Dear Editor, Dr John Murray is so right when he states that “there exists a huge need for teaching Catholic doctrine clearly, wholistically, energetically, and honestly, and calling all Catholics, and indeed all people willing to listen, to personal conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ” [ The Irish Catholic – November 25, 2021].
It is obvious that very many Catholics do not know the actual teaching of the Church but, rather seem to base their opinion of the Church on information gained from the media. After celebrating the centenary of the Legion of Mary it is an opportunity to actually look to the work done by the Legion, not just in Ireland, but throughout the world, and to recognise its value in evangelising. How many know that its founder, Frank Duff, was one of the few lay people at the Second Vatican Council, where he received a standing ovation from those attending, in recognition of the work of the Legion in energising the Church and, in fact, being the means of the survival of the Faith in China during the communist persecution. Jesus said that a prophet is never accepted in his own land and this certainly has been demonstrated in Ireland where its value has not been appreciated and it is a shame that we have not succeeded in having Frank Duff canonised.
Hopefully all this emphasis on the synod will lead to a renewal of faith here as outlined by Dr Murray.
Listening can be done in confession
Dear Editor, Dr John Murray’s letter certainly hit the nail on the head in his response to Garry O’Sullivan’s recent article on the Killala assembly [The Irish Catholic – November 25, 2021]. It is certainly true today that there is “a huge need for teaching Catholic doctrine”.
The Church is explained in about 30 pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Matters of faith and morals, and even Church discipline, are not determined by popular vote.
Moreover, the Church should be a teaching Church rather than a listening one in my opinion. I am not sure that a huge clamour of voices is going to be helpful. The listening can be done in Confession.
Bríd Ní Rinn,
Naas, Co. Kildare
Puzzled about critiques on book focused on Jesus
Dear Editor, I write to offer some comments regarding Peter Costello’s review of my The Birth of Jesus the Jew ( The Irish Catholic – November 25, 2021). His readers will be excused for thinking that I endorse an understanding of Christianity as an ethical religion only, rather like versions of Buddhism, when I do no such thing. My point is that, in the shadows cast by the Holocaust, some Christian beliefs necessitate reappraisal.
Whilst agreeing with Mr Costello that issues addressed in the book have a long history in academic circles, my intention in this volume, to be soon followed by The Death of Jesus the Jew, is to render that scholarship more accessible and more widely available (not everyone will agree with my conclusions, of course).
I am puzzled as to why the strangulation of two of Herod’s sons (7BCE, by order of their father, and alluded to by Mr Costello) invalidates what I write about the massacre of the innocents as a midrash on Exodus 1:15-22. His additional reference, to the murder of children in that region of the world, though certainly appalling, is not relevant to my argument.
There is some value in what he says about midrash and its rabbinic development post c. 200AD, but a cursory knowledge of how academics like the late Raymond Brown and Geza Vermes (the world’s greatest Jesus scholar) – to name but two – employ the term, demonstrates that my use of it pertains, rightly, to the first century.
Mr Costello ignores the critique of (mis-translated) Matthew 1:23 and, concerning what he writes about ‘Bethlehem’, I say this: Christmas should continue to be celebrated in its traditional form, but we don’t need to literalise its ‘location’ all of the time.
Peter W. Keenan,
Kinsale, Co. Cork
Christ came into this world to bear witness to the truth
Dear Editor, Having read Garry O’Sullivan’s piece ‘It’s good to talk…so let’s talk and talk and talk’ and comments from Patricia Melvin [ The Irish Catholic – December 2, 2021]: some observations.
There are voices “demanding” that the Church “change”. This is not the same as much needed reform. There are truths that are non-negotiable, doctrinally and morally.
There can be no accommodation with views that are at variance with Scripture and Tradition.
The truths to which we must adhere are not welcome in modern society. Should we be afraid that people will walk away from the Church in droves? It is already happening. We must accept it.
Christ allowed people to walk away when they would not accept his teaching (John 6:66-68). We should not fear being a faithful remnant in the 21st Century. We must obey God.
The Church is inevitably going to become smaller. This is no cause for alarm. It is an opportunity for bearing more faithful witness. The Church must call society to conversion – not conform to its fashions (Romans 12:2).
A person, having been baptised a Catholic, may factually be a ‘real Catholic’; but Baptism, by itself, does not guarantee our salvation. The bottom line is the salvation of our souls. We will only be saved by fidelity to God (Matthew 7:21).
Those ‘liberal’ denominations that have enthusiastically embraced current ideologies are not faring well. The synodal path cannot take the direction in which they have strayed.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to bear witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth listen to his voice (John 18:37). Those who truly belong to him do not listen to the voice of strangers, nor do they follow them (John 10:5).
Fr Patrick McCafferty,
Corpus Christi Parish, Belfast
Trust in the Spirit needed for synodal pathway
Dear Editor, Dr John Murray expressed concerns that the ‘synodal pathway’ may be used as a parliamentary-type process to pressure Rome to substantially change Catholic teachings, on doctrinal issues such as the sacraments of holy orders and matrimony, and on sexual ethics [ The Irish Catholic – November 25, 2021].
While he may prove to be right, I can only hope that all of us who minister within our Church can share our understanding of why we believe what we do, and that those who are taking on the role of ‘animators’ can facilitate a process where everyone is accepted, encouraged to listen foremost, and be open to the voices of all. Ultimately as Christians, we must trust in the Spirit that is our ‘Alpha and Omega’ and at the heart of whatever we do in sincerity.
Deacon Frank Browne,