Sunday 17 November 2019

Standing up to Catholic Church

Madam -- It is somewhat surprising that such a sophisticated politician as Pat Rabbitte TD could be so foolhardy as to seek to deny anybody the right to lobby TDs, as he did recently on RTE concerning the Catholic bishops.

He also uttered the old shibboleth about previous Irish governments doing the bidding of the Catholic Church, and blaming the latter! The truth of the matter is that Irish governments often allied themselves with the Catholic Church view because both parties were ad idem on various issues. When it suited leading Irish politicians they were quite capable of 'standing up' to the bishops. I instance WT Cosgrave refusing point blank to heed Archbishop Byrne's demand for the release of the hunger-striker Mary MacSweeney. Eamon de Valera listened to Archbishop McQuaid on the Constitution but then ignored his demands. The Coalition government of 1951-54 went along with the church's opposition to the 'Mother & Child Scheme' in part to oust an impossible colleague in Noel Browne. Taoiseach John A Costello told the Catholic bishops to 'back off' on his insistence that Protestants were full citizens and would be represented on the board of the new Agricultural Institute.

Anthony J Jordan,

Dublin 4

Vatican 'bullying our politicians'

Madam -- I wonder whether we would tolerate the representatives of any other state effectively bullying our public representatives in such an open way as the Vatican's agents in Ireland appear now to be? It is no time since our public reps were told that the Vatican was a state, with all that entails. Since the imposition of Paul Cullen as archbishop of Dublin in the 19th century, no Irish bishop can stoutly claim to represent Irish citizen-Catholics, for neither parochial clergy nor laity have any real say. Those TDs, who seem to be rushing to please the church, should take note of Article 44.2 of the Constitution: they are precluded from discriminating on the ground of religious belief.

John Colgan,

Leixlip, Co Kildare

Sunday Independent

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