Dear Editor, Fair play to the Minister for Mental Health Mary Butler for acknowledging the importance of Mass for people of faith’s mental health [IC 04/03/2021] but to be honest it’s too little too late. For a large part of the last year we have been denied the sacraments. I understand the reason for the bishops adhering to and promoting public health advice and being cautious at the beginning of the pandemic, we know a lot more about the virus now and dioceses and parishes have done so much to make sure our churches are safe.
It has been repeated ad nauseum that Ireland is one of very, very few countries who mandated that churches remain closed for public worship, despite this unpopular and arguably unnecessary restriction, the Government has not budged from their current advice – barely even mentioning the issue. In Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s address at the end of February regarding our new ‘Living with Covid’ plan he didn’t mention religion or religious services once, how bizarre considering it’s so integral to many, many people’s lives. It just goes to show how out of touch with the public our Government is and why we seem to be screaming into the void. Of course people are at their wits end and mental health is at an all-time low. The horrific violent protests in Dublin recently are one of the signs of the madness caused by lockdown.
Regarding the dangers of returning to public worship, a point has been made that people tend to congregate outside the church for a chat sometimes before and after Mass (although chatting to people outside, two metres apart, isn’t considered a dangerous scenario for transmission), surely most people will not do this due to our current situation and if they do couldn’t the priest, volunteers or stewards who have made herculean efforts after the first two lockdowns to sanitise churches etc… just ask people nicely not to congregate?
Ministers must start earning their salaries
Dear Editor, Reading Minister Patrick O’Donovan’s article that he is “planning to write to Stephen Donnelly” to have priests prioritised for vaccination [IC 25/02/2021] I thought ‘hurrah!’ Then in The Irish Times I read, the said Minister O’Donovan, attending the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, is faffing about regarding “elite athlete status” for GAA players. He also reportedly interrupted Minister Heather Humphries with a smart rejoinder. Presumably, Minister Donnelly was at the said meeting. Could they not talk? Is Minister O’Donovan capable of texting or even tweeting? Recently these people have received a raise in salary, now at €110k+. Do they receive this salary for procrastination? Similarly regarding the proposed phasing out of the direct provision accommodation scheduled for 2024 for which plan they are all taking a bow! No wonder vaccines are delayed or not there. It’s time ministers started earning their salaries.
What evidence exists that Ireland’s response to Covid-19 was correct?
Dear Editor, Where is the evidence that our Government was right in the way it responded to the Covid-19 virus? If we had examples of other countries that did not follow our Government’s policy and had two, three, four or five times the death rate that we have had, then this would be good evidence. But this is not what happened.
Our politicians abdicated their responsibility for the overall welfare of our people, to a group of medical professionals who focused solely on the virus and ignored other medical issues – physical and mental – and ignored economic and educational considerations.
Fortunately, we have Sweden as a basis of comparison. Sweden, so far, has had 29% more deaths than Ireland. Sweden has had 22% fewer deaths than the USA. Sweden has had 33% fewer deaths than Britain. Does this prove that the lockdowns were the right course of action?
There is another example of a US state that did not lockdown: South Dakota. Their death rate is about 30% higher than the American national average. They have the lowest unemployment rate of all the States. Their economy is booming.
Keep in mind that the people who are dying are overwhelmingly old – median age of 84 in Ireland. What does this mean? It means that in any month, in any year, most of the people dying are old. So, a portion of those dying of Covid-19 in the last year would have died anyway of something.
Pro-life movement shouldn’t make same ‘blunders’ as Australia
Dear Editor, Having been involved with the pro-life movement in Australia for some 40 years, I would hope the Church in Ireland does not make the same blunders on this issue as have been made in the US and Australia.
Failure by the Church hierarchy to bring prominent figures to task over their promotion of abortion has seriously weakened the pro-life cause and contributed to the mindset that abortion is simply another choice. The lack of leadership of many bishops in the US and Australia has been, to put it bluntly, pathetic.
Many in the hierarchy have failed to realise that abortion is not just a moral issue but is, in our time, a principal weapon of Satan in his war against Almighty God – the author of all life.
What the bishops should have done and did not, was to make it clear that persons promoting abortion may not receive Holy Communion. Make it clear to the Faithful that electoral support for political parties and candidates promoting abortion is not an option for Catholics in any circumstances. As a matter of policy, deny pro-abortion parties and candidates access to Church buildings and assets. Where the pro-abortion politician is in a position of leadership and flaunts his or her catholicity so as to be a cause of scandal to the Faithful, that person be the subject of excommunication from the Church.
Measures such as these may not turn the tide of abortion, but will at least deliver a modicum of backbone to the Church’s position.
Man-made law on women’s ordination is reformable
Dear Editor, I agree with your reviewer [IC 25/02/2021] that John O’Brien’s book on women’s ordination in the Catholic Church is scholarly, influential and insightful. I agree fully with Fr O’Brien’s conclusion that the practice and presumption of the non-ordainability of women is a matter of ecclesiastical law and not one of divine precept. That man-made law is reformable. Women have been and can be ordained in the Catholic Church.
Dundrum, Dublin 16
Fr McDonagh’s devotion to Jesus was exemplary
Dear Editor, Fr Enda McDonagh was an exceptional man [obituary, IC 04/03/2020]. Fr McDonagh lectured in moral theology in Maynooth, and it was worth going to Maynooth just to have come into contact with him. He was civilized, intelligent, open-minded, and a Christian. His devotion to the person and example of Jesus Christ was exemplary. There was nothing closed about him; he was open to all possibilities; the ultimate sanction was conscience, an informed conscience. I recall one class with Fr McDonagh in 1965 where we had studied the theology of marriage in great detail. There was a discussion where the contrasting calling of virginity over that of the married state was discussed. I stated that I regarded them both as equal, much to the disapproval of my classmates. Fr McDonagh said again that we should remain open to all possibilities, and rescued me. He also added that he would not necessarily disagree with my view.