State’s values and people of faith


Sir, – Brian Grogan SJ writes (June 12th): “What’s left, then, after the referendum, is a church shorn of outmoded accretions, whose members are freed to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. That is more than enough!”

This would be enough, if, in Ireland, as is the case throughout most of the developed world, the exercise of religion was a voluntary activity, in which one could participate, or not, according to one’s belief.

But sadly, in Ireland, the Catholic Church is clinging to its “accretions”, including schools and hospitals, like grim death, despite the clear evidence that the people no longer believe, or practice, the type of Catholicism propagated by the Catholic Church in the institutions it controls.

The abortion referendum shows that two out of three Irish people reject Catholic beliefs on reproduction and that this has been coming for some time. But still the Catholic Church clings on to its “outmoded accretions” in medicine.

Public patients have little or no say regarding which hospital they will be treated in. They can neither opt in or opt out of being treated in a Catholic hospital.

So why, for instance, should we pay for “ethics committees” in so many of our publicly funded hospitals, when the principal purpose of these ethics committees is to enforce Catholic beliefs , primarily in reproductive medicine and principally on women – the majority of whom we now know do not share those beliefs? Why should a nun, simply because she is a nun, in a publicly-funded hospital, be empowered to deny the mother of a large family a tubal ligation?

Fr Grogan writes: “As Pope Francis points out, the task of the church is “to inform consciences, not replace them”.

So when will those who control Catholic hospitals cease to impose a Catholic ethos on those who, in conscience, do not agree with it?

More importantly, when will influential religious orders like the Jesuits call on their brother and sister orders to cease imposing their beliefs on those who do not, in conscience, share them?

Fr Grogan is very fortunate. His constitutional right to exercise his religious belief is facilitated by the State at every hand’s turn.

On the other hand, those of us who believe we have a constitutional right to be free from religion in our daily lives, and particularly in services provided by the State, are not so lucky. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.