Dear Editor, It was sad to hear of the closing of Clonard Monastery Confraternity for Men who are now losing ‘their sense of identity and belonging’ as Catholics. Will this leave the Catholic Church with no outreach to men at all?
Men in our congregations have become almost an endangered species and as for young men they are pretty much extinct.
Our Church once was divided down the middle with men on one side and women on the other and the men’s side was just as full on Sundays as the women’s. There were men’s sodalities, men’s missions, they had special parts to play in Corpus Christi Processions and there were boy altar servers. Now our congregations have a ratio of about five women to four men and we wonder at the shortage of vocations.
We should be doing everything possible and impossible to bring back young men, including proper catechesis in schools. God bless the work.
Naas, Co. Kildare
Celebrating Christ’s birth with prayer at home
Dear Editor, In these very difficult times, it is understandable that people want to attend Mass and especially at Christmas. There is a huge desire to worship on the feast of the birth of Our Lord, even by those who come to church occasionally or only on this day. However, it looks like this may not be possible for everyone this Christmas given the pandemic and our concerns for the safety of people who want to come to church and for those with whom they are in contact.
This Christmas, might we say that the Church is deployed, it is out there in the community bringing hope and care, especially to the lonely, to older people who live by themselves and to the most vulnerable. Many people are already doing this everywhere of course – loving Jesus in the disguise of their fellow men and women. We remember his words: “Whatever you do to the least, you do to me.”
May I suggest that this Christmas our pastors and Church-leaders deploy us officially to celebrate the birth of Christ with prayer at home because, He told us: “Where two or three of you are gathered together in my name there am I among you.” We would put prayer into action by seeking out and serving our sisters and brothers, particularly those who have nobody to spend Christmas with. We would do this carefully and safely using all the guidelines at our disposal. We could bring cards, gifts or something to eat to someone’s door, to a stranger or a neighbour. We would pray with them also, if they would like that. What a witness to faith that would be! Connection, relationship, the sacrifice of love; all of which we celebrate in the Eucharist.
Adrian Peelo OFM
Franciscan Abbey, Co. Galway
A defence of JPII after McCarrick Report
Dear Editor, I must defend the memory of the late Pope John Paul II who was severely criticised in the recent ‘McCarrick Report’. It is grossly unjust that so many are now attacking the person and character of the Pope without first examining all the facts.
Pope John Paul II did commission a secret inquiry into McCarrick via the apostolic nuncio at the time, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. According to the McCarrick Report this turned out to be inadequate because three US bishops provided “inaccurate and incomplete information”.
In August 2000 Cardinal McCarrick wrote to Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz who was Pope John Paul II’s private secretary, denying all the accusations made against him. He swore that “in the seventy years of my life, I have never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay, nor have I ever abused another person or treated them with disrespect”. Bishop Dziwisz delivered McCarrick’s letter to the Pope who gave it to the Secretariat of State Archbishop Re. After reading the letter Pope John Paul II was convinced of McCarrick’s innocence. During the years when he was an Archbishop in Poland, Pope John Paul II had witnessed the use of false accusations on the part of the regime to discredit priests and bishops.
From the sequence of dates and events in the McCarrick Report it is very obvious that Pope John Paul II was acting on the advice of his most trusted advisers to tell the truth regarding McCarrick’s disgraceful behaviour and past history, sadly many of them let him down.
As one of the many thousands of people who loved and supported Pope John Paul II, I treasure his memory and all the great work he did during his long papacy. Don’t let the media tarnish the memories we have of this great Pope Saint John Paul II.
Raheny, Co. Dublin
Acknowledging the ‘amazing’ works of our religious
Dear Editor, congratulations to you and your staff for picking up on the interview on Liveline in which a young man paid homage to the amazing work of an Irish nun, speaking of how she deeply influenced his life. Ger Smith from Ballymun related how Sr Ann Thomas of the Little Sisters of the Assumption helped his family after his mother was taken into care after a Schizophrenia diagnosis.
He describes her as a being like Mother Theresa and it certainly seems to be an accurate description due to her dedication to helping him without looking for any publicity or congratulations in return.
This story makes me think of all the amazing work our Catholic religious have done to help people not just in Ireland but around the world. It really is incredible to think how much charitable and humanitarian work has been and is being done in the background, which will never be publicly recognised, in the name of Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that this story is just the smallest tip of the iceberg of the good works our religious have done – the Irish people have so much to be proud of and I think if more of these stories were highlighted rather than just the terrible things done by a minority of people, the public image of religious in Ireland would be very different. I’ll also note a big difference I see between modern charities and the work of religious orders.
While much of the charitable works of religious sisters and brothers has not been splashed across the media, many charities are constantly blasting us with messaging about just how great they are and the number of people they help. Of course I accept they have to do this to continue to get funding and inform people of who they are so prospective donors can make informed choices about donating and why, there’s some quite beautiful about the humility and quiet kindness of religious – they work for God and his people and that’s all they need.
Cork City, Co. Cork
PR campaign needed to welcome people back to church
Dear Editor, In looking towards a post pandemic opening up of society I feel that the Church is best placed to offer a burdened people some hope. Perhaps instead of hiding her light under a ‘bushel’ we could illuminate society again with the Good News. Could the powers that be (hierarchy or communications office) enlist a PR agency to highlight what being part of church can offer people. Maybe a nationwide campaign on mainstream media and social media. What a simple slogan like “would you think about coming back to Mass” could mean for people disillusioned with life, worries, illnesses and stresses of modern life. This holistic invitation might not have been a considered option for some in a long time. It might also open doors for people thinking about returning. Every parish would have to facilitate this welcome of course and while people returning may feel apprehension or out of practice above all they must not feel judgement for it to be successful.
Bantry, Co. Cork