God and the Constitution

The sacred and the profane

Sir, – The gold standard was abandoned in recent generations and despite various doomsday predictions, catastrophic outcomes have not followed. Had it been retained, it’s possible to imagine an alternative disaster – a collapse in the value of the underlying gold. If, say, vast deposits been found somewhere, one could envisage gold ceasing to be scarce, and so losing value.

The religiosity underlying our Constitution appears to have undergone just such a debasement in recent decades, with ever fewer believers and, as Fintan O’Toole suggests, ought logically to be removed from our Constitution (“The Irish Constitution is deep fried in divinity”, Weekend Review, Opinion, March 18th).

The current scenario sees legal standards of proof, and obligations to follow court orders, clash with individuals claiming knowledge of, and guidance by, special knowledge of divine will. This embarrassing waste of extremely expensive time is fuelled by the current document. A complete overhaul is surely overdue, rather than endless tweaking by referendums. – Yours, etc,




Co Cork.

Sir, – The characteristically flippant headline “The Irish Constitution is deep fried in divinity” mirrors Fintan O’Toole’s scant regard for the sacred as reflected in the Constitution. Such terminology, aimed at raising a cheap laugh, surfaces again in “the two-ton supreme being in the room: God”. Coinciding with the St Patrick’s weekend and the commemoration of the introduction of Christianity to Ireland by St Patrick in 431, I find his metaphors, in service to his main focus, a case currently in the courts, offensive.

At this time, we Irish cannot fail to reflect on the fact that Christianity has been the foundational support throughout our often tragic history: through centuries of colonisation, religious persecution, famine, emigration and the persistent struggle for independence. As O’Toole patently cannot abide Christianity, specifically as it appears in the Constitution, perhaps he could campaign for the secularisation of the Constitution without resorting to offensive metaphors for Christianity and its tenets, sacred to so many of us in this country.

The ceding of many social functions including education and health to the Catholic Church by the first Dáil had both positive and, due to inadequate supervision, negative results which reverberate to this day.

A sound primary education system and well-run hospitals are often forgotten and overshadowed by a history of heinous crimes by the few, which have been and continue to be properly investigated.

In Ireland today, Christians and non-Christians strive to attain mutual tolerance and respectful co-existence. Catholic doctrine is continually adapting to changes in society and jettisoning outmoded and anachronistic interpretations under the guidance of Pope Francis. He fosters connectedness in an open and non-judgmental way, an approach based on dialogue.

Fintan O’Toole’s gratuitous insults are a poor substitute for robust argument. – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.