Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh

Home Forums Ireland reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh


Obviously, something is moving in an Bord Pleanala. In addition to the article mentioned by Paul Clerkin, the Sunday Independent of today (8 January 2006) published the following article by Jerome Reilly.

Pope’s letter published in Irish local newspaper

ALETTER from Pope Benedict that, bizarrely, found its way into the columns of the Carlow Nationalist newspaper 10 years ago may become a trump card for those trying to stop building work at one of Ireland’s most famous cathedrals, in Cobh, Co Cork.

At the time he was merely a cardinal in Rome, but His Eminence Joseph Ratzinger was an increasingly close confidant of the already frail Pope John Paul, and his own reputation within the Catholic hierarchy was on the rise.

But despite onerous responsibilities at the centre of ecclesiastical power, Cardinal Ratzinger was still keeping a close eye on the pages of the Nationalist.

The 1996 correspondence was unearthed by the Friends of St Colman’s Cathedral (FOSCC), a lobby group bitterly opposed to a redesign of the interior proposed by Bishop John Magee of Cloyne.

Adrian O’Donovan, one of those opposed to any change in the Cobh cathedral’s architecture, told the Sunday Independent last week: “We believe that the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger, now His Holiness Pope Benedict, supports our claim that there is no liturgical or theological reason to change the interior.”

An Bord Pleanala is dueto give its decision on anappeal relating to theredesign within days butthe controversy which has deeply divided the diocese could yet end up in the civil courts.

The matter has led to some opponents threatening to boycott church services within the diocese of Cloyne if the redesign goes ahead.

The cathedral dominates Cork harbour but a bitter nine-year row has rumbled on over the bishop’s plans to renovate the interior of the structure designed by Edward W Pugin and George Ashlin. More than 30,000 signatures have been collected in a petition opposed to the changes, which include the expansion and extension of the existing sanctuary – and the relocation of the bishop’s chair to a more central location.

Bishop Magee and his clergy believe the changes are essential to bring the cathedral in line with Vatican II changes to the liturgy.

But Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter, published in full in the Carlow Nationalist, appears to question this.

In 1996 there was a similar controversy at Carlow Cathedral over the dismantling of the high altar proposed by Bishop Laurence Ryan. Opponents claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger held the view that changes to church interiors were not mandatory under Vatican II, and Bishop Ryan subsequently wrote to the cardinal seeking confirmation. The reply from Cardinal Ratzinger to the bishop remained secret until a High Court judge hearing a subsequent court case asked that the letter be produced in court, and it was then published in the Nationalist.

The letter from Cardinal Ratzinger to the bishop shows he was aware of the war of words in the letters page of the local newspaper.

“Thank you for your letter of April 18 in which you ask for a clarification of certain observations attributed to me by Mr Michael Davies in a letter recently published by a local newspaper in your diocese,” the man who was to become Pope responded.

“It is certainly true that a great number of churches since the Second Vatican Council have been re-arranged; such changes, while inspired by the liturgical reform, cannot however be said to have been required by the legislation of the church,” he wrote.

But like all theological matters the letter could be open to another interpretation. Cardinal Ratzinger adds: “In conclusion, it is the right and duty of the local bishop to decide on these questions and, having done so, to help the faithful to come to an understanding of the reasons for his decision. Trusting that this explanation proves helpful to you in your particular circumstances and with an assurance of kind regards, I remainsincerely yours in Christ, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.”

Jerome Reilly

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