Dear Editor, One wonders what is going to progress the synodal pathway from the hierarchy’s invitation to conversations about holding conversations to Breda O’Brien’s notion of “active connection?” [IC 06/05/2021]
Do we have to reinvent wheels in a synodal pathway when strong examples of pockets of Catholic renewal already exist elsewhere in Europe? Can we not learn from these?
One has observed in one French parish over a number of years a steady year-on-year increase in the attendance of young married people and their families at the Sunday Sacrifice of the Mass – almost 30% of a full church. One sees a Sunday religious family ritual akin to Breda O’Brien’s description of a Dundrum secular family shopping ritual. In 2018 the curate, while sharing coffee with some parishioners, made three points to me. 1) This process had taken 15-16 years of hope-based ministry effort by successive curates. 2) The young married people are of an age where people influence each other strongly. 3) The presence of an army training school helped. Catholic parishes of course always generate problems.
Small groups of young families do attend Sunday Mass in Ireland. They and not young people in general will form the backbone of future congregations. In 1969 a young Fr Ratzinger predicted the current Catholic situation in Europe and the necessary, slow, faith-based passage towards renewal evident in the parish cited above. He discounted the idea of mass conversion.
Breda O’Brien’s exhortation towards small group activity is realistic. Could one such activity prioritise a learning of a suitable ministry for the small groups of young married people already observing Sunday obligation to develop their domestic churches? Why wait to see if the synodal pathway can discover such a necessary ministry? Or is it a case of “what’s another year?”
Cappamore, Co. Limerick
Wishing a true sportsman good health
Dear Editor, It was heart-warming to read Kevin Hennessey’s article [IC 15/04/2021] and to learn how this true sportsman dealt with serious illness recurrence, through his deep reliance on the solace he derived from prayer. His resilience and positivity on facing many setbacks is a powerful lesson to us all and we salute you Kevin as we did many a time in the hallowed grounds of Croke Park. I have a precious photo of my two garsúns [boys] taken with Kevin on All-Ireland day 1989, three Rebel jerseys proud pose!
We wish you a return to good health Kevin and an enjoyable East Cork drive in your new car.
Eilís Uí Bhriain
Castlelyons, Co. Cork
TDs should gift salaries to help homeless rather than make ‘cheap shots’
Dear Editor, You report Fr John Gilligan’s criticism of Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe’s ‘cheap shot’, [IC 29/04/2021]. Mr Cuffe suggests that the Catholic Church give the Clonliffe sale €95 million, paid by GAA, to “social housing”, rather than spend on future Dublin parish care, elderly or sick religious, vocations, and lay formation. The average priest’s wage is now a modest €19,000, repeatedly cut, and very far short of MEP, Mr Cuffe’s. Is there any record of Mr Cuffe or any Green TDs gifting any of their own fine MEP or TD salaries/pensions – which in sharp contrast to clergy, now spiral ever upward – back to the State to alleviate the social housing homelessness he abhors? Why isn’t he asking the wealthy GAA, Clonliffe’s buyers, to gift more sites? Mr Cuffe and his Greens, so generous with others money, might more usefully address gifting their own fine salaries, and rethinking their anti-life policies, before lecturing others. Cheap target Mr Cuffe. Show us your own example first.
Harold’s Cross, Dublin 12
A different way to celebrate the sacraments
Dear Editor, The Archbishop of Dublin’s decision to direct parishes to abandon plans to hold First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies [IC 29/04/2021] provides a welcome opportunity for church communities to look at different ways of celebrating the sacraments.
For First Communion, why not permit parishes to invite parents to register their child for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion? A parish team could help the child and parents prepare for the sacraments, rather like the current arrangements for Baptism. When the child is ready, s/he could celebrate her/his First Communion at a normal parish Mass, welcomed by the celebrant, congratulated by the congregation and surrounded by family!
For Confirmation, why not have the same arrangement, with more emphasis on the free decision of the young person to receive the Sacrament? Since a bishop normally celebrates the Sacrament, a group of parishes could have a day arranged annually for those who have prepared in their own parish. I think there would be fewer recipients but more meaning.
Bray, Co. Wicklow,
Clericalism is focused on maintenance, not mission
Dear Editor, When the dark cloud of the pandemic lifts, our Church will have a once off opportunity to rebuild, renew and experience a new springtime. But, will it happen? It is certainly the will of God that it would. However I would suggest the obstacle to it happening is the stranglehold of clericalism, which is to be found far more often today in the mentality of some laity than in that of the clergy. However, when it informs the motivation of some clergy it can be far more damaging to the Church.
Clericalism, I believe, negates the rights, challenges and responsibilities of Baptism. The focus of clericalism as a thought process is focused on “maintenance” rather than “mission”. Renewal programmes motivated solely by shortage of priests and which would not have taken place without that motivation, are far removed from the required ongoing renewal and challenge required by the grace and vibrancy of Baptism.
Church services may have been stopped or seriously restricted during the pandemic and the church buildings closed but Christ and his Church were very much alive going to where people were at in their struggle, and, people will not forget that encounter. The acts of kindness of the community, neighbours, family members and local priests was the Church in action.
That must now be affirmed by the hierarchical Church by focusing on mission and Baptism. The default position is that of clericalism and focusing on maintenance. There will be no springtime emanating from the latter positioning, only a disempowerment of community and an effective disempowerment of Church. A new springtime in the Church will see no churches closed. While there may not be sufficient priests to say mass every Sunday in rural parishes or hear confessions the rural church building must be a facility for the coming together of the local Church. It may be for rosary, divine mercy devotions, private prayers, weddings or funerals etc…
John J. Lupton Snr,
Roscrea, Co. Tipperary
Pioneer of EU to be beatified
Dear Editor, You may be aware that Robert Schuman, the principal pioneer of the European Union is being beatified in June 2021.
As an outstanding Catholic layman, his life and work for peace in Europe deserves to be revisited.
Perhaps you might consider an article on him
Bro. Michael Heffernan
Whitehall, Dublin 9