Comments of the week

Letters should include a genuine postal or email address, phone number and the style or title of the writer. Email: [email protected]

Due to space constraints, please keep correspondence below 250 words, longer letters may be published online

Put the ordinariate in charge of schools

SIR – The recent news about abuse at two major Catholic schools has been very distressing (Britain, News & analysis, August 17). I did not attend either Ampleforth or Downside but am familiar with their high academic reputation and I have friends from both schools. The possibility that these schools may not survive would be a terrible blow to Catholic education in the United Kingdom.

Perhaps now is the time to rethink the approach to the management of these schools in order to separate the monasteries from the schools while retaining their Catholic ethos. The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, wrote of the prophetic nature of the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The ordinariate now comprises more than 100 priests.

These priests are all former Anglican priests (apart from two newly ordained former seminarians and two former deacons) and about 90 per cent of them are married. Priests of the ordinariate work in parishes around the country. They work as hospital and prison chaplains. But there are only four parishes which are wholly cared for by ordinariate priests.

The ordinariate has its own liturgy which is known as Divine Worship and is a distinct form of the Latin Rite.

Is this not the time for the ordinariate to be brought to the centre of English Catholicism by entrusting to it the management of one or more Catholic schools? The move from monastic governance to management by married Catholic priests might be considered by traditional Catholics to be a step too far, but the reality of the situation is that a large number of married Catholic priests exist in this country and they could fulfil a very important role in the spiritual education of young English Catholics.

Nicolas Ollivant
London SW1

How the law allows death by dehydration

SIR – The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of “Y” has confirmed what the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have advised doctors caring for patients with the persistent vegetative state or minimally conscious state (Britain news analysis, August 10). It will also apply to other conditions where tube feeding is being given and the “quality of life” has been deemed poor.

They use the term “continuous artificial nutrition and hydration” (CANH for short), which in most cases just means food and fluid by feeding tube.

The Bland judgment turned it into “medical treatment”, and thus it could be withheld or withdrawn. The recent judgment has also removed any need for the Court of Protection to be involved as long as doctors and families are in agreement.

The scene is now set for a slow death from dehydration, which is one of the worst deaths possible. The guidance from the BMA and RCP is silent about the suffering involved and, furthermore, they say that death from dehydration should not be mentioned on the death certificate. Doctors unwilling to follow this guidance should hand over care to those who will. It is hard to think of anything more divisive to the harmony of critical care teams. It will affect thousands of doctors with conscientious objections.

How is one to protect one’s self from such a terrible death? The only remedy open to a future patient is make one’s objection known in advance. If you have a welfare attorney, make sure they know your view on this. It is best to put it in writing and have a signed and witnessed advance statement such as “I forbid death by dehydration”.

Dr Anthony Cole
Chairman, Medical Ethics Alliance,
Broadheath, Worcestershire

We need lay leaders

SIR – This morning I attended what Damian Thompson referred to as a Mass parody (Charterhouse, August 17). It was a well-attended weekday Eucharistic service for a parish of small numbers but large in area. People cover large distances to attend. Most are of senior age, and would find it very difficult to travel to another parish church.

Our parish priest will be 85 years young in November, and we understand that when he ends his great service to two parishes in our area the diocese will be unable to provide a replacement.

I was fortunate some years ago to become the first lay leader in the parish. We now have five, all of whom are very devout
servants of the sacrament, who have fulfilled their training with total commitment.

The service this morning, as always, was held with total devotion to the Sacrament. Nothing else would be acceptable in our parish. The most important result was that several parishioners, who would not have otherwise, received the Blessed Sacrament.

It is easy for someone, situated in the centre of a large city, surrounded by services and the choice of churches within easy reach, to make light of Eucharistic services without a priest. However, for elderly people living in rural areas fighting to keep their parish community in existence, these services are essential and invaluable.

Peter McManus
Haltwhistle, Northumberland

A queue at the bakers

SIR – I write regarding Kevin Grant’s letter (August 17) on Communion in the hand. When this practice was introduced, I went along with it. However, I have now changed my mind after a few issues I have experienced. One was at a funeral when two people sitting in front of me whispered to each other: “I will if you will.” This made me uneasy and I followed them up to Communion. Sadly one of the ladies put the Sacred Host in her pocket. The priest was unaware of this, so at the end of Mass I had to approach her and tell her she could not take the Sacred Host out of the church and asked her to consume it.

On another occasion, my husband found a Sacred Host on the pavement. He was shocked and took it straight back to the church where the priest consumed it. Lastly, my husband’s hands were very rough owing to his job, and when receiving the Sacred Host sometimes particles were left on his hand. This is another serious issue. If other people are not aware of this and these particles are dropped to the floor, where is respect for Almighty God?

My husband and myself now receive on the tongue. We feel respect has left the church. Standing in two lines waiting to receive Communion is like waiting in a queue at the bakers. Bring back the Communion rails and people kneeling to receive Almighty God. If you can’t kneel, you can stand at the rail.

Diane Botto

Category error

SIR – Veritatis Splendor was an outstanding encyclical and dealt with fundamental moral theology. As Fr Raymond de Souza (Comment, August 17) rightly points out, it dealt with, inter alia, moral absolutes and intrinsic evil.

It is, however, a category error on Fr de Souza’s part to apply what it said about intrinsic evil to pastoral approaches to administering Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried (which Pope Francis is in favour of allowing in certain circumstances).

Brother David Hodges
Caldey Abbey, Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire