Dear Editor, Pope Francis deserves much credit for his heroic witness and work for a just and lasting peace between Ukraine and Russia [The Irish Catholic, May 18, 2023]. Let me be clear from the outset, this is not a ‘two sides’ conflict. Russia’s illegal, unjust and genocidal invasion of Ukraine must be condemned by all right-thinking people. It was not provoked by Ukraine or NATO, whatever the failings of that latter organisation.
In my view there is far too much jingoistic language in the west with western politicians trotting out platitudes like ‘victory to Ukraine’, as if the only possible outcome to this conflict that we should support will be Ukrainian tanks rolling into Moscow’s Red Square.
No, peace must be the goal while obviously respecting Ukraine’s right to national self-determination and right to territorial integrity. Everything is lost by war; nothing is lost by peace.
I remember well in the build-up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent Second Persian Gulf War; the great Pope St John Paul II was dismissed as “naive” by many commentators – including prominent Catholics – who said they knew better and that his efforts for peace were misguided. Well, what did the Iraq War achieve? Some 100,000 Iraqis lost their lives, and countless others were maimed for life.
The US-led invasion also unleased a bloody sectarian bloodbath with rival Sunni and Shia Muslims vying for control while the small Christian community there were either dismissed as collateral damage or run from their homes by an increasingly fierce Islamism.
The Pope is to be applauded for believing that peace is possible between Ukraine and Russia, and other world leaders should back his campaign for a just and lasting settlement.
Terenure, Dublin 6W
Time to face reality
Dear Editor, Peadar Tóibín will be forever a hero given the brave stance he has taken consistently in the defence of unborn life, and other vulnerable people.
Like many, I was excited at the prospect of Aontú offering a real alternative to the stifling uniformity of the mainstream parties – including Sinn Féin.
From the beginning, the established parties have worked to thwart Aontú and deny it the massive advantage of State funding enjoyed by other parties. Despite this, Aontú has been to the fore in proposing new legislation around things like the welfare of those most in need in our society, online safety and protecting children from pornographers.
Most of these measures are, at best, ignored by the mainstream parties.
Rory Fitzgerald writes with lucidity about the tantalising prospect of a new rural-focused political party [The Irish Catholic, May 18, 2023]. Maybe, just maybe, it is time for Aontú to face reality, realise that people must work together and throw its lot in with that rural independents to bring Mr Tóibín’s considerable ability to that new movement.
What if the school was Catholic?
Dear Editor, Politicians and commentators are rightly condemning the vicious animal-like attack on the child in Navan, allegedly perpetrated because he is a homosexual. I note that the school is under secular patronage. Could you imagine the furore if the school was under Catholic patronage? We’d be treated to another screed from former president Mary McAleese about how the Catholic Church was an “empire of homophobia” and was responsible for this attack. Instead, the patronage of the school is hardly mentioned in reports.
Sadly, homophobia – like all prejudices – is a cancer in society that has to be overcome. This requires work in both the home and the school to show people the inherent worth of every human person as made in God’s image and likeness.
The usual scapegoating that goes on around Catholic schools is neither just or helpful.
Gorey, Co. Wexford
Is the Church naive on gender?
Dear Editor, I’m afraid I don’t share the enthusiasm of the Catholic Schools Partnership for the new curriculum on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) as unveiled by Minister for Education Norma Foley [The Irish Catholic, May 18, 2023].
As outlined, the programme presents a radically liberal view of the human person and understanding of gender as something that is fluid. I accept the contention of Alan Hynes as reported in your newspaper that some of the more extreme elements have been removed, but the simple truth is that Catholic schools will still be asked to teach things that are absolutely at odds with Catholic values and Church teaching.
It is welcome that the Catholic Schools Partnership is ready to roll-out significant resources to schools that will present the Catholic view on sexuality and gender. However, at a time when many of the teachers in our schools are not Catholic themselves or are even hostile to the Faith, it is naïve in the extreme to believe that they will teach what Catholic parents want and expect.
John A. Byrne
Santry, Dublin 9
Asleep at the wheel…
Dear Editor, So the staff of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick are “in the dark” about plans for the future of the college [The Irish Catholic, May 18, 2023]. They obviously haven’t been paying attention for decades. The Irish hierarchy has been asleep at the wheel for as long as I can remember. Catholic institutions are either handed over to the State or, as in the case of the Sisters of Charity, offered to facilitate abortions for what is described as a “peppercorn rent”.
Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
A different form of brutality
Dear Editor, Having just viewed this film Pray for Our Sinners, it brought back painful memories. I suffered corporal punishment also (as did virtually all of my classmates). Sadly, in my experience lay teachers (and by association, their unions) were equally culpable.
Yet there have been no public apologies, much less compensatory payments, from this source. In contrast, having been taught by seven or eight priests in St Patrick’s in Navan, the experience was much more agreeable.
My criticisms of the film are two-fold. Firstly, it did not ‘compare and contrast’, with other, non-Catholic countries. For example, 27 US states forcibly sterilised unmarried mothers at the behest of the eugenics advocate, Margaret Sanger. The secular Scandinavians took this a step further, with a combined abortion/sterilisation policy. The UK officially described unmarried mothers as ‘moral imbeciles’. They carried out over 250,000 forced adoptions between the mid 1950s and 1970s – primarily at the behest of parents and social workers.
Secondly, the film ended with a sequence showing the ‘celebrations’ (inappropriate to many) in Dublin Castle, after the abortion referendum. We recently learned that over 95% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are now aborted in Irish hospitals. At the conclusion of the film one is left with the uneasy thought, have we simply replaced one form of barbarity with another.
Navan, Co. Meath
Wither the vision of Hume…
Dear Editor, The North’s local elections are over bar the shouting. The SDLP has suffered catastrophic losses, as they have done in every election for over 20 years. The current leadership of that party put this down to the fact that the party is “in transition”. But successive leaders have said that. Disappointingly, Colum Eastwood insists that he is leading the “party of John Hume”. If I can borrow a biblical analogy, Mr Eastwood is not fit to undo the sandal of Mr Hume. Neither Hume nor Séamus Mallon would recognise what the current vote-chasing woke leadership have done to the party.
Omagh, Co. Tyrone