St Vincent’s and Sisters of Charity


Sir, – How does it in any way resolve the debate concerning a Catholic ethos in Catholic healthcare for the Sisters of Charity to disengage from running their hospitals?

Does this mean that the lay trust that succeeds them no longer defends Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life? If so, how can the Sisters defend a decision that could cost the lives of the most defenceless human beings?

If, on the other hand, the lay trust does undertake to continue the same moral position held by the Sisters, then how has the hysterical outcry regarding a Catholic ethos been appeased?

The feverish level of Catholiphobia that currently prevails in Ireland seems to have glossed over this question.

As an Irish-born theologian working in the US, I consider myself a progressive Catholic, inspired by the Second Vatican Council’s vision for dialogue with the modern world.

There can be no dialogue, however, when the church abdicates its voice in the public square lest it offend the tyranny of political correctness.

This is a sad day for Ireland as it nears a form of totalitarianism, tolerating no distinctive ethos in healthcare or education. It suits politicians well because if God is dead, then the state is god. – Yours, etc,


The Basilica

of the Sacred Heart

of Jesus,

Atlanta, Georgia.

Sir, – Garry Bury (May 30th) asks why the hospital couldn’t simply have been handed over to the HSE. Given the HSE’s history, and reputation for efficiency, one does indeed wonder why. – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.

Sir, – The debate about the new National Maternity Hospital has generated much interesting comment. I was surprised to read some of Augustinian theologian Fr Gabriel Daly’s comments in Patsy McGarry’s report “Leading priest supports Dr Peter Boylan on new maternity hospital” (May 29th). Fr Daly criticised the contribution of Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin, to this debate as “Just the sort of remark to confirm the worst fears of those warning of the dangers of religious – especially Roman Catholic – ownership of hospitals”.

But, as I understand it, Bishop Doran’s comment just stated the obvious fact that any Catholic hospital must follow Catholic teaching about treatment of patients.

That’s what makes it a Catholic hospital in the first place. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – When I initially heard that the Sisters of Charity were divesting themselves of ownership of St Vincent’s Hospital, my reactions were threefold.

First, I welcomed the decision as a sensible one, given the numbers and ages of the nuns themselves.

Second, I hoped the State would formally recognise the positive deeds of the nuns through the years.

Third, I was pleased that a facility whose financial input came from the people of Ireland was finally to be owned by the Government on behalf of those people.

My positive thoughts soon evaporated when it became apparent that instead of the Sisters giving the hospital to the people, they are giving it to a trust which is absolutely not beholden to the people. This is nothing less than a slap in the face. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – It would also be very good if Paul Cullen is correct when he writes that, “It seems likely that other church institutions involved in health and education may beat a hasty retreat” (“Exit of Sisters of Charity from St Vincent’s a victory for people power”, Analysis, May 30th).

However, let us hope that wide-scale religious divestment, if it happens, is to the State and not to the Catholic-influenced private sector. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Why can the name of the Irish people not go on the deeds as owners, given that it is they who are footing the bill.

Fine Gael’s largesse when it comes to spending our money is worrying in that it seems ideology, and not the people’s best interests, is driving policy. – Yours, etc,