Letters to the Editor

Rome needs to be told Catholic Church has got a huge problem

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Vatican at the conclusion of his conference on preventing clerical sex abuse. Picture by Giuseppe Lami/Pool Photo via AP

Recently the Catholic Church has been listing the priest changes in Irish dioceses.

In addition to these listings they have been advising of parishes that no longer will have a resident priest but will be serviced by a priest in an adjoining parish or in some instances from another country.

If this continues there will be only one priest left to cover all the church functions i.e. baptisms, marriages, deaths etc over several parishes leaving most churches in a diocese without Sunday or daily Masses.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has drawn attention to the catastrophic decline of vocations to the priesthood and its implications for the survival of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

At present the average age of priests is rising. More has to be done than agree that there is a problem. A decision has to be made on what has to happen.

In accepting normal vocations will continue, be them small in number, the ACP has suggested three short-term strategies (1) ordain suitable married men; (2) invite back priests who left to get married, (3) ordain women deacons and eventually as priests.

In fairness, the Irish bishops have been seen to be doing something, not just coordinating but to study particular initiatives. They have done their sums, they see the problem. 

The days of saying nothing and it might go away are gone. With the popes prior to Pope Francis, the bishops were in denial and Catholics despairing of any change were drifting away.

We need vision and leadership especially from bishops who have accepted the responsibility of leadership in the Church.

Thankfully Pope Francis is now in Rome and encouraging very traditional bishops like our own to begin to talk seriously about re-imaging the ministry and priesthood for a very different Ireland.

It’s comforting we have young bishops to take the next step and propose some workable solution. Mark Patrick Hederman, the Benedictine priest and writer in the past has said that the Catholic Church has not yet moved out of the 19th century and isn’t liberal enough for the post-modern 21st century.

A start is to say loudly and clearly, Rome we’ve got a huge problem.

Dublin 6W


Voters of all ages have indulged the Sinn Féin/DUP double act

Looking back at the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights campaign, as one  anniversary slips into another and the tragic, if predictable, response of the forces of unionism, it all seems so frighteningly close.
Hindsight shows how easy it was to slip into violence and worse, how difficult to chart a path back to some sort of normality.

One sad irony is that young people of 30 or so, having known nothing but peace, seem so careless of what they take for granted.
That irony cuts several ways of course as Gerry Kelly discovered in the New Lodge a few weeks ago, his reputation no longer seems to cut much ice.

One wonders if Sinn Féin cannot see that there might be a link between their speeches and posturing to recent events in Derry or north Belfast.
However a bigger question is what about the rest of us who lived through the past 50 years? What is our excuse for such complacency? Why have we voters, of all ages indulged this Sinn Féin & DUP double act, either by voting or not voting?

Recently I found myself outside my usual bubble. It was an interesting experience listening to people, casually welcoming Brexit, unconcerned by the local, regional, much less national damage (to whichever country).

The affected attitude of disinterest equally hard to understand and listen to, with what I hope was a straight face. Speaking of bubbles, there are a lot about, Sinn Féin continue banging on about a unity poll and how the 50 per cent plus one threshold must hold. One wonders in their self-righteous certainty has it ever occurred to them – apart from practicalities which their principles never address –  are they not supposed to be better than the unionists?

What is the point of complaining about unionism if all you have to offer is a green version of the same old stuff?

If we do not want to repeat the past 50 years we will need an honest conversation and very soon and if nationalism doesn’t start with and within itself, who will? Certainly I can think of several parts of Northern Ireland society which won’t.

It is not just Sinn Féin that does a nice line in pompous self-righteousness. Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement 3,000 of our fellow citizens are walking around who otherwise would not, surely that is something to celebrate and protect.

Belfast BT9


Ambivalent insight into Jamie Bryson

ALEX Kane – ‘In search of marginalised, voiceless loyalist community’ (August 23) – addresses a really fundamentally important point, and Mr Kane, in my view, hits it when he says: “It’s nonsense to pretend there is such a thing as a cohesive loyalist community.” This is critical in respect of how societal ‘living together’ evolves.

The republican evolution has bought into real life agencies of its vision. No easy task, I’d say.

That, as Mr Kane infers, has not occurred in loyalism. 
I am seriously ambivalent about Mr Kane’s insight into Jamie Bryson.
Mr Bryson drifts between loyalist factions yet, as far as I know, what is his destination?

Insightful article by Mr Kane, highlighting the question, “who speaks for loyalism?” and ends with a simplistic thought that Jamie Bryson is the answer.

My own view is that, one way or another, loyalism will come face to face meaningfully with republicans.

Derry City


No to a hard border

Being an anti-Brexit supporter I do not want to see a hard border to bring hardship and suffering to all the people of Ireland.  After the 20 years of peace and prosperity which we all enjoyed, we do not want to be destroyed.

We do not again want to see the experience of border checks along the 300 miles on the island of Ireland, carried out by border force customs just there to cause inconvenience to everybody travelling about their business.

Castlederg, Co Tyrone


Britain exists to divide Ireland

The essence of a united Ireland is parity and fair play. We voted to remain in the EU, Eire wants to remain and Britain wants to leave. Britain exists in order to divide Ireland. The DUP bolster England.

In the last century all Ireland was close to a united Ireland (1918 elections) and the unionists treacherously refused to join in. Don’t let them spoil our chance again. Get that paper work instituted for a united Ireland by voting to stay in the EU. We in Northern Ireland essentially voted for a united Ireland. Be ready and don’t miss the boat.

Omagh, Co Tyrone

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