Letters & Emails

Comments of the week

Abortion deaths exceed those in world wars

SIR – You underline the tragedy of “some eight million” abortions taking place in Great Britain since the 1967 Abortion Act, and welcome the fact that the Advertising Standards Agency “has upheld the claim that Northern Ireland’s strict abortion laws have been responsible for saving the lives of 100,000 people” (Leading article, August 11).

However, for the population control movement, which spearheaded the English abortion campaign, the tragedy is not in lives lost but lives gained. They would see in that tragic British figure eight million “births avoided”, eight million fewer mouths to feed and to plunder “the planet”. And yet the Abortion Act ushered in a disposable society in which many women have several abortions, in what is essentially a cycle of self-harm, driven to replace the missing child but unable to come to terms with their fate and following the same fatal path to the abortion clinic.

Sadly, successive governments have supported and subsidised this pre-birth carnage, a fact not unconnected with our deplorable record of perinatal morbidity and mortality. We cannot even see the conflict of interest in the fact that the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives is also the chairwoman of trustees of Britain’s largest abortion provider, BPAS.

The exact number of human beings who would be alive today had it not been for David Steel’s bill will probably never be known; however, the number of abortions now dwarfs that of servicemen killed in both world wars. But we are unlikely to see a monument to those killed in the post-1967 population wars, and without a concerted
effort from all of us, the number of casualties will continue to grow.

Ann Farmer (Mrs)
Woodford Green, Essex

The sacraments are being abused

SIR – I felt a certain empathy with Matthew Walther and his article “Stop cordoning off the sacraments” (Charterhouse, August 4), as I too am certain that the sacraments of marriage and baptism in particular are being abused.

For many people, they are really social occasions for the parties involved, who do not have any intention or notion of living the Christian faith nor of instructing their children in the teachings of Jesus. Everything today seems to be about showing off and broadcasting it all on social media.

My late father became a Catholic in his early twenties. His adage was “keep it simple”, and he was very grateful indeed to the priest from whom he received personal instruction in Catholic teaching and the faith. He told me that had things been done the way things are now, he might never have become a Catholic. It is food for thought.

There are many of us who do not like group activities. And as for marriage preparation courses – well, I think I will stay single!

Ann Skinner (Miss)
Syston, Leicestershire

SIR – While initially inclined to agree with Matthew Walther’s sentiments regarding sacramental preparation, his article seems mainly concerned with “pious Catholics” who are already well schooled in the faith. Many couples now are deprived of this grace from childhood, and so need good instruction – “working class … and bohemian misfits” included.

The families of Mr Walther’s article are now, in this area as elsewhere, a minority in our post-Christian society. Here, many parishioners do not agree with much of Catholic teaching – in relation to marriage, abortion and contraception, for example. Many outside the Church who may marry Catholics do not know what baptism means; unmarried cohabitees regularly present themselves for Communion. As in the early Church, those requesting baptism and marriage need good adult catechesis – as do all the baptised – to counteract the pervasive, prevailing views of the world around us.

Pauline Harvey (Mrs)
Syston, Leicestershire

Beauty’s blessing

SIR – May I be allowed to protest against the assertion in your leading article (August 11) that “It is part of the mission of the Church to proclaim that beauty is a moral quality, not a physical one”?

This is a deeply misleading category mistake. “Moral beauty” may be a figurative phrase for virtue and goodness; but beauty itself, whether it appeals to the senses or the intellect or both, is essentially concerned with perception and contemplation, not will and action.

Leaving aside the beauty of art (Mozart, say, or Dante), we have the beauty of the whole natural creation, which God saw was good (Gen 1:25). Scripture here refers not to moral goodness (there are no humans yet to do moral acts) but to “that which pleases when seen” (whence St Thomas’s famous definition of the beautiful, id quod visum placet). Does Our Lord himself not praise the goodness of his Father’s creation in teaching us to consider the beauty of the lilies (Mt 6:28-9)?

It is distressing to see the Herald uttering sentiments that can only be described as Puritan, not Catholic. Beauty is surely God’s blessing and gift, and the whole universe is a luminous hymn to that blessing. That is, or should be, “part of the mission of the Church”.

Dr Carl Schmidt
Emeritus Fellow, Balliol College, Oxford

Taxing questions

sir – I read with incredulity the cover story “Wanted: a new German reformation” (August 11). The figure of 160,000 Catholics leaving the German Church in 2016 is absolutely shocking, as is the lack of any previous discussion of it in the Catholic press. The main reasons for the departure appear to be the weakening of faith and the hefty tax imposed on believers.

The fact that this is happening year after year makes it a deep crisis needing a speedy and profound solution. I fail to understand a German bishop “shrugging” his shoulders, as if simply to give up.

Some Germans have suggested solutions, three of which I think are worth exploring: making priestly celibacy optional; opening the door for female deacons; and “abolishing” the Church tax. Well, if not abolishing, at least making the tax much lower. No believer should pay so much for affiliation and no Church should be so scandalously rich.But whatever the solution, I beg the German Church to initiate the reform process now before it’s too late.

Although Bishop Voderholzer’s suggestion of starting the reform on a personal basis is commendable, it’s still not enough. Every Christian, it goes without saying, is called to sanctity, through a life of prayer and good example, but this ought to be supplemented by urgent and practical solutions that may, one hopes, achieve

Dr Joseph Seferta
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Slip of the pen

sir – I enjoyed William Cash’s piece (Axe Yard, July 28), but the page designer (once upon a time we called them subs) let it down by illustrating his words with a poster nib supposedly doing a copperplate script. That’s a bit like playing golf with a tennis racquet.

Lawrence Collins
Alnwick, Northumberland