Women and the church

Sir, – Dr Thomas Finegan accuses me of shoddy scholarly treatment of Pope John Paul (Letters, November 7th).

I am afraid the accusation is more easily and accurately made of his own treatment of my use of a passage from the pope’s book Love and Responsibility. It is very clear Dr Finegan did not check the context in which I used the passage. It was explicitly stated by me that I was not talking about the sex act at all but by analogy using the passage to describe the position and role of women in the church generally, with men seen as dominant initiators and women as passive receivers. A simple and factually correct statement.

Fr Fagan correctly described the passage in its original sex act context as a description of rape. And it is clear Fr Finegan agrees that is a correct description. There is an obvious, inexorable and transferable logic that Dr Finegan has missed entirely and which was the sole point of the reference. – Yours, etc,



Co Roscommon.

Sir, – I am neither a theologian nor a Bible scholar, but I have read the Gospels many times, and the rest of the New Testament too, and I have to say that I find little or nothing there to support what Mary McAleese says about the current practices and teachings of the Catholic Church ("McAleese urges Ireland to show kindness to strangers and speaks of 'cowardly' bishops", News, November 2nd.

Jesus taught us to show mercy and compassion, but He also taught us that the commandments are sacred, and that not a letter of the Law is to be changed – something which abortion advocates, for example, would do well to take to heart. He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery but commanded her to sin no more; in fact, He set a very high standard of sexual purity for all of us, whatever our sexual orientation. He did not ordain women priests, and neither did the early church. He made it crystal clear that Christianity is about service, not power.

It is uncharitable and unhelpful to label bishops cowardly when, in fact, they are mere caretakers, passing on the faith that was passed on to them. Their job is difficult enough, without Mary McAleese, and her media cheerleaders, having a go at them. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.