Comment Opinion & Features

Letters & emails

Why women cannot be ordained

SIR – I wonder why Matthew Schmitz (Comment, May 17) did not give your readers the reason why Pope St John Paul II ruled that women cannot receive sacramental ordination? Could it be that the reason has been lost in the confusion of which he writes?

The reason our saintly pope gives, though, is beautiful, and one that has the power to heal the hearts and minds of women: the Church, the bride of Christ, being one with him, as his equal, can only do what her spouse, Jesus, does. Since God himself does not ordain women, then the Church cannot do so either.

Ordination, like baptism and confirmation, can only be received by a soul once. Why? Because these three leave an indelible spiritual mark on the soul. They change the character of that soul permanently, and give it something that it did not posses beforehand. In the case of ordination, the mark given is the spiritual power to be another Christ. Since women already have this power, through virtue of their created nature as women, they cannot receive what they already possess: the natural ability to be a co-creator.

The only way men can become co-creators, another Jesus Christ, is by receiving the sacrament of ordination. God gives them this gift, to help them overcome their spiritual envy of women, that envy which makes them want to “Lord it over them” rather than to serve.

Jane Campbell
Ballina, Co Mayo

Newman’s message for a confused age

SIR – Alleluia to the news that the feast of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman has been made mandatory. It will make that holy man better known among all the faithful.

From age 15, when he experienced a form of conversion, Newman believed himself to be beholden to God’s providence. His conversion caused him to “rest in the thought of two and two only absolute and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my Creator”.

He would give expression to that attitude to life in two ways, first as an Anglican and then as a Catholic. The first expression takes account of himself – “I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me,” which occurs in the poem he wrote as an Anglican, “The Pillar of the Cloud”, with its famous opening line: “Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom.”

His second expression takes account of his Creator – “In all his words most wonderful, most sure in all his ways,” which occurs in the poem he wrote as a Catholic in old age, “The Dream of Gerontius”, which includes the angels’ hymn, Praise to the Holiest in the Height, containing Newman’s expression of faith in Divine Providence.

There was an amazing consistency in Newman’s life, due in large measure to his steady vision of God’s loving concern for him, and for every person, and for all of creation. At this time of great confusion in society and in the Church, may Blessed Newman pray for us.

Fr Michael G Murphy
St Michael’s, Cork

‘Choice’ song falls flat

SIR – Your report on the very well attended and well organised March for Life (World News, May 10) served as a reminder of the truly dismal form of protest adopted by the so-called March for Choice.

As mother-of-two Melissa Ohden (who miraculously survived an abortion attempt 40 years ago) gave her powerful testimony, a few dozen activists parodied the Frankie Valli song with the lyric “I love you baby, and if it’s quite all right”, as “We need abortion and if it’s quite all right”. It was exactly as if someone had produced an advertising jingle for the Dignitas clinic, to the tune of Grandma, We Love You.

James Bruce
Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

Francis and ‘heresy’

SIR – How deeply depressing to read in your cover story of May 10 that Pope Francis is being accused of heresy on account of his efforts to make the teaching of the Catholic Church more relevant to life and its realities. Dan Hitchens quotes Cardinal Gerhard Muller as saying: “It is a heresy to think one could preserve the teaching of the Church, but invent a new pastoral approach for the sake of the weakness of man which would soften the truth of the Word of God and Christian morality.”

While the logic of such an approach may be sound, where is love? And where mercy? If Jesus Christ, who personifies love, gave himself to sinful humanity as a life-giving spiritual nourishment, who are we to deny Him to anyone who seeks such sustenance in good faith? We can leave judgment to the One who knows each one of us to the core of our being.

Edward Totman
Epsom, Surrey

Eulogies for the Lions

SIR – I am sorry to have to disappoint Paolo Capanni (Letter, May 10), but I am afraid I am a fan of Liverpool, not Celtic. I do hope, however, that the five remaining Lisbon Lions will in due course receive the eulogies they deserve, though not as an integral part of their funeral liturgy. This practice is specifically forbidden by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which even bishops are not entitled to disregard.

Philip Goddard
London SE19

SIR – Paolo Capanni questions the Bishop of Motherwell for defending the teaching of the Church regarding the funeral Mass. Bishop Toal reminds us that our principal task is to pray for the eternal life of the deceased. The funeral Mass cannot be reduced to a memorial service; therefore, what is said at the Mass needs to be a proclamation of what we believe – lex orandi, lex credendi. Paolo Capanni may be interested in speaking as a Celtic fan; here in the Diocese of Motherwell we are interested in being the Church.

Fr Gerard Bogan
Uddingston, South Lanarkshire

Is proselytising bad?

SIR – Your leading article on proselytism, as used by popes Benedict XVI and Francis, brings back the memory of a family holiday on Achill Island in 1947.

I recall the deserted village of Slievemore and talk of the “soupers” who enticed the poor, in the aftermath of the Great Famine, to abandon their Catholic faith. The word used was “proselytise”. As far as I know, it has had a pejorative meaning in Hiberno-English
ever since.

We used the word “convert” – and never “proselyte” – to describe those who changed their religious allegiance through conviction. It was a surprise, therefore, to read that this was not the case in England, where “proselytism” seems to have been respectable until very

Could it be that the Hiberno-English usage spread to the US and thence to the Vatican? I consulted my old Chambers Dictionary on this matter. It defines a “souper” as “In Ireland, one who dispenses soup as a means of proselytising.” Pejorative? Yes, indeed. No need to teach the popes …

Fr Raymond Hickey, OSA
St Monica’s Priory, Jos, Nigeria

John and Thérèse

SIR – What connects two photos in your May 10 issue: John Bradburne accompanied by a couple of lepers (UK news analysis), and Thérèse of Lisieux facing page 3, with the intense gaze that we associate with her?

It is that they both actively and consistently sought to achieve holiness in their lives: Thérèse because being so ordinary, as she fulfilled the daily round of duties, that God could easily give her sanctity; John in order to show that God can work on the worst materials. St Josemaría Escrivá once suggested that “these world crises” are caused by a lack of saints.

What are we waiting for? As another St Teresa of Ávila said, “Aunque mueras … should you die in the process”.

Adrian Huchet
London SW17

Forever poor

SIR – A comment on the letters from Derek McMillan (April 26) and Ann Skinner (May 10): Jesus said, “The poor you have always with you.” Also: if we took all the money in the world and shared it equally with everyone, how much more would each person have? About a penny each. Then who would be in a position to start new businesses that would provide employment for the poor?

Sheila Lyons
Chichester, West Sussex