Letters to the Editor
'We're not in that Ireland anymore'
Sir - In his article in the Sunday Independent (7 June) Colum Kenny was of the opinion that I was "cross" - or at least he said I sounded cross when I delivered a sermon at Saint Brendan's Cathedral in Loughrea on the previous Sunday.
I wasn't cross. I had no reason to be. In my opinion (and based on the tone of his article, rather than the tone of his voice), Colum was the one who was cross as he listened to me.
He said that he heard no hint of doubt or nuance from me, and maybe that is what upset him so much and led him to use such descriptive language in painting a picture that was well worded but inaccurate.
I never said that Ireland was no longer Christian.
How could I? I was in the midst of some of the most Christian people I know - the good people of Loughrea. What I actually said was that Ireland no longer generally supports traditional Catholic values.
I did say that in an Ireland that was traditionally Catholic it used not be too difficult to be identified as a believer.
It was common for people to bless themselves in public. We lived in an environment that generally supported our beliefs and when it came to matters of faith and morals the wind was to our backs.
We don't live in that kind of Ireland anymore. That has changed - and it has not been a sudden change. The result of the recent referendum has been described as a social revolution. But this isn't what changed Ireland from having traditional Catholic values. That took place over a number of years, largely because of a crisis of faith.
We have lost the sense of the sacred. Not only has our environment gone over to secular thinking, but we as the Church have allowed secular standards to supersede the sacred.
We have begun to lose our sense of the mystery of God and the traditional understanding that the sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace.
We are still good at the outward signs - but our acknowledgement of the effect of inward grace at work is less than it once was. The result of trying to explain the sacred in secular terms has had an effect on the acceptance of Faith as a motivation for life choices.
I then said: "Some people who are believers no longer accept the role of the Church to guide in matters of faith and morals.
"Decisions are based more on feelings than on faith and reason. People speak of acting in accordance with their conscience but sometimes that is not an informed conscience and there is confusion between fact and feeling."
Colum said in his article that he left "dispirited". My intention was to give people who may have already felt dispirited some encouragement to be hopeful for the future and confident in the expression of their faith.
I attempted to place this in the context of current events, by saying: "Over the past week or so the calls have come thick and fast in the public arena, from those who see the Church as mortally wounded to now address the abortion question again, to provide euthanasia, to remove the Catholic Church from the areas of health and education.
"That is all to be expected from those various quarters. But don't despair, all is not lost. We have been given the opportunity to take stock of what we are about, of how we as a Church - you and I and all those who profess belief in Christ Jesus - can survive in a stormy sea of secularism… The leadership we most need is faith leadership and that we get from Christ himself and his teaching. It is time to test our commitment to what we profess with our lips, to put into action in our lives what we believe, and by giving witness and good example we fulfil our role as disciples. Then we leave the rest to God".
I fully appreciate Colum Kenny's journalistic credentials and am a little flattered that he saw fit to bring my words to the congregation in Loughrea to a wider audience. But I have to take exception to his assertion that our congregation "included few who think that Communion wafers literally become the body and blood of Jesus".
Such a remark is totally wrong and disrespectful to the faithful who in churches all over the world go on their knees to pray before the "Real Presence of Jesus" in the blessed sacrament and approach the altar to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. It was an assumption unworthy of a serious journalist and wholly offensive to people of faith.
Finally, I am glad Colum was able to appreciate the wonderful surroundings of our Cathedral and of his acknowledgement of it as a "gem of the Gaelic Revival" in arts and crafts.
I also commend him on the obvious checks he made into my background. However in his colourful description of my pedigree he neglected to state that I also eat my dinner in the middle of the day.
Monsignor Cathal Geraghty,
Diocese of Clonfert
Ciara's love for her mum is evident
Sir- Having read Dr Ciara Kelly's article 'Preparing for the long goodbye' (Sunday Independent, 14 June), I felt I had to to write.
It is a difficult time no doubt and the deep love she feels for her mum is so evident. Ciara has gained so much from having such a wonderful mum. I keep her in my thoughts and prayers.
Ashbourne, Co Meath
Let's be cautious on abortion
Sir-Emer O'Kelly refers to the UN Human Rights Committees that suggested our abortion laws are barbaric and a threat to the lives of women (Sunday Independent, 14 June).
While there may be an argument that our abortion laws are very limited, surveys show the majority of Irish people do not want the abortion laws of Britain, where despite the intention of legislators, abortion is available more or less on demand up to the 24th week and there are over 200,000 abortions per year and a third are repeat abortions. Caution must surely be required before we loosen our abortion laws.
Templeogue, Dublin 16
Declan's truths are inconvenient
Sir - Congratulations to Declan Lynch for highlighting an inconvenient truth (Sunday Independent, 14 June) - namely, that Jack Charlton was having an affair with lady luck.
We had one of the best midfields in Europe watching the ball sailing over their heads into "zones of maximum opportunity" and reached the quarter finals of a wretched World Cup without winning a single game.
Another inconvenient truth relates to the belief that wee Barry Mcguigan "ruled the boxing world". The truth is he didn't even rule the featherweight division. Anyone who knows their boxing knows what would have happened if Barry had fought the WBC featherweight champion Azumah 'the Professor' Nelson.
If we cannot or will not look at basic historical sporting facts clearly, how can we ever hope to assess and learn from other more pressing aspects of our history?
Clonlara, Co Clare
Well done Eoghan on Waterloo
Sir - I welcome yet another excellent article by Eoghan Harris, this time on Wellington and Waterloo.
I am glad to see that not only Wellington's Irishness but also his pride in his Irishness have been established beyond dispute.
As is well known, the Ha'penny Bridge - a famous Dublin landmark on Wellington Quay in Dublin - was built in 1816, cast at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. It is now known officially as the Liffey Bridge but was originally called the Wellington Bridge.
Might there not be a case on the bicentenary of Waterloo for restoring the original name? It is perhaps time for us to welcome him home to the city of his birth.
Trinity College, Dublin 2
Norris rebuked on 1916
Sir - It would be unfortunate if the disgraceful Seanad contribution by Senator David Norris in labelling the 1916 leaders as 'traitors' was to cloud recent developments in the planned renewal of Moore Street.
This area has been described by the National Museum as "the most important historic site in modern Irish history". Minister Aodhain O Riordain confirmed that the planned Dublin City Council Forum on Moore Street will have the ultimate say in the future of this area. The Forum must be activated immediately in the public interest.
James Connolly Heron,
Proinsias O Rathaille,
1916 Relatives Centenary Initiative, Ranelagh, Dublin 6