We are all called to welcome strangers

We are all called to welcome strangers

Dear Editor, I was heartened by the fact that Limerick’s Bishop Brendan Leahy drew a firm line between Christianity and racism last week (IC 19/09/19). Racial intolerance was more prevalent, normalised and accepted 50 years ago, but we now live in different times and should know much better. Ireland has become more globalised and through this process we have learned that embrace other cultures and nationalities.

This change should not be denigrated, but celebrated. This positive attitude above all should be held by Christians who believe that God created both man and woman in his image; a teaching which applies to human beings of all races and creeds.

Those who enter Ireland whether for employment reasons or as asylum seekers need to be welcomed. Often, English is not their first language and they are unaware of how they will make ends meet. This was echoed by the bishop when he reminded Catholics that “some of those who come to Ireland have escaped from very dangerous situations, including religious persecution”. Imagine fleeing a situation of social upheaval and violence with your family to arrive in a country that spits on you with racial slurs and abuse? Imagine feeling alone in a country where you don’t understand how to effectively communicate who you are and what your story is? Imagine the fear and sorrow of not knowing how your family will survive?

As Christians, we are called to welcome the stranger.

Yours etc.,

Ursula O’Reilly,

Navan, Co. Meath.


Comment on authoritarian priests quite unfair

Dear Editor, Fr Declan Marmion reports that certain unnamed speakers at a recent conference in Maynooth referred to “a troubling characteristic of some newly-ordained priests. They spoke of a tendency to authoritarianism and a view of priesthood as a kind of elite caste”. (IC 05/09/19)

Fr Marmion does admit that he does not believe this to be true of all younger clergy or seminarians but he does not reject completely the remarks he reports.

These comments seem to me unfortunate for a number of reasons. First, they are made by unnamed persons against others who are not named; the clergy who have been criticised cannot defend themselves. Second, at least on this island, younger priests are so few that many readers will wonder if newly-ordained clergy they know are among those being criticised. Third, these remarks are hardly calculated to encourage future vocations.

I must add that the priests I know, young or old or middle-aged, are not authoritarian in any reasonable sense of the term. One hopes that authoritarian has not been used in this report as code for orthodox: one knows that sometimes that is how that word is meant.

Yours etc.,

CDC Armstrong,

Donegall Road, Belfast.



The learning goes on

Dear Editor, I read Colm Fitzpatrick’s piece “What do deacons do?” (IC 12/09/19). It is well written with good historical information and context.

I feel that after the ‘year of discernment’, it should have been explained that there is a further three years of theological studies. There is also spiritual direction and experience of parish pastoral placement and formation. So, it is a discernment, formational and academic process of four years in total, before ordination. The permanent diaconate is still in its ‘early days’ in this country and is a ministry of service with great potential.

Permanent deacons work 9-5 jobs or shift work, have a family in most cases – if married – and then serve in their ministry in parish. It is not a replacement for priests or to exclude/replace lay involvement in the Church. In fact, it is a ministry of service that compliments both

Yours etc.,

Deacon John Nestor,


Co. Cork.


Usefulness of Sunday missalette

Dear Editor, It is with great sadness that the usefulness of the Sunday missalette is being questioned (IC 12/09/2019). I’m sure I’m not the only one to benefit from missalettes making relevant and meaningful the message of the Gospel for today’s confused world. I personally love to follow the different readings and reflection at the end. If we want to deter even more people from the Sunday Mass, the withdrawal of a vital ‘aid’ would be a good start.

Yours etc.,

Agnes McEvilly,

Rosscahill, Co. Galway.



Will our Government continue to proffer a deaf ear?

Dear Editor, You stated that “the voice of the people must not be ignored” (IC 12/09/2019) but I wonder if that is a forlorn hope.   After all, the voice of the people here was ignored before the referendum for repeal of the Eighth Amendment by the refusal to allow a level playing field and a proper debate.

However, I do believe that there will be much more of an effort by the people of Northern Ireland to fight against the imposition of abortion from Westminster.  How hypocritical of Sinn Féin, which refuses to take seats at Westminster but has lobbied MPs there to foist abortion on the people of Northern Ireland, which, in fact, is inviting Britain to ensure that Irish babies are killed in the womb. How can they get away with such treason?

I totally agree with you that “rather than acquiescing in the undermining of democracy in the North, the Irish Government should be standing up for the principles of the Good Friday agreement and leaving important decisions in the hands of locally elected people”, and the importance of this is emphasised by the fact that every MP and Member of the House of Lords from Northern Ireland voted against the move.

How is the Irish Government going to be held responsible for this outrageous lack of support for the people in the North and for the democratic process?  Where are the courageous voices, apart from yourself, raised against this disgraceful abandonment of our Irish people? The Pro-Life Rally in Belfast combined unionist and nationalist and Protestant and Catholic against the imposition of abortion there.

While it was so encouraging to see this coming together of all concerned at the proposed killing of unborn babies, is it to be undermined by lack of support from the Irish Government?

Yours etc.,

Mary Stewart,

Ardeskin, Donegal Town