Madam, - First, may I congratulate Fathers Tony Flannery and Jackie Robinson on two wonderful letters (October 22nd) with which I agree wholeheartedly? Why must the hierarchical Church quote Canon Law before the Bible? Jesus said: "You will be my true disciples if you keep my word. Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)

Jesus's whole teaching was based on love, first and foremost, for God and neighbour. How must Jesus feel about His Church right now? Have the Hierarchy asked themselves what Jesus would do in this situation?

Having read an article in your paper some months ago on a movement in the United States called "Voice of the Faithful", which was set up in response to the abuse cases there, I contacted it and have subsequently met two members. I would dearly love a similar movement of the laity to be set up here, so that something positive could come out of all this. Its motto is, "Keep the Faith, Change the Church", and its three aims are:

1. To support and help the victims of sexual abuse and their families.

2. To support priests of integrity.

3. To establish a voice (that is listened to) for the laity, who comprise 98 per cent of the church.

Voice of the Faithful very much wants to work from within the Church and to work in love, keeping in mind Jesus's teaching all the while. Its website is

Unfortunately, I am not in a position right now to spearhead something like this, but I would fully support anyone who does. - Yours, etc.,


Tobar Iosa,


Co Tipperary.

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Madam, - I write to you as one of the lucky ones who mercifully escaped the nightmare of child sexual abuse, having been tutored in my adolescence by one of the offending clergy and having served happily as an altar boy for many years.

The revelations of abuse, both physical and mental, and of the misuse of the authority and power within the Catholic Church that have rocked this country over the past number of years pale beside the latest revelations! My heart goes out to those so cruelly robbed of their innocence by men we placed on pedestals and in positions of authority in both the Church and within our communities.

The time has come to say, "No more." I believe that every layperson must take a stand in support of those so grievously wounded. The wealth, income and management ethos of the Church has been used in the past to lend support, comfort, protection and succour to offending priests. I suspect that a great part of the Church's refusal to deal with allegations of abuse stems from fear of the diminution in her wealth which would follow any examination of claims for compensation.

The time has come for a latter-day reformation in the Irish Catholic Church whereby lay parishioners must take a more active part and ensure greater representation, knowledge and transparency in the operation of this body within our communities. The priests of this country have held positions of authority on school boards of management and other local community groups. Let us now seek corresponding representation in the management of the Church within our parishes. - Yours, etc.,


Woodbrook Downs,

Co Wicklow.

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Madam, - Not so long ago, many of us were clamouring vehemently for the separation of Church and State, resenting the perceived stranglehold of the Church over our lives. Those of us who did so slated the interference of cardinals and bishops, questioning their right to moralise and tell us what to do.

How strange, then, is the current feeding frenzy which has developed now that a handful of Church leaders face some difficult questions. The same people who once wished to be rid of the Church and its influence seem to be extraordinarily vocal about who leads and leaves it.

Likewise, we are still amazingly keen on the Church when it comes to christenings, weddings and funerals. For a nation that has traded the Church and its saints for the TV set and its celebrities, while making full and free use of its services, we are hardly in a position to make judgment calls of hypocrisy.

Most of those who serve the Church live unselfish, frugal lives for the sole benefit of ourselves and God. While they are doing so, we are remarkably uninterested in their work with the poor, the homeless, the sick and the dying. One of the greatest examples was Mother Teresa, whose death was completely overshadowed here by the death of an English princess.

If our concern is really for justice, and not some bitter, opportunistic stone-throwing, then we might consider Christ's invitation to cast the first stone. - Yours, etc.,


Seaview Park,


Co Dublin.

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Madam, - Breda O'Brien (Opinion, October 19th) says an extraordinary thing about Cardinal Connell. While acknowledging his mistakes in handling sex abuse cases she nevertheless proclaims: "I have always believed it was an inexplicable decision, tantamount to an act of cruelty, to pluck Desmond Connell from obscure academia to make him archbishop."

An inexplicable decision? Desmond Connell was known before his appointment (from his writings in particular) as a man who would not deviate from the Vatican's teaching. There was no fear he would say he had no problem with seeing women ordained some day (as his predecessor had said shortly before his death), or that same-sex relationships might be wholesome.

It took the Vatican over six months to appoint him, but this is how long it takes nowadays to find a man who can be relied upon to support a sexist and homophobic regime.

We're living in hard times. This is why Rome had to "pluck" him from obscure academia. I hope this will help Ms O'Brien to be less harsh on those who appointed Desmond Connell. They were not engaged in an "act of cruelty" but in an act of self-recognition. - Yours, etc.,


Whitechurch Road,


Dublin 14.