Letters to the Editor

Notion that US bishops were ever in thrall of Trump is ridiculous

I have read with utter astonishment Tom Collins’s article (July 1) insinuating that there is a large ‘pro-Trump’ faction among the US bishops and that the bishops are “in thrall” of Trump. I have not decided whether Mr Collins is largely unaware
of US internal political affairs, or ignorant of American ecclesiastical affairs.
I will not speculate about whether he understands Catholic doctrine regarding the worthiness to receive Holy Communion, though if he did, I have my doubts that he would have written his piece.

Considering some of the things that came from US bishops during the Trump administration about Donald Trump and his policies (including the Archbishop of Miami comparing him to the famed American television character Archie Bunker), as well as the near-daily denunciation of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, the notion that the bishops are - or ever were - in thrall of Trump is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. Compared to the treatment given to professing Catholic Biden, the bishops rode Trump, who is not Catholic and never pretended to be, harder than a wild bull at a Texas county fair.

By comparison, the USCCB has had very little to say about the humanitarian crisis at the US border with Mexico since Biden took office and Biden’s policies have grossly exacerbated the problem, which his administration has yet to address.

That is not meant as a criticism of American bishops, either individually or as a corporate body. As bishops of the Catholic Church, it is their right and duty to address civic issues in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith as they best see fit, but they have not been in thrall of anyone, least of all Donald Trump.

The issue of Eucharistic coherence and the worthiness to receive Holy Communion is not a partisan political issue. Someone who professes to be a Catholic but who does not believe in the moral teachings of the Church, or who publicly promotes policy that is not in accord with the moral law or most basic moral teachings of the Catholic Church, such as the termination of the unborn through abortion, should not receive Holy Communion, regardless of their station in life or their political beliefs.

In that regard, it doesn’t matter if you’re Joe Biden or Joe who picks up the neighbourhood rubbish..

White Pine, Tennessee, USA


Be realistic let’s keep English first

Turlough Quinn  – ‘Using our national language as a political football is unbecoming’ (June 25) – was inconsistent when he lauded former SDLP leader John Hume, but then went on to draw a moral equivalence between the same principled SDLP leader and Sinn Féin, a party which John Hume pulled in from the cold – when Sinn Féin’s moral principles were in short supply. Mr Hume reminded them that the end does not justify the means. In his letter, he overlooked some moral principles (eg that life is sacred from the womb to the tomb) – thereby letting the parties off that hook.

He ignored the fact that with each Sinn Féin vote, the opportunity to stop Brexit was lost. If the SDLP had been in Westminster at that time, they would surely have impacted the slim balance of power. The Conservatives were no doubt grateful SF did not take their seats in Westminster during the various amendments to the Brexit legislation.

Mr Quinn also drew attention to SF’s misuse of the Irish language for political ends with the effect of provoking unionist distaste for the language. A reasoned argument would see English as the first language – reflecting the fact that English is overwhelmingly used in Ireland but have Irish as the second language in and how about Chinese as the third language for Northern Ireland?

My personal view is vive la difference – so for NI, let’s be realistic and keep English first and let the Republic continue with its historical approach of mainly supporting Irish where it causes no disruption nor perceived domination of those who prefer not to use it.

Mr Quinn suggested (in a previous letter) to have a new National Day for NI. A commendable idea, but would that day be additional to St Patrick’s and Orangemen’s days, or would it replace them both (officially)? Perhaps October 1, which is near the biblical Day of Atonement could be considered. Atonement on all sides would reflect real repentance – a prerequisite to reconciliation.

North Down


Incitement to hatred

For just how much longer will authorities in the north indulge loyalists and the Orange Order by permitting sectarian bonfires which poison community relations throughout Northern Ireland?

Some of these bonfires contain vast imitation funeral pyres adorned with nationalist and republican effigies of people voted for, in the main, by Catholics. We are reminded ad nauseam that these bonfires are inclusive celebrations where everyone is respected. This ‘respect’ does not appear to include the thousands who vote for the politicians whose images, names and symbols are consumed in numerous celebratory conflagrations. This expression of so-called loyalist culture is nothing more than a grotesque display of raw sectarianism by the remnants of a flat-earth political culture steeped in an unchanging past. Nowhere else in Europe would the ceremonial burning of many hundreds of the national flags of peaceful neighbouring states go virtually unchallenged. In Northern Ireland this systematic incitement to hatred has been allowed to become an integral part of unionist culture. Incredibly, many grand officers of the Orange Order are also Church of Ireland ministers. One cannot help wondering to what extent would the Church of Ireland permit its ministers to belong to an organisation that burned effigies of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs or Islamists who had been murdered because of their religion?

Dublin 2


Moving on is a luxury some families do not have

It is all well and good Sir Jeffrey Donaldson saying in The Irish News (July 5) that as a society, we in Northern Ireland, need to move beyond an examination of the past.

Our past as a family is very much the present, the day the UVF abducted and brutally murdered our young brother Paul, November 8 1974, was the day that changed all our lives forever.

As a family, we will never get full answers – as a family we might never get full and honest truth, but as a family we will never forget our young brother Paul. Government, law enforcement, politicians, Church people, the police and ombudsman after ombudsman, have all, for decades failed us as a family.

I would like to say to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, that because the RUC, PSNI, HET and many, many others did not do a proper examination back in 1974, his words – ‘move on’ – are a luxury the Armstrong family do not have.

Belfast BT17

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Letters to the Editor