Welcoming Pope Francis to Ireland


A chara, – As an ordinary practising Catholic, I am taken aback by the volume and virulence of the criticism being levelled at the church in the media in the period leading up to the Pope Francis’s visit this weekend. I fully support the exposure and public condemnation of the abominable crimes committed by some members of the clergy, and the collusion in them through cover-up by bishops and others. What I cannot accept, however, is this blanket criticism which can see no good in the church, only bad.

With an estimated 1.28 billion adherents, the Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination in the world. The whole spectrum of humanity is contained within its ranks. Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of St Peter, who was crucified upside down for preaching his master’s gospel to the Roman Empire, as the titular head of this worldwide church. The great majority of its ordinary members, like the vast majority of all who call themselves Christians, have tried to practise the teachings of Christ down through the centuries. As the leader of the church, the pope is entitled to respect and courtesy when he visits our country today. – Is mise,


Hollywood, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole is absolutely accurate in his contention (“It’s too late. Not even Pope Francis can resurrect Catholic Ireland.”, Opinion & Analysis, (August 23rd).

Where he is mistaken is in his implied contention that such a task was ever the responsibility of a pope. There is only one agent of resurrection in Catholicism. He is manifestly present in a number of forms at all levels of authority and none in Catholicism in Ireland. The pope’s principal task is to “confirm the brethren” – to encourage greater levels of fidelity to church teaching among the faithful and the baptised. This is what Christ taught St Peter, the first pope. – Yours, etc,


Cappamore, Co Limerick.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole opines that in time, some new “radically different version of Catholicism, stripped of patriarchy, authoritarianism and institutional self-regard” may emerge. One already has. It’s called “Protestantism” and it isn’t doing particularly well either. He might also do well to remember that, if absolute power does corrupt absolutely, it only corrupts those who have it. In modern, secular, at-ease-with-itself Ireland, that’s not the Catholic Church. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – I was sent a link recently on priests who were involved in serious sexual abuse in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland over the past number of decades (bishopaccountability.org). These 70 priests were convicted of serious sexual abuse, including rape of defenceless children.

Whilst we welcome Pope Francis to our shores, we must never forget the vile predators that roamed, and still roam, within the Catholic Church. We must not forget that some of the hierarchy that were invited along with Pope Francis were responsible for covering up the abuse of children and moved priestly predators to other parishes to prey on the innocent. Let us not forget that there are many Catholics who have moved away from the church because of this abuse and the many cover-ups by its hierarchy.

While those who’ll attend will be in awe of this pope and pray for salvation, there are those of us who will feel marginalised and betrayed because of the church’s lack of ethics and its moral decadence. I hope Pope Francis will initiate change that will see a transformation of a church that is inward-looking, to one that is open and transparent to all. – Yours, etc,


Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Sir, – This is the church reaching out to the Irish people. The human beings who lead the Catholic Church are hearing the cry of our people.

So let us acknowledge this papal visit as a gesture to all of us in this country to forgive, to see this visit as an end to abuse and to work together for social justice in all aspects of life.

Ireland will no longer hide or tolerate abuse of any kind. So in this spirit of renewal let us bring to mind victims of clerical abuse and all who suffer due to ills in our society. – Yours, etc,


Summerhill, Co Meath.

Sir, – In recent days, I have felt very sorry for religious congregations that continue to provide services for the poor and unfortunate, and disadvantaged, and to anyone who is finding life difficult, in one way or another.

I want them to know that I, for one, appreciate their continued dedication.

I’m extremely grateful for the education given to me by Catholic nuns, whose only individual reward was the satisfaction of having helped to prepare well-educated and rounded young girls for the world.

This was replicated all over Ireland by nuns, priests and particularly the much-maligned Christian Brothers, all of whom personally worked for nothing, educated half the country, but whose only reward now is criticism and abuse.

I appreciate the parish priest of my childhood who was a leader in the community, a good and kind man who lived a simple life, helping everyone and particularly those in need.

I want to thank those congregations that provide food and shelter for the poor and homeless.

We all know that some members of the church were evil, and hid their sins under the cloak of the church.

But the majority were good and kind people, leaders in their respective communities, giving much-needed support to the government, and providing services such as education, health, homes and food, and guidance to the citizens at little or no cost.

Whatever we think of the all-male hierarchy, and those in Rome, in the present rush to judge, and find fault, I want to thank these men and women and say how much I appreciate them. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.