A letter to the Editor


Hi Everybody,
I’m looking for some responses to a letter which was printed in a local newspaper recently. This is the letter-writer’s third letter to the paper in about 6 weeks and their first letter attacked the Church’s response to Amnesty’s decision re abortion. Following their first 2 letters I responded (I may post these letters & responses at a later stage!) but in the letter in this weeks’ paper the writer attempts to end the debate about Amnesty by attacking the Church with something. Here are some extracts from their letter (I am omitting the initial paragraphs which deal with abortion and Amnesty as I can say plenty about that myself :slight_smile: :

 after contradicting themselves by saying that abortion is a personal matter better dealt with by an individual's conscience, ethicists and medical professionals, they write: "...The idea that the Catholic Church, an organisation which for so long treated women as second-class humans, and which actively protected priests who were involved in the horrors of child abuse, should have any say in the lives of women and children...is wholly disgusting to me."

  they continue: "Finally, from where did I get the idea that Christians should believe what they like in private, but keep their 'mouths shut' on government policy and public morality?...from Jesus of Nazareth... Jesus taught that Christians should expect mockery for their beliefs... Christians must turn the other cheek... Saint Paul ordered Christians to accept the laws of their heathen rulers...because all authorities...are put there by God."
"Of course there are many biblical quotes which might contradict all of this. That, however, is my point. The Gospels, and the Bible, as well as religious tradition as a whole, is so full of hypocrisy, contradictions and errors that they cannot be taken seriously as a guide to the moral life. To those Christians who disagree with me and oppose my views I can only ask that they do as their God demanded and 'forgive' me."

So that’s it! I don’t think it’s forgiveness they need, as much as they need clarification and the truth on the issues they have raised. I would be most interested to hear your views on the accusation of the Church’s treatment of women and children, how to explain apparent contradictions of the Bible, or can we say without doubt that Church tradition does not contradict itself? Personally I don’t see conflicts in the Bible or Tradition, but this person needs ‘hard evidence’! By the way, in another letter the writer pointed out that they have a degree in Theology - but I don’t know how they got through 3 years of theology without an understanding of the concept of faith!

  Many thanks.


The Church has never treated women as “second class” humans, it has always been leading they way in social justice and the protection of human persons. A few Bishops may have protected
homosexual priests who molested young boys. They are criminals and should be arrested and charged whenever possible by civil authorities for these crimes. The Church isn’t prohibiting them from doing that, nor can it even do so. You are correct that there is no contradictions between the Bible, Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.



You probably won’t get a response, if your letter even gets published, but I’d say:

  1. Please cite sources indicating how, when, and to what degree the Church has treated women as second-class citizens.

  2. Please cite sources that indicate that the Church leadership – not a few bishops, mind you, but the Holy See itself – had a policy of hiding priests that molested children.

  3. Assuming your unsupported allegations are true: please demonstrate where it is written that one must be free of personal sin in order to know the difference between right and wrong.

  4. Please provide a citation from the Bible in which Paul (or anyone else) says that Christians should submit to unjust laws and just “keep their mouths shut”.

  5. Please provide sources that support your allegations that Church teaching is full of “hypocrisy and contradictions” – taking a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church is probably a good start.

The bottom line is that this person is Catholic bashing – and ignorantly, too. If he/she wishes to spout rhetoric, the proper response is, “Oh, really? Where did you read that?”



The point of replying is not necessarily to convince the letter-writer - who is likely hardened of heart, but to correct the misdirections and slanders he is spreading to all the other readers of the paper


As a Catholic woman, I feel the Church has elevated my position of wife and mother to a holy vocation, but even putting that aside, who were the first organizations that named women to high key positions like Deans of schools or Hospital administrators? I was Catholic institutions! How does this constitute “second class” status? When the rest of society didn’t allow women to hold these positions, there we were… thanks to the Catholic Church!!!


wow all I can say is Yikes!


Were I a nasty non-Catholic, I would probably say,“Maybe they did, but those poor woman had to fore go marriage and wear those creepy black outfits and clunky shoes. Not only that, did you know its been said there was a tunnel that ran from the priest’s house to the women’s residence.” :smiley:


Hi all,
Thanks for all your replies so far - please keep your views/reactions coming as I hope to submit a letter to the paper for publication either this week or next.

I realise I neglected to give the Biblical passages quoted by the letter writer - I don’t know why I should be surprised, but the writer has taken them completely out of context… Everyone knows the line ‘turn the other cheek’ which the writer quoted (Luke 6:29), but they use it to support their point that Christians are ‘to keep quiet on government policy and public morality’. Of course reading not only their minute quotation but the preceding and following passages, one can see that the point is actually teaching non-violence and the principle of treating your neighbour as yourself. Similarly they quote Paul (Romans 13:1), which firstly doesn’t single out ‘heathen rulers’(!)… Again the writer simply says that Paul tells us to accept the laws of these rulers since all authorities are put there by God. Again they have taken this out of context- my reading of this and the surrounding passages is that the point is that Christians should not in any circumstances provoke violence and that evil should be overcome with good rather than being overcome by evil. I wonder if you agree with this reading?

Finally, as I have said before this letter is completely inaccurate and I don’t believe the writers’ allegations against the Church. Many of you have confirmed what I had thought about Women and the Church, but I would be grateful if someone could give a few actual examples (names) of well known female rulers, landowners, institution directors, writers, etc. of the early Christian Church. It would just serve to make my argument more concrete!

 More comments please!!
 Many thanks and best wishes.:thumbsup:


If Christians historically kept their mouths shut on public matters there would not have been so many martyrs under the Roman emperors. St. John the Baptist lost his head because he wouldn’t keep his mouth shut on the subject of the king’s public scandal. I would probably ask this braying jackass to explain that away since it’s actually in the Bible. Also the Church never taught that abortion was a private matter of individual conscience. I see a lot of straw men in his argumentation and it doesn’t matter if a source has been wrong before, they could still have a correct point, i.e. just because my kids turned out rotten doesn’t mean i’m wrong if i say you shouldn’t let your kids steal the neighbor kids’ toys. Not that the Church was wrong, just that that’s a tu quo qua logical fallacy. You should get to stick to the issue at hand instead of arguing unrelated BS.


It is an utter lie to say that the Church “actively protected priests who were involved in the horrors of child abuse”.
Some bishops made the mistake, as did virtually all government ministers of education, of trusting the “expert” advice of eminent secular psychiatrists (some of whom, it was later discovered, are themselves sexual perverts) that pedophile priests/teachers had been “cured”, and should be allowed to resume their careers in a different place. The only difference is that the victims of the priests can sue the Church and send dioceses bankrupt, but the government has passed special legislation to stop the victims of pedophile State school teachers from suing the governments who put them in charge of children knowing their history of pedophilia. And no-one can sue the psychiatrists because their identity and their advice is protected under “professional privilege”.


Some examples

Female rulers (Secular)
Isabella of Spain
A long list here…

Landowners (secular)
Eleanor of Aquitaine

Rulers Clerical

Prominent Christian Leaders and thinkers

St Hilda of Whitby
Hildegard of Bingen
St Catherine of Sienna
Teresa of Avila


Thanks again for all the guidance and help here! It is much appreciated and I’m sure I now have the basis for a very strong reply to the letter.

Any more reaction or info is most welcome!!

Many thanks.


I have just finished the letter and hope to submit it today. Tell me what you think: (I have crossed out the writer’s name of course!)

Dear Editor,

As Mr. X pointed out in his letter (12/09), the abortion/religion issue cannot be settled on the letters page of a newspaper. Like Mr. X I have made my views known through the letters page and while I do not wish to dwell further on the matter, I wish to reiterate my contempt for Amnesty’s decision to aid the killing of innocent children and to say, contrary to what Mr. X claims, abortion is most certainly not a personal matter (nor can it be), since such an act always involves not just the mother, but the child, the father, the wider family – not to mention how involved society becomes through dealing with the possible consequences of abortion such as depression and suicide.

It seems to me that Mr. X has merely attempted to attack the Catholic Church with his letters and since he cannot deny Christ’s teaching of ‘you shall not kill’, he has proceeded to make ridiculous slanderous claims against the Bible and the Church. He questions why the Catholic Church should have any say in the lives of women as it for so long treated them as second-class citizens. How and when did the Church do this? We know from a previous letter that Mr. X has studied theology, yet he disregards the fact that it was the Christian Church which allowed (even before the Middle Ages) women to own land, rule kingdoms, run businesses and institutions, and write books – roles which even today are unacceptable in many cultures. Ordinary women like St. Teresa of Avila or St. Catherine of Siena certainly did not obtain the fame they have to this day because they were treated as second-class citizens by the Church. 

The letter-writer also makes the grave mistake of accusing the Church of covering up the horrors of child abuse. Have you a source, Mr. X, which shows that the Holy See had a policy of hiding priests involved in abuse? The mistakes were made by some priests, bishops, departments of education, many of whom trusted the advice of psychiatrists who wrongly believed that the offenders were ‘cured’ and were fit to resume duties in another district. However, even assuming that Mr. X’s claims were true, where did he get the idea that one must be free of personal sin to know the difference between right and wrong? 

Mr. X also twists scripture to try and portray it as a poor moral guide. Christians were never expected to ‘keep their mouths shut’ on government policy and public morality. If the early Christians had done this, why were there so many Christian martyrs? Does Mr. X forget that John the Baptist was beheaded as a result of him speaking out against the king’s marriage? Mr. X takes quotes out of context to suit himself. Yes, Christians are to ‘turn the other cheek’ to avoid violence, but it does not mean they are to keep quiet on issues though they are wrong. The letter-writer also says that St. Paul says we should accept the laws of heathen rulers. The context of the passage is Paul calling on Christians to overcome evil with good rather than being overcome with evil – this does not mean we should conceal our faith.

While Mr. X is well able to quote passages which suit him, he goes on to say that the Bible and religious tradition is full of hypocrisy and contradictions. Why have you not illustrated this with quotes from scripture, Mr. X? I suggest that it is because these contradictions do not exist when one looks at particular passages in their correct context. If you think religious tradition is hypocritical, I suggest you examine the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You will find neither contradiction with itself nor with scripture.

Finally, Mr. X asks those Christians who disagree with him to do as God commanded them and forgive him. I suggest that you first get your facts straight before you attack and slander our Faith, Mr. X. It is not forgiveness you need – especially if you are not repentant – you need the truth.

Yours Faithfully.


This is an excellent letter, but you might want to crop it a bit. The shorter your letter, the better its chances of being printed.

Actually, you want “try to” not “try and.” The way you have it written, you are saying he first made an attempt and then made a portrayal. What you mean is that he attempted to make a portrayal.

I know it’s nit-picking a bit, but if your grammar is correct, you will sound more educated and people might tend more to agree with you.

Christians were never expected to ‘keep their mouths shut’ on government policy and public morality. If the early Christians had done this, why were there so many Christian martyrs? Does Mr. X forget that John the Baptist was beheaded as a result of him speaking out against the king’s marriage? Mr. X takes quotes out of context to suit himself. Yes, Christians are to ‘turn the other cheek’ to avoid violence, but it does not mean they are to keep quiet on issues though they are wrong. The letter-writer also says that St. Paul says we should accept the laws of heathen rulers. The context of the passage is Paul calling on Christians to overcome evil with good rather than being overcome with evil – this does not mean we should conceal our faith.

I haven’t read all of the other guy’s letter, but is he actually saying he gets to express his opinion about things political but Christians shouldn’t? So much for freedom of speech.


Hi Kay Cee,

Thanks for your response - you are absolutely right to correct me on my grammatical errors! I am always correcting people on their grammar usage, so I should make sure mine is perfect before correcting others!!

I know you are right that I should keep my letter as short as possible - I do realise it is quite long. However, the editor kindly published a previous letter (by myself) which was at least as long as this, if not longer! At any rate, I don’t think there is too much irrelevant info in my letter as it is; it is quite concise and I feel that I’d be compromising valuable information if I were to edit the letter too much!

In relation to your question as to whether the letter-writer thinks that he should be allowed to express an opinion and Christians should not, I believe this is exactly what he is saying. Quite unbelievable, I know! In his first letter to the paper, which concerned the Church and Amnesty re abortion, he asked ‘If a woman truly wishes to end her pregnancy…who are the Church to tell her otherwise’. He was clearly of the view that Amnesty and its supporters can make their views known, but the Church cannot! In his current letter which I have posted on this thread, he makes the claim that Christians should keep quiet on government policy and public morality (he claims to have learnt this from Christ and St. Paul). However he does this by quoting Scripture completely out of context as I have shown. It’s ridiculous really that someone can do this (even though he claims to be a theology graduate!), but here in Ireland many people are ‘kicking the Church while it’s down’ at the moment. Up until about the 1990’s the Church had a strong hold on Irish society (beyond normal sometimes) and now that it has lost its power and has been rocked to the core by abuse scandals some people take every opportunity to slander the Church and its teaching… and few people are openly willing to come to its defence. I am one of a minority in Ireland at the moment (especially as I’m only 23!!) who are willing to support the Church by arguing against such letters and their terrible distortions of the truth…

Sorry about that rant... Thanks very much for the post!:)



Thank you so much for coming to the defence of the faith. Let’s pray that your letter is printed in its entirety and that it helps sway those who may hold views similar to those of that man.

You’re doing very well for someone who’s only 23! I’m glad to see so many in your generation becoming staunch defenders of the Church.


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