Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Waterford News & Star columnist Fr Liam Power pictured at St Joseph & Benildus Church in Waterford city.

Letters to the Editor… your voice, your view



I am writing in response to Father Power’s column, “There must be a limit to appeasing Ultra Catholics” (published Waterford News & Star, September 15th, 2020).

In this column, Father Power recalls events that occurred at his church during the reception of Holy Communion, in which members of his congregation defied Covid guidelines as imposed by the Bishops, not the Government, to satisfy their own religious convictions. He then attempts to link such religious opinions as indicative of far right, conspiratorial and generally unpleasant political views.

Father Power’s attempt to correlate a different theological view to his own as having “the whiff of fascism” about it seems to me to betray a certain self-righteousness, as well as a certainty in the virtue of his own opinion, to the opposition of others.

Catholics who maintain an orthodox, traditional, understanding of the Church are not the hooded boogeymen Father Power imagines, and presents, them to be. His attempt to demonise a group he dislikes on theological grounds, as political threats to the common good, is derisive, inflammatory, and frankly, false.

There are, without doubt, movements at work in the world which present legitimate threats to public safety. The tiny groups of people who oppose the wearing of masks, or believe the present pandemic to be a conspiracy theory, are a fringe of a fringe, numbering a fraction of the population to be regarded as a peripheral nuisance at best, an irrelevancy at worst.

To be clear, the “high profile” journalists and political groups which Father Power alludes to in his piece secured no more than 1.9% of the vote within their own constituencies, and 0.2% of the vote nationally in the most recent election. If that is not an irrelevancy, I don’t know what is.

On the other hand, there are significant numbers of Catholics, particularly those in a younger demographic, who maintain traditional understandings of the Catholic faith, her liturgy and the Eucharist.

Many believe that the reception of the Eucharist in the hand to be distasteful and out of line with traditional practice and understanding of the Christian faith. Other religious communities such as the Eastern Orthodox Church share this view and defend the practice of direct reception of the Eucharist in all their churches, not only in Ireland, but throughout the world. Are we to accept that, based on their religious preferences, traditional Christians are in truth, closeted Nazis itching for the return of Goebbels and Himmler?

Naturally, we should answer these bland assertions as the falsehoods that they are. However, we should look more deeply at Father Power’s own motives in attempting to link religious positions he dislikes with political movements which are genuine dangers.

The “Association of Catholic Priests” is a highly liberal group, which Father Power regularly references in his columns with admiration. This group, according to their website, railed against the direct reception of the Eucharist as far back as 2013, when a Pandemic was but a trope in fiction.

In our church, those who wish to receive the Eucharist on the tongue are requested to wait until everyone else has received. This enables our priest to cater for all opinions in the church and presents no threat to anyone.

Father Power may try to demonise those whose beliefs he does not share by attaching a “whiff of fascism about them”, I can only respond that there is a stench of hypocrisy emanating from Newtown and Ballygunner, if not the odour of something altogether more agricultural.


Seáinín Mac Brádaigh,



Dear Editor,

Fr Liam Power mentioned John Waters in his recent article. In the interest of fairness I suggest it would be a good idea to invite John Waters to respond to the allegation made against him. John, for more than a quarter of a century, has been one of the very rare contrarian voices in the Irish media most members of which sing from the same hymn sheet.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Slevin,

The Moorings,

Maypark Lane,




Fr Liam Power makes an outrageous claim when comparing a person wishing to receive holy communion from a priest and on the tongue to white, Fascist Trump supporters. Apparently, exercising this right (which is enshrined in canon law) is proof that the communicant and everyone like him is an alt-right conspiracy theorist.
Not only are these claims incorrect, they are unhelpful and uncharitable.
While Bishops can request communicants receive holy communion on the hand, they cannot demand it. That choice lies with the person receiving. Communion can never be denied a person just because they wish to receive it on the tongue. Moreover, there has been no recorded case of Covid-19 transmission via receiving communion this way.
While prudent measures may be necessary to prevent transmission of a virus within a church environment, this over the top response by some parishes shows an unbalanced concern for physical health over the health of the soul.

Yours faithfully,

Alice Woolven,
Victoria, Australia


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