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
The sad irony of the Communion debate
SIR – It is with considerable surprise and interest that I have followed the controversy concerning the various permutations and combinations of who should and should not receive, and who could and could not receive, Communion. It is even more intriguing that Amoris Laetitia, which had the overriding intention of extending pastoral care, is now being presented as polarising and divisive (leading article, April 13).
The purpose of this letter is not to enter into the controversy of the legality according to canon law or other sources, but to express my surprise as why such a matter of who is entitled to receive Communion, which affects a relatively small portion of the population, has attracted such enormous attention.
My point is that the time that is now spent on the legalities of who can receive Communion, while ignoring the state of grace of the entire congregation that queues up Sunday after Sunday to receive it, is almost hypocritical. Perhaps some of your readers will recall the time when daily Communion was not only discouraged, but also the confessor would decide how often a penitent might be permitted to receive it.
The bishops and cardinals are so engrossed in the debate on the rights and wrongs of who is entitled to receive Communion that they seem to be not just oblivious but also go as far as ignoring the attitude of the vast number of communicants each and every Sunday. Could those who hug the limelight with their display of loyalty to the Church’s teaching justify turning a blind eye to “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself” (1 Corinthians 11:29).
Many reforms have been attributed to Pope Francis but he did, during his general audience on March 14, remind Catholics of the need to obtain absolution for grave sins before receiving the Eucharist. Given the present state in which we find ourselves, a reawakening would most appropriately be “from reform to polarisation”. And, dare I say it, a predictable and dramatic drop in church attendance.
Alfie’s parents were failed by the bishops
SIR – Cardinal Nichols may be right that some elements of “Alfie’s Army” were pursuing their own agenda (News, May 11), but that does not excuse the English and Welsh bishops’ failure to support his parents in wanting to take up the invitation of the Bambino Gesù hospital to treat Alfie.
As parents of a boy who died after a week in a medically induced coma following an accident, my wife and I have always been grateful that we were spared the agony of being asked to consent to withdrawal of life support. Although we did not doubt the best intentions of his medical team, had he lived longer we would have insisted on exploring every option to ensure he did not die needlessly, including seeking treatment abroad.
Lessons should have been learned from the case of Ashya King in 2014, when Southampton General Hospital opposed his parents’ wish to take him to Prague to treat a brain tumour with proton therapy, then unavailable in the UK. His parents had to “abduct” their own child, for which the father was arrested in Spain. Ashya was eventually allowed to go abroad to receive the treatment and was just last month declared free of cancer.
The obvious lessons are that medical professionals are not infallible and they should respect parents’ natural instincts to do the utmost for their child, even if doctors think further treatment is futile, as long such efforts do not cause more suffering.
Instead, the lesson Alder Hey appears to have learned is to tighten security to prevent Alfie’s parents from removing him.
How does that square with the Archbishop of Liverpool’s claim that Alder Hey did everything humanly possible in Alfie’s “best interests”? Whether treatment in Rome would have helped we do not know, but Alder Hey and the courts have ensured we never will.
SIR – I agree with Marion Morgan’s description of heaven (Letter, April 27) in which we shall “be lost in his infinite beauty, truth and oneness”, and also that we will be “pouring out love and joy to all that is somehow still around us”. I disagree, though, that we have to turn inside out in a different direction to do this. In contemplating God we are, as she says, seeing “all things in him”. The two are not incompatible but one reality. It is love of God and love of neighbour, one commandment, one movement of love.
I also disagree that contemplation is “a very passive state”. The supreme example is Mary at the Annunciation, where she is totally receptive to God’s action, and at the same time totally dynamic in her fiat, which opens her up to the creative, active love of God and inserts her into his redemptive plan for mankind. This is true of all contemplation here on earth as it is in heaven.
Two paintings of the Resurrection in the Easter edition of the Catholic Herald illustrate this. One shows Jesus erect and motionless above the restless waves of the world. The other shows him in total motion blessing the world, filled with the Spirit. Both are true at the same time.
God’s being of love is immutable, unchanging, eternal. At the same time it is creative, ever new, ever in motion, poured out, love giving and receiving, in the Trinity; and that is the life we already have and which we will share for all eternity.