Comment Opinion & Features

Letters & emails

Do younger Catholics rarely sin?

SIR – When I was about seven, I learned from my Penny Catechism that “Purgatory is a place where souls suffer for a time after death on account of their sins.” Some 70 years later I am not much wiser – except that in 2011 Pope Benedict XVI said that “Purgatory is a process, not a place.” He explained: “A soul stained by sin cannot present itself to God.”

Sister Lucia of Fatima meditated a great deal about purgatory and she was of the opinion that what purifies us is love: “The fire of Divine Love which is communicated by God to the souls in proportion as every soul corresponds. It is said that if a soul is granted the grace to die with a perfect act of love, that this love purifies it totally, so that it can go straight to heaven.”

Sister Lucia stressed the importance of doing penance and receiving the Sacrament of Confession. As someone who attends Confession on a regular basis, I can confirm that most of the penitents appear to be around my age group. Perhaps the younger generation of Catholics rarely sin.

Michael Hernon
Coldfield, West Midlands

Kneeling to receive the Eucharist is a privilege

SIR – I was astonished to read that a Chilean bishop has apparently refused Communion to worshippers who knelt to receive the Host (World News, May 17).

Being a committed member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, I am privileged that whenever I receive Communion at an ordinariate rite Mass the congregation kneels to receive the Sacred Species.

The ordinariate Divine Worship liturgy and postures are specifically approved by the Vatican and there is no question of any presiding priest or a bishop contradicting this rubric. (The Ordinary who leads the personal ordinariate has the status of bishop and wears the appropriate vesture of his office.)

Two years ago, when I marked my 25th anniversary of being a Bristol city councillor, I chose to celebrate the occasion with a High Mass conducted according to the Ordinariate Use, where our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, kindly agreed to be principal celebrant.

Obviously I decreed the choice of music and hymns, but my principal request was that the congregation worshipping in the Catholic Church of St Gerard Majella, Knowle, Bristol, kneel to receive Communion. This was quickly and cordially granted.

After all, even in the era of YouTube and selfies, we are humbly kneeling in rightful awe before the mercy of Almighty God to receive Him.

Richard Eddy
Bristol, Somerset

A bishop’s logic

SIR – You report that Bishop Noel Simard, president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec, has ceased to support financially the Quebec March for Life because one of its organisers, Georges Buscemi, has signed the letter accusing the Pope of heresy (World News, May 17).

“I used to send a cheque to Campagne Quebec-Vie every year,” you quote him as saying. “But now it’s over.”

The bishop’s logic is opaque. In what way is the pro-life cause invalidated by the theological views of just one of its many supporters? And could Campagne Quebec-Vie tell us how much Bishop Simard gave each year?

CDC Armstrong

Mass outrage

SIR – I recently visited a well-known church in London for Sunday Mass with my daughter. She thought the homily was such a travesty of its purported theme of authentic love that she declined Communion, and reminded me in no uncertain terms of “why I don’t do Mass anymore, Dad; how dare that man [the preacher] refer to transgender in such disparaging language? He clearly has no idea of the pain that such a choice involves for some of the most vulnerable, and if that is now the Church’s idea of the love that Jesus spoke of, then I want nothing to do with it.”

It was hard to explain to her that indeed, it had had little in common with the philia (brotherly love, φιλία), let alone agape (divine love, ἀγάπη) of John 13:34, or how Christ expressed his own views on the matter, in the woes of Matthew 13.

Parents in today’s world have enough trouble keeping our maturing offspring on the straight and narrow, without being rudely brought back to square one by members of the clergy, presently with enough problems of their own. Monsignors, please, if you are unable to exercise the understanding and, dare I say it, love of Our Lord, then let someone else have a go.

Oliver Alexandre
London SW6

Don’t forget fathers

SIR – I pass no opinion on whether or not we have women priests, but note that arguments against, such as the case made by Jane Campbell (Letter, May 26), are defective. Her case that women are co-creators with God, whereas men can only co-create by virtue of ordination, ignores the vital generative role played by fathers and the sustaining and nurturing role played by both parents, which I deem part of the co-creative capacity. Furthermore, the ability to consecrate the Eucharist is not an alternative to the co-creative parental role, for it is possible for males to exercise both.

Furthermore, claiming that a woman is another Christ by virtue of motherhood while men are alteri Christi through ordination overlooks the fact that all are called to be other Christs, be they parents or ordained priests or not. After all, nuns are neither mothers nor ordained, but none would deny that they might become other Christs.

Francis Beswick
Stretford, Greater Manchester

Thanks from Cafod

SIR – I wanted to write and thank the readers of the Catholic Herald who prayed, gave, and acted to support Cafod this Lent Fast Day.

When Fast Day was first started in 1962 by Elspeth Orchard and Jacqueline Stuyt-Simpson, they could not have had any idea how their vision would grow, or that in 2019 over 2,000 parishes would donate to Cafod’s Fast Day Appeal during Lent. I find it both humbling and inspiring to be a part of the Catholic community’s compassion, solidarity and practical commitment towards our brothers and sisters around the world who are in need.

In the past year Cafod has responded to the urgent needs of 60,000 displaced Rohingya people in Bangladesh, helped secure a permanent home for over 1,000 vulnerable people facing eviction in São Paulo, Brazil, and delivered sustainable agricultural projects in Zimbabwe that help families grow food to eat and also sell to pay for school fees. Cafod belongs to the Catholic community and it is only because of them that we are able to do any of this.

I send my heartfelt thanks to all your readers for their prayers, their financial support and the actions they take.

Christine Allen, Director, Cafod
London SE1