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

For abuse victims, justice is still elusive

SIR – The fairly new Catholic safeguarding system might curb further crime and is a well-meaning attempt to do that. But there is still no possibility at all that victims of past abuse will get justice from the Catholic Church without an almighty battle in each case.

All codes of practice are conspiracies against the public; this is true for lawyers, doctors, accountants, architects, journalists, any and all professions, not just the Church. The reason is that they are all driven in the first place by the need to protect the institutions and their members. Protection of the public is never the primary drive.

In dealing with sex abuse, the Catholic Church has as its first value its own existential continuity. Second comes its reputation. Third comes dealing with and caring for its offending members. Fourth come its coffers. None of these concerns is unworthy in itself but they mean that the victims of sexual abuse might come fifth if they are lucky.

To this hour it remains the mode of the Church to muffle and minimise the charges against its offenders. I write from close knowledge of actual cases. Again and again we hear that the crimes were long ago, the priests are dead or in dementia; be merciful, try to forget. But it is often only years later that victims find the words, the understanding, to report what happened to them. The elapse of time is never acceptable as a defence.

Kevin Grant
Swindon, Wiltshire

Don’t give up hope of a Catholic spouse

SIR – Further to my piece (at catholicherald.co.uk) setting out the teaching of the Church that Catholics should only marry other Catholics, David Porthouse (Letter, September 28) asks how Catholics might meet a suitable person to court and hopefully marry in “moribund” parishes like the one he attends.

My sympathies are with him given his bad experiences, but short of suggesting he try to reform the social life of the parish he is in, or attend a church with a healthier community, I would also challenge his premise.

For many single Catholics, Church fellowship is experienced less through their local Church and more through networks, often organised remotely via social media. Meeting other practising Catholics therefore means stepping out of the parish and “plugging into” these networks, by attending events organised by groups like Juventutem, Faith or Youth 2000. Some churches organise Theology on Tap or other events also that it might be worth looking for and trying out.

Annual or bi-annual events like the Evangelium and Faith Conferences, or perhaps New Dawn and Celebrate, are also worth exploring. There are also online outlets for meeting available members of the opposite sex who share the faith: Catholicmatch.com, Catholiconlinedating.co.uk, and Christianconnection.com are the most obvious, but others can be found through search engines.

Meeting a potential Catholic spouse is not easy, and the Church needs to do far better in enabling “happy meetings” to occur. In the meantime, however, as in all things, prayerful effort is rewarded.

Peter D Williams
Watford, Hertfordshire

Lifting the lid

SIR – After the assassination of Martin Luther King, at a meeting while the people were still in shock, a chap gave a speech where he first stated that “our leader is not dead” and then that “Martin Luther King was not the leader of the civil rights movement”. The crowd, groaned thinking it would become a leadership struggle among opportunists and the whole thing would fall apart.

Then he went on to say: “Our leader is the one who parted the Red Sea, who led the people out of slavery, who was born in a stable, who was crucified, died and rose from the dead.” He is our leader. In times of crisis, as our Church is now facing a global flood of sex scandals which is utterly bewildering to the faithful, we need to focus on the one who is in overall control, rather than those whose past negligence, complacency and evil deeds have brought the Church to this point.

Our prayers are needed to purge the Church of this great evil that has taken root and even become an entrenched subculture in some places.
While the obscene actions of so many must fill us with disgust I believe the Lord is relentless in bringing about the transformation of His Church, “to be without spot or stain”, and so will continue to send His Church messengers to lift the lid on what is inside, until there is a change of heart and a return to holiness.

We can remain confident that whatever enemies the Church has (even within its ranks) that “the gates of the underworld will never hold out against it”.

Stephen Clark
Manila, the Philippines

SIR – Should we not be saying a bidding prayer for the victims of abuse at every Mass? We pray for the bishops and clerics…

Judith du Vivier
London NW1

Nasty but necessary

SIR – Matthew Schmitz (Comment, September 28) compares the agreement between the Chinese government and the Vatican to the concordats made with Hitler and Mussolini which many thought discredited the Church. He asks: “How could the Catholic Church make a deal with such a regime?”

The Chinese government is certainly nasty, and I hope the Vatican was very cautious in its dealings with it. However about 12 million Chinese Catholics are in its power who suffer persecution. It is not people like us in England who are suffering, nor Vatican officials, and it is not for the likes of us to oppose what may ease their suffering. We cannot aspire to be vicarious martyrs.

PJW Knell
Wellington, Somerset

House the homeless

SIR – The world, and indeed Ireland, face the problem of millions of refugees fleeing from war and disturbances in their own countries. Ireland also faces the crisis of homelessness for thousands of our own people.

The Infant Jesus and the Holy Family faced homelessness. Shortly afterwards they faced the problem of being refugees. Pope Francis has given a lead to the world in these crises.

Religious houses in Ireland have now a few ageing Sisters or Brothers who have served Ireland well in their younger days. These houses could be adapted to house the homeless and refugees.

Fr Con McGillicuddy

Eastern promise

SIR – Fr Mark Drew (Cover story, September 28) offers a compelling overview of tensions between the two great poles of Eastern Orthodoxy: the
Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

If Rome is indeed forced to choose between the two, I believe that it should opt for Constantinople, which for decades has supported the
cause of ecumenism. In Russia, meanwhile, just one in six Orthodox Christians say they want to be in communion with the Catholic Church.

Peter Wilder
Herne Bay, Kent