Lay people can provide pastoral care

Dear Editor, I read with amazement the letter from Fr John McCallion (Letters, August 7) about the need for hospital chaplains. I agree that the provision of chaplains and pastoral care can be a great comfort for patients and their families. I am a secondary school teacher who in the past has worked in Ireland and the US as a lay chaplain. I have worked in multi-faith teams and was proud to witness people lay, clerical, Christian and non-Christian people of faith providing pastoral care to people at difficult times in their lives.

I am dismayed by the narrowness of Fr McCallion’s views and would suggest a reading of many fine documents on pastoral care and studies which point to the benefits of all people of good will having a role in various types of  ministry to those in need.

I have issue in particular with a reference Fr McCallion made about the permanent diaconate and any form of minister who cannot say Mass or hear Confession as “being a waste of time”. If the permanent diaconate and various forms of lay ministry are good enough for Pope Francis, they are good enough for me. The times are changing and caring for people cannot be limited by narrow thinking and limited vision.

Yours etc.,

Padraic Kelleher,


Co. Cork.