Sir, – Your editorial (August 28th) suggesting a difference of opinion between Cardinal Seán Brady and myself, based on comments I made at the MacGill Summer School is, if I may say so, a piece of mischievous misrepresentation of what I said.
My comments at MacGill – which were widely reported on in newspapers including your own – were aimed at directing attention away from a vision which looks on the church simply as “being against things” rather than being the fruit of a positive teaching.
Indeed my main comment in the MacGill talk was very much in line with what Cardinal Brady said last Sunday and on the debate that has ensued: “We are all tempted to succumb to the widespread opinion that Christianity is really something private and personal for our own devotion and inspiration and not something that has its relevance in the public square. The church in Ireland has to find ways to make its voice heard clearly about important moral issues which are under discussion. It must do so with respect but with clarity. It must find a new language for ‘dialogue rather than decree’. But Irish secular society also has to go along the road of dialogue and not anathema and exclusion regarding the voice of religion . . . A mature secularist or even a mature atheist should be one who is open to deep dialogue with the culture of belief and of believers. The choice – on both sides – is between dialogue and intolerance.”
The Catholic Church has a clear position on the dignity of every human life which it has every right to present, rationally defend and lobby for in the public square and will do so “with respect but with clarity”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Pat Rabbitte’s comments regarding the Catholic Church’s opposition to the introduction of abortion fly in the face of the democratic process.
A large number of Irish citizens subscribe to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Is the Minister suggesting that no group or organisation should henceforth be allowed to voice their opposition to a piece of legislation planned by the Government? Does this include teachers’ groups, trade unions and the IFA? Or simply those groups that will not adhere to Government policy on the issue at hand?
The Catholic Church is entitled to lobby TDs and local representatives in the same way as any other faith-based or secular group. This is what living in a democracy means. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The abortion debate is one that we have been having for decades with no actual solution formed. Considerations of the Catholic Church, the media, the politicians and the lawyers have been heard, listened to, and argued back and forth for what feels like my entire lifetime. I vote that we have it out at last – let the church campaign against abortion, let the pro-choice and anti-abortion movements come out with their beliefs. Let the politicians dither over their carefully poised populism; their focus on trying to ensure re-election means many will say nothing about abortion, but they owe the people of Ireland the right to decide the issue instead of sweeping it under the rug and disrespecting the debate, the judiciary and the thousands of women whose futures are so affected by the absolute lack of decision in this area. This country’s people have every right to determine by majority their own policy on the issue because no government is brave enough to do so.
It is time to let the people of Ireland decide whether the courts were right in 1992. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It might be useful to remind ourselves that lobbying is an essential part of a healthy democracy. This is particularly true if it happens that members of a minority party holding strong views find themselves in positions of power. In such a situation, if the majority is confronted with proposed major changes in social legislation and schooling, the word “dictating” certainly may be appropriate, but not in relation to the activity of lobbying. – Yours, etc,