Dear Editor, It was refreshing to read how President Jean-Claude Juncker has spoken to the bishops of Europe about the role of Catholic Social Teaching in the European Union (IC 21/3/2019). Although Pontiff after Pontiff has spoken of this over the decades, including Pope Francis when addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg a few years ago, it is something too often forgotten by Christians and atheists alike.
For atheists and secularists who want a technocratic Europe, the fact that the Union’s founders and founding documents are profoundly Christian would appear to be an inconvenience at least as embarrassing and awkward as how Ireland’s 1916 Proclamation is made in the name of God and how the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil is in many ways a testimony to the Catholic Social Teaching so decisively codified by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum.
Unfortunately, there are too many Catholics today who have swallowed the secularist narratives that seek to suppress the roots of both our State and our Union, and we would do well to pay attention to Bishop Treanor’s comments about Mr Junker’s address.
Sure, there’s a constant danger that acknowledgements of Europe’s Christian roots and essential identity – we’re a cultural continent, after all, not a geographic one, and what is that culture if not essentially Christian? – can be simply lip service. All the more important, then, for us to listen to what Mr Juncker says and treat his words as an invitation for us all to play our part and bring our Christian beliefs to bear in our political lives as European citizens.
It’s time, surely, to live out our Church’s social teaching in the societies in which we live.
Nothing but doubt about Cardinal Pell’s conviction
Dear Editor, The recent conviction of Cardinal George Pell, in Australia, in a sexual assault case relating to two 13-year-old choir boys in late 1990s, is as worrying as it is astonishing.
To begin with, it would have been physically impossible for the offence to have been committed in the manner described by the accuser.
In addition, the assault is said to have happened in a semi-public area, but with no witnesses. Those working in that area have testified that nothing of the sort occurred.
Unfortunately the other choir boy’s life, spun out of control and he died from a heroin overdose in 2014. However, his mother says that she asked him if he had ever been abused and he answered ‘no’.
Unusually the police opened an investigation into Cardinal Pell – a thoroughly outspoken, yet reforming, and go-ahead prelate – without any accusation having been made against him. Twelve accusations were brought forward, however all but this one were considered to be too implausible to proceed with.
We are all too aware that miscarriages of justice were meted out to Irishmen in Britain during ‘the Troubles’, and that there have been numerous convictions of innocent Afro-Americans in the US.
In the absence of corroborating evidence, i.e. where the accuser’s word against the defendant’s word is considered sufficient to lead to a conviction ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, any related ‘trial by media’ causing public hysteria – as happened in the Cardinal Pell case – must surely prejudice any parallel ‘trial by jury’.
Lee Road, Cork.
Shepherds call it right
Dear Editor, Bishop Kevin Doran is to be applauded for speaking out against cheap anti-Muslim rhetoric in the Ireland of today, especially among those who identify as serious Catholics (IC 21/3/2019). Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has, of course, made similar points lately too in his criticism of Muslim-baiting and anti-immigrant comments in so-called Catholic media.
Some, of course, might respond to this with anger and indignation at the notion of our bishops saying such things, but I think that in doing so they’re probably simply revealing the guilt that must lie in their hearts. Anyone who has a clear conscience in this area should surely agree with our shepherds.
Lucan, Co. Dublin.
Perhaps St Patrick needs his own feast day?
Dear Editor, Greg Daly’s article ‘The Legacy of St Patrick’ (IC 14/3/2019) is a worthwhile laborious work. However the article indirectly suggests that Prof. Kevin Whelan’s book exhibits little of ‘The Legacy of St Patrick’.
Legacy means a gift of something, of something personal, handed down by will. The Catholic mode of living that St Patrick wished to bequeath is reflected especially in his spiritually enriched manuscript Confession (not mentioned in the article).
In a different sense of legacy, current events can be seen as a legacy of previous events. St Patrick’s evangelisation nurtured and influenced future recurrent patterns of pastoral activity that changed over time. By the 12th Century his personal legacy had been compromised.
Instead of flourishing on foot of an “accommodation with the local culture” as Prof. Whelan asserts, it had deteriorated. Lanfranc and Anselm, two Archbishops of Canterbury, identified specific abuses in Ireland, including simony, maladministration of the sacraments, and serious abuses of marriage. At the Council of Cashel in 1172, the Bishops of Ireland acknowledged before Henry II that sweeping reforms were needed.
Then as now, the legacy of Patrick became detached from his Confession. St Patrick’s Day worldwide has become a druid-driven advertisement for substitutes contemptuous of his personal legacy. Its Irish manifestation is primarily an impoverished political and ethnic sentiment. Should he be assigned a new religious feast day to focus attention on – just him?