Response to Pope's pastoral letter


Madam, – From my particular point of view the Pope’s letter contains some disturbing aspects.

In recent years Pope Benedict has been showing increasing signs of wanting to bring the church back to the era before the Second Vatican Council. The liturgical changes he is promoting are a good illustration of this. As one person said to me, calling on us to do our Friday penances and spending time before the Blessed Sacrament has a ring of the 1950s about it.

His condemnation of the bishops, without any admission of the Vatican’s, and indeed his own, part in the problems is also ominous. It serves to further weaken what is already a very ineffective leadership of the Irish church. In the context of an emasculated hierarchy, the idea of a Vatican visitation does not give me much hope.

If the Vatican visitations in other countries in recent years, especially the current one to the female religious in the US, are anything to go by, this one will focus on restoring the old-style, authoritarian church, and clamping down on all “dissent”. An almost non-existent leadership at local level will make that work much easier for the visitors.

In my view anyone who believes that restoring a more traditional church with greater Vatican control will solve our problems is missing some crucial points.

Unless we begin to examine our understanding of authority, obedience, and our teaching on sexuality, we will be only scratching the surface of the problem. I see no indication that the Vatican will allow any of this type of questioning to happen.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has shown some leadership in dealing with the child abuse issue in Dublin. Will he now surprise me by becoming a voice that challenges the Vatican agenda, and facilitates a real discussion among all people in the Irish church? Such a discussion might go some way towards bringing about a church that is more independent of the Vatican, and one in which people can feel that they belong, because they have a real voice. – Yours, etc,



Athenry, Co Galway.

Madam, – The Pope wants to send an ecclesiastical inspectorate to Ireland in order to ensure that the Irish Catholic Church has its house put in order. I hope that this so-called inspectorate is composed of people who are independently selected – not by the church, but by suitably qualified lay people, so that the church cannot be accused once more of policing its own affairs. – Yours, etc,


Stradbrook Grove,


Co Dublin.

Madam, – Sinead O’Connor (March 23rd) made a valid point that “we don’t need them (the clergy) to get to God”. While many people may disagree with her point of view, may I quote St John 14.6. “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. – Yours, etc,


Legacy Drive,


Texas, US.

Madam, – The demand by Mary Conway of Ottawa (March 22nd) for the Irish Catholic church to match the recent initiative of the Nova Scotia diocese in police vetting for all those working with young people is very much out of date. The vetting process with the Garda Síochána is part of the Child Protection Policy of the church in Ireland for over a year.

Like many other media commentators she is blinded to the fact the church has taken on board the abuses of the past and developed a very robust protection policy. The tragic irony of this situation is that these policies are being audited by the HSE whose own record in this area is chaotic, with children in their care dying and hundreds of young immigrants going missing and with no follow-up as to their fate. – Yours, etc,


Cedarwood Road, Dublin 11.