CHURCH, FARM AND FAMILY

 

Sir, Your reports of December 16th on two surveys Catholics and the teaching of the Church, and the changing structure of Irish farming are closely interconnected. Both indicate a fall off from the Church, and from farming. Christian morality has become seriously detached from the central mechanisms' of Irish society, and Christianity has become marginalised in the public life of modern Ireland.

Since our species was put on this planet, whether in tribe or townland, clan or community, survival depended on connecting with one another, with creation and with the Creator. Our generation has been breaking with all three. The family, the neighbour, the community are all suffering from the cult of individualism we measure progress according to economic criteria (we have an economic boom whilst old, young, women were never more threatened) and our link with creation is seriously broken. For centuries, the basic component of Irish and indeed European agriculture has been the family farm. It was the foundation or the "groundedness" of our society.

Certainly, it was a source of a lot of conflict but it was rooted in the nature of its place, harmonious, personally tested by generations of farmers and certified by the results of their husbandry. It constituted a generally economic and ecological system. It guaranteed stability as well as the stability of the product. The calamities which have recently hit agriculture and food could not happen, because what are now called modern methods were unknown. Our society is now paying for the attempt to seize nature, to leave more of it in human hands, to ridicule its mystery.

We are paying for the attempt to abolish God and to play at being God. With hedges ploughed under and woods cut down, wild life is dying fast and with them, a natural unpaid protector of the crops against harmful insects. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides have catastrophically poisoned all vegetable products, the earth and the waters. Heavy machinery systematic press down the soil asking it impenetrable to air add thus infertile.

In short, machinery, fertilisers specialisation are all part of the new scheme of things. The prognoses are terrifying, and no one knows what the future will bring. The fault is not of science as such, but of the arrogance of human beings in the age of science. Man or woman are not God, and playing God has cruel consequences.

I would humbly suggest that the Catholic Church's moral teaching and social theology be resurrected and connected to people's hunger for meaning, spirituality, sense of community and justice, and it will again gain the allegiance of the people. Yours, etc., Drumgeely Hill, Shannon, Co Clare.