Dear Editor, The Irish Catholic [IC 07/01/2020] carried criticism, by David Quinn and others, of the Irish Government and of our bishops for the suspension of public Masses. The point made was that Ireland was amongst few European countries in taking this step. In light of decisions taken in Northern Ireland and Britain since then, the criticism would seem to have been misplaced and somewhat unfair.
The scientific data shows that, following our Government’s lifting of restrictions in early December, a significant number of Covid-19 infections has taken place around weddings and funerals. The event taking place in the church may have been safe enough but the virus transmits in the interaction between people that can happen before and after. This also applies to Sunday and weekday Masses. The consensus is, quite simply, that encouraging people to leave their homes, even to go to Mass, is not at present a safe thing to do.
This is a painful time for all of us as we find ourselves unable to be together in our churches at Mass. However, the pain is part of the Christian witness we are being asked to give by sacrificing, in the interest in the common good of all, something that means a great deal to us.
In his teaching, Jesus made love of neighbour equal in status to love of God. During this public health emergency, acting out of love for our neighbour is the core Gospel value that needs to be at the heart of our behaviour. Early in the book of Genesis (Chapter 4), God challenges Cain by asking, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain replies by putting a question of his own before God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” At that point, neither God nor the Biblical writer gives a clear answer. The answer becomes obvious throughout the rest of the Bible. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up circumstances in which a light is being shone upon the only appropriate answer to Cain’s question. Even in the matter of public worship, each one of us is, indeed, our sister’s and our brother’s keeper.
Fr Peter Cullen
Cahir, Co. Tipperary
Our most vulnerable are being devalued
Dear Editor, we are witnesses to a period in time where the value of life is stripped away, the unborn deprived of their right to life, hastily followed by assisted suicide, setting a dangerous pathway toward euthanasia.
Both new life coming into the world and life nearing the end has become devalued. Those without a voice remain most vulnerable. A renewed Church led focus on the sanctity of human life through a hope-filled ‘Sanctity of Life Sunday’ message could provide this voice and reaffirm the dignity of each human life.
Dalkey. Co. Dublin
Do not underestimate seriousness of RTÉ God sketch
Dear Editor, We should not dismiss or underestimate the seriousness of RTÉ’s New Year’s Eve programme. It was a defamation of character of our God and an incitement to animosity and ridicule towards Christian beliefs.
Anyone would be hurt if their father was portrayed as a rapist. The only prayer Jesus taught was the Our Father and all Christians are united in calling God our Father. Being children of God is central to our Christian Faith so this was a public defamation of all Christians. Not only that, it portrays the Christian Faith as endorsing the subjection and brutal assault of women.
The Christian Faith is under attack in many countries around the world and each year a growing number of Christians are martyred. Despite many requests for Ireland to speak out against these attacks our Government has remained silent. Programmes such as this not only undermine respect for the Christian Faith but spreads lies and increase hostility and violence towards Christians everywhere. With RTÉ’s delay in taking down this clip, there is every possibility that it is now being passed around in countries intent on spreading violence against Christians.
We must continue to press RTÉ to acknowledge the full extent of the serious implications of this broadcast.
Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
Moving Mass online again ‘just and proportionate’
Dear Editor, Further to David Quinn’s thought-provoking article on [IC 07/01/2021], it is worth remembering that the only foundation for any worthwhile act by a Christian is conformity to the will of God. In his seminal tract of that title, St Alphonsus de Ligouri goes so far as to write: “It is true, of course, that mortification, meditation, communions, and works of charity toward our neighbour are pleasing to God, but in what circumstances? When they are performed in accordance with his will. When they are not in accordance with his will, not only is he not pleased with them, but he considers them unacceptable and rejects them”.
Considering my own vulnerabilities, the risk to others if I caught the virus, the strain that would put on the health service, my settled conscience dictates that it is the will of God that I should view Mass on the web cam for the foreseeable future. I find the Government regulations in this regard just and proportionate, although clearly not impeccable.
The theologian Karl Barth, labelled by Pope Pius X as the most important Christian theologian of the 20th Century, warned that Catholics need to be on their guard against a kind of magical thinking in connection with the sacraments. This type of thinking might lead one to believe that if one gets the rubrics and the formula of words in the Sacrament exact, God is compelled to give the grace; but outside of this, God has no way to give the grace.
This pandemic offers the Catholic church the opportunity to distinguish itself from the myriad of other affinity groups all clamouring for special dispensation from the lockdown regulations, and to make the sacrifice of accepting the imposition of restrictions for the common good. The word ‘martyr’ does, after all, mean witness.
Congratulate Church leaders for taking strong stance on RTÉ God sketch
Dear Editor, congratulations to our Church leaders for demanding an apology from RTÉ for their grossly offensive sketch on New Year’s Eve. Helped by their strong stance we took to our laptops and phones in our thousands to protest.
In addition, thousands signed an online petition with PeadarToibin’s political party Aontú. We have proven we can turn the tide and defend our God, our Faith and our Church.