* David Quinn is obviously a brilliant scholar and a learned theologian. He, together with the others teaching in the Iona Institute, are to be commended for standing up staunchly for the fundamentals of the Christian faith. His recent article, 'Authority is at the heart of divisions between Christians' ('The Irish Catholic'), is sound, as far as it goes, but it is not the whole story. He needs to get out more.
That is classroom theology, how it has played out in history tells a very different story. Not that the church magisterium did not teach Revelation soundly, and with authority, but that Rome betrayed Christ by adulterating authority with power, political power, brutal aggression, and every type of immoral behaviour known to mankind, thereby betraying the specific and repeated warnings of Christ to His apostles not to "lord it over others like the great ones of this world".
The Vatican, too, has much to answer for with abuse, bullying, careerism and political intrigue, all at the heart of the church.
These are the facts and we better face up to the whole sorry mess our beloved church now finds itself in.
Pope Francis is good for the church, not because he has charismatic appeal, but because he is tackling the abuses.
In passing, I mention again the peculiarity that Mr Quinn seldom brings Christ or Pope Francis into the picture. Also, he tells us who is on the left and who on the right – obviously he sees himself in the middle, the pillar and the ground of truth.
Mr Quinn is only partly right in saying that authority is at the heart of divisions between Christians. Surely the abuse of power by Rome had some part to play in these terrible scandals.
One other point: not 'sensus fidelium' but 'sensus fidei' is the correct term.
Mr Quinn should know better than make little of this time-hallowed concept. The point of it is that the speaker speaks with authority but must have listeners, who give him feedback, a two-way interplay. After all, the church is 'ecclesia docens et discerns'.
ADDRESS WITH EDITOR
AN ANTHEM FOR ALL
* Regarding agreement on a suitable compromise anthem as a means of sparing us the embarrassment of the red-carpet cabaret before rugby internationals, whereby the Northern lads sulk and the southern boys try to keep their faces straight, may I propose that God Save the Fields of Athenry might be acceptable to all?
KILLINEY, CO DUBLIN
* Richard Gallagher's letter (February 7) suggesting the IRFU replace the appalling dirge 'Ireland's Call' with the Shannon and Munster anthem "There is an Isle" has some merit. But I have a better suggestion.
Our all-Ireland rugby team should stand for 'Amhran na bhFiann' and 'God Save the Queen'. Since the foundation of the State in 1922 we, down south, expect our Ulster players to stand and respect the anthem of the Irish Republic before international matches. And since 1922 they have honourably done so.
Should we not now in the spirit of inclusiveness return that respect and honour their anthem and traditions? It would indicate to the world that at long last we as a nation really have matured.
After all the concept is not so strange. Prior to New Zealand internationals, their anthem, 'God Defend New Zealand', is sung in English and Maori to respect both traditions in that country. Even the Haka is performed by both Anglo and Maori players after the anthem.
BLACK HILLS, SKERRIES, CO DUBLIN
THANKS A LOT, WARREN
* I would like to thank Warren Gatland on behalf of the Irish rugby- watching public for the excellent motivational job he did in preparing Ireland for victory at the weekend.
Had he not dropped Brian O'Driscoll so disrespectfully, the men in the green shirts might not have seen red, and achieved the levels of intensity necessary to slay the dragon.
ARGUING OVER EVIDENCE
* In David Quinn's opinion piece on February 7 last he writes there is no 'evidence' that teaching of religion in schools is having a negative impact on educational standards.
If Mr Quinn now wishes to base arguments on evidence, perhaps he would put forward any evidence that supports the existence of God?
PORTLAOISE, CO LAOIS
* We often hear that denying certain individuals access to marriage because of their sexual orientation is discrimination. While I agree with this statement I would like to point out that the law in Ireland does not deny access to marriage because of sexual orientation.
Gender is what matters. No specific sexual orientation is required to enter into marriage. This is the case not only for individuals but also for couples.
Same-sex couples cannot get married not because of their sexual orientation but because of the gender of the two individuals involved. Two straight or bisexual men (or women) cannot get married.
We might discuss if this is just or unjust but in any case the discrimination is based on gender, not on sexual orientation, and therefore it is not in itself homophobic. Maybe genderphobic?
DR ANGELO BOTTONE
CHANEL ROAD, DUBLIN 5
SETTING RECORD STRAIGHT
* I would like to set the record straight on some points raised by Charlie Weston's article on January 27 last headed 'Debt deals may exclude loans from credit unions'.
Mr Weston wrote that "thousands of financially stricken people may be unable to get credit union loans included in debt deals".
He also wrote that credit union loans of amounts greater than €20,000 cannot be included in debt- settlement deals where a life policy is in effect, as they would have to be treated as "secured loans".
This may be causing considerable anxiety to people who are already stressed by financial worries, and I want to reassure them and to clarify the position.
All credit union loans can be included in debt deals under the new personal insolvency rules. Credit union borrowers will have a range of options available to help them in reaching the most fair and sustainable deal with their creditors.
Firstly, the vast majority of credit union loans are unsecured loans. That is, the borrower has not been asked to sign over a personal life assurance policy or other property to the credit union for the loan.
Unsecured loans can be included in any of the different options for debt deals under the new Personal Insolvency Act, which are all designed to include unsecured loans. That includes the Debt Relief Notice, Debt Settlement Arrangement, and Personal Insolvency Arrangement options mentioned in the article.
Secondly, it seems that in a small number of cases, credit unions may have asked borrowers to sign over a personal life insurance policy as security for a loan, typically where more than €20,000 was being borrowed.
If a credit union loan is validly 'secured' in this way, it can still be included in a debt deal under the new law, using the Personal Insolvency Arrangement option which is designed to deal with secured debts.
Many borrowers would be looking at this option anyway, since it is suited to those with mortgage arrears.
ALAN SHATTER TD
MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND DEFENCE