Dear Editor, I wish to congratulate you and your team for your excellent and thorough coverage of the appalling restrictions placed on religious worship throughout this pandemic. Despite assurances from the Heath Minister Stephen Donnelly last year that there would be no penal provisions put in place to deter people attending Mass and other religious services at which people may gather, it has become clear to me that either he didn’t understand the legislation produced by his department or was being disingenuous, any other reason eludes me but I would be delighted with some clarification.
This pandemic has shown me that our Government does not respect religious people. Their policy of obfuscating whether religious services were illegal or not under the Covid legislation during the last year – with the minister saying one thing and the police treating religious gatherings as illegal with priests being threatened, and one that we know of in Cavan receiving a fine – can be described as nothing but a travesty.
As pressure piled on the State – due to Declan Ganley’s case in the High Court and your newspaper – to clarify their legal position, Mr Donnelly signed a new statutory instrument which unequivocally makes religious gatherings indoors and outdoors subject to a substantial fine or even six months imprisonment. It was obviously aimed at religious gatherings. We live in a country which has banned Mass; banned the sacraments. They have even bizarrely banned one person meeting their priest outdoors for confession – according to an interpretation by Trinity College law professor, Prof. Oran Doyle as reported in your paper [IC 22/04/2021] – despite people being allowed to meet one person from another household outdoors for non-religious purposes under relaxed restrictions.
Although I am glad the Government have clarified their position, religious gatherings are most certainly illegal, it is the strangest time to do so. Vaccines are on stream and it seems restrictions on religious worship could be lifted as early as May 4: so why this move by Government despite wholehearted buy-in and support for public health messaging by Church leadership and the majority of the Faithful? We must find answers, even if we must pursue them after the harshest part of the pandemic is finished because it sets a dangerous precedent.
Cork City, Cork.
‘Pro-life’ people spreading anti-vaxx myths
Dear Editor, It is a remarkable thing to witness online the spectacle of self-proclaimed ‘pro-life’ people spreading myths and anti-vaccination propaganda.
How can someone who is passionate about defending life in the womb be so ignorantly and recklessly disregarding of the lives that have been lost to Covid-19?
Pope Francis and other Church leaders have shown tremendous leadership and powerful courage in facing down these people who seek to spread misinformation about the vaccines.
Yes, as pro-life people we have an obligation to make known our displeasure at the fact that embryonic stem-lines have been used in the production of some vaccines. This is morally unacceptable, but we also have a moral duty to do everything we can to preserve and protect life. That is why I will be at the beginning of the queue when it comes to my turn for the vaccine.
Kilmainham, Dublin 8
God is waiting with open arms
Dear Editor, I wish to write out of concern, depression and the experience of 82 years. Concerning Covid-19, are we reaping what we sowed with sin and to save us from worse in future, because sin is legalised all over the world?
Our Lady of Fatima told the world to avoid war, famine, exile or plague, they would have to turn back from sin and go back to God and prayer. Also God warned through the prophets. Jesus died on the cross to make it possible for us to get forgiveness of sin.
Sin exists in large amounts and Jesus tells us in Mark’s gospel that it is from our hearts that evil intentions emerge. Fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make one unclean.
All sin is self-destructive. Sin blocks the Holy Spirit getting through to us and opens doors for Satan to enter and wreck everything, and God can’t give us forever to repent. God is always waiting for us to come back with prayer and repentance, and then he will be able to save us from onslaught after onslaught.
We will all see the light of Christ. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.
Mitchelstown, Co. Cork
School must give preference to marginalised children
Dear Editor, I salute the Bishop of Ferns [IC 22/04/2021] and his call, on behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Immigrants, for the Government to honour its commitment to resettle 28 children from a refugee camp in Greece.
Meanwhile I am saddened by the apparent lack of expressions of concern from our bishops, our social justice advocates and our Catholic education authorities in respect of the thousands of Irish children deprived of the special needs schools and classes that they so urgently need.
In common with all English Catholic schools, including the two that I had the privilege to lead, the first two admission criteria were always (1) children in the care of the State and (2) children with Statements of Special Education Need. Our Irish Catholic schools could well copy the English Catholic authorities and show a preferential option for the disadvantaged and marginalised.
Vice President, Catholic Secondary School Parents Association
Killarney, Co Kerry
One would be forgiven for thinking Govt anti-religious
Dear Editor,Thank you for the courageous stance The Irish Catholic has taken on challenging the length of the unjust ban on Mass and the Government’s stubborn resistance to our pleas.
It is patently obvious – given how unrestricted Mass is in the rest of Europe – that public worship can continue safely. I attended Mass in the North on Easter Sunday morning and was greeted by members of the local GAA club who were responsible for the stewarding and showing people to their seats.
There was an “abundance of caution” on display (to borrow a phrase from NPHET) and the sense of paschal joy was palpable and yet people kept their distance and did not gather together outside afterwards.
The stance of the Government in the Republic is particularly outrageous given how safe things are North of the border. Micheál Martin claims that his coalition is not anti-religious. One would surely be forgiven for concluding otherwise.
Dundalk, Co. Louth