Dear Editor, Fr Conor McDonough’s piece on religious leaders with ‘chutzpah’ and Greg Daly’s feature on the 42 martyrs under consideration for beatification made for a powerful combination in your latest issue (IC 18/7/2019).
Episcopal boldness is something we clearly need in our Church today, but it’s not good enough to whinge that the bishops aren’t doing enough; during the Irish Church’s darkest days we had people willing to light candles rather than curse darkness at every level of the Church.
Lay men and women, religious men and women, priests and bishops – despite threats to life and liberty, Irish people from all over the country refused to forsake the religion of their ancestors and the duties this entailed of them, and refused to deny their children and grandchildren the faith that had been their inheritance from the days of St Patrick. Their stories are both awe-inspiring and shaming: how many of us can put our hands on our hearts and say we’d have been as loyal or as loving?
This question isn’t even all that hypothetical. Right now Irish people stray and wander from the Church every day, turning their backs on that which for which our ancestors died. Perhaps our martyrs are neglected rather than rejected, some might say. Maybe, but remember the 1916 Proclamation, proclaimed in God’s name and calling for religious freedom.
We’ll freely talk of the sacrifices of the dead of 1916, but we just as freely turn our backs on that for which they died.
Lucan, Co. Dublin.
The call of God is still for total dedication
Dear Editor, Mary Kenny sees the obvious answer to a ‘shortage of priests’ is to have married priests (IC11/7/2019). Compared with the missions as yet we do not actually have a shortage of priests, particularly if parishes were organised so that priests carry out duties which only they can do and lay people attend to all other measures involved in running a parish.
Secondly while Mrs Kenny quotes the ‘art of the possible’ regarding secular politics, we are surely aware that ‘with God all things are possible’. Jesus was not married and the priest is called to be another Christ, totally dedicated to God and to his parishioners. Otherwise the priesthood is no longer a vocation but a profession.
Her suggestion that a priest’s wife would likely not require to be supported by the parish “as most women have jobs of their own” raises the question of looking at a scenario in which the wife is working outside the home and the children in a creche?
Do we really believe that Jesus is no longer calling men to follow him in totally dedicating their lives to him and to his people? Perhaps we can all play our part in fervent prayer that many will continue to answer that call and that many will step up their support for priests and bishops.
News of Irish martyrs recognition to be celebrated
Dear Editor, Thank you for giving us that great news in your front page of 42 Irish Martyrs on their way to Beatification and Sainthood (IC 11/7/2019). We all know the name of one martyr, St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, savagely hanged, drawn and quartered in Tyburn London in 1681.
In the parish where I served – Ballinspittle/Ballinadee – I arranged that Bishop Buckley and 20 of us priests would concelebrate Mass at the Mass Rock at a spot appropriately called Gort na Croise when the Pope was beatifying the first tranche of 17 Irish Martyrs in Rome.
Nearly everyone in the parish attended and many also came from the surrounding parishes that September evening in 1992. I remember well we had to watch the time to complete the Mass for all to get out of the valley safely before darkness fell.
In 1752 the people of the parish dared to build a church in Ballinspittle to avoid the wind and rain of the Mass Rock. In order not to draw the attention of the Bandon constabulary to their act of defiance they just called the building a Mass-house, as the word church was reserved exclusively for a Protestant building. This was the first Catholic Church built in Ireland after King Henry VIII’s Protestant revolt.
Fr Tom Kelleher,
Kinsale, Co. Cork.
Clerical celibacy is a theological non-issue – fact!
Dear Editor, In the current issue of The Irish Catholic you talk about a priest who is tired of the discussion on priest shortages. So are we all.
Clerical celibacy is a theological non-issue. It is one of the first topics in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 2, Verses 18 to 24. Verse 18 says: “It is not good for man to be alone.” No discussion! God’s word is clear. Why are the bishops waffling about it? If they want to visit Rome, organise a pilgrimage, not an excuse.
Now another topic, the ordination of women to the priesthood, is not quite as clear. I have no deep feelings on the subject, but I have known many holy and competent women who would fill many roles assigned to priests as well or better than many priests. I am not thinking of parish administrators either, but roles such as spiritual directors and confessors particularly. I have no problem with ordaining women deacons; it fits in with their role assigned in the same verse of the Book of Genesis: “I will make a helper suited to him.”
The role of the papacy and general councils is not to make new laws, assign new tasks or promulgate new doctrines, but to define and clarify matters which are not clear in the Church’s understanding of Christ’s teaching. The role of women may be such a topic, clerical celibacy is not.
In fact, since it binds only the Roman rite it is not even a concern for a general council of the Church.