‘God’s law’ and secularism


Sir, – Maria Steen (Opinion & Analysis, August 28th) recounts the pope’s critique of “a materialistic ‘throwaway culture’”, but adds the word “secular” in her own critique. We had a very religious culture in this country in the past, which did not prevent a throwaway culture – people were thrown away to the Magdalene laundries, mother-and-baby homes, industrial and reformatory schools, people were forced into adoption and sent abroad, buried in a septic tank or were buried in unconsecrated ground waiting for limbo.

Ms Steen rightly condemns persecution suffered by Christians worldwide. The most heinous examples of Christian persecution are perpetrated in countries where Christians are minorities, in states which are not secular enough, where people are denied the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. “God’s law” differs from place to place.

I am with Pope Francis when he said in an interview with La Croix in 2016 that, “States must be more secular . . . I believe that a version of secularism accompanied by a solid law guaranteeing religious freedom offers a framework for going forward”.

Why the sole focus by Ms Steen on Christians? Persecution of any group of people, be it based on religion (or lack of religion), skin colour or nationality is immoral. The church should “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye”. What about the church’s teaching on homosexuality or hell for those who “refuse to believe and be converted”, which can be read on the Vatican’s own website? Are these moral teachings?

Finally, there has been too much emphasis on “God’s law” and sin by church spokespeople and nowhere near enough emphasis on crime, accountability and justice. That would be secular justice. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – I just loved the expression used by Maria Steen in her commentary about seeking forgiveness. She wrote of “the arrogance and pride” of those who “believe themselves to be above God’s law”. Trust me, the people with excessive arrogance and pride are those who think they know God’s law. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.