Letters & Emails

Comments of the week

On married priests, we should look east

SIR – I have read with interest Fr Ray Blake’s blog post (see News Focus, page 16) about lonely and demoralised priests. I remember in the 1940s already seeing depressed and lonely priests shuffling about their presbyteries.

I have lived in Lebanon since 1954 and was incardinated in the Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchate in 1957. Like all the Catholic bishops, priests and monks whom I know personally, I simply do not understand the Western objection to ordaining married men as priests.

Bishops have a duty to provide the faithful with the Liturgy, the sacraments and instruction; how can they do this if they are prevented from ordaining a sufficient number of priests? I knew in London a highly instructed, prayerful retired Catholic who had made a number of conversions and who would have made an excellent priest, who would have been strongly supported by his wife. With married priests in the smaller parishes, others with a vocation to celibacy could live in community.

What happened in the past was that, in their desperation to find priests, bishops ordained men who simply were not fit for the job. During my RAF service I knew a chaplain, a Capuchin, Fr Kevin Harrison, who was a saint and an apostle, but many others … oh dear! Bishops will always have to make an effort to find zealous priests, but here in Lebanon the Catholic (and Orthodox) parishes are well supplied with priests, mostly married, and the faithful are happy. There are also flourishing religious orders. St Peter and many Apostles were married, so what’s the big deal about simple priests?

Kenneth Mortimer
By email

The DUP ‘avowedly Christian’? Not really

SIR – I refer to the letter from David Crawford (June 30). I am not querying his political analysis of Sinn Féin behaviour. However, I do query his enthusiastic endorsement of the DUP. He describes them as avowedly Christian and pro-life.

I can understand that their attitude to abortion would recommend them to Mr Crawford. To describe them as avowedly Christian, however, may be misleading. Many would consider their approach to be sectarian and anti-Catholic.

Trading one policy point against another creates problems. It is a matter of opinion as to whether their pro-life stance counterbalances their overall ethos.

Dr Finbarr Corkery
Cork, Republic of Ireland

Part-time Catholics

SIR – In his intriguing article (Notebook, June 30) Fr John Bollan tells us that those he calls “practice Catholics”, who never go to Mass but use the Church for baptisms, weddings, funerals and educational needs, are deeply grateful for the services that the Church provides.

I wonder whether their gratitude extends to making any kind of contribution (financial or otherwise) to the life of the parish. Or do they, as I suspect, rely entirely on us “practising Catholics”, who go to Mass every Sunday, to make sure the Church is still there for them whenever it suits them to make use of it?

Philip Goddard
London SE19

SIR – Fr John Bollan’s article, based on his own Greenock parish, was, if I may say so, most perceptive. It reflected a similar situation here in Dublin where about 85 per cent – it is around 95 for males – of Catholics do not go to Sunday Mass.

Unwittingly, maybe, a passing remark and an omission provided two clues which, I think, say much about both situations.

Fr Bollan says: “A significant number of ‘incomers’ are prepared to offset the turgid preaching against the conveniently early evening Mass times.” That shows regrettable acceptance of convenience as a major reason for going to Mass. It also shows regrettable tolerance of “turgid preaching” that is totally the work of Mass celebrants.

The omission was the absence of regret on account of Mass absentees depriving themselves of the Eucharist.

There is, I suggest, a valuable lesson to be learned from the passing remark and the omission. If inspiring Mass preaching had nurtured – as it could have – appetites for receiving the Eucharist, the absentees would be attendees.

Joseph F Foyle
Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Seeing things

SIR – Fr René Laurentin was indeed correct about how overscrupulous the Church is these days regarding reported Marian apparitions (Letter, June 30).

Many thousands of Catholics (including priests) witnessed Garabandal (1961-65) and Medjugorje in the past 35 years. The Church awaits.

So, if an apparition lasted only 20 minutes and no one witnessed it, apart from the two young seers involved, it certainly would not be approved these days. Yet, in its time, La Salette (1846) was given full Church approval. It makes one think, indeed.

DP Collins
London N22

Equality unfairness

SIR – I congratulate Dennis Sewell on his eye-opening article (Cover story, June 29). It’s frightening to think how much our lives lie in the hands of politicians, many of whom have made foolish decisions for which we are still paying the price.

The current equalities legislation must be clarified further. If, for example, measures are taken to deal with the problem of radicalisation in madrassas, then “the elephant in the room” must be named, otherwise non-Muslim after-school activities will suffer as a result. Also, the government ought not to have changed the meaning of marriage or decided to impose improper sex education on small children, all in the name of equality.

And how in the world can traditional Christian teaching, which is based on Christ and his love, be called “hate speech”? Terms such as “hate speech”, “extremism”, “racism” and “Islamophobia” have become both meaningless and harmful towards innocent people.

As for the dominating liberal, secular, left-wing, anti-Christian and anti-religious freedom philosophy which is being imposed on Britain, as well as on the rest of Western Europe, all I can say is: may God help our children and our grandchildren.

Dr Joseph Seferta
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Easy on the eye

SIR – Mary Kenny (July 7) rightly notes the uplifting quality of good-looking royals. I hope it won’t sound impious if I say that handsome priests, pretty nuns and chisel-jawed bishops have the same effect. Yes, as Mary says, beauty is skin deep. All the same, it’s very pleasing when internal and external beauty coincide.

Katherine Peters (Mrs)

Six education

SIR – I probably am not the first to point out that Sixtus is not the Latin word for Sixth. Jacob Rees-Mogg may not have wanted to call his son Sextus.

Kevin Hartley
By email