Dear Editor, After 10 truly dreadful years of utter horror in Syria, the unfortunate people there must now endure cruel US and international sanctions on their country. Donald Trump imposed the so-called Caesar’s Law sanctions on Syria last June and there is no sign of Joe Biden lifting them.
These sanctions are causing starvation and untold suffering to poor people with 83% of the population existing below the poverty line. There are long queues for bread and basic essentials. UNICEF says that the price of food has gone up by over 230%, affecting children. Medicines are sometimes impossible to get and people go to bed cold because the electricity is off for most of the day. Many hospitals have been forced to close because of lack of essential equipment. The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, called it “a living hell”. It’s reported that in some cases people are actually selling a kidney to feed their children. If any country or building contractor tries to help Syria rebuild it will be severely punished with sanctions by the US. This is a crime against humanity. Pope Francis has asked for prayers and help for Syria. The world stands back and says and does nothing about this cruelty and inhumanity.
We love the sinner and hate the sin
Dear Editor, As expected, the recent document from Rome states that a priest cannot bless a same sex union because it is a sin. It is not only homosexual sin, but heterosexual sin; cohabiting without marriage. How can it come as a surprise that we priests are servants? We do not ‘own’ the sacraments of the Church. I accept the decision, those priests who are against the decision need to re-examine their vow of obedience and ask why they are a priest. I think there is another agenda here. I will bless a same sex couple when the Pope does. We love the sinner and hate the sin.
Fr Paul O’Connell
Douglas, Georgia, USA
CDF finding on same sex blessings was not ‘vicious’
Dear Editor, Intemperate and personalised criticisms of Pope Francis regarding the CDF document on same sex unions are deeply concerning. Those who make the time to actually read the (shortish) document itself will be hard put to find even the remotest semblance of “vicious” or “gratuitously cruel” language.
The CDF document addresses the question: “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” It restates, in rigorous and always respectful language, precisely why the Church does not have the power to re-make the teaching, of which it is the custodian, in the likeness of contemporary culture. The three most recent Popes, with all of the authority vested in the Petrine office, have reiterated that same teaching.
It will be rejected by some as a “hard saying” (John 6.67). It may lead some German theologians into schism, though it would seem they were already well embarked on that road. The Cambridge philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe made the point that Christianity was a radical challenge to pagan Rome. It remains so today.
The role of the bishops, in Ireland and across the universal Church, is to take courage and confirm Catholics in the compassionate and definitive teaching, reiterated by Pope Francis.
Ashford Co. Wicklow
We must remember Jesus Christ has never left us
Dear Editor, I was deeply disturbed to read an account of a priest representing the Association of Catholic Priests, Fr Tim Hazelwood, making the following statement regarding the CDF’s recent document on civil unions: “If Christ was with us now, he would do the caring, the loving thing.”
The document of which he was speaking isn’t what I want to address; what is worrying is the inference that Jesus Christ is no longer with us. I’ve seen this attitude popping up more and more. Fr Hazelwood as a priest holds the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist in his hands every day at Mass, which is more than most during this lockdown. If we as a Church have forgotten Christ’s promise that “I am with you always, yes, to the end of time”, (Matt 28:20), and that he is still head of his Church, then there is a great place for a national synod to start in unravelling the problems we now face.
Ballybofey, Co. Donegal
Creativity and skill needed for Ireland’s synod
Dear Editor, The Irish synod: There is also a disconnect with the adults. It has been known for years that some Catholics don’t agree with Church teaching. The trouble started when their questions were not answered. The synod will be too late for some, hopefully not for too many.
Don’t educate around the question, truthful honest information to the above questions is the only way to education. This is the age of 7-year-olds with iPads. Your answers will be double checked in Google.
Bishop Dempsey is right – listen, listen, listen and repeat, repeat, repeat every Sunday if necessary. Bishop Leahy’s enthusiasm is good. See what it did for the Irish rugby team and Rachel Blackmore, some creativity, some skill, some of Pope Francis’ courage and the help of the Holy Spirit.
Kinvara, Co. Galway
Dusting down our Mass rocks
Dear Editor, In the light of the current and ongoing prohibition on the Faithful attending Masses, now that the weather is improving a bit, is it time to dust down the Mass Rocks? Their use would tick several Covid boxes (ventilation, social distancing etc…) and they seemed to work well in previous times of repression!
Bailieborough, Co. Cavan