Speak about appreciating your priestly vocation

Speak about appreciating your priestly vocation

Dear Editor, Michael Kelly wrote in the Editor’s Comment [The Irish Catholic – September 21, 2023]: “Healthy and committed vocations only come from healthy and committed communities which can only be formed by healthy and committed families.”

This reminds me of the mission of the Venerable Fr Peyton who urged families to pray the rosary saying “A family that prays together stays together”. Michael Kelly went on to explain that when religious freedom was restored in Japan a certain Fr Bernard Petitjean discovered there were 30,000 Christians in Japan, and that people in Nagasaki welcomed him as one of their own when he unveiled a statue of Our Lady. They obviously remained loyal to their faith throughout 250 years of religious persecution, just as the Irish remained loyal throughout the penal laws. In both instances, their devotion to Mary played a large role in their adherence to the Faith. As we pray for vocations let us ask Mary to intercede for us.

In the same issue, Sr Briege McKenna told Chai Brady that she heard Irish mothers discouraging their sons from joining the priesthood. This is no surprise considering the bad press the Church received recently. It is all very fine to ask people to pray for vocations but I believe priests need to counteract the negative press. How often do we hear priests talking publicly about how they appreciate their vocations and their ministry? I believe that by speaking at Sunday Mass, or writing in The Irish Catholic describing their experience of the priesthood, they can show the priesthood is a ministry worth choosing. People need to know their priests actually find the priesthood meaningful, of value, and a source of joy for them. As Briege McKenna said: “Happy priests attract people to the Church and to vocations.”

Yours etc.,

Brendan Kennedy

Belfast, Co. Antrim

Looking for a properly examined viewpoint


Dear editor, Felix Larkin’s concise summation of the book: France on Trial, is a cause of introspection with which we in Ireland have been having for the past 25 years [The Irish Catholic – September 21, 2023]. Petain was the hero of Verdun, the father of the nation and yet stated, in the same vein as Collins over the treaty, that it was the best we could do and gave us the means to pause and plan for the future.

The toxic history between the two states emerged through four centuries of growing antagonism that eventually reached a hiatus with defeat in 1870-71, victory in 1918 and defeat again, in 1940. I believe that Petain, along with many others saw, that to prolong resistance to the all-conquering Wehrmacht was futile in lives and material property.

Like Ireland in 1922-23, a poisoned hatred manifested in summary executions or death sentences in absentia along with name calling amongst spilt families permeated the national and local narrative.

The Gaullist victory with US help vindicate a public wiping of the slate of treason and collaboration and that is why Petain had to suffer. Here, a similar purification took place over the state’s collaboration with religion and while much has been found true, nevertheless a mythology prevails to remind how right we now are in our secularidyll. But to ever think the unthinkable and try to rehabilitate the past, we get caustic reminders from media to deal a blow to a properly examined viewpoint ruled by historical truth and not ideological basis.

Yours etc.,

Fr John McCallion

Coalisland, Co. Tyrone


Care and support after divorce remains pastorally important


Dear Editor, In a letter to paper [The Irish Catholic – February 2, 2023] the words of the Gospel, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife except on grounds of unchastity makes her an adulteress”(Matthew 5:32), were used to make a case for the innocent party of a divorce to be permitted to receive Holy Communion after remarriage.

This brought a response by AP. Breen [The Irish Catholic – March 9, 2023] stating that Biblical scholars believe Our Lord was making a limited exception for divorce for marriages between blood relations where these marriages were considered invalid under Jewish Law. So, it is important to be clear about which is correct as the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘chaste’ reads “not having sex except with the person to whom one is married”.

In the 16th Century the Roman Catholic Douay Bible does not use the word ‘unchastity’ but ‘fornication’ as does the Anglican King James Bible.

The Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition) of the Bible also uses the word ‘unchastity’. However, at the back of the Bible is a section of explanatory notes. In relation to Matthew chapter 5 verse 32 there is the following note: “Unchastity: The Greek word used here appears to refer to marriages which were not legally marriages, because they were either within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity or contracted with a gentile.”

In all the times I have listened to sermons on Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, as far as I can recall, I never heard the information contained in this explanatory note mentioned. It would have been an easy task to place the explanatory note on the foot of the relevant page in the Gospel. This would have prevented any misunderstanding.

Nevertheless, the care and support of the innocent partner in a divorce remains pastorally important.

Yours etc.,

Daithi O’Muirneachain,

Drumcondra, Dublin 9


Heresy of universalism is gaining ground


Dear Editor, Fr Eamonn Conway presents a very realistic view of our recent past and our present situation in the Church in Ireland and offers a good insight into a possible future along the lines of Pope Francis and the direction he wishes for the Church. In this vision for the Church, Baptism is to replace ordination as the Sacrament of engagement in the mission of the Church. That’s all very fine, if not a tad unrealistic, but what worries me is that Fr Conway doesn’t mention what the mission of the Church is. Furthermore, he avoids mentioning what is the goal or purpose of its mission. The living tradition of the Church and the scriptures tell us that Christ created the Church to continue his work of salvation. The Church is the Sacrament of salvation for in the Church we encounter the crucified and risen Christ and sharing his life we are saved.

Fr Conway says we shouldn’t be disturbed when our families and friends don’t take part in the life of the Church for they will find their own way to salvation. If Fr Conway is correct then the mission of the Church is not vital and if it is not essential to their lives it will not engage people. The heresy of universalism, the belief that Christ has saved everyone regardless of how they live their lives, is the heresy of our time. It has coloured the thinking of many in the Church, neutralising its mission, and reducing the Church to a community desperately seeking relevance with nothing of substance to offer society. Unfortunately it seems to be gaining ground in the Church today.

Yours etc.,

Fr Gregory O Brien PP

Leixlip ,Co. Kildare


Atheism as a ‘death cult’


Dear Editor, The forthcoming debate concerning euthanasia legislation being discussed raises a question as to the influences driving it. I believe that it is, like abortion and eugenics, an off shoot of atheism. It makes sense when you think about it: Their morals are completely materialist. So, there are no consequences to die before their time. There is no necessity to live out their natural life when suffering gets too difficult. As they can only see the difficulties that ill health can bring, they have no spiritual comfort or way of dealing with material illness.

With their attitude to abortion running on similar lines it could be said that atheism is a ‘death cult’.

Yours etc.,

Brid Fitzpatrick

Terenure, Dublin 6W




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