Dear Editor, Your coverage of Google and Youtube’s interference with last year’s abortion referendum process (IC 4/7/2019) raises grave questions about Irish democracy and its susceptibility to the caprices and biases of multinational tech corporations.
Yes, it is true that it was not simply pro-life organisations and terms that were affected by manual tinkering with the way Google and Youtube operated, but the impact of pro-life arguments will have been massively disproportionate as anybody familiar with how the public space in Ireland operates will know.
It is not that long ago, after all, that the Pro Life Campaign showed that over a period of just a few weeks our supposedly more respectable mainstream papers ran 33 articles with a pro-choice slant and just one from a pro-life angle. Similar research has been carried out by others showing just how prevalent this pattern is, such that the only real option for pro-lifers to get their arguments out there were through social media and the internet. For this to be tampered with cannot but have affected the pro-life cause rather more than it did the pro-choice one.
That Google kept this secret for over a year after the referendum speaks volumes, and in this light it is worth remembering how you reported last year that political parties’ press releases welcoming Google’s announcements on blocking referendum adverts were dated ahead of the announcement. This detail – and it was not just one party’s press release that was so curiously dated – invited the obvious question of whether our pro-choice parties had been coordinating with Google to hit the pro-life cause when it mattered most.
If ours were a functioning democracy there would surely be a proper public inquiry into these distortions of our democratic space. Sadly, as we all know, we’re nothing of the sort.
Stillorgan, Dublin 18.
Unbecoming language by the country’s leader
Dear Editor, With regard to Michael Martin, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar used the phrase “the deputy reminds me of one of those parish priests telling us to avoid sin, while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself”.
To use this kind of comparison in the Dáil is an appalling slur on priests at a time when the Church (the People of God) is going through its own form of persecution here in Ireland and worldwide and it amounts to nothing less than an attack on the Christian religion, which has been a mainstay of this country through the centuries and has given tremendous service to the our people in good times and bad.
It is tantamount to hate speech and such a scandalous attack on the Church, will further erode Christian values and the moral fibre of our country at a time of severe crises.
Raheny, Dublin 5.
Dedicated priests are well defended
Dear Editor, Well done to Fr Michael Twoomey and Bishop Cullinan this week for defending the several very good, committed and dedicated priests in Ireland. We are all painfully aware of the many failings that have occurred in the Catholic Church in past times. There are however many very devoted shepherds to their flock in our country at present and they should not be all tarnished with the same brush.
Let us always remember that the Head of the Church, Christ Himself, is without blemish.
Has anyone a workable replacement for vaccines?
Dear Editor, I was amazed to read that some of my fellow readers have been “taken aback” by Church support for vaccination, with one pointing out – rightly – that some vaccines are morally problematic, as though that’s the end of the discussion.
The Irish Catholic mentions a 2017 document from the Pontifical Academy for Life, but it’s perhaps even more worthwhile a document published by the academy in 2003, following a letter to the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Entitled ‘Moral Reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human foetuses’, it concerned the production, distribution, and use of vaccines prepared from human cell lines of foetal origin, using tissues from aborted human foetuses as a source of such cells. The best known and perhaps most important of these is the vaccine against Rubella, or German measles.
This vaccine is produced using cell lines originally prepared from two foetuses aborted in 1964 and 1970, and there is a real question about whether the use of such vaccines entails cooperation in evils performed decades ago.
The Vatican body ruled overall that there is some passive material cooperation in such use, but that it extremely remote, and as there is no duty to avoid such cooperation if doing so would entail grave inconvenience. Indeed, it ruled that the overwhelming good that is done for the sake of children in particular and the population in general was such that in the absence of alternative and ethically acceptable vaccines, is such as to give “a proportional reason” in favour of the usage of vaccines today.
At the same time, the Church cautions, where there are efficacious alternatives to morally problematic vaccines then these should be used. If opponents of vaccination have alternatives handy it would be great if they shared them with the rest of us.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22.