Letters & Emails

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

Our church is nothing like a theatre

SIR – Pastor Iuventus (February 9) wrote: “It struck me that in most places there is little real sense that the church is other than a meeting place not unlike a theatre.”

I go to the theatre or cinema perhaps twice a year and know no one in the audience other than the friend I am with. I am lucky enough, although in my 80s, to be able to drive to church every day. It is an Abba’s House and in it I find my brothers and sisters in Christ, with many of whom I have a closer relationship than some members of my distant family because I see them every day.

One is just widowed, another has terminal cancer but can still get to church, another is recovering from a serious operation. We have joyful events too: a new baby has arrived, an exam has been passed or that operation has had a successful outcome. If we were in a family home would we all ignore each other, or would we lovingly speak?

Yes, we are silent during the Mass, all of us talking to our most beloved brother of all – Jesus Christ – and then after Mass our conversations are similar to those our brother Christ might be having with us, if could he speak – encouraging, consoling, even hugging us in joy.

A parish priest who is there every day, and has time to talk to his parishioners and really know them, might have the same sort of conversations. Alas, with many parish priests having to cover or act as a one-off supply priest, there is less chance of the clergy forming any fraternal relationships such as fellow parishioners can and do. The conversations Pastor Iuventus objects to are merely parishioners acting in loco Christi, which the visiting priest no longer can.

Elizabeth Price (Mrs)
Linton, Kent

How to resolve the Lord’s Prayer debate

SIR – I have followed the debate on the English version of the Lord’s Prayer with great pastoral concern. There need not be a bitter, polarised polemic on the issue, as happened in the case of Christ shedding his blood “for many” or “for all”, since there is a third way. This would be true to both the Greek and the Gospel.

James (1:13) is surely true to the Gospel when he writes, “God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one”; and the New English Bible is true to the Greek when it gives “Do not bring us to the test” in the Our Father.

Although I would prefer “Do not put us to the test”, this is good theology and is much milder that the present “Lead us not into temptation”. Even St James would, I think, agree.

Fr Raymond Hickey OSA
Jos, Nigeria

Where unity lies

SIR – Dr Eleanor Care (Letters, February 9) is concerned about tweets which “diminish the leadership of Pope Francis”. She affirms that “the Pope is not a dictator: he works with the cardinals and bishops and many appointed advisers”. I am sure all the cardinals and bishops, let alone the author of the ebook The Dictator Pope (News Focus, December 15), would be relieved to hear this, and not just those who enthusiastically follow his leadership, wherever it takes the Church.

She may be right that “criticism is fruitless”, but canonically we are bound to offer it when “leadership” encourages one group of bishops and their faithful to believe and practise one thing and another group the opposite. It cannot be disloyal to face up to the reality of where the current source of disunity in the Church resides, rather than being preoccupied with keeping up appearances of harmony.

I suspect that the Lord Himself was accused by the Pharisees of causing disunity in Judaism; St John Fisher of causing disunity among the English bishops; and St Athanasius of causing disunity among the Church when it was much more convenient to “leadership” to sell out to Arianism.

In our own times we are called again to search our consciences and remember where the Truth that underpins our unity in Christ actually lies. If we do not, then the quoted experiences of the Anglican Communion will be a picnic by comparison – and that Communion knows where seeking unity for unity’s sake takes you. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Deacon John Wakeling

Mass appeal

SIR – Michael Davis’s plea (Comment, February 16) to the wider Church not to make ill-informed assumptions about the kinds of people who attend Tridentine Masses instances the demise of the “mouldy bigots” image of Latin Mass-goers, and the rise of a new generation of youngsters attracted to this form of the liturgy.

May I then make a plea in turn? Please remember that not all of us, of whatever age, who attend Mass in the vernacular “enjoy singing Dan Schutte hymns and holding hands for the Lord’s Prayer”. Not that that sort of thing is as prevalent as it once was.

The new translation of the Latin Rite is more dignified than the version we had previously, and it seems, here in England at least, that in many places some beautiful old hymns are being rediscovered, and there is more solemnity in the liturgy, something that Pope Benedict encouraged; the same pope who made room for the “Extraordinary” form of the rite, while maintaining the “Ordinary”. Could some of the improvements also be the result of a gradual change in the generations?

Alice Pavey (Mrs)
Basingstoke, Hampshire

Treasure our priests

SIR – Mary Kenny’s throwaway remark about married priests (Comment, February 16) asserts that “most Catholics” do not recognise the value of our celibate priesthood and their availability to us lay people.

I can’t let this casual statement go unchallenged. In my experience, it is only Catholics who rely on the media to supply their opinions and have not thought the issue through who think thus. How can a working priest possibly be fully available to his parishioners and be a family man as well? If we do not realise what our priests are putting into their lives and vocations, it is a sign of our limited thinking and lack of understanding.

As an ex-Anglican, I am able to say that there is a world of difference between a priest fully living his vocation and a married man (or woman) whose job is being a “priest”. And if there are priests who feel unsupported and undervalued, which there are, it is an indictment of us lay people who do not value or support them sufficiently.

Susan Rodger

A need indeed

SIR – Quentin de la Bédoyère suggests (Science and Faith, February 9) that, had the Catholic Herald been listened to in the 1950s, there would have been no need for Vatican II. The founder of that great Council, St John XXIII, wanted to bring the Church up to date, by which he meant up to date with its roots in Jesus Christ. The vernacular use was one of many key responses, while ill-conceived criticism of the Church by some of its members has been a spin-off.

Adrian Huchet
London SW17