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Pope's promising start gives reformists hope

• Pope Francis's washing of the feet of women on Holy Thursday – previously a male-only preserve – (Irish Independent, March 29), combined with his adoption of the humble principles of his namesake, highlights once again the promising movement by the current Bishop of Rome away from the trappings of an intransigent, over-indulgent church.

My parish, St Michael's in Inchicore, has long promoted the involvement of women in all aspects of a more inclusive, community-based pastoral engagement, both in our words (the promotion of gender-inclusive language in scripture) and in our deeds – particularly evident in our celebrations of Holy Week and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Female members of our congregation led many aspects of our activities, particularly evident on Good Friday in the Passion of the Christ and the Adoration of The Cross.

We even had a female Jesus in the children's Stations of the Cross celebration, with my daughter throwing herself into the role with gusto in a wonderful evocation that involved over 30 children of all races, shapes and sizes, resplendent in their homemade costumes.

The principle of inclusivity and humility are what heralded the beginnings of Christianity some 2,000 years ago – it is high time that the current church returned to these principles, particularly in an age when many of us are struggling with our faith, particularly in the light of recent scandals and an apparent lack of contrition.

My faith has been based on an engagement in a community-focused interpretation of what Jesus preached all those years ago – to be honest, the influence of a Curia-dominated Rome has been minimal and while that will probably remain the same over the coming years, I see in the initial words and actions of the newly appointed Pontiff the seeds of a movement that may start to sweep away a lot of the pomposity and secrecy and make the church what it should be . . . a church of the people.

Mark Lawler

Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Don't fear the bankers

• Regarding the proposed Personal Insolvency Bill that the 'Government' is being forced to bring into law by their masters in the banks, should anyone be forced to undergo this inquisition by their bank, they should insist that their answers be reciprocated by the bankers in suits.

Ask your banker what he/she spends on weekly groceries, how much they earn – including bonuses (of taxpayers' money) – do they go on foreign holidays, do they spend more than €28.97 a week on social events, do they have a second car, or spend more than €35.73 on clothes etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Do not be intimidated by these monetary parasites. Tell them what you and your family need to live a normal life and then – and only then – will you be prepared to pay your mortgage.

Mike Mahon

Templeogue, Dublin 6W

We've lost our pride

• I disagree with Kevin Myers, who stated: 'We can't afford to get romantic about guerrilla days in Ireland,' and the article last week 'If we're going to learn from our history, we mustn't be afraid of it'.

The men and women who fought and died for Ireland, for us to be here today, were romantics. Obviously, some people need a history lesson if they're ungrateful about what these men and women did for Ireland between 1916 and 1923.

They fought, died, and rotted in English jails. If 1916 and the drastic measures taken in the following years hadn't taken place, we wouldn't have gotten our independence. The generation being schooled at the moment will be worse off for this recent ungratefulness to the heroes of 1916-1923.

Most young students wouldn't be able to tell you the names of the signatories of the Proclamation, or indeed, what the Proclamation was. It seems no one is proud to be Irish any more.

C. Harmon

Co Meath

Star pay hard to justify

• How can it be justified that a television/radio presenter employed by a public broadcaster can earn many times more than a qualified doctor or teacher in each of their respective public institutions? It is hypocritical to claim that the 'star salaries' are justified for the work the presenters do – work that often looks to analyse the social injustices and inequalities prevalent in Irish society.

Elena Mila-Morgan

Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

More Tara desecration

• I view with interest what is fast becoming a contentious Gathering event, the "crowning" of a new High King at Tara. I would like to suggest a re-wording of the event as, while games and competition, etc, are to be welcomed, the trivialisation of Sacral Kingship is not. Tara has already suffered the M3 destruction, surely that was enough desecration for one millennia.

Carmel Diviney


Smoking isn't a crime

• Mark Lawler (Letters, April 1) is obviously not aware that more young people than ever are taking up smoking, and whether there is a smoking ban in pubs and other places doesn't change the facts. People do not have to go to drink alcohol in a bar when they want a puff.

As a non-smoker, I'm always amused at the holier-than-thou life-savers in the anti lobby. Have ye nothing better to do than lecture to complete strangers, so concerned are you all for the health of the nation?

Taxpayers' money being "wasted" on cigarette-related illness is offset by the draconian tax on the fags. We cannot seek 'victory' against that which is pleasurable for so many.

It is not a crime to smoke, so get off those high horses and consider the lilies of the field . . . or something.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

Vatican all about PR

• It never fails to amaze me how hard it is to stop a public relations juggernaut once it gets a head of steam up.

A case in point is Pope Francis and the tonnes of good publicity he has been receiving since his accession to the papacy. A few public instances of goodwill like praying in the local church and washing the feet of some unfortunate people and the whole world is at his feet.

So far he has given no indication as to how he is going to handle the real problems of the church. The feeling was that he was elected by the cardinals to shake up and reform the Curia who, to put it mildly, have not distinguished themselves lately.

There is no sign of anything happening yet to the Curia. Then there are the other problems such as the clerical sex abuse scandal, contraception and abortion issues, the issues of female priests and priests marrying.

Perhaps something will happen when the Easter ceremonies are over. But by all accounts this Pope is a conservative theologian, which is code for no change to the theology.

Pope John Paul II also washed feet, but he was the conservatives' conservative. His management of the church was also questionable. Under Pope John Paul II, the clerical sex abuse scandal mushroomed and was allowed to get out of control.

Perhaps some over-enthusiastic Catholics should remember that a good public relations image is not the same as a healthy and prospering church.

Liam Cooke

Coolock, Dublin 17

Irish Independent