Dear Editor, I couldn’t agree more than with Bishop Kevin Doran in his wish for theology to be taught at all Irish universities [The Irish Catholic – October 14, 2021]. I am a graduate from University College Dublin and, as a student, wondered why there was no teaching on faith or theology in the college. The only place where I could find the Bible or theology mentioned in the college curriculum was in the linguistics department where they offered some study of the Book of Isaiah in Hebrew. After some late-night research in the UCD library I discovered a tome of great interest – John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University. When I looked in the flyleaf I realised that the book consisted of lectures given at the opening of the ‘Catholic University of Ireland’ in 1854-8. I knew enough of the college’s history to exclaim that the Catholic University was now in fact UCD, my alma mater.
By night I read this book and was so refreshed by its wisdom and breath of educational vision. It made sense to me of what a university should be like. Further research into college history taught me about the Irish Universities Act of 1908 which forbade the teaching of theology in the now recognised Royal and then University College Dublin and NUI. The British authorities of the time decided that Ireland’s third level education – unlike Newman’s Oxford – had to be completely secular.
Amazingly little has changed since.
There needs to be in my opinion a movement to challenge this imbalance in education. So many issues faced in Ireland such as our north-south divisions and the role of Islam in the world have religious roots. As your article stated both in the US and Europe, theology is a normal part of university curriculum.
Will Newman’s vision for education never be realised in the place where he first gave birth to this vision?
Dr Cormac O’Duffy,
Moncks Corner, South Carolina
The Labour party and Catholic schools
Dear Editor, Out! Out! Out! – words not said by the conservative Mrs Thatcher, but rather a member of the Irish Labour Party. Should he have said out, out, out to Jews, homosexuals or any ethnic minority he would be labelled racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and bigoted.
He selected Catholic schools because Catholics are an easy target. It will be interesting to see what schools of other religions he will want to have secularised.
I have voted Labour in the past, need I say any more.
Portlaoise, Co. Laois
Ireland is a hostile place for young families
Dear Editor, Thank you for highlighting on your front page the scandalous cost of living in Ireland and its effect on young families [The Irish Catholic – November 25]. It’s particularly important as we come up to Christmas: a time of year when we celebrate the birth of Christ, come together as family and friends and, very importantly, make greater efforts to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Ireland is not a country for young people and particularly young families. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in your 20s nowadays trying to find a house with your spouse. Unless you earn a humungous salary, you are locked out of the housing market, regardless of whether you’re buying or renting.
Those who are lucky enough, and have saved up enough, are then confronted with exorbitant and increasing energy bills. No wonder we have seen Ireland’s birth rate plummet – it has now gone below replacement level. Ireland is a hostile place for anyone hoping to have children. How can anyone afford to raise a child in this environment?
The various Government schemes over the past decade have done nothing to alleviate the housing crisis and as a result young people are choosing to move out of this badly managed country to start a family. It will be young people and families starting out and trying to get a footing that will be in my prayers this Christmas.
Process of dioceses working closer together is welcome
Dear Editor, It was good to hear that the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and the Diocese of Clonfert will be put under the leadership of one bishop. While it would be a mistake to put too much focus on Church structures when planning for the Church’s future, there are certainly things that can be done to streamline how dioceses function.
As your paper reports [The Irish Catholic – November 25, 2021] a ‘source’ said this won’t be the last structural change for Irish dioceses. Amalgamation certainly causes concern for many who want to maintain their diocese’s unique identity, so having two dioceses under one bishop is a welcome compromise.
Hopefully this will lead to an improved use of resources which have been greatly diminished due to the pandemic. Covid-19 can be blamed for the recent crash in finances but resources have been on the decline for many years – the pandemic has just sped up the process.
Ireland has too many dioceses anyway, so hopefully we see more of this rational approach in the future.
Tallaght, Dublin 24
Knock pilgrimage on behalf of babies
Dear Editor, As you know the Catholic bishops have undertaken a timely pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Knock to remember those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first Irish death by Coronavirus was on March 11, 2020, and since then 5,652 people have died in the Republic of Ireland.
Covid victims have been the beneficiaries of numerous prayers.
According to the Minister for Health a total of 6,666 abortions were carried out here in 2019 and 6,577 in 2020.
These innocent babies died a shameful death and received no funeral service.
Hopefully the bishops who have been remarkably silent on their murder will organise a pilgrimage to Knock on behalf of these babies, their unfortunate parents and their grandparents who have been deprived of their grandchildren.
Liam de Paor
Carrickane, Co. Cavan
Halloween has become sinister and occult
Dear Editor, I wish to compliment you and congratulate you on recent articles in The Irish Catholic on Christianising the practices at Halloween [The Irish Catholic – October 28, 2021], which have become very sinister and occult here, with no reference at all to the holy evening which the festival is.
How wholesome to see children dressed as saints and not as witches, skeletons, ghouls and goblins!
It is such a shame that the schools are encouraged by the commercial world to promote this falsity. Much is invested in decorations, masks and costumes… to what avail? Our good teachers, who promote the Faith so well in teaching it to the children and upholding the Catholic ethos are prevailed upon, by the commercial world, to preside over this trashy, sinister world of the occult, at a key moment and at a peak time when as a Church we are so intent on the prayer practice and liturgical celebration of the month of saints and souls.
We should also learn from the countries of southern Europe how to celebrate this festival of the saints, with proper spiritual symbols and not allow ourselves to succumb to a world that is going nowhere.
Fr Patrick Moore PP
Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath