Comment Opinion & Features

Letters & emails

A papal visit and a war the world forgot

SIR – Why don’t we care about Yemen? The question is posed following your coverage (February 8 edition) of the recent visit of the Pope to the United Arab Emirates.

The situation in Yemen has reached a point that many charities and journalists have described as a humanitarian crisis, with reports of millions in need of urgent healthcare and suffering malnutrition. As the war enters its fourth year, the charity Save the Children reports that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of extreme hunger since the war began.

You would be forgiven for assuming, based on recent coverage, that the UAE hadn’t entered the war, let alone assumed responsibility for ground operations in the conflict, according to recent media reports.

Surprisingly little space is given to the involvement of one of the principal actors in a conflict that has left 18 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. While not limited to the Catholic Herald, we have to ask how it is that such deafening silence is possible when the situation is quite so dire.

David Jones
By email

The ‘old ways’ are sparking a revival

SIR – I was astounded to read your article “Back to the old ways” (US news analysis, February 22). I too, like the good Fr Edwin Dwyer, wear a cassock and biretta, traditional vestments, and use incense on Sundays and holy days.

Mine is a steel-working parish of some 3,500 Catholics. Every Sunday we sing the Kyrie and Agnus Dei, and the 240 children in our parish school sing these and other chants happily from memory. Once a month I offer the Mass in the Extraordinary Form for a small yet faithful group from our deanery.

Result? My parish is growing and rejoicing in the air of renewal and revival that is set by my example. My heart and my prayers go out to priests like Fr Dwyer and others as we seek to renew our church and build up the spirituality and faith of our parishioners. Ad multos annos vivat!

Fr Paul Brophy
St Thérèse of Lisieux, Port Talbot

Respect and truth

SIR – The Secretary of State for Education is not being completely transparent with Catholic Herald readers in his comments about the new compulsory subjects coming into all schools in England in September 2020 (Britain news analysis, February 15). These are Relationships Education in all primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools.

He tells Catholics that “schools of a religious character are able to reflect the ethos of their school in these lessons”. This is difficult to reconcile with his statement to Parliament on July 19, 2018 that “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships” are “a strong feature of the new subjects at age-appropriate points”. There is no appropriate point to teach a child in any school about these relationships, let alone a Catholic school.

In addition, a careful study of the Government’s draft Regulations and Guidance for schools reveals that children will have to respect the idea and practice of homosexual relationships, not just for the people involved in them. This is directly opposed to Catholic doctrine on the truth about human sexuality.

Damian Hinds needs to look at the materials which are already being used by schools, including faith schools, to teach sex and relationships education. These resources may not be coming out of the Department for Education, but transgender and homosexual rights groups are certainly getting them into our children’s schools.

Antonia Tully
Campaign coordinator, SPUC Safe at School Campaign, London SE11

Catholic disunity

SIR – If the Catholic faith consisted only of the “recurrent themes … regarding married priests, celibacy, the ordination of women … and LGBT issues”, as Tim Ryan (Letter, February 15) seems to imply, he would have a point. But these things are secondary to the infinitely more important central tenets of the Catholic Church, and on these there is not yet unity. The outward similarity of our respective worship brought about by the effort for reconciliation can lead to a kind of collective self-deception.

There are still serious differences in our understanding of the nature of the priesthood, of the Mass itself, and therefore of the nature of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, and on the Petrine ministry. These cannot be compromised. Moreover, St Peter in his second letter warns that the interpretation of Scripture “is never a matter for the individual”; and St Paul in Galatians 1:8 calls anathema on anybody who alters his teaching, even if it were himself or an apparent “angel of light”.

As we are at present dealing with so many questions regarding sexual behaviour, it is easy to lose sight of our central teachings; but in fact it is only by insisting on them and being faithful to them that we can make sense of God’s will regarding these things and explain our beliefs to others.

Ruth Yendell
Exeter, Devon

Sweep the stable

SIR – The summit has finished, but what has changed? Maybe it was too much to hope for radical reform, such as married and female clergy, lay involvement at every level with real authority, etc.

But little steps can be taken to rid the Church of (some of the) clericalism, such as stopping the nonsense of titles and medieval aristocratic address, “Father”, “Monsignor”, “Eminence”, “Your Grace”, and so on. Stop saying that defrocked clergy are “reduced” to the lay state, and that clergy should be entitled to inhabit unnecessarily large presbyteries.

Let’s do some sweeping of the stable – less automatic deference, less assumption of status. Let’s at least do some reordering of the deckchairs on the sinking ship.

Dr Deborah Jones
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

More Doctors please

SIR – Fr Ian Ker (Cover story, February 22) is right to hope that the canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman will open the way to his recognition as a Doctor of the Church.

But there are two English saints whose claim to become Doctors of the Church has been overlooked since their canonisations in 1935: I refer, of course, to John Fisher and Thomas More. It is to be hoped that this omission will soon be corrected.

CDC Armstrong
Belfast

Christ’s example

SIR – While Fr Rolheiser made some very good points in his defence of celibacy in your February 15 issue, I was surprised that he did not mention that we celibates are trying to imitate our Lord Jesus himself by being “eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 19:12).

Fr Rory T Conley
Bryantown, Maryland