Ganley urges public figures over faith

Tue, Feb 10, 2009, 00:00

PUBLIC FIGURES “should never be afraid to speak of their faith, their beliefs and their values”, Declan Ganley, founder of Libertas, has said.

“We are called to be in this world but not of this world and sadly some in this country have allowed the world and all its transient, earthly desires to detract their focus of love and service.”

Referring to Pope Benedict’s 2004 book, Europe Today and Tomorrow, as “highly recommended” and “required reading”, he said: “Our Holy Father teaches us that once society does not treat every life as precious and inviolable from conception to natural death, then man becomes a product subjected to pragmatism and utilitarianism such that abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of human life are presented as false rights and choice.”

Speaking at the John Paul II Society conference in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, at the weekend, he continued: “Christ calls us to be ambassadors for his message. For too long we have been failing in that duty, apologising for our beliefs in a world which doesn’t want to hear them.

“So let’s take the phrase ‘yes we can’ and recognise that ‘yes we must’. Yes, we must take risks for truth. We must not be suppressed or cowed or embarrassed to stand up for our values, for our families and to show love for one another.”

Recordings of some debates became available yesterday. Keynote speaker at the public conference was Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, author of Render Unto Caesar. Ireland was always seen as a Catholic country but it was one where the church’s influence was “softening”, he said. Though welcomed by some, he felt this was a mistake.

NUI Senator Ronan Mullen said there was “an assumption in some quarters of society today that politics and religion should be kept rigidly separate. But separation is not the same as segregation. Religious belief can never be, theoretically or practically, a solely private affair.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh spoke of his opposition to abortion, stem cell research at UCC, and civil partnership. He thanked Fr Brian McKevitt, editor of the controversial Alivemagazine, “for bringing such truths to the Irish people”. A standing ovation for Fr McKevitt followed.