SIR – In his article about Prince Charles’s role in relation to a disestablished Church of England (Feature, January 4), Fr Lucie-Smith attacks the Prince of Wales’s intellectual competence on the basis of his belief in homeopathy. That is very unfair, because healing is too complex a matter for materialistic methods alone. Such methods would only be truly adequate if a human being was a purely material entity.
Fr Lucie-Smith sounds very sure that homeopathy does not work, but we do not know whether he has tested it himself, or if he is just repeating things said about it by people who do not like it. Besides, Prince Charles is not the only member of the Royal Family to use homeopathy, as the Queen also uses it. Is she too “out of touch”, and her ideas also “frankly loopy”?
The objections to homeopathy are mostly owing to cases where it does not work in those who are habituated to pharmaceutical drugs, because homeopathy requires that the body be free from agents which conflict with it. If people say that they have been cured or helped by this kind of treatment, that in itself is a fact which science must reckon with. To brand alternatives as unscientific is itself unscientific if it results from a prejudice that healing can only come from pharmaceuticals.
If Prince Charles shows a disbelief in science, it may therefore only be a disbelief in its having an exclusive hold on truth which science itself cannot demonstrate.
Dr R Bolton Exeter, Devon
Another way to read the Our Father
SIR – To get to the heart of what “Lead us not into temptation” means (or any other translation of that phrase in the Our Father), it is surely necessary to approach it from the point of view of our own personal experience of temptation (Letters, January 11). When we do this two things follow.
First, temptation appears to be inevitable and constant to the end of earthly life. The text cannot therefore mean “do not let me be tempted”. Second, our need in the moment of temptation is that we do not succumb or give in to the pressure of the tempting/testing experience. Thus, we arrive at a translation such as: “when I am tempted today, do not let me give in to it”. That is surely what Jesus meant.
We must listen to our heart as well as the, possibly fallible, translation.
Peter Green Market Harborough, Leicestershire
SIR – I feel I should reassure Roman Catholics about Anglicanism and St Stephen’s Day (Letter, January 11). Our choirs are not as bare or ruined as Melanie McDonagh (Feature, December 21) seems to think.
St Stephen’s is one of many saints’ days still very much on the Church of England’s calendar. In the Book of Common Prayer, it has its own Collect, Epistle and Gospel, as do St John the Evangelist and Innocents’ Day. There are plenty of others, including that of St Simon and St Jude, which falls on my birthday rather appropriately, as St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes.
I do wish members of the old faith would come occasionally to Anglican cathedrals and Oxbridge college chapels where they would find much that is familiar, and other things which are easy to love, including the service of choral evensong, skilfully carved from the pre-Reformation monastic cycle of prayer. You are always very welcome, and on these occasions you can be pretty sure nobody will ask you to exchange a Sign of Peace.
Peter Hitchens London W8
Satan and secularism
SIR – In “What’s behind the exorcism boom?” (Cover story, January 11), Kate Kingsbury and Andrew Chesnut correctly point out that “exorcism is on the rise” because of “the failure of modern medicine, psychology and the mod cons of capitalism to explain difficulties, resolve problems”. They conclude that “for many Catholics, Satan may ultimately be to blame for the world’s ills.”
With advancing secularisation the Evil One gains more control of the world. It is no coincidence that Pope Francis has recently urged saying the prayer to Holy Michael the Archangel: “Thrust down to hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who roam the world seeking the ruin of souls” In your October 19 edition, Fr Dominic Allain wrote that “in an increasingly secular age … the demand for the ministry of exorcists rises despite the decline in confessing Christians.”
The demand for exorcism is increasing because of secularisation as the Evil One gains more control of the world and his legions sow discord and destruction and seek the ruin of souls.
Stephen Clayton London SW16
An eloquent silence
SIR – Pope Francis has been blamed for keeping silent, instead of answering his detractors. There is a good reason why silence is the best answer to give those who revile us.
We can view them as enemies – and Jesus told us solemnly that, unless we love, respect and forgive them; unless we are totally reconciled; unless we see them as our best friends, and put their needs and happiness before our own, God will not forgive our own trespasses.
In order to achieve that, we need to ask God for His help – and we can only reach God and experience His presence in silent prayer. Hence the need for silence.
Simone Crawley Sheffield
The Pole precedent
SIR – Cardinal Newman had wise words to say about change: “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” So, it can often be beneficial to look outside the box.
In the Christmas issue we read that Pope Francis is to slim down the Council of Cardinals, while in the article “The plot to depose Henry VIII”, we read that Cardinal Pole was still a layman. This raises an interesting thought for today: would the Church benefit from the introduction of some lay cardinals? Such appointments could introduce an improved relationship between the Vatican and the laity.
David Murnaghan Dublin, Ireland
SIR – Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Since then, I have been supported by a cancer charity called Maggies in west London by Charing Cross Hospital. I attend there on a regular basis. The people are compassionate, joyous and there’s a lot of humour, plus various activities. They are warm and generous.
On the other hand, I feel the Catholic Church are very wishy-washy in their response. They don’t appear to have any understanding of how to deal with people who suffer from depression or cancer.
It is time the Church should practise what it preaches and respond to sick people with joy and compassion.