Letters to the Editor

Only one Church can claim unbroken line back to St Peter

Far be it from me to encroach on Fr Patrick McCafferty’s position presenting the Catholic Church’s official teaching on various topics (December 2). I travelled back in time to the 1950s when Clonard ran the missions to non-Catholics and the same questions arose there, not to mention the Legion of Mary Book-Barrow on a Saturday in Smithfield Square – Oh happy days.

Rev John Gray of the Free Presbyterian Church (November 30) must know that the Bible is one of the most difficult books to understand. One needs a vast knowledge of ancient languages, history and customs – and must be quite at home with Hebrew and Greek, Allegorical, Metaphorical and typical expressions, quite apart from the spiritual insight required to penetrate the loftiest mysteries. How many individuals are thus qualified? Fortunately for us Catholics in the pews, the Church, over the years especially since Vatican II, has produced scholars who have devoted their lives to Biblical research so that there has been an explosion of books on the Bible.

Rev John Gray must be aware that the Bible he is reading is a translation – it was not written in English. In a footnote to Mark 4 31-35 in the Christian Community Bible (Catholic pastoral edition) the following explanation is given: “The brothers of Jesus. The Church never doubted that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was her only son, as he is the only Son of the father. Why then does it speak of Jesus’s brothers and sisters?

First in Hebrew any relative is called ‘brother’ or ‘sister’. In the Bible we find more than 400 examples where the word ‘brother’ signifies a fairly close relationship.

To avoid confusion, the Jews used some clearer forms. If the gospels really meant brothers – sons of Mary – on mentioning them together with her they should have said “your mother and the sons of your mother are here”. This was the only acceptable way of expressing it at
the time.

The word ‘church’ is mentioned in the writing of St Paul more than 50 times so he certainly was not referring to the Free Presbyterian Church, which is a 20th century church founded by Rev Ian Paisley. St Paul says that Christ is head of the Church (col 1.18) which is the pillar and foundation of truth (I TIM. 3.15) only one church even dares to make the historical claim to have an unbroken line back to St Peter.

Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin


A gram of publicity in England is worth a tonne in Ireland

The dogged campaign for truth by families of the McGurk’s bar victims has highlighted a sickening aspect of the English state’s war against the IRA. Disinformation designed to weaken support for the republican movement heaped bitter insult onto injury of those whom their forces had maimed or killed directly or indirectly. Mourning relatives were made to endure further hurt when their loved-ones names were blackened and dragged through the media mire that passed for journalism in those shameful days. The London government line has changed from a complete denial of collusion to effectively one of – we weren’t the only ones fighting so why is everyone picking on us. For decades they have frustrated investigation of what can only be described as war crimes and are unlikely to ever give the families the closure they demand. Perhaps it is time to hit the authorities where it hurts by embarrassing them publicly where it would irritate them most which is in London. When Martin McGuinness was accosted by David Kelly over the death of his soldier father Patrick he badly damaged the McGuinness bid to be president. At the other end of the scale Father4Justice attracted huge media interest in their campaign for father’s rights via costumed stunts. The latest ministerial clone, James Brokenshire will happily churn out glib statements about collusion here provided it is restricted to an Irish audience, but can you imagine how he would react if confronted by family members holding pictures of their victim relatives at Westminster or at his constituency. A gram of publicity in England is worth a tonne in Ireland. This type of action may or may not help the search for truth, but families will at least have the satisfaction of seeing their tormentors squirm while promoting this vile injustice in the English public’s consciousness –
Lest they forget.

Belfast BT11


Damage of Brexit yet to be felt

The on-going tragedy of the Brexit fallout from June 23 has highlighted the bone-headed posturing of the DUP which their voters have yet to fully grasp. Their stupidity and its consequences has so far been hidden by the fact that the nationalists, who are effectively moving into a majority, carried the Northern Ireland vote for Remain and the damage of Brexit has yet to be felt. But all those farmers will lose out as surely as night follows day if and when Brexit becomes a reality.

As unionists the DUP have always supported the extreme right in Westminster in the deluded assumption that it will earn them brownie points with the Tories. Yet they know deep down they are just ‘Paddies’ like the rest of us.

As the Supreme Court hearing ended an interesting problem might be just around the corner for these political innocents. What will the DUP, those great advocates of ‘democracy’ – NI style –  do if it turns out that the NI Assembly has a veto on Brexit? Will they vote with their friends the Tories or will they vote to represent all of the people of NI and vote Remain?

Belfast BT9


Ecumenical opportunity

I am writing in response to a letter from Fr Sean McManus (December 9) in relation to Pope Francis’s possible visit to Northern Ireland and Fr McManus’s point about how ecumenical progress has been ignored. He made the point about the ‘under reporting’ in the media in Ireland of an extremely important agreement between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification. I am very grateful to Fr McManus for drawing attention to this agreement. Building on his letter, I would like to suggest that this agreement would make for some excellent ecumenical opportunities where churches in different areas might come together to hear informed presentations on what the agreement says and to discuss its significance for Christians in Ireland today. To my mind such events would be one very useful way of preparing for a possible Papal visit here.  

Ballyclare and Ballygowan Parish


Expression of thanks

The Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland North would like to thank the people of Belfast and surrounding areas for their very generous donations given on Saturday December 3.  You have raised the sum of £1118.

This will help to go towards our continued work with the search dogs in helping to save lives.

Lorna McAteer
Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland North

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Letters to the Editor