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How to help the push for a new English saint
SIR – I should think every reader will have been delighted to read your report (Home news, March 17) that the Cause for the beatification of John Bradburne is under way. There hasn’t been a new English saint for quite some time, and Zimbabwe never. But, as your report says, saints don’t come cheap! The postulator has to travel a lot, interview a lot, read a lot – which in the case of John Bradburne, as your readers may recall from past articles, is a huge amount of devotional poetry.
The crowdfunding project is a great idea, as it means the John Bradburne Memorial Society will not have to divert funds from its support of the leprosy centre in Zimbabwe where John worked and prayed, and where he was eventually martyred. For readers not used to this way of giving, it is very simple: just go to the website and type in the name of the organiser as follows: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/celia-brigstocke.
You say the Cause needs donors with deep pockets. That would be lovely, but just as valuable are donors with shallow pockets. Indeed, more so, for John Bradburne is a very human saint, with his feet grounded in the trials of everyday life, and a wide popular support would be the most satisfying way for this cause to succeed.
Professor David Crystal
Holyhead, Isle of Anglesey
Two answers to the Versace dilemma
SIR – A complex and challenging moral dilemma is presented by Peter Green (Letter, March 16). He watched The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story on television and appreciated the plot and fine acting, but also found it “lurid, violent and sadistic”, with explicit gay sex scenes. At the end he felt “somewhat discomforted and a little ashamed”, and had an uneasy conscience.
Should Christians be watching “this stuff”, he asks, quoting St Paul, who enjoins us to fill our minds with everything that is true, noble, good and pure, that we love and honour and that is virtuous and praiseworthy (see Philippians 4:8). Do others share his feelings, he wonders, or does he just have an oversensitive conscience? A quick poll of my Catholic friends found us to be similarly conflicted.
But surely St Paul provides help in the preceding lines (Philippians 4:6-7): “Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus”.
And there is also the sacrament of Confession.
SIR – In reply to Peter Green, he does not have an over-sensitive conscience. The Ten Commandments forbid impure thoughts or the viewing of impure imagery. It is a sin. If we are taught to practise “ custody of the eyes” to avoid impure thoughts, then logically how can any Christian justify the watching of a film with scenes of sexual immorality or nudity? They can’t.
Before watching any film I visit Google and search for a review of the film on a Christian film review website that details the sexual, nudity and blasphemy content, and if there is any at all, I don’t watch it.
Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
SIR – Cardinal Müller (Most overlooked story, March 9) was correct when he accused the German bishops of misinterpreting canon law by proposing to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive the Blessed Eucharist if they suffer from “serious spiritual distress”, as long as they affirm “the faith of the Catholic Church”. This raises problems.
Canon Law 842.4 states that Holy Communion may be administered to a non-Catholic Christian on certain conditions, among which is that the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, “some other grave necessity urges it”, and if that person “cannot approach a minister of their own community”. The use of the example of danger of death or “other grave necessity” makes clear the extreme nature of what is required to grant this concession: I don’t know if anyone knows what is meant by being in “serious spiritual distress”, but it is suitably vague to cover a host of situations or feelings, some or most of which will not be sufficiently real or grave enough in strength or in motivation. The question is also raised as to why on earth the “sufferer” cannot solve the dreadful problem by becoming a Catholic.
Finally, it must surely be vital to investigate why the individual “cannot approach a minister of their own community”, which may be fair enough in the Gobi desert but hardly so in Glasgow; and to ask how long this is likely to last, unless it is proposed that in some cases the permission is to be open-ended.
The conditions imposed by Canon Law 842.4 are meant to protect the sanctity of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the German bishops should not seek to ease them.
Insults and reality
SIR – Mary McAleese, the former president of the Irish Republic, referred to the Catholic Church as “an empire of misogyny” (World News, March 16). I find it disappointing, as a previous admirer of Mary McAleese, when a theologian, statesperson or respected civic leader turns to insults rather than reasoned debate.
As a practising Catholic, I do see the importance of involving women at all levels within the Church. But surely any progressive change in practice has to be within the doctrines and teaching of the Church, rather than reflecting the populist views of the day.
In my parish I see a Church that does respect difference, welcomes gay and lesbian people, and enables women to play an important role at all levels of leadership and, importantly, in faith formation.
SIR – Celibacy (letter, March 16) is marvellous in that at every moment when there are challenges, God helps us if we don’t shut Him out. We need to persevere but it is always rewarding as our Lord promises.
There is no vitality to compare with what the Saviour teaches.
Fr Bryan Storey
St Paul the Apostle, Tintagel, Cornwall
SIR – One of the greatest trials of advancing years – God willing, I shall soon be 93 – is that there are times when I, like many other elderly or housebound people, am unable to attend either weekday or Sunday Mass. Modern technology can ease the problem, as several churches in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are fitted with webcams, which broadcast Masses while they are being celebrated and are easy to follow either on computers or iPads. Very few churches in England provide this facility. Perhaps our bishops could consider the matter.
St Helens, Lancashire