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The witness of Chinese Catholics
SIR – Occasionally, stories from the underground Catholic Church in China make it through the bamboo curtain to give us a glimpse of their valour and devotion. One I heard many years ago was about a missionary who visited China and stayed with a Catholic family in a rural area. In the middle of the night, he heard everyone moving around. He accompanied them as they crept out of the house and made off across the fields. Many other people had gathered there, coming from all directions; some kept watch in case anyone had been followed by the authorities. They were there to adore the Blessed Sacrament. All knelt in silent adoration for a holy hour, then went home.
No one knows just how much they have suffered at the hands of the atheist communist government over the past few decades; persecutions are varied, from economic sanctions such as fines and loss of work, to harassment by police and neighbours, or torture, imprisonment and martyrdom. The regime has been quite consistent in its desire to control every aspect of the lives of its people and to single out the menace of religion for particularly brutal attention.
When Neville Chamberlain attempted to avoid conflict by signing the Munich agreement with Hitler, I imagine he was sincere, if a little naïve, as the full horror of Nazism had not yet been revealed. But the recent agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese government over the appointment of bishops is quite incomprehensible: their character is already known.
The faithfulness of the underground Church is an incredible witness to the rest of the Catholic world; let’s hope and pray that the Church they love can prove worthy of their sacrifices for it and stand with them now.
Stephen A Clark
Manila, The Philippines
A new attitude to service
SIR – As Christopher Altieri writes, the stories of abuse are “more than enough”(September 21). His previous analysis of hierarchical child sexual abuse (August 31) provides a credible explanation for the problem: compulsive, reflective of the pursuit of power and exploiting (sexually) the most vulnerable: children, seminarians and so on.
Cannot a solution be found by replacing a hierarchy of power, where it and sexual exploitation exist in tandem, by a hierarchy of service; from the libido dominandi (reflected in the libido coeundi) – from exploiting the weaker members of God’s family – to God’s preferential option of serving His poor?
From the anti-heroes of sin to St Francis de Sales’ “ecstasy of service”.Alas, good bishops do not make good reading, and the current scandal may tempt us to doubt the integrity of everyone in the Church in any sort of authority, especially where people have failed to speak up about abuses.
Why can’t we celebrate the service than our own cardinals, bishops and priests give us the world over, instead of lamenting the monsters who want to replace them?
Steve de la Bédoyère
A puzzling line from the cardinal
SIR – Having read your online report of the open letter from Cardinal Ouellet to Archbishop Vigano, I looked at the letter itself. I was astonished that the Cardinal implied that Pope Francis would have been so swamped by information on the day he met with the Archbishop, that anything said about ex-Cardinal McCarrick would likely not have made a great impression on him.
Archbishop Vigano said in his original testimony that it was the Pope who specifically asked for his opinion of McCarrick. Vigano answered this question with reference to McCarrick’s behaviour over many years, and to a dossier “this thick” about McCarrick in the archives.
Not just one piece of unsolicited information among many given to the Pope, then.
The story of Serbian status
SIR – As a Serbian Orthodox Christian raised in the USA and a cleric of the church, I wish to address a point raised in Fr Mark Drew’s piece (September 28).The Serbian Orthodox Church was granted autocephalous status at the request of St Sava, the first Serbian archbishop in 1219.
He in turn was told by Patriarch Michael and the emperor that to grant autocephaly The devout monk Sava, known to the world as Rastko Nemanjić, had to accept election as the first archbishop. The later difficulties were because civil governments, like the Ottoman Turkish empire resolve our status and put us under the Eccumenical Patriarchate.
Thank you for your attention to this issue.
Heeding the Pope’s call for accessibility
SIR – As a student here, I am confused why a Catholic church in Aberystwyth has been closed, and the diocese is rebuilding a church outside town, which Catholics without cars can’t get to.
Would it not make much more sense for the bishop to spend the money on the solid St Winifride’s church in town, which students and other Catholics can easily get to on a Sunday?
The Pope is calling on the Church to be accessible to all, but by having a church which can’t be reached on public transport does not answer
this call. It seems that at the moment Catholics in Aber do not have much reason for rejoicing.
A simple way to increase devotion
SIR – I have a suggestion to the English bishops, in the aftermath of Adoremus. I remember when I joined the Church in the early 1960s there was , certainly in Brentwood Diocese, a systrem whereby each parish took it in turns throughout the year to hold the 40 Hours Devotion.
May I suggest that each diocese put this into action?
In South America, tensions are growing
SIR – In last week’s issue, Miguel Cullen observed that Jair Bolsonaro, who looks likely to be elected Brazilian President, might clash with thebishops if he carried out a violent programme. The situation mirrors tensions between Church and State in Nicaragua and Venezuela. Perhaps we should keep South America especially in our prayers.
Name and address withheld