The World Meeting of Families


Sir, – It seems from the photograph published in The Irish Times (August 23rd) that the World Meeting of Families opened with a solemn procession of similarly robed, elderly, male, celibate clerics. Surely it would have been more appropriate to have opened the gathering with a procession of diverse families in their ordinary everyday attire? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – All Catholic institutions, worldwide, must hand over every scrap of evidence and co-operate fully and transparently with the governments and law enforcement bodies which investigate them. The church must stop covering up for and allowing these monsters to escape justice. Unless it does this, every practising Catholic bears some responsibility for these crimes.

Just as I regularly contact legislators and local councillors to express my concerns about our elected bodies, so too should Catholics bombard their priests, bishops, and in particular the papacy, and demand that they stand up for the thousands upon thousands of innocents whose lives are, in most cases, irreparably damaged. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – In the course of her article “Irish Catholics should question their loyalty to flawed church” (Opinion & Analysis, August 20th), Una Mullally poses the question, “What are you really loyal to?”

In my case it’s more a question of “who” rather than “what” I am loyal to. I am loyal to Jesus Christ (the founder and continuing head of our church). It is important to distinguish that church, to which the millions of baptised men and women belong, from the organisational church, which is the object of Una Mullally’s article. She describes this distinction between the two as being a “messy dance”. However, I see a big difference between a spiritual faith and a human organisation. I’m not a theologian, but from a layman’s perspective, and from my spiritual reading, I have no difficulty in separating the two.

I hope and pray that Pope Francis will meet this challenge head-on and take decisive action to deal with the problem. I would finally say that I do not have “scales over my eyes”; on the contrary, I am as horrified and as ashamed of these horrendous acts by clergy as most of us are. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – Joseph McMinn (August 23rd) asks is any of those he labels “the secular-liberal lobby . . . ever experience doubt or uncertainty” when criticising religious control of schools and hospitals or religious control over the human rights of gay or female citizens. The short answer on a personal note is yes, I certainly do.

Critical thinking is central to most humanist philosophies and otherwise how would I or the many like me who were schooled in Ireland have ended up being anything other than religious. While I cannot speak for everyone else, it is “doubt and uncertainty” that led me away from the faith and doctrine approach in the first place and it would be my contention that replacing or augmenting religious control of primary education to include critical thinking and philosophy would be a good thing.

If we had no doubts and uncertainty about the ideals of our founding fathers in Bunreacht na hÉireann, we would be putting gay people in prison and forcing our women to travel abroad for heathcare rather than giving them fundamental rights. And I do have doubts about the wisdom of making blasphemy a crime in our society, hopefully a doubt that is shared by a majority of my fellow citizens in the upcoming referendum. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – I have just returned from a holiday in Ireland. While there I was horrified by the hostility displayed each day by The Irish Times to the Catholic Church. Nobody denies that the church has much to answer for in the sexual abuse of children by some of its ministers, and especially the lasting damage done to the victims. You seem more concerned with targeting the pope and bishops than with the needs of the victims. I saw little interest in the World Meeting of Families, as if it is an irrelevance, though it is the reason for the pope’s visit. I detected none of the balance and objectivity that one would expect of a quality newspaper.

On Sunday I attended Mass in the basilica in Knock. This large basilica was crowded to capacity with people of all ages, granted that the majority were elderly. I hear of various church groups in Dublin who feed hundreds of homeless people each day. All involved clearly recognise something more in their religious faith than does your newspaper. – Yours, etc,




Birmingham, England.

Sir, – The more I read the comments of many wonderful letter writers in The Irish Times in anticipation of Pope Francis’s visit this weekend, the more despondent I become.

Not only is the Catholic Church a very dark place, but it appears that most people in leadership in the church are in denial regarding the consequences of what has happened.

Despite all the words written and spoken, our leaders, from Pope Francis downwards, must admit the sins of the past, make amends to the survivors, all the victims and their families. We have a profound need for transparency in all church activities. We need new forms of accountability so that perpetrators are brought to justice immediately.

I have been a priest for 45 years and never once have I been asked to give an “account of my stewardship”. There is an urgency to form an official agency to provide healing for thousands of people who have been damaged by officials both men and women in the name of the Catholic Church. – Yours, etc,



Hampshire, England.