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

Poor Clare exodus will leave us bereft

SIR – It is impossible, of course, to quantify the value given to a community when it has a contemplative religious order at the heart of its daily life. The citizens of Lynton and Lynmouth have lived as one with an order of Poor Clare Sisters in its main street for more than 100 years. The daily ringing of the Angelus bell at its three set times has made the whole area aware of these calls to prayer, and the scurrying of the extern Sister going about her business in the town has given us regular fleeting encounters with life “on the inside”. However, the true value to the area is unfathomable by mere mortals. It has been a God-given gift to this place.

By the middle of September our much-valued community of Sisters will have dispersed from their Lynton house around the
country, to other religious communities, and we will be left bereft. These Lynton Sisters of Poor Clare have been a silent and prayerful constant in all our lives. We as a community, outside their strict regime of prayerful watching and waiting on God, have been enriched by their lives devoted to us through the eyes of God.

Their constant prayerfulness has helped many of us at a personal level through our own difficult times, as well as during disasters within our community, not forgetting the constant troubles in various parts of the world – natural and man-made.

It has been a constant joy to have worshipped with the Sisters at Mass over the years. Until recently this privilege was available
on a daily basis when they had a resident chaplain. They, in their Christ-like humility, will not be fully aware of the great affection in which they are held by all here, especially those within the sound of the Angelus – and that is most of us, even at seven o’clock in the morning. We are so very grateful for all they have done for us, and now it is our turn to remember them, and past Sisters, in our prayers. May God bless them all, and those who remain to listen for the bell that will have fallen silent.

Andrew K White
Lynton, Devon

Francis is right about the death penalty

SIR – I am mystified by the number of people who seem to be taking exception to the Holy Father’s pronouncement that the death penalty is inadmissible (Leading article, August 10).

Some claim they don’t know what the word means. Don’t they have dictionaries? It means it’s not allowed. Isn’t that clear enough? Should it come as any surprise that a Church which condemns abortion and euthanasia also disapproves of the death penalty? No, it shouldn’t. It is all part of our belief in the sanctity of life.

Then there is the objection that this is a departure from traditional Church teaching and that the Bible allows the death penalty. The Bible also approves the stoning to death of people who violate the Sabbath, abuse their parents and, in the case of girls, are found not to be virgins on their wedding night.

Do the objectors think that the Church has never changed its mind about anything? We used to burn people at the stake for heresy, but we came to the conclusion that this was not a Christian act. To express abhorrence of the death penalty is to move closer to the teaching of Christ. That’s the kind of change we need constantly to seek. The old-fashioned word for it is conversion, and it is an ongoing process.

Greg Warren
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Man of influence

SIR – As possible evidence for the truth of the allegation of Archbishop Viganò that Cardinal Joseph Tobin owed his advancement to Cardinal McCarrick (US news analysis, August 31), your reporter says that “Tobin was a relatively obscure prelate prior to his appointment to Newark.”

A little research might have shown him that Cardinal Tobin had a more varied and illustrious career than that. He spent 18 years in Rome as a member of the general council of the Redemptorist Congregation, of which he is a member, 12 of them as superior general of what is still one of the larger congregations of men. In this capacity, he attended the synod of bishops in 2005. A fluent Spanish speaker, he participated in a Spanish language group along with Cardinal Bergoglio, later Pope Francis.

Having finished his mandate as superior general, he was appointed secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life in 2010 and ordained as archbishop. This was a particularly delicate time for women Religious in the United States, and Archbishop Tobin was not slow to make known his dissatisfaction with the Roman visitation of the Sisters. He was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis in 2012.

This does not look like the CV of “a relatively obscure prelate”.

Brendan McConvery CSsR

Their finest hour

SIR – Further to Will Gore’s useful review of the film Hurricane (September 7) and the crucial part played in the Battle of Britain by Polish pilots, it is worth remembering the measured words of Air Chief Marshal Dowding on the subject: “Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same.”

It should also be remembered that the Foreign Office disgracefully prevented Polish troops from taking part in the great Victory Parade in London at the end of the war; a piece of cowardly unwillingness to offend the Russians whose devastating treatment of Poland and the Poles had been inexcusable.

An excellent account of all this is to be found in The Forgotten Few by Adam Zamoyski (John Murray, 1995) which can be found on Amazon.

John Jolliffe
Mells, Somerset

Ordinariate care

SIR – Nicolas Ollivant’s suggestion regarding the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham assuming responsibility for some of our Catholic schools (Letter, August 31) certainly sounds a positive note. But I was somewhat perplexed by his statement that “there are only four parishes which are wholly cared for by ordinariate priests”.

In the Diocese of Brentwood no less than six parishes have an ordinariate priest as their pastor, be it as a parochial administrator, priest-in-charge or parish priest, viz Chelmsford (Blessed Sacrament), Chingford (Christ the King), Clayhall, Eastwood, Greenstead and Wickford.

Indeed, the priests in these parishes, together with other ordinariate clergy in the diocese, play a vital role in the life of the Church.

Fr Stewart Foster
Archivist, Diocese of Brentwood, Brentwood, Essex

Kings and queens

SIR – I do hope that Stephen Withnell (Diary, September 7) is mistaken in saying that the Stonyhurst choir will sing Gounod’s Domine salvum fac regem nostrum as a prayer for the Queen. So far as I am aware our dearly loved sovereign has resisted the current fashion for gender change and remains reginam nostram, not regem nostrum.

Philip Goddard
London SE19