Dear Editor, The issue of Irish prisoners not being able to attend Mass, highlighted on your front page [IC 03/06/2021], is most serious. Although some of these people may be behind bars for serious criminal offences, this does not mean that their constitutional rights can so easily and wrongly be taken from them – particularly the right to practice their religion. We have all known what it is like to have that freedom taken from us since the beginning of this awful pandemic but we are now in the wonderful place again in which we can attend public Mass and receive Communion. I disagree with the Government’s hard-line approach when it came to penalising religious worship, but now that the restrictions have been lifted it is a further travesty that those incarcerated in our prisons cannot share the same joy attending public Mass as the rest of Ireland’s Faithful.
Prisoners have suffered hugely during this pandemic, having to deal with long hours in their cells – much longer than usual – in order to stem the spread of the virus. There must be pressure put on the Irish Prison Service to reopen religious facilities. Thank you to The Irish Catholic and to the bishops, clergy and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice – quoted in the article – who stood up for those who are often forgotten by the rest of society. If reopening religious spaces is deemed unsafe in certain prisons, then those prisoners should be put higher on the list for vaccination. If the space is big enough, then there is no reason to continue to deny public Mass attendance to prisoners.
I must also add that it seems strange more prison chaplains are not up in arms about this, surely they are at the frontline and care about the spiritual wellbeing of those behind bars?
Harold’s Cross, Dublin
Publication of NI Confirmation photos causing ‘confusion’
Dear Editor, I have just received this week’s edition [IC 03/06/2021] and without removing the paper from its plastic wrapper I see that for the second or third week in the last month you have chosen to lead with photographs of Confirmation/First Holy Communion children who have been lucky enough to receive the sacraments north of the border.
I am aware that the border between north and south has created some issues not least in respect to Covid but I would have thought and hoped that unlike healthcare, hospitality and sport that the Church may have been able to act in a more unified way? In the light of the Church’s inability (or unwillingness) to act as one, equally across the 26 dioceses might I suggest that your paper would ‘hold off’ publishing photographs from Communion and Confirmation ceremonies until later in the summer/autumn when all children, north and south, have received the sacraments? This could be done in the form of a ‘supplement’? I make this request not only on the part of priests in the south trying to ‘deflect’ questions but also on behalf of the parents and grandparents of sacramental aged children who are in receipt of The Irish Catholic and who are confused (and annoyed) by the number of photographs (albeit beautiful and joyous) of ceremonies north of the border while their own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews have to wait a few miles south!
Fr Dominic Meehan
Templemore, Clonmore and Killea parish, Co. Tipperary
Church should stand its ground on sacraments
Dear Editor, So the Catholic Church in Ireland has admitted that the Sacraments of Communion and Confirmation are social events for many people rather than religious events and it is willing to accommodate this mindset. The statement from the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, resulted from a letter from the Taoiseach’s Department requesting that these sacraments be postponed for the months of May and June.
When Our Lord Jesus Christ was challenged about the image on a coin his reply was “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. This applies to the sacraments of the Catholic Church in as much as it is the Church’s duty to perform these sacraments when the children are fully prepared. It would have been more appropriate if the Taoiseach’s department instructed the hospitality providers not to take any bookings for these so-called social events. Article 44 subsection 5 of Bunreacht na hÉireann should be consulted before any more diktats are issued by the Government. The Church should stand its ground in the performance of its duties.
Herbert F. Eyre
North Strand, Dublin
Sexual extremists in the media
Dear Editor, Perhaps people don’t realise it, does it not benefit the abortion clinics etc… to have the sexual extremists in the media promote sexual activity as the clinics only have business when people are sexually active?
Attacks on Mother Teresa symptom of a sick society
Dear Editor, It beggars belief that one of your paper’s columnists, David Quinn, felt the need to write an article defending Mother Teresa [IC 03/06/2021]. Obviously, as he explains, there are those in the mainstream media and other prominent individuals who make this necessary. Generally I believe we should ignore outrageous statements and questions such as ‘Was Mother Teresa a cult leader?’, a headline in the New York Times. India at the time was an horrendous place to be for the poor. Although criticism can always be made about religious orders, such as Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, as humanity is flawed, the basic message was to love and serve those who are impoverished. No doubt it was very difficult to be in the order, as they were called to live as those they served, in poverty.
Mr Quinn says he believes their vow of poverty was taken too an extreme, perhaps this is true, but I fully agree that although she was radical, this does nothing to take away from her holiness. I fully believe the majority of those who try to tarnish her good name have not and would not do the work that she did alleviating suffering. As to the allegations that it was a cult, like any religious order, you could leave whenever you wanted. A fact that completely blows that argument out of the water.
The attacks on Mother Teresa, I believe, are another symptom of a sick society that does not accept God or the idea of saintliness of saints’. Perhaps trying to cheapen and undermine the tireless charitable work of Mother Teresa makes them feel better about their own meaningless existence.
Newbridge, Co. Kildare