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

‘False teachings’ are driving the young away

SIR – It should not be at all surprising that a recent survey of young Catholics in Britain has revealed that many of them know little about the faith, while others have some knowledge but refuse to accept all of the Church’s teaching, both groups encompassing a wide spectrum of views about essential core beliefs (News & analysis, Britain, June 15). In addition, others have abandoned Catholicism entirely.

This is the product of recent decades, before and especially since Vatican II, when attacks on the doctrines and teachings of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, have been launched, spreading within that very Church in schools, parishes and all levels of the clergy.

These false teachings range from simply calling for a reconsideration of existing doctrines to seeking to introduce new, shall we say, more customer-friendly interpretations of them, and even to the advocating of actual heresy. The basis for this has been presented first as a need to make the Church more understanding and loving in its approach, even to the extent of ditching existing teaching that could offend or discourage others despite all doctrine being based on the
infallible and eternal will of God; and secondly so as to respect and accept present popular customs and opinions as if there was something immortal and definitive about what some portion of the world’s peoples think in 2018.

Some examples are the ideas that nobody goes to hell; that God’s mercy will (as opposed to can) overcome and forgive any sins no matter what you do; that sins can be massaged away by adopting a loving “pastoral” approach so as to avoid upsetting the sinner; and so on. We have arrived at the stage that so much internal squabbling has led people to wonder what Catholic teaching is and, if it is really so confused and unreliable, why any reasonable person should
want to follow it.

John O’Sullivan
Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Linking abortion and contraception

SIR – Jacqueline Castles writes: “I’m not sure that 462 celibate males affirming the ‘noble vision’ of the importance of eschewing contraception in married life is the best way to make an argument”; she concludes: “One cannot coherently argue against both abortion and contraception” (Letter, June 22).

And yet it is contraception that fuels the demand for abortion; when it fails, as the prominent abortion provider and campaigner Ann Furedi, head of BPAS, insists that it does, it is more likely to lead to abortion.

The early birth control campaigners knew this very well, although they could scarcely be seen to embrace both contraception and abortion, since they too argued that the former prevented the latter; however, it was not until the 1960s that birth control really came into its own, with the glamorisation of lack of self-control.

Celibacy had formerly been seen as a sign of maturity and wisdom, but the sexual revolutionaries jeered at celibacy as a sign of inexperience that disqualified a person from offering advice on personal relations. Around the same time, divorced people became experts on marriage and childless people lectured on the joys of being “child-free”.

Long before this, GK Chesterton rightly saw the birth-control movement as fundamentally anti-democratic: supposedly “a social reform that goes along with other social reforms favoured by progressive people”, birth control was in fact a “piece of mere pessimism, opposing itself to the more optimistic notion that something can be done for the whole family of man … The old oligarchs would use any tool against the new democrats; and one day it was their dismal good luck to get hold of a tool called Malthus” whose argument was “an argument against all social reform”.

The reason that the birth control pioneers had such a hard time selling their idea of contraception as essential to women’s health (not “freedom”) was that the vast majority of feminists who did speak on the idea robustly rejected it, arguing that birth control would be used to exploit and subjugate women; they proposed instead that men should exercise self-control.

The fact that men can still speak out about the link between contraception and the male exploitation of women and girls is surely a good thing; the fact that they are celibate shows that they are real experts on self-control – especially the kind offered as an act of love to God and enabled by His grace.

Ann Farmer
Woodford Green, Essex

SIR – You indicate at catholicherald.co.uk the names of more than 400 priests who have responded to the request of their bishops to affirm their agreement to the teaching of the encyclical promulgated by Paul VI in 1968, Humanae Vitae.

I might suggest that in so many ways this is a self-selecting group. If the same question were put to the laity, the result would, I am sure, be very different. But then, as it is the Catholic family that is asked day by day to live with the consequences of this teaching, why bring them into the discussion?

I remember all too well the publication of that encyclical and the subsequent anguish it produced among so many, both priests and laity. Good pastors of their people were forced from ministry as a chasm of credibility opened in the Church, a scar which remains to this day.

Now we see an attempt being made to present arguments for acceptance of teachings that were not valid then and are still less so 50 years on.

I wonder if every priest whose signature is on the website were to offer their parishioners a voice, would our views be deemed of any significant value? Many who would dissent have already made their decision, evidenced by the empty pews.

For others, the Church is our home and an informed conscience our guide. We remain in spite of the encyclical, and will continue to be saddened by the consequences of the divisive teaching it offers.

Chris McDonnell
Little Haywood, Staffordshire

Asperger’s escape

SIR – “Last century, the whole world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to purify the race,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying in last week’s Catholic Herald (leading article, June 22).

A week earlier you carried a review of a biography of Dr Hans Asperger, the well-known and esteemed identifier of the psychological syndrome that bears his name, and partly responsible for the therapeutic path to its cure. This practising Catholic – referred to as a “devout Catholic” in a new biography – was held culpable by the author for the liquidation of numberless children at the Am Spiegelgrund clinic in Vienna, presumably in collaboration with the National Socialist

In the light of Pope Francis’s strong words recently, why wasn’t Asperger prosecuted after the war for infanticide during the Hitler years? Indeed, your reviewer remarks that he remained a respected figure in Vienna society.

Steve de la Bédoyère
London SW17