SIR – When Pope Francis arrives in Ireland, it appears he will be give a list of reforms which various factions, both inside and outside the church, believe he should implement. Top of the list, of course, will be the ordination of women to the priesthood. Not much further down will be the introduction of same sex marriage.
Pope Francis can only reply, with the utmost diplomacy, by saying these measures are contrary to the teaching of the church. But these are man-made rules, the reformers will say.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman put it most succinctly when, after affirming his belief in Jesus Christ as the second person of the Holy Trinity, he continued: ‘..... and I hold in veneration, for the love of Him alone, Holy Church as his creation and her teachings as his own.’
So there we have it. The church is not man made and her teachings were not concocted by human reasoning. We cannot encompass the almightiness of God within the bounds of human understanding. Human wisdom is as a grain of sand, the wisdom of God is as all the sand on the seashore, and more.
God created men and women, and made them very different, to have different responsibilities. To men he gave a paternal nature, that of fatherhood. To those chosen he ordains as priests. To women he gives the responsibility of motherhood and al that that entails. Both are of equal importance, a kind of divine equality exists. Each can play a supportive role to the other, but men cannot be mothers and women cannot be fathers.
Likewise, the sacrament of marriage can only be bestowed on a man and a woman. Two men, or two women, is utterly absurd.
Many see the church at a low ebb in Ireland, some talk of terminal decline and it would be true to say that for many secular ideology has replaced religion. But that ideology is not founded on a rock but on the shifting sands of human reasoning, it cannot last.
May the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis be a turning of the tide.