Blasphemy is not about insults, but bullying

Blasphemy is not about insults, but bullying

Dear Editor, I believe your paper’s coverage of the blasphemy question – most recently in your Book Editor’s comments – misses the point (IC 25/05/2017).

Blasphemy is not about passing comments on God, or the beliefs people hold about God; these are already explicitly allowed for in our Constitution and the law itself.

Rather blasphemy is about bullying, denigrating, vilifying, defaming people because of their religion, thus excluding them from participation in society and taking from their enjoyment. It is not covered by incitement to hatred and hate speech as these may not be involved.

To be found guilty of it, one must according to the Act, not only cause widespread offence amongst a religious grouping, but be found to have had this intention, and persecution depends upon the DPP. Hence comparisons with Pakistan are totally spurious.

The recent failure, at the first hurdle, of a disingenuous complaint against Stephen Fry and RTÉ, shows that the Act works as intended.

Yours etc.,

Gearóid Duffy,

Lee Road,



Notion of a ‘good name’

Dear Editor, Your books editor, in ‘Aspects of Libel’ (IC 25/05/2017), suggests that “the notion of a ‘good name’ needs to be reconsidered”. Just to clarify, the 2009 Defamation Act, which currently governs all libel cases in this country, says a defamatory statement is “one which tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society”.

While lowering a person’s reputation “in the minds of right-thinking people” and holding a person up to “hatred, ridicule and contempt” are still cited by some lay litigants (see, this has been superseded by the 2009 Act.

As for Mr Costello’s suggestion that “The people who most commonly sue for libel now are journalists and politicians”, all I can say is that, when compiling my webpage on the law of defamation, I seldom encountered either of these species!

Yours etc.,

Kieron Wood BL,




Disagree with Fr Hederman on sexuality issue

Dear Editor, I am writing in response to the publication of the new book from Mark Hederman. The book has received general acclaim in the media and is popular enough to make it into the bestsellers list in Ireland recently.

I have to say that I fundamentally disagree with his argument for a more open sexuality and a more diverse expression of sexuality in human relationships. I recognise that the relationship between men and women can be problematic, and even dysfunctional at times, especially in the intimacy of marriage and in the challenges of raising children, nevertheless it still remains the beautiful design for human relationships.

I would argue that God created that design for all creation and human beings. There exists in all creation complementary relationships between masculine elements and feminine elements, which are manifested as plus and negative in the minutest elements of creation. God is showing his design in all of creation so that we humans can emulate this harmony and beauty.

Even though there are anomalies in creation and there are examples of sexual fluidity, it does not mean that human beings should copy those aspects. It is intrinsic within human beings to keep the highest standard of fidelity and sexual monogamy. Within this monogamous relationship we are called to express uniqueness and creativity, as well as cultivating unchanging and eternal qualities.

Mark Hederman also makes the point that religion should follow culture. As if culture is higher and more evolved than religious philosophy which tends to advocate for traditional marriage and family. Culture and art never led human civilisation, but emanated from a spiritual rebirth or enlightenment. I mean to say that not all art is beautiful, edifying and value driven, but is often dragging human beings down to a lower level that is not spirit centered but body centered.

Yours etc.,

John Kennedy,


Co. Dublin.


Abortion legislation would betray 1916 patriots

Dear Editor, In our ‘enlightened’ 21st Century of rapid technological advances and increased expertise, maybe we feel empowered to control many areas/situations where we have no entitlement. Together with the temptation to copy blindly the decadent legislation elsewhere, this may lead to the unwitting dismantling of our moral compass.

The Oireachtas is due to review the work of the Citizens’ Assembly which advocated legislation of abortion for various reasons and none. Our legislators have no authority to introduce the proposed measures contrary as they are to the spirit of the Irish Constitution. The Constitution itself and the very establishment of our Irish Republic are a consequence of the 1916 Rising, the anniversary of which was celebrated so spectacularly in April last year.

With all our tributes and obligations are we really remembering the ideals that our 1916 patriots – and indeed all our patriots down through the centuries – fought and died for?

If we attempt to introduce the legislation referred to we may well be accused of paying lip service only and betraying those whom we purport to be honouring.

At this critical juncture in the history of our country we have the unique opportunity of fulfilling the aispirations of our honoured patriots who stated in the Proclamation “We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God whose blessing we invoke upon our arms”.

Yours etc.,

Gertrude M. Searson,


Dublin 14.


Foreign priests are not the answer

Dear Editor, Frs Michael McCabe SMA and Maurice Hogan SSC argue in “African priests take up call to revitalise Irish Church (IC 25/05/2017) that priests from Africa will renew the Catholic Church in Ireland today. I respectively disagree for the following reasons.

Foreign priests arriving here would have to learn our language and adjust to a very different culture before they could be effective  in their priestly ministry. They would need  to have the wisdom and humility to listen and to learn, before they could partner local priests and lay people in a new evangelisation of Ireland.

Re-evangelisation is a much more challenging process than the primary evangelisation of places like Africa, and simply importing foreign priests to provide a largely sacramental ministry will not resolve our current crisis.

I see our present crisis of faith as an opportunity, rather than a problem. An old model of Church is dying, and a new one is being born.

Like all births, this is painful, but trying to avoid the pain by re-clericalising the Irish Church with foreign priests is not the way forward. Any serious attempt at  renewal must begin by addressing the root causes of our crisis, or it is doomed to failure. We need to confront the realities of our society and Church, and ask a few searching questions. What is happening and why is it happening? What should be happening, and how can  we design  practical programmes of pastoral action, involving bishops, priests and lay people, to build a new Church? This Sunday is Pentecost – we have only to ask the help of the Holy Spirit and trust Him completely.

A final thought. Why not accept Pope Francis’ invitation to consider ordaining suitable local married men? This would allow African priests to remain where they are most needed – in Africa!

Yours etc.,

Peter Boucher,

Derry city


A title by any other name

Dear Editor, I am grateful to you and to Mr Larkin for the review of Liam de Paor’s republished book on the 1916 Proclamation (IC 12/05/2017). In modifying the title, the editor aimed for greater transparency; he thinks ‘comparative analysis’ is nothing less than accurate. Hardly specious, hardly anodyne, though it clearly is infelix.

Yours etc.,

W. J. Mc Cormack,



Enda Kenny’s abortion legacy

Dear Editor, In last week’s issue of The Irish Catholic (Letters 25/05/2017) your correspondent, Gerry Glennon, wrote on Enda Kenny’s legacy and I would like to add: Pilate ‘’washed his hands’’ and said ‘’I am innocent of this man’s blood’’ and 2,000 years later, we are still saying ‘’suffered under Pontius Pilate’’.  And in the same way, Enda’s name will go down in history as stated in Gerry’s letter.

Yours etc.,

Anna Brady,

Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan.