Sir, – The article "Why has Ireland produced so few theologians?" (July 26th) suggests that there are no Irish theologians of worth.
While there has been an absence of intellectual theology in Irish Catholicism, two other factors may explain this void, while at the same time recognising the significance of many contemporary Irish-trained theologians
The Irish Universities Act of 1908 prohibited any State funding to be directed towards theological studies.
The result has deprived generations of intellectual thinking on theological matters other than that provided by the confessional churches at their own expense.
Most European countries have and continue to provide financially for faculties of theology.
The second, and perhaps more important, reason for the dearth of theological writing is that up to Vatican II there was little or no theological questioning in the Irish Catholic Church and it was and continues to be actively discouraged.
Even in recent times, those trained theologians, such as the recently-deceased Seán Fagan, were silenced in their attempts to articulate a living faith and respond to the challenges of trying to understand that faith in the 20th century.
Despite all these obstacles, we do have many excellent Irish theologians such as Enda McDonagh, Patrick Hannon, Gabriel Daly, Wilfrid Harrington, Vincent Twomey, Vincent MacNamara, Linda Hogan, Siobhán Garrigan, Gerry O’Hanlon, Donal Dorr, and of course the late Seán Fagan and Seán Freyne, to name but a few, who seek to make faith intelligible to those who seek to understand it in its contemporary context.
– Yours, etc,