Freedom of expression or freedom of religion? – The Irish Times


Sir, – Jennifer O’Connell writes: “The Catholic Church, of course, enjoys the same right as every group and individual to believe what they want. The question is why we always choose to bow down to it” (Opinion & Analysis, November 5).

The priest preached in a church, to the spectators of the mass, presumably only Catholics, and reminded them that traditional Catholic teaching has not been modified by the Catholic Church. He condemned practices that Catholic teaching still considers sinful. This does not mean that he incited hatred against anyone. The Catholic Church has always urged us to “hate sin, but love the sinner”. Where is the freedom of speech or freedom of religion if a priest is to be condemned by the media for preaching doctrine to his congregation?

If Catholics attend Mass, they can expect to hear Catholic teaching. Whether or not they adhere to it in their private life is a free personal choice. Neither the Catholic Church nor priests intrude on private life, nor do they expect non-Catholics to bow down to them.

Regarding the new Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offenses Bill, she says: “The real value of the legislation is not in the successful prosecutions it will lead to. This is important for the message it sends: that this is a tolerant society in which you are free to believe what you want, but you are not free to say what you want.

In her response to the priest, I don’t think she shows much tolerance.

Above all, I believe it is nonsense to claim that as a people we have freedom of speech if we are not allowed to freely express our thoughts without being accused of inciting hatred. Context is everything. – Yours, etc.,


gray stones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – “…this is a tolerant society in which you are free to believe what you want, but you are not free to say what you want,” writes Jennifer O’Connell.

Am I the only one a little worried about this fairly fair assessment of the current situation? – Yours, etc.,



Sir, – I note that members of the LGBTQ community and Green Party activists staged a silent protest outside a Catholic church in Listowel on Sunday, as reported by The Irish Times website (November 6).

In light of this, will the leader of the Green Party and his fellow DTs ensure that any proposed legislation to prevent silent protests outside hospitals or abortion clinics is widened to ensure that members of any church can freely access religious services without having to encounter demonstrators, loud or silent? – Yours, etc.,



Co Louth.

Sir, – Patsy McGarry (“Ireland’s Growing Tolerance Leaves Dogmatic Religion at a Loss”, Analysis, November 5) is quite explicit in stating that in Father Seán Sheehy’s Youth Listowel, “there was no only two sexes.

Perhaps he would now like to explain how many genera have been discovered in the meantime. – Yours, etc.,



Co Offally.

Sir, – With respect to Father Sean Sheehy and Listowel’s homily, the “for” and “against” clerical camps as described in your letters page demonstrate the contradictory nature of official Catholic moral teaching and his theology of God. The church has tried to have it both ways regarding sexual morality and God, but the game is over and the time has come for courage and a change in official teaching.

Since the 1960s, the church has quietly cast aside the moral theology of “fire and brimstone,” and a vengeful God, in favor of a God who is love, mercy, and compassion. Where love is, God is, as the American theologian Ilia Delio said. And if gay men or women share lives of love, then God is in the midst of their love.

And if God is in the midst of their love, then logically their relationship can be blessed by the church.

Logical, but not for the bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis who preach this God of love while keeping the medieval teaching of the catechism on homosexuality. Pope Francis delighted Catholics when, in reference to homosexuals, he said, “Who am I to judge? “.

Yet he authorized the release of a statement by the Vatican that the church cannot bless same-sex unions because “God does not bless sin.”

So what is it – sin or love?

Pope Francis has engaged in a global listening process and the voice of Catholics is clear – change the teaching on LGBTQ+. A synod of bishops in Rome in October 2023 will debate these returns.

The choice is simple: A) Like Father Sheehy, the church can dub the catechism and preach the teaching to a largely indifferent secular society and completely alienate the remaining Catholics.

B) The Pope and his bishops hear the clear voice of LGBTQ+ Catholics and most Catholics around the world and change the catechism to reflect the God who is love they preach rather than the avenger who actively rules the fiery hell of the father Sheehy.

Morality changes, as the late Father Sean Freyne so often wrote, and the Irish Bishops, perhaps led by the Bishop of Kerry, now have the opportunity to lead the international push for change through this phase. of the synodal process to influence the Synod of Rome. in October.

Father Sheehy – who has drawn international attention to this issue – clearly has the courage of his convictions.

Will the rest of the church – priests, bishops and laity – demonstrate theirs and use this momentum to change the teaching? – Yours, etc.,




Synod times,

Colomba books,


Dublin 18.


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