Dear Editor, It was with great delight that I received the announcement that Bishop Dermot Farrell was to become the new archbishop of Dublin diocese. Having been the President of St Patrick’s College in Maynooth and doing wonders in the Diocese of Ossory, I’m sure he has the experience, pastoral capability, courage, wisdom and gravitas to tackle the many problems he will no doubt face in the future – it will be no mean feat. Although I was unsure who would be appointed by Pope Francis for this greatly challenging position, it now seems obvious to me that Bishop Farrell is perfect for the position.
In many ways he has big shoes to fill, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is a force to be reckoned with. Particularly regarding his tackling of the atrocious and horrific scandals of the past, but like he has said himself, he is ready to retire and is tired – it’s time for someone else to lead the flock of Ireland’s largest archdiocese.
It is a challenging time and there is a need for someone to do something different, the Church needs someone to be intuitive, innovative and vocal on important issues even if it’s unpopular in order to handle the great odds stacked against the Church in Ireland. The issue goes deeper than just the drastic financial repercussions wrought by this terrible virus the world faces. For many, many years people have been drifting away from the Church, it is all about re-evangelising now, or the ‘new evangelisation’ as announced by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Let’s hope Bishop Dermot Farrell can be a voice out of the fire.
Tallaght, Co. Dublin
The Christians of the Holy Land must endure and prosper
Dear Editor, Although it was sad to read about the desperate situation our brother and sister Christians are facing in Bethlehem due to the effects of Covid-19 on their tourism industry(the tourism industry being 90% of Bethlehem’s income), it was heartening to see how important their faith is and how they still have hope. The birthplace of our Lord almost seems like a mythical place for those of us living thousands of miles away in Ireland, but there are real people, real Christians holding the fort in the Holy Land doing their best to get by and live lives devoted to Christ.
Let us hold them in our prayers as those in the Holy Land face challenges – even before lockdown and the advent of this virus – that people in Ireland fortunately do not have to nowadays. I hope the holy places will always be visited by those who worship Christ, they have huge significance and can help connect us to the story of Our Lord and the suffering he endured to save all of us in this world of sin. May the Christians in the Holy Land endure and prosper there forever despite the trials and tribulations they undoubtedly face – particularly now.
Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin
Bishops should go to courts about suppression of worship
Dear Editor, On Christmas Eve 1986, the High Court delivered an injunction against the Government at the application of a single citizen. The issue was important and time bound; the Government planned to sign an international treaty without holding a referendum, the court understood the urgency. The ensuing Supreme Court case meant that future treaties, of which there have been several, have had to be put to the people.
The Government has supressed public worship with neither justification nor consultation. Their overreach of power has defied the Constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights on freedom of religion and worship. Those with the optimum locus standi, or natural entitlement to bring a case are the Catholic bishops, who preside over the majority of worship in Ireland and who of course under Church Law are the guardians of Catholic worship. It is excellent that a case has recently been brought by a private citizen but this should not preclude a suit by the bishops.
If the bishops believe there is a strong reason why they should not look for a judicial remedy against the suppression of worship, they should tell us. If not, they should have recourse to the courts with the same urgency shown in the case of the late Mr Crotty v An Taoiseach.
Blackrock Road, Cork
Lockdowns seem to be doing more harm than good
Dear Editor, It seems that many of our medical spokespersons are trying to out-virtue-signal one another as to who can recommend the most stringent constraints on the liberty of the healthy population of the country. They seem still to believe that restrictions on the freedom of individuals and society can by some mysterious process known only to themselves, despite the wealth of hard data to the contrary, control the spread of a virus.
Never has a phenomenon been so extensively studied as this virus, and it is becoming increasingly clear that lockups may very well increase overall mortality in the longer term.
I would suggest that the harms done by lockdowns will increase dramatically in coming months, as we see the ill effects of the diversion of our health service to focus on one illness only for almost a year come to pass. Non treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, delayed diagnoses and treatment of cancer and circulatory disease, the social and psychological impact of these extraordinary societal restrictions on mental health, not to mention the economic impact. Poverty and despair cause increased mortality across all age groups including infant mortality. Such considerations seem not to feature in the calculations of the good doctors who influence the rules and regulations to an alarming degree.
May I suggest that rather than seeking to “protect the health service” from those unfortunate enough to need medical help this winter for problems other than cough and fever, the emphasis of professional bodies and health planners should be to call for immediate investment in staff recruitment, training, renumeration, improved working conditions and an increase in bed capacity-our provision is currently one of the lowest in Europe per head of population.
Anne Mc Closkey
Where is the evidence churches are dangerous spaces?
Dear Editor, Where is the evidence that people, spaced out in church services, all facing towards the alter and not towards one another engaging intimate conversations, are in danger of Covid transmission? Or where is the danger in well run restaurants, where tables are wellspaced out and partitioned off, with people at individual tables all from one grouping or family household?
Really, it is galling where people, who have taken all possible precautions, measured against objective standards, are told by sanctimonious officialdom, anxious to be seen to be doing something by upsetting well run and regulated enterprises, that their activitiesare not allowed? The reason for the current spike in Covid cases is more likely to be due to people, travelling home from devious locations, many from larger cities, engaging in excited and close conversation with those they have not seen for a while.As unusual as it may seem, in such convivial circumstances, social distancing is a necessary precaution.
Woodford, Co. Galway
New Oireachtas Group to stand up for life and dignity of all
Very good start to a political revolution that will take many years. Saint Cardinal Newman in his essay ‘The Isles of the North’ refers to such a rebirth after the barbarian destruction of Europe. Saint Columba setting off must have felt like this. – Hugh O’Rourke
God bless them! – Aurelian O’Dowd
Bro. Kevin ‘heartbroken’ as food queues increase due to virus job losses
The government give themselves and civil servants pay increases, all the money allocated for these pay increases should be going to Bro. Kevin and people like him. – Mary Cosgrove
I had the pleasure of getting to know Bro. Kevin when I lived in Smithfield, Dublin and would attend daily Mass with them in the Capuchin friary each morning. A true ambassador for our Catholic faith. God bless him. – Paul J. Brosnan
An amazing man and those who help him. – Martha Bergin
They do great work. – Breda Ennis
Bethlehem Christians send Christmas message of hope
Pray that the Christians of the Holy Land, especially in Bethlehem and Bethany, may know freedom in a united land in which people of all faiths live in harmony. – Günther Simmermacher