Religious freedom of speech
Regarding Fr Brian D'Arcy and Fr Tony Flannery being gagged by the Vatican, I would think that it is an extremely ill- advised intervention in the present pastoral context in Ireland.
I can see hundreds of people shouting at their televisions, screaming their thoughts aloud at the Pope and the Vatican.
It will surely fall on deaf ears. I cannot comment too much on these priests, as I have not read what they have written in many years, but I am always in favour of freedom of speech. However, if we are in a club we have to abide by the rules. So, too, with these priests -- if they are writing against the rules of the Catholic Church they should leave.
I do believe in freedom of speech, but there are maybe other ways of voicing their views.
As a child I thought the worst thing that could happen to me was to be excommunicated.
I thought, naively, that the Pope would come over to Ireland to knock on my door and say: "Terry you must leave the church, and never darken its doors again."
I was petrified as I was always outspoken and believed in speaking the truth.
Ralph Emerson wrote: "God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please: you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates. He in whom the love of repose predominates will accept the first creed, the first philosophy, the first political party, he meets, most likely his father's. He gets rest, commodity, and reputation: but he shuts the door to truth."
As the years go by, my Catholic Church has been a refuge, a strength, a place to lay my head.
However, I'm older and maybe a little bit wiser now and if the Pope knocked on my door and told me I was excommunicated I might thank him for setting me free. I could feel more free to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and the spreading of his mighty gospel.
As Milton wrote: "The mind is its own place, and of itself can make a heaven out of hell, a hell of heaven."
Ms Terry Healy
Kill, Co Kildare
It's a Sinn
• Sinn Fein's attempt to misrepresent the views of three well-respected economists strips away the cynical veneer the party has cultivated since the last election and reveals something very simple but sinister at the heart of its plans.
Sinn Fein does not care who it misrepresents or who it misleads in order to further its "cause".
There has been no attempt to apologise to the people who were mis-quoted and I doubt there ever will be.
What we are seeing today is a re-manufactured version of the Sinn Fein of the 1990s that systematically threw down the SDLP, the moderate nationalist force in Northern Ireland.
It was no surprise that having achieved this goal, SF has been a good "establishment" party in the North, closing police stations, increasing local rates on households, cutting services, and dealing with the reality when tax revenue collapses.
While in the south -- through the use of fiction and fear and out of no sense of duty to State, its people and our future -- it will pull any trick and subvert any truth, campaigning for a No vote in the referendum and beyond.
The simple truth behind all SF policies is its members themselves believe they will never have to implement them -- and thus be held accountable for their consequences.
Burren, Co Clare
• Growing up in the North, I would regularly play on swings and slides, ignoring the 'f*** all taigs' or 'kill all taigs' graffiti. I didn't like it much but the words would not stop me enjoying my damp and dreary park.
Strangely, the words "the Catholic Church f****d up this country" upset me more.
Ray D'Arcy spoke of leaving the church in his late 20s on hearing a young priest's sermon on suffering. The priest said something to the effect of "if we are not suffering we are not Catholic".
As a young person looking forward to exciting times ahead of him, who can blame him for not wanting to hear about the relevance of suffering or relate to it.
I am sure others in that church who knew the reality of suffering may have understood these words in a different way. As a university student, I had no great interest in the church. I dipped in and out when I was unsure, stressed, broke, worried, or wanted a new job or boyfriend.
Eventually when I wanted a husband, babies etc, I was there -- lighting candles and doing Novenas. But when times were great, Mass was forgotten.
A few years ago, stress brought me back again and this time I am signed up fully, loving the peace and happiness faith brings to my life.
The church teaches us that we are one body -- I certainly feel this when I sense hatred towards the church and its members.
I am sure it is not intentional but when commentators attack the church, the message 'f*** all taigs' is what the ordinary Catholic is beginning to hear.
Liskillea, Co Cork
A private matter
• The issue of abortion has always been controlled by fanatical, reactionary groups who have successfully sought to control legislative initiatives by their own self-serving and entrenched religious agenda.
The issue has been treated as if it were solely a matter for the public domain and not a private matter for individuals.
The so-called moral majority has decided what should be the self-determinative rights of the individual, not the State or the church.
Successive governments and TDs have capitulated to these fanatics, who have a "socially pure" view of how we should conduct our affairs, who are intolerant to anything that steps outside their ultra-orthodox and fundamentalist philosophy. They have relied on false demagoguery and the backing of a hypocritical Catholic Church in promoting their select and introverted views.
They seek to restrain anyone from getting an abortion and to crush any right of self-determination on the matter. Prenatal matters, in their view, should be under the strict control of the State with a moralising church -- not the individual.
Statistics show that each year 5,000 women travel to the UK from Ireland to have abortions, and many more to other destinations. Clearly these women, though inconvenienced, are exercising their democratic right to have an abortion in other countries that do not have such narrow and ultra-conformist views.
Anti-choice groups have relied too heavily on fabricated public morality, which can be far removed from the private attitudes to abortion.
With this in mind why are some trying to maintain the fantasy that this country is socially pure, in accordance with their own beliefs, when it is not borne out?
Shanbally, Co Cork
Mind the child
• Declan Doyle (Letters, April 27) is surely grasping at straws to find some reason to bestow Brownie points on the Government when he picks out for praise their efforts to protect and nurture children.
The legislation he refers to, making it an offence for failing to report the crime of child sexual abuse, is hardly ground-breaking.
Surely such failure ought to expose the culprit to sanction under existing laws.
More urgent is the crushing impact on children caused by poverty, which the Government is not only ignoring but actually making worse.
In this regard, the politician Mr Doyle praises -- Frances Fitzgerald -- cannot only be accused of failing in her duty to protect children but of gross hypocrisy to boot.
In her speech at Fine Gael's Ard Fheis, Ms Fitzgerald clearly demonstrated she understands exactly the problems that children are experiencing due to poverty.
She said: "Child poverty remains a gut-wrenching reality in 21st Century Ireland. The economic turmoil of recent years has made things much worse, and it is the children who suffer the most."
Contrast this with actions taken by the Government that she is part of.
An increase in VAT will impact hardest on low-income families with children. Child benefit cuts will see some families lose €228 in 2012.
Households with younger children saw increases in the primary school transport charge from €50 to €100, with the doubling of the maximum to €220.
Changes to the Back to School scheme will also impact on these households.
Add to these the general cuts across other vital social supports and there can be little doubt that the plight of children has significantly worsened as a result of government actions.
In Mr Doyle's words, the Government may have had a "good day" but there can be little doubt that their actions this past year have been shameful and devastating as far as many children are concerned.
Rathedmond, Co Sligo
On our knees
• I have read the fiscal compact, listened to the arguments for and against, and it seems to me there are basically two outcomes.
If we vote Yes, we become a small insignificant part of a very large unstable economy.
If we vote No, we become an independent, small, unstable economy.
The rationale for voting Yes is that should we have to hold out the begging bowl in the future, the EU will oblige us with more debt.
The rationale for a No vote is the inevitability of more cuts and higher taxes on an already cash-strapped population.
Measures we will have to face regardless which way we vote. Those in favour say austerity is inevitable either way, and those against say funds will be available either way.
So the question surely is about control of our own destiny.
The fact is we are being blackmailed by our "friends", the EU, and our politicians are flaunting our economy and independence around Brussels like a cheap whore.
Surely control of our own destiny is more important than mere economics.
As Emiliano Zapata said: "It's better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!"
Bruckless, Co Donegal
• With the troika coming and going to tell us how well or how badly we are doing as a subject nation, with our leaders happily rolling up to have their heads patted, it reminds me of an abused dog who is cajoled into coming closer so his master can kick him again.
Ballina, Co Mayo