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

Why the young are drawn to ‘rigid rules’

SIR – Matthew Schmitz (Comment, October 12) astutely notes the influence of ‘‘progressive Catholicism’’ on the synod on youth; apparently, young people want ‘‘a Church that ‘listens’ ”; they ‘‘want to be able to speak of sexuality ‘without taboo’ ’’ and “exercise discernment” rather than being “bound by ‘rigid’ codes’’, despite the fact that ‘‘[w]hen elites destroy these codes – as they did with Friday abstinence after the Second Vatican Council – they deprive the poor of their religious discipline, and the result is spiritual and even material disorder. When Francis characteristically polemicises against rigidity and ‘fundamentalism’, he polemicises against the poor’.”

The synod bears all the imprints of ageing hippies who (we hope) never actually took part in the Summer of Love and still see it through rose-tinted glasses. Young people who have grown up without rules are looking for rules – and what rule is not ‘‘rigid’’?

It is those who make the rules – the ruling progressive elites – that want those rules relaxed. The same progressive elites have stripped the liturgy of its mystery and churches of their beauty, on the rather unflattering assumption that the poor cannot relate to mystery or beauty.

Speaking as someone who was born in a council house and attended a Catholic primary school consisting of prefabricated classrooms, it was the beauty and mystery of the old Latin Mass celebrated in a new but traditionally ordered church that drew me to God.

If ‘‘progressive Catholics’’ really want to ‘‘listen to young people’’ they should listen to those who actually go to church rather than the imaginary legions who would, they believe, flock to Mass if it were not for ‘‘rigid rules’’. It is certainly something to transform the Gospels into a kind of social worker’s manual, but there will be no reward in heaven for such an achievement.

Ann Farmer
Woodford Green, Essex

­Why the Orthodox Church is falling apart

SIR – History is a wonderful tool with which to understand the present, as Fr Mark Drew demonstrates (Cover story, September 28). The rub, though, lies in its interpretation.

The Council of Ephesus of 431 did not grant Cyprus “autocephaly”, but merely confirmed the right of its Church to perform its own ordinations against the incursion of Antioch into this authority, which was already long established. At the same time, Ephesus declared the same for all other provinces and dioceses, confirming the precedence of existing custom and practice of each, over any other dominion.

What appears to be the fragmentation of the Orthodox Church seems more a consequence of the decline of a
centralised power, such as the Ottoman Empire, than deliberate protests of independence. When the centre cannot hold, things really do begin to fall apart.

Jack Verblow
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

So who should die?

SIR – I would like to make a couple of points about Joseph Shaw’s response (Letter, September 28) to my original letter of September 14.

He states that Pope Francis has invented a “new grave sin” of using the death penalty. There is nothing new about killing people being a sin. After Adam and Eve’s first disobedience it was the first sin committed by humanity (Genesis 4:8).

Where Dr Shaw and I disagree is that he clearly believes some people deserve to be killed when it is considered to be “most appropriate”. The problem with this is the people who are making the judgment about what is appropriate. I would venture to say that, judged by Christian standards, governments such as that of the People’s Republic of China do not make appropriate judgments about who deserves to die.

Dr Shaw enlists the support of St Paul to argue the case for capital punishment. Unfortunately
St Paul also states on three occasions that slaves should obey their masters (Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9), as does St Peter (1 Peter 2:18). When Pope Francis added his support to those who are seeking to combat modern slavery, I did not hear any voices of dissent who objected that the Bible
allows slavery. Peter and Paul were men of their time who accepted slavery as a fact of life, but the world changes.

Any specific piece of Bible teaching has to be measured against the teaching of the Bible as a whole. Despite all the bloodthirsty episodes in the Old Testament, with Joshua slaughtering thousands in the name of the Lord. In the light of the life and teaching of Jesus we can conclude that God’s message to humanity is a pro-life one. How can you be pro-life and execute people?

Greg Warren
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

The spiritual grind

SIR – I could not attend the Eucharistic celebration in Liverpool but merely hearing about its success gave me a spiritual boost (Britain news analysis, September 14). The Catholic faith is by no means dead in this land.However, without a massive back-up of daily devotion and sacrifice, I fear the National
Eucharistic Congress will not have much lasting effect. One does not save one’s soul by getting spiritually high on mass meetings.

Our Lady in all her appearances always exhorts us to prayer and penance, that is, the daily grind of bearing the crosses that Our Lord puts on each one of us. It is not so exciting as huge gatherings, but this is the purchase price of real graces from God. He is never short of willing sharers in His joys but is always lonely in His sufferings.

Jim Allen
Torquay, Devon

Mixed-up world

SIR – It has been terrible to hear what has been going on in the Catholic Church recently, even in the highest places. However, one of our priests reminded us recently of the mixtus orbis (the “mixed world’’ of good and evil) and that it will not be sorted out until the end.

At the moment we are all mixed up together. This is not an indication that no one is in charge or watching it all. It is merely a further indication that great care should be taken.

PM Evans
London SW15

It’s only polite

SIR – What a great article regarding the reintroduction of the Extraordinary Form Mass at St Bede’s (Feature, October 12). We are fortunate in the North East to have Saturday and Sunday Masses celebrated by Fr Michael Brown at St Joseph’s in Gateshead. Fr Michael is also the Latin Mass Society chaplain for the north of England.

What especially struck me was the comment regarding the Ordinary Form Mass in English celebrated ad orientem. It would be wonderful if all priests celebrated in the manner as we should all pray to God facing Him. How rude would we be thought if we talked to someone with our back to them?

David O’Neill
Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear