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

Mary Potter is worthy of Beatification

SIR – I read with great interest and delight the article on “The next English saint” by KV Turley. I feel it is important to keep these special people in our consciousness, as they bring great blessing on us, on England and the world.

I belong to the Little Company of Mary, the Congregation that Venerable Mary Potter founded in 1877. Her vision is as strong today as it was 141 years ago. In fact, the needs are as real and more visible because of the internet and effective communication around the world. Mary saw these needs and she acted on them.

Venerable Mary Potter felt strongly that we pray for the dying, in the spirit of Mary at the foot of the Cross on Calvary. Today we (Little Company of Mary Sisters) care for the dying, the sick and those who are dying within, from loneliness, exclusion as the refugees are excluded in many countries, from psychological and physiological suffering and physical death itself.

We Sisters are told that all we need is a miracle for her Beatification. We keep praying. In any case, I am convinced that the “cult” of Mary Potter is growing.

I pray that more people come to know this wonderful Venerable English woman who understood suffering and has passed this gift to her Sisters around the world today. Her Charism is alive and well.

Elizabeth Gilroy LCM
Tooting Bec, London

An age that needs Catholic leadership

SIR – It is source of deep concern that Catholic numbers are dwindling in Western Europe and North America.

The Church is weakened yet further by constant attacks on the faith from humanists, libertarians, atheists and lawmakers. (Our freedom even to practise and teach Catholic doctrine is currently being limited by law.)

These problems are intensified when, in your issue of July 27, 2018, the articulate Bishop Robert Barron apparently has no words of practical guidance on evangelisation. And in your second editorial you bleakly concede – referring to evangelisation – that “we do not really know how to do it”.

But I think it is less a question of “how to …” than that we, the laity, have lost heart.

Our spiritual leaders, priests and bishops have played a significant part in bringing the faith to its current low point. Not only because of clerical abuse – the holiest became the worst – but because church leaders did not tackle the problem, and on some occasions even covered it up.

There can be no evangelisation without deep belief and conviction that our faith is true and the Church unsullied. But we lack leadership. In Britain, notably in areas like education and medicine, we are losing our religious freedom and yet hardly a Catholic voice is heard in meaningful or sustained protest.

Yet there is one area of hope and help: the Catholic online media. Every day articles show us in a specific and practical way that the faith is very much alive. The following are a few examples: the Catholic Herald; the Catholic News Agency (CNA); Right to Life; Aid to the Church in Need (ACN); and CitizenGO.

They are no less than inspiring – the faith kept very much alive. Perhaps this is a way – if we take it – to stimulate us to defend the faith which is so worth fighting for.

Bernard Keigher
By email

Don’t put trust in ‘fast food’ ecumenism

SIR – We all know devout friends who attend Mass daily. They make sure, no matter how tight their schedules, that they make it to Mass. Sometimes, though, they become lax in their efforts to be on time, rationalising that as long as they make it before the Our Father, they can take communion. For them, the communion line has become a fast food line.

There is another kind of precocious legalism and disrespect for the Blessed Sacrament which characterises German bishops who have allowed Protestants to receive communion. Their logic is that the sacrament is food for the journey, not just for those who see themselves as perfect, not just for Catholics who hold to the doctrine of Transubstantiation and to the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance for serious sin – both considered ripe for re-legislation by committee.

This legalistic personalism (“my religion is between Jesus and me alone”), disguised as a merciful antinomianism (a rejection of any “unmerciful” rules) is further supported by a centuries-old Reformist ubiquitism (“Christ is everywhere anyway”).

These hackneyed ideas downplay any sense of the Host as the Real Presence other than as loving symbol. In this crisis, it becomes the Eucharistic bread to share, a loving symbol of reunification.

Pundits such as Stefan Kiechle SJ, editorialising recently at the online journal, Stimmen Der Zeit, depict this latest controversy as between the ritual-bound and the merciful.

I would argue, however, that an easy “fast food” ecumenism does not respect our real differences nor the holiness of God. In neglecting these, the hope of reunification is pushed farther off rather than brought closer. We reach for a false unity and false mercy. Through this rash push, the peace and unity of the Universal Church is harmed.

We should certainly come to the table of dialogue to work out our inter-denominational and intra-denominational differences. But as the saying goes, dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh, but it is the law. Mercy must guide us in any reform, but it must be a deep mercy channelled carefully by logic and tradition.

Clare McGrath-Merkle
Mitchellville, Maryland, United States

A quantum shift

SIR – Following the government’s new draft guidelines on sex education, the Catholic Education Service calculates that, each year, few if any 15-year-olds attending Catholic schools are likely to overrule their parents on sex education. This is not good enough.

The number of 15-year-olds is irrelevant. Education Secretary Damian Hinds’s proposal represents a sinister undermining of parents. The maturity needed to become a godparent and to be confirmed is not equivalent to the maturity needed to make decisions about sexual matters, which can have lasting physical and emotional consequences for young people. A parent knows what is best for their 15-year-old child, not the child or the school.

And let’s dispel the myth that because very few parents currently withdraw their children from sex education lessons, ‘‘little will, in fact, change” when sex education in secondary schools becomes a compulsory subject. Wrong.

The right of parental withdrawal has acted as a restraint on all schools. Once parents are powerless to influence the school, we will see more and more explicit and provocative sex education in our schools.

Parents should be aware that the legislation coming into force in 2020 represents a quantum shift in the role of parents.

In 2017 the Catholic MP Sir Edward Leigh said that making relationships and sex education compulsory subjects would be seen by many as “a state takeover bid for parenting”. He was right.

Antonia Tully
SPUC Safe at School