Dear Editor, thank you for your courageous words in your timely ‘Editor’s Comment’ on the controversy provoked by the president’s refusal to attend the ecumenical service in Armagh [The Irish Catholic, September 23, 2021].
The commemoration (not celebration) of partition was always going to be something that had to be handled sensitively – a fact known by the Church leaders all of whom lead denominations divided by the border that divides this island.
President Michael D. Higgins seems to have captured the public imagination with his refusal to attend and his characterisation of the ceremony as a celebration of partition and the creation of the northern state. One opinion poll that I saw said that 81% of people supported his stance. I would suggest that this represents little more than a knee-jerk reactionary approach to remembering the past.
History is complicated and different people experience the same event in different ways. The creation of Northern Ireland was a catastrophe marked by an orgy of violence for northern Catholics. At the same time, it is part of the history of unionism and represents for them the birth of a state.
Church leaders, with the Gospel emphasis on forgiveness, are well-placed to handle contentious commemorations with discretion and sensitivity.
Belfast, Co. Antrim
Frank Duff should be better known
Dear Editor, It is great to see the coverage each week of the various celebrations around the country to mark the centenary of the founding of the Legion of Mary.
Fr John Harris OP is right in his contention that Mr Duff was the most influential Irishman of the 20th Century [The Irish Catholic, September 9, 2021].
It is a great pity that Frank Duff is not better known or more broadly spoken about in Irish society. He worked hard on mending a broken society decades before anyone ever heard of social workers and sociologists and left the country a much better place for that.
Please God he will soon be raised to the altars of the Church and we will have another great saint to look up to.
Synod must lead to deeper fidelity to Christ
Dear editor, Former president, Mary McAleese, already has the “freedom of speech” she is lecturing about and she makes use of it often, which is her right [The Irish Catholic, September 16, 2021].
What she has absolutely no right to do is attempt to impose her ideologies upon the Catholic Church, or ‘demand’ changes to Church teachings to suit her views.
Given her stated opinions on such matters as abortion, Mrs McAleese is far from being a voice of authentic Catholicity. She has adopted stances which are irreconcilable with the Catholic Faith.
She and others like her, are perfectly free to dissent from the teachings of the Church if they so wish. No one is forcing anyone to remain in the Church who does not want to be there.
Nevertheless, if we seek to be part of the Church of Christ, we must “accept and submit” to the Word of God and to the truths of the Faith (James 1:21). The Church can neither change, alter, nor dilute her teachings to suit this current era – absolutely not.
Even if the whole world rejects the saving truths of Christ’s message, we Catholics must be faithful to it and insist upon it, welcome or unwelcome (II Timothy 4:2).
Any synod or synodal path, must lead us to deeper fidelity to Christ and his Gospel – not further away. Mary McAleese and others of her views, must not be permitted to try and dictate terms. Worldly ideologies that are the very antithesis of our Faith have no place among the People of God.
Fr Patrick McCafferty,
Belfast, Co. Antrim
A turn-up for the books?
Dear Editor, I cannot be alone in my bemusement at the DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson effectively trying to bully President Michael D. Higgins into attending an ecumenical service. It is not that long since the DUP actually picketed ecumenical ceremonies in the North because they were frightened of the prospects of God-fearing Presbyterians being tainted by Papists and Romish plots.
We really do live in a different world. Either that or it was sheer political opportunism. Readers can decide for themselves.
Tralee, Co. Kerry
Exacting privileges at someone else’s expense
Dear Editor, In a step towards a more inclusive society, babies having a heart-beat, detectable at six weeks’ gestation, are once again receiving legal protection, in Texas.
Some would characterise this development as merely part of the to-and-fro swing of a public-opinion pendulum, in that debate between the right-to-life and legalising for the intentional killing of babies in the womb. But it is more than this.
Already, in Texas thousands of babies’ lives have been saved from death. These will go on to celebrate their first birthday, take their place in pre-school, ‘big’ school, college life, and ultimately contribute to society as artists, professionals, tradesmen and homemakers. Without the right-to-life no other right can exist; we all become disposable, beholden to the prevailing socio-economic forces.
If we demand for ourselves something that we are unwilling to extend to every other human being, regardless of where they are at in the cycle of life, then we are merely corrupt judges, exacting perceived privileges at someone else’s expense.
Our existing social model, places vulnerable mothers of unborn babies in socio-economic dilemmas, isolating them, and steering them towards the abortion industry. No woman is ever the same after losing a baby in this way; too often I have heard those most heart-wrenching refrains: “I had to do it”, “I had no other option”, “I had no choice”.
In our upcoming review of Ireland’s abortion law, it is vital that we are guided by this life-affirming legislative change in Texas. Only those ensnared by ideological absolutism will discount all the good it’s doing.
A detectable heart-beat means a baby and his or her mother needs to be embraced and supported by all society. Without babies we have no future, without compassion we lose our humanity.
Lee Road, Cork
Christians: the forgotten victims
Dear Editor, I was astonished to read that the Department of Foreign Affairs regards the persecution of Christians in Nigeria as a trivial matter from one of the tales of John B. Keane [The Irish Catholic, September 23, 2021].
Carol Nolan was correct to point out that the characterisation by the Government “reframes the issue out of all recognition”.
We must not shrink from the fact that Christians are being killed precisely because they are Christian – they are dying for their faith in Jesus Christ.
The response from the Department of Foreign Affairs shows no appreciation or understanding for this.
The matter is all the more egregious for the fact that Ireland now has a seat on the United Nations (UN) security council and could be using this to advocate for persecuted minorities around the globe such as the Christians of Nigeria.
Ballina, Co. Mayo