I am also on the fence. Also, Mr Coleman, I am of the 1pc who was around in 2002 and remember exactly what we were asked to vote on then.
I was also around for the last referendum when to even debate the 'yes' or 'no' side of the argument was to be pilloried by sections of the political and media classes.
This time round, the politicians are being given a free vote on this one. Why? Because no matter what way you word it, it is about life and death.
Therefore Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin, all the declared and especially the undeclared, are down in the stalls like you and I as ordinary citizens on this emotional subject. I have noted the Citizens' Assembly findings and this will help me decide what way I will vote in this referendum.
But, journalists, politicians or anybody demanding to know how Leo stands is like asking me the same question today. I will give you the answer on polling day.