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In order to survive, embattled Catholic Church must now try to somehow save itself from itself

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Comedian Emma Doran pictured with her daughter Ella at their home in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Comedian Emma Doran pictured with her daughter Ella at their home in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Comedian Emma Doran pictured with her daughter Ella at their home in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

It was very heartwarming to read the story of Emma Doran and her daughter Ella (‘I was a teenage mum, now I’m mum to a teenager’, Irish Independent, June 22).

For women who have had babies outside marriage, our society has been transformed from the dark days of mother and baby homes, residential institutions and Magdalene Laundries to an era of non-judgment and support.

Over the past 20 years or so, our governments have apologised for the State’s failure to provide adequate support for women with children outside marriage.

However, the church and the religious orders have never done so. Generally speaking. Their response to the mistreatment of women and children in their care has been ungenerous and legalistic (as in the residential redress scheme) or to simply deny any responsibility, as in the Magdalene laundries.

Despite being extremely wealthy, they refused to pay one cent in compensation to former residents at Magdalene Laundries.

Invariably, when the religious orders who ran these homes are criticised for their treatment of women and children in their care, they cite the mores of society at the time and say they were simply taking on problems society would not.

But this argument fails to recognise the church’s part in creating and reinforcing these mores through the influence of bishops on politicians and the church’s near-monopoly control over education and healthcare.

It is deeply ironic that it is only with the huge reduction in Catholic Church power and influence that Ireland is finally becoming a Christian country, as so eloquently told in the story of Emma and Ella.

What to do to halt the church’s decline? Connect with the citizens again. Accept the primacy of the law of the land in civil matters. The involvement of the Vatican in the decision on the National Maternity Hospital is a national embarrassment for church and state.

The church should apologise for past behaviour and be generous in settlements with those mistreated by it. The church may be short on kindness but it is not short of money.

It should stop compulsory indoctrination in Catholic schools – which at present clearly does not create sufficient practising Catholics or vocations.

Let those who want to stay for religious indoctrination do so – there is nothing to lose. Stop using church property rights and public funding in Catholic hospitals to deprive women of child-bearing age routine medical procedures like tubal ligations – a practice which gives no benefit to the hospitals or the public.

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Above all, stop making religion in any shape or form compulsory. It is this compulsion which is leading to the near-disappearance of nuns and priests in Ireland.

Anthony O’Leary

Portmarnock, Co Dublin

Rights being eroded in the so-called land of the free

The Netherlands has the lowest rate of teenage pregnancies in Europe. The abortion rate there is half that of the US, contraception services are widely available and sexual education at primary school and in the home for youngsters is the norm in this bastion of liberal democracy.

Women are viewed as strong and very independent.

It is not unusual to see a Dutch woman cycling a bike, umbrella in one hand and an ironing board in the other.

Yet some conservative writers in this and other Irish publications believe the term ‘liberal’ is something to be demeaned or even ridiculed.

They seem emboldened by the latest events in the US, where they hear Trump and other right-wingers invoking God and religion as reason for overturning Roe v Wade.

Yet in the same country, with a supposedly functioning democracy, an 18-year-old can legally purchase semi-automatic, high-powered machine guns, countless rounds of ammunition and extinguish the lives of innocent little children in an instant.

Under federal law, that very same person cannot be served alcohol until they are 21.

Why do women, in particular, vote for such people – mostly men – who enact these types of autocratic policies and that take away their own rights to bodily autonomy?

A survey online suggests that many are in thrall to their partners or male colleagues; that misogyny is not purely a male construct.

Others see it as them wanting to domineer their marginalised, poorer female counterparts.

Some to rail against smug progressives forcing everyone to drink skinny lattes out of paper straws.

Former presidential candidate and now US secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg once said: “The right to religious freedom ends where religion is being used as an excuse to harm other people.”

If the statement from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is anything to go by, conservatives are only getting started on their hyper-partisan crusade of imposing personal and religious beliefs on others in the land, apparently, of the free.

Thanks be to God we are in Europe.

Tom McElligott

Listowel, Co Kerry

Ratio of staff-to-passenger absence doesn’t add up

Ongoing events at Dublin Airport leave me puzzled.

With so much disruption caused by conscientious employees staying home due to Covid, then surely the same percentage of passengers should be cancelling their flights for the same reason and easing
the chaos? 

Ray Dunne

Enfield Co Meath

Matters relating to morbid curiosity best left unsaid

I was discussing the cheerful matter of eulogies at funerals with a friend recently. He wisely suggested that sometimes we say it best when we say nothing at all.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Send elite division in to deal with garda pest issue

It’s puzzling that a pest-control expert couldn’t find any trace of the alleged rodent in Garda HQ (‘Rodent with a taste for Milk Tray among pest issues at Garda HQ’, Irish Independent, July 1).

Perhaps the gardaí are barking up the wrong tree?

Maybe it’s a KGB mole rather than a mouse loose about the place? If so,
it’s surely a job for the Army’s elite ranger wing with their high-tech surveillance gadgets.

Or has Defence Minister Simon Coveney already sent them to sweep the paths and empty the bins at Dublin Airport?

Karl Martin

Dublin 13

How can we stand back as Taliban represses women?

Sadly, for the women and young girls in Afghanistan, there will never be equality or democracy based on an Islamic ideology that treats them as second-class citizens or to be used for breeding purposes only.

That women would be denied an education shows an ideology that fears women in charge.

The conference of 3,000 male Taliban figures, without a single female in sight, says all one needs to know of an Islamic ideology that spurns any form of western ideology, equality, or basic fundamental human rights. This type of insular attitude will only create deep distrust and division in the months and years ahead.

The Taliban wishes to impose an extreme ideology on a people who have known and tasted freedom for more than a couple of decades.

Like with the war in Ukraine, the world watches on as this country and its people are denied the rights and freedoms we all take for granted.

These people have been cowed once again by a terrorist organisation of fanatics.

When will we, as a united front, confront this inequality or will we do an about turn and talk of diplomacy while a population is beaten into submission?

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

All about the taking part, except against All Blacks

It’s true that winning isn’t everything. Except, perhaps, when Ireland are playing New Zealand away.

Here’s hoping for signs of green shoots against the All Blacks.

Ed Toal

Galway City


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