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Former taoiseach’s wife Finola Bruton was right about Irish society

Your reaction to Fr Gerard Condon (Irish Examiner, November 4) is distorted by confusion in your understanding of religion and faith.

This is not a matter of semantics or cobwebbed scholastic philosophy. It goes to the core of the malaise affecting Irish society.

‘Religion’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘scruple’, or pedantic. It is best applied to religious observance and pietistic practice. ‘Faith’ comes from ‘fides’ which is concerned with ‘trust’, ‘loyalty’, ‘confidence’. It is persistent adherence to principle and a belief-system.

‘Religion’ can exist without faith; ‘faith’ without religion. We have painfully realised that our systemic ‘religion’, (secular as well as ‘ecclesiastical’), was like the ‘whited sepulchres’ of old: gleaming and pristine on the outside, rotten and stinking within.

In the later 1990s, during a visit to Ireland by the US president, Bill Clinton, Finola Bruton, the wife of Taoiseach John Bruton, was brought out to make a bland speech.

She, instead, issued a stark warning that our brave new pluralist society was causing huge alienation.

The destruction of identity and self-worth had afflicted many young people, particularly men, she said. This speech was construed as an attack on women’s liberation.

Bruton was subjected to vitriolic attacks. Dismissed as a reactionary dinosaur. Two decades afterwards: was she wrong?

When the institutional (Irish) Roman Catholic Church and the Fianna Fail secular ascendancy destroyed their own credibility, we did not replace them with any ‘non-religious’ ‘faith’. Instead, we surrendered ourselves to the failing false ‘gods’ of consumerism/capitalism.

Is it any surprise, therefore, that our young people have voted against our wonderful country with their bodies, their intellects, their hearts and their souls?

Father Condon is not suggesting that free rosaries and bonus loyalty cards, for attendance at ‘devotions’, should be handed out at Christmas. All that he is saying is that we have a deep, corrosive problem in our society.

Though he does not say so, it will not be sorted by our Tsugan (straw) Taoiseach and Tanaiste.

Maybe we should consult Pope Francis, the wild man whom the Holy Spirit inadvertently allowed to fly in under the radar into the Vatican.

He seems to be the only one who is addressing directly the real political problems facing mankind in the 21st century.

Maurice O’Connell

Fenit Without



Co. Kerry


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