Letters to the Editor

Standards of morality should not be dictated by holy men

As is commonplace among those advocating religion as “evidence” to sustain an argument Mr Lavery (August 16)) claims to know what clearly it is impossible to know – God’s mind.
The word “abortion” was never used by God or Jesus and was a subsequent interpolation by man to the Fifth Commandment – ‘Thou shalt not kill’. This commandment has been continually abused by Biblical adherents ever since. Even Moses, having just received the 10 instructions from God himself, ordered his followers to put to death all who had worshipped the golden calf, (the Bible records more than 3,000 deaths). Given the unpleasant God of an ambivalent, discrepant Holy Book it seems justifiable that Mr Lavery’s “right thinking” people disregard advice from such a source, even if they chose not to change their mind.

Fr McCafferty, with whom Mr Lavery is in complete agreement, claims that it is coincidence his Church and Protestant fundamentalists agree on abortion. But of course it is not coincidence as both have sourced their information from the same Holy Book. Such unity is rare thus raising the question of how conflicting interpretations of God’s will can be arrived at. If ‘Thou shalt not kill’ can be taken to mean ‘Thou shalt not commit or assist in any way with an abortion under any circumstances” then why not also interpret it as “Thou shalt not kill any animal from whom we are descendants”. We are direct descendants of the African ape with whom we share most of our DNA. Does the African ape not deserve the same compassion as a first trimester fetus? At what point in the evolutionary process was a soul entrusted to the African ape with whom unbroken lineage can be traced.

And then there is capital punishment of which the Church was a staunch supporter, calling it “lawful slaying”, right up until the 20th century. St Augustine and St Aquinas were also enthusiastic proponents, with Augustine claiming that God allowed “certain exceptions”. Catholics assisting in the death penalty today do not incur “latae sententiae” as does anyone assisting in an abortion.

In a statement taken from Mother Theresa’s Nobel prize ceremony, ‘Abortion is the greatest evil in the world today”, Mr Lavery displays an anomie which staggers belief. He is seriously misguided if he considers nuclear annihilation (most likely to result from religious disagreements) or the starvation of millions in Africa (mainly the result of religious civil wars) less evil than the destruction of first trimester foetuses.

Is further proof required that our standards of morality should not be dictated by holy men who roamed the deserts of the Middle East thousands of years ago? If your argument requires sustenance from such a source then perhaps the argument needs revisited.

Templepatrick, Co Antrim


Church’s authority eroded by its moral absolutism on abortion

In his latest letter on abortion (August 17) Fr Patrick McCafferty asserted that “the command of Almighty God: ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Exodus 20:13... is absolutely binding... in every circumstance, for all time.” Why so much Christian-sanctioned killing then?
Fr McCafferty acknowledged the variability of Catholic Church teaching, implicitly. ‘Artificial’ contraception use, that was as “evil” as abortion is considered today, is now just another “moral failing”.

The absolutism of Fr McCafferty’s views is a reason why a large majority of southern Irish people voted to make abortion legal. A similarly large majority voted in 1983 to make it unconstitutional. Their knowledge of abortion then was limited to theoretical, absolute, arguments. Opinions changed when that provision’s contempt for women was revealed in the ‘C case’, the ‘X case’, in the death of Savita Hallapanaver, in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and in other tragic examples.

The phrase ‘trust women’ was adopted because of failures in the actions and interpretations of men in power. The authority of the Catholic Church was eroded by its moral absolutism on abortion, combined with moral failings over child abuse.

In dealing with abuse Fr McCafferty, as both victim and pastor, has demonstrated immense courage. He, uniquely, has the credentials to express anger and to condemn, unflinchingly, the failings of the institution he loves. No Catholic leader is capable of expressing the anger of women, but it comes from the same place as Fr McCafferty on abuse.

In the ‘C case’ in 1992 a 13-year-old abuse victim was pregnant and, with her parents’ support, sought an abortion in England. She was prevented by the Irish High Court. After outpourings of protest, the Supreme Court decided that abortion was permissible because the young girl threatened suicide.
The electorate was then asked to end the suicide option, to allow information on abortion services abroad and to travel for one. They voted liberally –  No, Yes, Yes.

Dublin 6


Rethink of  nationalist culture

Following the public outburst of anger at the effigies on some nationalist bonfires and the Féile ‘rave’ and Wolfe Tones concert we need to appraise nationalist culture. I attended many of the Féile an Phobail events and the debates, discussions, talks, exhibitions were excellent.
I also attended the Olly Murs and Wolfe Tones events in the Falls Park and saw on social media the shocking scenes before, during and after the Planet Love ‘Rave’. I thoroughly enjoyed the Olly Murs concert and the huge crowd of different age groups behaved really well. The Wolfe Tones concert was a shock to the system. If you had transferred the tricolours for union jacks then you would have thought that you were at Eleventh night celebrations. Watching thousands of drunken young people chanting songs about dead republican martyrs was stomach churning. When a young woman took her top off and bared all, as the group played another ballad, I couldn’t believe the crowd cheering her on and stewards standing laughing. Footage of this is all over social media and it gives a really bad impression of the west Belfast community. 

Our culture is better than this. So Féile, focus on the talks, exhibitions and debates – forget the ‘rebel nights’ and ‘raves’.
Let’s show the world the true face of west Belfast culture.

Glengormley, Co Antrim


Heed words of the Pope

Pope Francis has stated that no effort will be spared to prevent child abuse or its cover-up. The names of members of the Catholic Church in Ireland convicted of child abuse have been recently published and while in Ireland, the Pope has met victims of  abuse. It is time to move on and ensure that society as a whole protects children.  It is important to remind ourselves that more than 98 per cent of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by other children and members or friends of the family. Children must be educated to report abuse immediately. Parents must take responsibility and report abuse by family members or family friends. Parents must support pregnant daughters. 

Pope Francis said in his letter ‘too little, too late’ (August 21): “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them”. Politicians in Ireland need to heed the words of Pope Francis and protect the little ones, born and unborn. 

Arklow, Co Wicklow


Many thanks to RTÉ

I want to thank rtÉ for the fantastic coverage of the visit by our Holy Father. If I had been able to go I would have been there, but due to ill health I couldn’t go so many thanks to RTÉ

No thanks to the BBC or UTV who largely ignored most of the proceedings.

Belfast BT10

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