Wednesday 20 November 2019

Letters: Church has failed to keep pace with the world

The church is in the world but not of the world
The church is in the world but not of the world

Letters to the editor

The report on Bishop Kevin Doran's honest and thoughtful statement about the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage (February 24) is a reminder of how difficult it is to make sense of that teaching in a world that has changed so radically.

The key question is not what is the church's teaching, but what is the church learning from people's experience of their sexuality within marriage.

I have heard it said that the church is in the world but not of the world but, surely, it must make sense to the world. Unfortunately, for many, the overwhelming obstacle to the church's credibility is the inevitable suspicion of male bias in whatever it teaches.

To talk about the essence of marriage makes little sense as the concept of marriage has changed significantly over time, much to the advantage of women who, for too long, were seen as a man's property. The same applies to definitions of marriage; definitions or entries in a dictionary are not prescriptions about how to use a word, but broad indications of current usage. There have been significant changes in the understanding of the nature of sex in marriage, though the concept of conjugal rights, enshrined in law, continues to provide support for the appalling notion of the right to sex on demand.

The invitation, "Let's make love" means that a couple seek to express their love for one another by mutually engaging in the intimacy of sex. Pregnancy is not left to chance but controlled and managed by the use of contraceptives, alas, forbidden by the Catholic Church for all the wrong reasons. It seems more responsible and more indicative of respect for life if babies come by desire not by accident.

What defines and sustains married relationships, homosexual or heterosexual, is not orientation towards procreation but orientation towards love and fidelity.

Philip O'Neill, Oxford, England

Report from the cinema

To me, they were always "them", and now I too am one of "them". I refer to the so-called grey audience in cinema-going terms. Pedantically, I am not a member, on the grounds that I'm as bald as Paul O'Connell.

I was among "them" - and observing - the other evening at an appropriate, age-friendly 7.30pm showing of 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. No need for any listening technology for individuals with reduced ranges of hearing, when the cast list boasted the cut-glass vowels of thespians Dench, Smith, Wilton, Pickup, Nighy, et al.

Almost everyone in the full house came early - by almost a quarter of an hour! When the lights went down the chatter continued - during the advertising, on through the trailers, and into the important early exposition of the story.

As a life-long movie lover (and the son of a one-time cinema proprietor), my viewing ritual begins at the ads and ends only at the final credit. What could I do to indicate to my fellow elders that we were in a church of sorts. How could I look daggers at someone in the dark?

When hunky officer and gentleman Richard Gere appeared on the screen a chorus of senior female voices, along the row to my left, school-girlishly cooed: "Here he is!"

Later, as the cinema was emptying, I made a calculation: 100,000 (hair strands/per person) x 230 (head count) = 23 million shades of grey on view that evening!

Oliver McGrane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

In defence of donor conception

I would like to reply to the opinion piece written by Joanna Rose ('Rights of children conceived through artificial means must be protected as well' September 21).

As a couple we are in the process of hoping to start our family using donor sperm. We have opted to get treatment in the UK because of the availability of non-anonymous (identifiable) donors. At the same time I will be donating my eggs to another family so that we can give back, I will also be a non-anonymous donor. I have received compulsory counselling as part of my donation, as has the donor that we have selected. We also received counselling at our clinic to ensure we had considered all the issues surrounding starting our family via donor sperm.

I think this article firstly made it seem that parents "jump" thoughtlessly into donor conception. I wanted to say that this is simply not true, at every stage of this process we have considered our future child. The article also made it seem like the practices of 20 years ago were still common practice today, namely: donors not realising what they were "signing up to" and donors being kept anonymous.

As I have mentioned, counselling is necessary on both sides, in most cases. Also not just in the UK, but here in Ireland (through international sperm banks) parents can choose to use non-anonymous donors so their child will be able to avail of information and contact details when they reach 18.

Personally, I took great offence to Ms Rose stating that rather than trying to "protect" our child we are merely trying to "produce" one. She does not know me or my husband, or all the other parents of donor-conceived children - she cannot possibly say that we are failing to protect our children.

We are making the best decisions that we possibly can in today's society with the options available to us, which is particularly difficult in Ireland with an impossible adoption process and limited options of available donors in Ireland.

Quite possibly some parents are choosing to not tell their child about their donor conception for fear of negative reactions, such as in this article.

Rather than making parents feel this is a "shameful secret", let's campaign to have the correct legislation and support services in place to protect the children, donors and parents.

Name with the editor

Labour just isn't working

Reports from the weekend's Labour Party conference were not great. There is nothing new or innovative.

Labour in my lifetime has been made up to a great extent by opportunists from the centre right. They have gotten rich and fat out of politics without much courageous social innovation. There are those in politics today who some describe as ragtag.

Some of those people have integrity and abilities far beyond that of those who inherited seats and sat it out quietly. It is they who people are looking to for the future.

Harry Mulhern, Millbrook Road, Dublin

Irish Independent

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