Dear Editor, The Irish Government decided it is more important to open the Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park before the churches. During Holy Week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that the Government plans to re-open the Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park on April 26. He said the Government will consider re-opening churches in May. I assume that the Government no longer rates churchgoers as a critical support base. How it can argue that visiting Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park, fine places in their own right, is safer than attending church services is beyond me.
My local Catholic Church in Tramore has to be one of the safest places to be, much more so than queuing and hanging around coffee shops in groups in the area or visiting supermarkets where some customers chat with each other often not observing the required social distancing requirements. The safety precautions carried out when the church was open for services was exemplary. There were enthusiastic and dedicated stewards available to ensure visitors used hand sanitisers arriving and leaving the Church. They monitored each person to ensure they were social distancing correctly and wearing masks, otherwise, they couldn’t enter or stay in the church.
Interestingly, the British government who is going through hard times as well allows worshippers to attend church services. Catholic friends of mine were able to attend Holy Week services and had ashes on Ash Wednesday etc.. Who would have ever thought that an Irish Government would fall behind Britain in looking after its church-going people?
Things have certainly changed in Ireland, not sure if it’s for the better. Churchgoers should remember how they have been treated by politicians and should make their views known when they are canvassed for votes at the next election.
Tramore, Co. Waterford
Observing fertility and being responsible
Dear Editor, NFP [Natural Family Planning] and contraception have the woman at the centre. After all the woman is the one who puts her body fully in a sexual relationship. A very important factor, that, regretfully, Mr Quinn forgot to mention in his recent article [IC 25/03/2021].
I know non-Catholics who practise NFP, with the observation of fertility and infertility times in the woman’s cycle. And mothers who teach their daughters to observe their fertility.
The reason being that this is the way the woman’s body works and needs to be respected, while contraception is harmful for the woman. (Another being that knowing the cycle makes it easier to conceive.)
The other factor of how to go about bearing in mind this cycle for deciding how many children to have and when is another issue. The Church is insisting that responsible love be the guide.
Conchita Legorburo Serra
Dalkey, Co. Dublin
The Church should not be treated like a lobby group
Dear Editor, It is an outrage that attending your local church for Mass is deemed a criminal offence by this Government, subject to a fine or even jail time no less. This Government seems to have no respect or understanding of people of faith.
In recent times in Ireland there have been very few politicians able to articulate the feelings and needs of religious people – we are blessed to still have a few.
Decades ago if the bishops had a meeting with the Taoiseach I’m sure there would be some sort of understanding hammered out and actions taken on the issue, but recently when the bishops met the Taoiseach all that came from the Taoiseach’s office was platitudes. It was good to see the bishops being openly critical of the Taoiseach in a statement last month, saying that none of the issues they raised had been responded to. It seems as if the hierarchy are treated the same as a lobby group, trying to get their sector open before other sectors are open.
The Church in Ireland is not the same as hospitality, hairdressing etc… industries, and should not be treated as such, freedom of religion is a human right – getting your hair cut, having a pint or going out for a fancy dinner, is not.
This dismissal of the Church, for me, is one of the many convincing signs that the Church in Ireland has shrunk phenomenally both in the size of congregations and influence. Why else would the Faithful not be taken seriously?
Being physically present at Mass is not a luxury, it is essential for believers and it’s shameful and disrespectful the Government can’t seem to fathom this.
Tallaght, Co. Dublin
Hearing the voice of courageous young people
Dear Editor, The focus on young Catholics and the need to hear their voices regarding the national synod announced by the bishops was lovely to see on your front page [IC 08/04/2021]. Too long have we heard the same tired voices of people who have gripes with the Church, many being constantly wheeled out by secular media. Let’s hear from young people who despite all the odds decided to join the Church and fight an uphill battle – these young people are the future of the Church. Sure, it’s important to reach out to those who are just nominally Catholic or have left because they don’t like a particular aspect but it’s equally important to connect with people, particularly youth, who are actively trying to live the Church’s challenging teachings while at the same time possibly being mocked or excluded by their peers. It is courageous.
Modern Ireland is not an easy place to be Catholic, or even Christian, to choose to enter the Church at a time like this takes guts and that is what is needed more than ever in this country – there’s too many lily-livered invertebrates about these days.
Mullingar, Co. Westmeath
Leadership of ACP ‘has lost the plot’
Dear Editor, We live in strange times. The Irish Examiner reported that “Fr Tim Hazelwood, a member of the Association of Catholic Priests [ACP], said bishops in particular need to give leadership during the pandemic, especially when it comes to observing guidelines and restrictions”.
We are told that “Fr Hazelwood was commenting after a screenshot was circulated of Bishop [Phonsie] Cullinan celebrating Mass without wearing a mask in close proximity with a number of other priests”.
Has the ACP established teams of what in Penal times were termed “priest hunters”? Surely if the ACP wanted to rebuke Bishop Phonsie it should have given him a phone call or dropped him a polite note.
I am also at a loss as to why the ACP has rebuked those bishops calling for an early restoration of public worship. In my humble opinion the leadership of ACP has lost the plot!
Killarney, Co. Kerry