Dear Editor, Whenever the media do a story that involves the Church it very often elicits very vindictive comments from readers. Recent examples included ‘that vile institution,’ ‘this evil cult’.
I spent my youth in five different schools taught by nuns, priests and Christian Brothers. Some were strict and dished out corporal punishment which I didn’t appreciate at the time. I have to say it didn’t do me any harm.
My introduction to nuns was when I served Mass in a convent on special occasions. We were treated to cakes, sandwiches, and lemonade afterwards. We got to know the nuns who were always friendly and full of chit-chat.
In boarding school, I got to live with priests and lay teachers who were always helpful in the classroom and on the sports field. Nothing untoward ever went on with any of the pupils, a point made by many past pupils at college reunions. So, they weren’t all bad apples.
People who reject the Catholic Church and in some cases all religions are growing in numbers as we experience a more secular society in Ireland. Their decision to reject religion of any sort and by implication God may only have consequences if there is a God and an afterlife. We cannot know this as it is a matter of faith.
Over the years the Church has played a major role in helping to educate young people in all walks of life. There must have been some good apples about. While the Church is far from perfect in its institutional aspects, it is made up of laypeople and clergy who are in many respects a sinful people in need of redemption. This should not cause them great concern. Christ didn’t come for the self- righteous he came for sinners. We are in good company.
Clonmore, Co. Waterford
There’s a need for more exorcists
Dear Editor, There is much merit in Fr Denvir’s (SMA) notion for Irish exorcists to tell their story as a means to inform and not for ghoulish interest [IC 11/02/2021]. It is noticable that these things are increasing, when one looks at the herstory “movement” identifying St Brigid as “goddess” etc, we confront what Adam Blai, Peritus of demonology in Pittsburgh diocese, states is mission in regression. He argues just when Cathoilicism came to a country, say the Irish missionary outreach between the 6th and 10th Centuries in Europe, these demons retreated, now they are back once the sacramental influences of the Faith receed. Maybe the question needs to be asked of our bishops: “Have each diocese in Ireland trained exorcists and do you treat these growning problems seriously?” There is a need for more exorcists as I can personally vouch for in my own ministry.
Fr John McCallion
Clonoe, Co. Waterford
Sisters are seen as token ‘bad guys’ in investigation
Dear Editor, The idea of ‘restorative justice’ seems to need a blood sacrifice for the redress-element of the concept to flower. In this case it looks as if the privilege of being the token ‘bad guy’ in this mother and baby investigation falls to the sisters who ran these homes on behalf of the State.
Six years of investigation has revealed no evidence of systemic physical or sexual abuse in these institutions, but the commission’s spin on the history of these institutions is almost all negative: 9,000 babies dead over a span of 76 years but little talk of those who left and went on to have productive, useful lives.
The burial practices at the Tuam home were elevated to world prominence in 2014 with a ‘Dead babies in Septic Tank’ Evidence within the report destroys this narrative. But, the government of the day and most politicians bought into the narrative hook-line-and-sinker and the commission was duly created in 2015. Some €14 million later and a lot of embarrassment all round. But better to grasp the nettle now than ‘dig the hole deeper’ by blowing many more millions on the ghoulish task of exhumation, DNA testing and re-interment. The hard evidence points to this mysterious structure being a custom-built burial-chamber or catacomb, extremely efficient from a land-use perspective and ideal for an institution having to cope with five to six infant deaths per month. The total absence of local authority records of its design remains a mystery. Conflating respect for the dead with the disposal of the remains is wooly thinking – how then cremation? Those dead babies, who never got a shot at life are in God’s hands. A tasteful on-site memorial would be nice after all those years.
Dalkey, Co. Dublin
New Dublin archbishop offers hope for future
Dear Editor, I would like to wish the new Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell well, as he takes on the onerous role as leader of the Catholic Church in Dublin, with all the challenges of falling numbers of priests, and finances. But during a very simple installation service, he offered hope for the future, as he spoke of his faith in God, the need to listen to all voices within the Christian community and a call to build up our parish communities in the service of all. While his predecessor Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s legacy was one of restoring the Church as a safe place for children, perhaps Archbishop Farrell’s legacy might be a smaller but a more authentic Church that lives the Gospel message of love of God and all our neighbours.
Priests are courageous people
Dear Editor, I totally agree with Senator Ronan Mullen [IC 11/02/2021]. Priests are putting themselves in virus danger by being with their people at their most devastating times of death and subsequent funerals. Many of these priests are over 70 years and still, they administer their religious duties faithfully. They are very courageous people, possibly 21st-century martyrs.
Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Begging bishop to allow outdoor Masses
Dear Editor, Having read the regrettable news that Level 5 restrictions will extend to Easter, I have already written to my own bishop to beg that a way be found to offer outdoor Masses at least so that a second Holy Easter Sunday would not pass without Mass being offered in public in Ireland.
I ask all bishops, priests, and laity to consider the following points. Firstly, there is little evidence anywhere in the world that a socially distanced Mass, without singing, is dangerous. The onus should be on the Government and health agencies to prove that any health concern is worth sacrificing our freedom to practice our religion; they have not done so, rather they have trampled on our rights. Secondly, any priest or congregant is free to absent him- or herself if age or medical condition is a concern. Thirdly and most importantly, our Christian people need the Eucharist to fortify us to live our lives in these terribly dark and threatening times. The sacrifices of concentration camp priests, gulag priests, plague priests, and our own Irish penal-era priests of the past were offered in the belief that providing the sacraments was essential under the worst of conditions. As heirs to this history, I believe that Catholics must not be cowed any further into non-practice.
Lifford, Co. Donegal