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Dear Sir... Readers' Views (26/08/16)

Your letters, your views...

Church issue is about faith 

There was a time in this country when the news that a member of the family was going to become a priest was greeted with joy and pride.

That day is gone. Irish society moves further away from the Church.

The Church will survive. This is not said in an arrogant or triumphalist way but from the perspective that the Church will endure because it is rooted in Christ.

It will be interesting to see what the role of the priest will be in that new reality. Put bluntly, is it right that we continue to invite young men to priesthood?

If the answer to this question is yes, then what precisely are we inviting these men into?

It is true there remains much respect for individual priests on the ground. Many will acknowledge great work done in schools and hospitals.

Most people see the extraordinary contribution made by the Church in the area of social justice and we remain justifiably proud of our missionary outreach.

However, to dispute that there is a crisis of vocations is to be in denial.

Part of our trouble is a crisis within the crisis in terms of leadership.

This is not to deny that we have gifted, intelligent and perhaps even holy men within the episcopate.

I have genuine respect, and even affection for some.

We are failing to attract candidates for the priesthood.

We need to have the courage to ask why this is so. There are those who point out some ‘signs of hope’.

This may well be a dangerous illusion.

There is the emergence of a ‘restorationist’ model of church. It harks back, unhealthily, to the past, and is often over zealous in its use of the law and lacks compassion.

The two million young people gathered in Cracow both inspire and give me hope.

Is this about the love of Jesus?

I have no doubt it is, and it reflects a spiritual hunger. But is it a vote of confidence in the institutional church? I am not so sure.

It would be easy here to slip into the unhelpful quagmire of debate around conservatism and liberalism.

This has the seeds of schism. Is the bigger collar and the cassock a reliable measure of the priest?

People do not fall for the cool hip Fr Trendy, yet many of them are frightened and suspicious of Father in full battle dress.

Surely we are a magnanimous enough Church to comfortably accommodate, nay embrace, the priest who values collar, cassock, and incense, and the priest who presents in open-neck shirt, sandals and wearing a Taize cross around his neck.

Surely the measure of the priest is deeper than this?

What is at the heart of priesthood? I propose four core values of priesthood today as follows.

  • a) a profound personal relationship with the Jesus we meet in the Gospels;
  • b) a knowledge and comfort around one’s own identity, including and one’s sexuality;
  • c) an ability to relate;
  • d) a clear appreciation of ministry, the life of the priest, as service.

a) It is not possible to have a profound relationship with the Jesus of the Gospels unless we spend substantial periods in his presence every week. This is essentially silent, wordless.

b) This self-knowledge regarding one’s identity requires hard work. I am shaped by parents and siblings, where and when I grew up, and key life experiences. As a priest, I need to know my sexual identity. I need to know my orientation and my drive, and whatever about befriending all this, at the least, I would not be enslaved by it.

c) Essential to priesthood is the ability to relate to all kinds of people. To do this healthily we need to be aware of our own fears and prejudices. Perhaps we need to identify our latent racism or homophobia and be resolved with the necessary help to ensure it does not damage our ministry.

d) True ministry is service, and yet much of our behaviour betrays something quite different. The big enemy here is clericalism, in its broadest sense. This includes behaving as if priesthood is an elite but is also very much about the scourge of ambition within clergy.

Clearly, if we accept the above, then it has ramifications for those training for priesthood.

Perhaps we should consider a freeze on inviting candidates for priesthood for two or three years?

Are those who have the courage and generosity to try it as a possible way of life, the better for the experience?

Are they more self-aware, freer and happier?

Or are they left crushed, dealing with a legacy of rejection? Is there any aftercare?

Let us not scapegoat the seminary in this. This is about the faith community.

Joe McDonald
Blackditch Road
Ballyfermot
Dublin 10
 

Recyclables

Part of the reason that dumping is on the increase is that decent people are not even allowed to recycle normal household products nowadays.

Yet again I have been told that something that I buy every day in local shops can no longer be recycled.

If any Minister for the Environment was worth a broken wind, one of them would have long ago told the shops to stop selling goods or packaging that cannot be recycled.

Richard Barton
Tinahely
Co Wicklow

 

Two by two

As Danny Healy-Rae TD cites the story of Noah’s Ark as proof that climate change does not exist, he may enjoy this Jewish joke.

If Noah could build an Ark big enough to carry two of all the animals on earth using just a saw, nails, and a hammer, if he were alive today he would be best shipbuilder in the world and a billionaire. However, he would never have made a living as a fisherman as he only took two worms on board the ark.

Regarding the TD’s views on the consumption of alcohol, it must be noted that Jesus changed water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

However, I’m told one of the Dead Sea Scrolls recently deciphered reveals the next morning Joseph went into the kitchen with a hangover and said to Mary ‘For Jehovah’s sake, don’t let Jesus near the water again’.

Tony Moriarty
Shanid Road
Harold’s Cross
Dublin 6W

 

Homelessness

With the average cost of renting a double room in Dublin city centre at €682, and the average cost of renting a home in this area at €1,505, it is unsurprising that more and more people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

On a daily basis across our Dublin homeless services, we are seeing more and more people present as homeless because they cannot afford to rent in Dublin.

This includes young people, families, single people and couples, people who are working, and pregnant women.

While De Paul’s Resettlement Support Service works diligently to source accommodation for the people who use our services, and move them through and out of homelessness as swiftly as possible, this is becoming increasingly difficult due to the lack of move-on options.

Finding accommodation for single people has proven particularly challenging, due to the sheer lack of availability.

The figures released in this week’s Daft.ie report reveal the urgent need to implement the government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, if we are to see rents stabilise and rates of homelessness decline.

David Carroll
Director of Services
De Paul Ireland
Nicholas Street
Christchurch
Dublin 8

 

Trumped

Your editorial is outraged that Mr Trump received security and intelligence briefings (Irish Examiner, August 19) but fails to mention that Hillary Clinton set up a private server that transmitted classified information including some that contained confidential information.

The FBI said these emails could have been hacked at any time when Clinton was secretary of state and travelling to countries that the FBI called “sophisticated adversaries”.

They accused Clinton of being “extremely careless in her handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”.

Surely we all should be terrified not of Trump, but of Clinton receiving security briefings.

Mary Martin
Gortnakesh
Cavan

 

Beach miracle

Monday and Tuesday last week were two beautiful days, the kind of days we have to treasure at the moment, after what has been so far, a really dreadful summer.

So after work on Monday, I went straight to the beach for a wonderful swim, spending nearly an hour in the water.

Later, sitting at home watching the news, shock, horror, I noticed my 40 year wedding ring missing from my finger, thinking the worst of course, that the vast ocean had swallowed it up.

After a sleepless night, at 5.45am, I went to the beach in search of a miracle.

The beach was empty. Out of the car I got, and walked straight to where I had been dressing.

I walked carefully not to disturb the sand.

Then immediately I spotted this round-looking object nearly buried in the sand.

I froze, my God, yes, it was indeed my 40 year wedding ring. Now that’s what I call a miracle on the beach.

Brian McDevitt
Ardconnaill
Glenties
Co Donegal

 

Fair play

Thank you for printing the letter from Jim Cosgrove (‘Robust route to winning games’, August 22). It was informed, insightful and inspiring. It should be required reading for all the team.

Richard Kennedy
Belmont Green
Blackrock
Dublin


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