Dear Editor, I found your ‘Webwatch’ section on January 26 challenging, to say the least. That a Catholic blogger like Simcha Fisher could so wholeheartedly embrace the ‘women’s march’, an event with an openly pro-choice agenda, left me appalled.
Did the outspoken Mrs Fisher shun the March for Life a few days later? What of her claims about President Trump and his appointments? Had she researched these? Did she even know about how American nuns had been bullied by President Obama to provide for their staff’s contraception and worse? Did she know anything about what it means to be needy in America, or about what kind of support needy people really need?
These and other questions troubled me, so I decided to take your anonymous reviewer’s advice and explore Mrs Fisher’s blog and background for myself. Well, I could hardly have been more surprised!
Had she been to the March for Life? No, which she regretted, but three of her 10(!) children had, and she’d written proudly about the placards they made and called for prayers for all those involved in the march.
Had she researched the President’s appointments, policies, statements and actions? Absolutely.
What about the nuns? Yes, she’s talked about them in the past – and on contraception, it’s worth noting that Simcha has written The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, which of course can be about planning to have children as much as planning to prevent them!
As for neediness? Oh my. Look at her April 2015 piece for Patheos entitled ‘The day I bought steak with my food stamps’ and just read how difficult her life used to be, how hard she and her husband worked in dire circumstances simply to enable her family to scrape by.
I still find Mrs Simcha’s arguments challenging, but I think I have to admit now that she knows far more about this stuff than I, or probably anybody else in Ireland, does.
Swords, Co. Dublin.
McGuinness article a bit hard to take
Dear Editor, I was disappointed to read Martin O’Brien’s article on Martin McGuinness in your issue of January 26. While I appreciate Mr McGuinness’s contribution to the Peace Process cannot be understated, neither should we downplay the fact that that contribution was only necessary because of the terrorist campaigns that had afflicted Northern Ireland for decades before the Peace Process, with Mr McGuinness having played a central role in that conflict.
Mr O’Brien’s article does not ignore this fact, but neither does it give it the weight that many would feel it is due. The Provisional IRA, after all, was a murderous organisation, and while Republicans rationalise away their violence the fact remains that the IRA’s catalogue of carnage is immense.
Indeed, the IRA claimed that their actions were those of a legitimate army, and demanded the right to be treated as prisoners of war when in prison, famously engaging in hunger strikes to make this point. Perhaps so – though I find their case unpersuasive – but if they were a legitimate army, entitled to the same treatment as legitimate soldiers, should they not also have fought in accordance with the rules of war outlined in the Geneva Conventions?
Has Mr McGuinness ever conceded that he and other IRA figures could conceivably have been held to account for war crimes?
At the very least, a significant number of the IRA’s murders were undoubtedly mortal sins, such that they can hardly be explained away as inevitable actions in a just war, and their actions were condemned by such Church leaders as St John Paul II and Cardinal Daly.
Even in peacetime, Mr McGuinness has held to Sinn Féin’s party line on such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. While his decision to share power with Ian Paisley was surely beneficial to Ireland as a whole, it is still galling to see him held up for admiration in a Catholic publication.
Naas, Co. Kildare.
‘Truth’ in President Trump’s world
Dear Editor, How right John Cleary is (Letters, IC/2/2/17) that, through the sudden adoption of new phraseologies to accommodate the world of President Donald Trump, we have “landed ourselves in the double-speak world of George Orwell’s nightmarish vision in his novel 1984”. And how true that we now exist in an era wherin “truth is whatever I say it is”.
This was brought home to me most forcefully within a day of reading Mr Cleary’s letter when, in the wake of the attack on the Louvre in Paris, President Trump seized the impetus to bemoan France’s position on refugees and its Muslim community and told the nation – via one of his Twitter ‘midnight ramblings’ – to “wake up”. Mr Trump’s ‘truth’, i.e. his world view, was thus bolstered. Yet, it has subsequently emerged that the Louvre attacker was of Egyptian extraction, while Egypt has not been included on Mr Trump’s list of seven countries whose citizens are banned from entry to America, surely putting the US leader’s own words into the category of double-speak.
Meanwhile, in a deft construction with words, Mr Trump now insists that should a similar attack take place on US soil, the fault will lie not with him, but with the judge whose temporary stay on the ban so infuriated the Trump administration. This, then, is the ‘truth’ as Mr Trump decrees it.
As an interesting aside, while Orwell’s 1984 has seen a spike in sales with the rise of Donald Trump to the most powerful office in America, I note that a novel with more resonance to current events has been re-issued. The satirical It Can’t Happen Here, penned by Sinclair Lewis in 1935 as fascism was on the rise in Europe, transposed Adolf Hitler’s gains onto the fictional Buzz Windrip, whose populist expostulations on strong economic reform and promises to deal with threats to America see him become president, bringing totalitarianism and disaster in his wake as his promises foment bitter division.
This, I think, is far closer to the world we are gifted by Mr Trump.
Phibsborough, Dublin 8.
Defy the Church and still be in good standing?
Dear Editor, Your coverage of Fr Tony Flannery’s most recent shenanigans, whether in news pieces, your editor’s comment or by columnists, will no doubt have irritated Ireland’s noisiest ‘silenced’ priest, but deserves the thanks of ordinary Catholics.
RTÉ may allow Fr Flannery a national pulpit in which to present himself as someone hard done by, but as Fr Flannery’s own book makes clear, his views are at odds with that of the Church. Fr Flannery may well have a right to hold these views, but he hardly has a right to put himself forward as a priest in good standing while defying the Church.
To look at his own online account of the Mass he recently celebrated, it seems he did not merely reject the Church’s authority by celebrating Mass, but also invited anybody present to receive Communion as long as they had some sense of God’s reality. Hardly the action of a faithful priest!
Tallaght, Dublin 24.
State must build schools of its own
Dear Editor, According to Bunreacht na hÉireann Article 44, every faith community has the right to maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, the latter of course including educational purposes. It also provides that the property of any educational institution shall not be “diverted” save for “necessary works of public utility” and after payment of “compensation”.
Whatever is meant by ‘patronage’ in this connection, it seems clear that there must be immense difficulties for the State if it is to ‘take over’ the property of Catholic schools,or indeed if the Catholic schools are to be handed over to the State by whoever is deemed to own them.
The short answer seems to be for the State to build its own schools from the land up.
And, while ‘compensation’ is being discussed, it should be recalled that Article 42 provides that the State shall provide for free primary education. Has the State ever met that requirement? I certainly had to pay to have my children educated.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.
America’s not finished yet!
Dear Editor, With all the bad news coming from America, your February 2 front page story, ‘US Irish chaplains warn of border clampdown fears’, was truly encouraging. While the Irish chaplains’ immediate concerns were, of course, for their own flock, their determination to stand with communities currently in the firing line is laudable. As long as America has people like that, she still has a chance.
Tullamore, Co. Offaly.