| 12.8°C Dublin

Simple truths that could save church

• In his letter, Philip O'Neill asserts that we have an "over-defined God leaving little to the imagination". This is an opinion which I totally agree with and is one based on my studies of the history of the Catholic Church.

Recent archaeological evidence points to an early Irish Catholic Church that pre-dated 432AD and also to the origin of the Christian faith coming from the Middle East but not necessarily Judaism.

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, our neighbours and friends in Britain succumbed to "paganism". In an effort to help our neighbours, St Columba and others launched an Evangelical crusade both into Britain and further afield.

While little evidence of the practices of this early Irish church remain, some radical differences from the Roman Catholic Church can be deduced from the scraps of history that remain.

Firstly, when one looks at Skellig Michael, we see that the early church may have been one where its "priests" were more interested in "spiritual reflection" rather than pontification.

Further, when one considers the exalted position attained within the early Irish church in Britain, of Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, it also appears to have been one that supported female equality.

It was this very same abbess who hosted a synod in 664 which resulted in the regression of the Irish church before that of Rome.

The next "genesis" of the Irish church came in 1169 with the advent of the Normans who forcibly imposed their "Roman" version of Catholicism.

Then we had the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry Tudor the 8th. Then, later still, came the persecution of Catholics in Ireland which, considering the recent revelations about the conduct of certain priests and bishops, is something that has continued to this very day.

All of this history points to Rome being a persecuting influence on the Irish while selling us a version of Christianity that was never really our original faith. It has, in my opinion, stolen our imagination and replaced it with "doctrine".

This same doctrine means that every parish holds accounts that are reviewed on an annual basis by the bishops on behalf of their masters in Rome.

All organised religions seem to be inextricably linked to politics and as such may be more about social control than any real deference to the intended message once preached by their founding prophets.

They often appear to be more interested in the "brand" rather than content. For if God exists, I expect to meet Him on my own to face His inquisition, not that of Rome or Spain.

Dermot Ryan
Athenry, Co Galway

Irish Independent