Dear Editor, David Quinn’s article on the latest Tuam interim report (‘How we buried our poor’ [IC 25/4/2019]) was genuinely eye-opening, providing vital context for thinking about ongoing reportage on Mother and Baby Homes.
Lies and presumptions about Tuam have been around the world countless times at this stage, but it looks as if the truth is finally starting to get its boots on: not even one body has been found in a septic tank at Tuam, and Galway County Council – elected by ordinary Irish men and women – must have been aware of deaths and the disposal of remains in Tuam.
Mother and Baby Homes were, after all, mandated by the State, owned by the State, funded by the State, regulated by the State, and supposedly supervised by the State.
They were paid for with taxes paid by ordinary Irish people, and were ultimately the responsibility of bodies elected by ordinary Irish people. Perhaps they – like laundries and industrial schools – were ghastly places, but if so, they were ghastly places that Irish people wanted, and if religious sisters ran them badly or harshly, this was something that Irish people at large were content with.
And yet, that ‘perhaps’ and that ‘if’ are all-important, because one alarming feature of so much commentary on these institutions is a disgraceful absence of any serious attempt at informed context. Why is there no commentary on, for instance, burial customs at the time in wider Irish society?
As Mr Quinn says, the reports invite real questions on how the poor were buried in decades past, and how children in general were buried in decades past. These questions need answering.
Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Remembering where Christ is most present
Dear Editor, Fr John Harris’s words of praise for Fr Jean-Marc Fournier’s actions in rescuing the Blessed Sacrament from the flames of Notre-Dame de Paris (IC 25/4/2019)were a powerful reminder of just how central the Eucharist should be for Catholics.
Too often we can forget this, as we see in the lackadaisical way so many of us can slouch up to receive Communion at Mass, and even – somewhat paradoxically – talk of how Ireland could face a ‘Eucharistic famine’ points to this.
After all, when priests lament such a prospect without similarly lamenting the lack of time they need to spend in confessional boxes, they suggest that it’s fine to receive the Blessed Sacrament without being in a state of grace. So too does grumbling about a lack of vocations without working hard in realistic ways to promote priestly vocations on the ground suggest that there’s no real interest in calling more men to the way of life Christ instituted so we can share in his Body.
I’ve even once heard a priest dismissing the importance of Eucharistic Adoration and the Tabernacle, saying that, yes, Jesus is there, but so too he’s in the Word of God, and the congregation, and the priest himself, and the very air we breathe. He is, of course, but as was clearly stated in the Second Vatican Council, he is above all present in the Blessed Sacrament, the source and summit of Christian life.
Fr Harris’s actions in Drogheda back in 1994, just like Fr Fournier’s actions in Paris, are eloquent testimonies to this. If there’s to be a silver lining to the smoke clouds over Notre-Dame, it may be the powerful reminder of how Christ is among us in the Eucharist, and how this should inform our lives.
Headline not surprising
Dear Editor, Your headline of April 25 comes as no surprise, since the 2018 biography Leo: Veo Varadkar, a Very Modern Taoiseach, by Phillip Ryan and Niall O Connor, recalls that he was totally indifferent to Catholicism as a belief system and showed more sympathy towards his father’s Hinduism.
Fr John McCallion,
Clonoe, Co. Tyrone.
Dear Editor, As the local elections date of May 24 approaches rapidly, now is the time to check out your local candidates carefully.
In the past we have handed over power to people who have not shared our values and principles, hence we now have a country which we barely recognise.
I believe that our hierarchy and clergy have a duty to encourage their communities to vote responsibly and strategically.
This may be our last chance to turn the tide and fight back the anti-Christian movement in this Country.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.
Our missionaries, on the ground, know the truth
Dear Editor, Thank you so much for Chai Brady’s article about Fr Tom Jordan’s reaction to attempts by some in Ireland to play down the extent to which Venezuela is suffering under the Maduro regime (IC 25/4/2019).
Clare Daly’s claims about ordinary people in the South American country being guaranteed food essentials every month are baffling, given how they run utterly contrary to what Irish missionaries such as Fr Jordan who have worked for decades on the ground in Venezuela have attested to.
Indeed, Ms Daly’s claims about the legitimacy of the political processes underpinning the Maduro regime beggar belief, while her blaming the country’s instability on US sanctions sounds like the laziest of 1980s clichés. It’s hard to see where she would get such ideas from, especially when Irish eyewitnesses with many, many years of experience helping the poorest of the poor in Venezuela say very different things.
It’s worth remembering too that this story is an important reminder of how much valuable work has been done and is still being done by Irish missionaries all over the world. They’ve been the hands of Christ everywhere for at least as long as anyone living can remember, and they’ve been the eyes and ears of Ireland in the wider world for all that time too.
It’s a shame that today’s politicians are oblivious to this.
Tallaght, Dublin 24.