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

Young Catholics must be united

SIR – The growing divide among young Catholics in England and Wales between those who align themselves with traditionalists and those who regard themselves as liberals appears to be ever increasing.

As a Catholic in my mid-twenties I find it disconcerting that many choose to align themselves with either one of these “camps”, especially as in our ever-more secularised society Catholics need to be united.

It’s a particular shame to hear many traditional and right-wing Catholics constantly make reference to how wonderful things were before the Second Vatican Council and how the liturgy was so much better then.
As someone who has an appreciation for reverent liturgy, I find it encouraging that many others respect and understand the importance of dignified liturgy. But our faith needs to be inclusive and not exclusive. Sadly, for many people the traditional Latin Mass does not encourage them in their faith – and I say that as someone who has a real appreciation for it.

I find it strange that some young Catholics feel they can speak as a voice of authority on an era they were not alive in. It’s a shame to hear young Catholics who were born after the Second Vatican Council complain that life in the Church before the Council was better.

I remember having this discussion with a priest once who said that, for him, life was certainly not better pre-Council. He had memories of attending Mass in Latin as a young boy and they were not pleasant ones. He recalled priests who had no idea how to celebrate the Latin Mass appropriately, and lay people who were disengaged and unaware of what was going on.

Young Catholics need to be united, not divided, and if the liturgy continues to cause divisions then how are we showing love and respect to Our Lord?

Donato Tallo
Eastbourne, East Sussex

An inter-generational crisis is brewing

SIR – We read with great interest Lord Hylton’s recent contribution (Letter May 18) and the response (Letter, June 22) regarding ministry for young adults in the Church. We would agree with much of what was said and would like to make one more contribution.

In a Church of ageing leadership and membership, but where it is essential to steward the tradition, there is an inter-generational crisis brewing. Decision-makers must find ways to serve the needs of young people even while they become increasingly remote from their experience. This is the Church’s equivalent of inter-generational inequality in wealth, seen in society more broadly.

In our experience the best strategies for keeping young people involved in the Church begin with engaging with them in discussions about meeting their needs. In advance of the synod on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment”, much more needs to be done to engage young people nationally and within dioceses.

Knowing the gap in formation for young adults post-Confirmation and university, we have been part of a group of Catholic young adults who began to meet and communicate out of a shared desire for formation and fellowship. Meeting under the title of “Forming Missionary Disciples”, we gathered over weekends for prayer and formation.

To contribute to the synod process, we are independently organising another gathering for young adults in September to reflect on our place and role within the Church. We would ask others, across generations, for their prayers and to get in touch (via the Catholic Herald) if they are interested in joining us.

Phil Callaghan, Chris Knowles and Adam O’Boyle
By email

SIR – This might horrify your correspondent (Letter, June 22), but most of the young Catholics I know side with the “462 celibate males” who fully endorse the prophetic message of Humanae Vitae. It might make her shudder but they tend to embrace orthodoxy and dogma in an age of relativism. Alas, I pen this at the ripe old age of 40, so maybe, like the 462 celibate males, I am in her view disqualified from an opinion.

John Gramstadt
By email

Anti-Brexit ‘artistes’

SIR – I was disturbed by Nick Thomas’s assertion (Charterhouse, June 23) that the“artistic community” hasn’t “the ghost of a clue what the European Union is really about or why so many people want to leave it”, regarding such people as cretins who “shouldn’t have the vote”.

Of course I know what he means but his readers may be confused; the communities he refers to are not us honourable painters and sculptors who have scraped a living throughout our lives, selling our work how we can and supporting our families. He is referring to the artistes, with an “e”, the sort who disport themselves on a stage and often seem to regard what they have to say for themselves as being of the utmost importance.

What distinguishes these thespians is their invincible ignorance of history and the most basic practicalities of ordinary life and living. They are compulsive virtue-signallers, politically correct to the nth degree and sheep-like in their desperation to be as close to the opinions of the likes of Bono as it is possible to be. Of all professional people they are the most conventional, following the party line to the end of the road. It would indeed be hard to find a Brexiteer among them.

Real artists, in my experience, are very likely to be Brexiteers because, perhaps more than any other people, they value and understand freedom and independence. It is why they were among the first to be targeted by the pagan revolutions that have blighted the modern era, beginning with the French. They are unreliable because they are used to thinking for themselves. People like that are dangerous and threaten the accepted wisdom imposed by their masters.

I wonder how many of our vaunted celebrities in the media and on the stage realise quite how uninteresting they are.

John Hoar
South Molton, Devon

Firm foundations

SIR – Your correspondent Chris McDonnell (Letter, June 29) tells us that the teachings of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae “were not valid then and are still less so 50 years on”, and instead we should rely on “an informed conscience as our guide”.

Perhaps your correspondent would be so kind as to let us know on what foundations we should inform our consciences if not on those of the Church’s teachings?

Philip Goddard
London SE19

SIR – Jacqueline Castles (Letter, June 22) raises an important point. I’d have thought it was obvious, although apparently not, that the more sexual self-control is promoted the fewer abortions there would be, especially on account of user failure rate through artificial birth prevention.

Fr Bryan Storey
St Paul the Apostle, Tintagel, Cornwall

Stealing van Eyck

SIR – I was disturbed to read that the Irish government is planning to force Catholic-owned institutions to act against Catholic beliefs on the grounds that they are “publicly funded” (Feature, June 22). Publicly funded institutions are not paid out of the pocket of the the Taoiseach, Dáil or government, and in a truly tolerant, diverse society they would not be treated as if they are in the pocket of the government either.

The government is happy to fund abortion by taking tax and social insurance from Catholics and others who are revolted by abortion.
They should at least have the decency to do it in a way that doesn’t infringe our human rights and dignity.

David Houlton
Letterkenny, Co Donegal

A poet’s sanctuary

SIR – Will Gore’s article about the stolen Caravaggio (Fine Art, July 6), reminded me of the story of another lost artwork: The Just Judges by Jan van Eyck. This panel from the celebrated Ghent Altarpiece was taken on the night of April 10, 1934. The thief demanded a ransom of a million Belgian francs from the Bishop of Ghent. The government refused to pay and the alleged culprit, Arsène Goedertier, declared on his deathbed that he would take the secret of its location to the grave. To this day, a detective remains assigned to the case.

Hannah Green
Salisbury, Wiltshire