Is the Church dodging moral debate?
SIR – Oliver Alexandre and his daughter attending Mass at which the priest preached about transgender ideology was a very rare event indeed (Letter, May 31). Generally speaking, priests will steer well clear of controversial moral and ethical topics in their homilies.
However, their experience highlights one of the main crises in the Church, and especially its relationship with young people in today’s world. Mr Alexandre’s daughter could not reconcile her understanding of the teaching of Jesus with the teaching of the Church.
How does the Church proclaim both the love and mercy of God and its moral teaching without sounding judgmental and harsh to young people? Over the past 50 years or so it seems to have done this by completely disregarding these issues and quietly ignoring them.
I don’t think I have ever heard a priest discuss issues such as same-sex marriage, contraception, abortion, living together outside marriage or euthanasia in their homilies. Is the Church glossing over these issues because they think that most young people are in agreement with them? Are these issues being quietly ignored for fear of putting young people off coming to Mass? Or has the Church lost faith in its moral teaching?
Deacon Kevin O’Connor
Solihull, West Midlands
The case for standing to receive the Host
SIR – Richard Eddy (Letter, May 31) writes to encourage communicants to kneel to receive the Host at Mass.
The first most important aspect of receiving Communion is our mental disposition of faith and acceptance of the mystery of the Real Presence: we are receiving the Body of Christ, and on reception we become the tabernacle for Christ to be within us.
We approach the priest with our faith in mind with great reverence.
Some prefer to receive Christ kneeling but it is common now to receive standing and this posture has great significance in that we are identifying with the resurrected Christ.
The manner in which we express our devotion is very personal and will depend upon the provision or not of altar rails and our physical ability to perform the kneeling posture without causing undue distraction to others.
The kneeling posture may be easily chosen as a gesture of reverence and adopted in churches that possess altar rails. If there are no rails, then kneeling may cause distraction from the dignity of the Mass in that on standing up you may bump the person behind you and the time taken may disrupt the rhythm of the Mass.
If all receive in a like posture, even standing, then the words flowing from the celebrant, “The Body of Christ”, become a mantra and an aid to devotion.
Dr Eleanor Care
Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
A Sister’s secret
SIR – We were very interested to read the article (Feature, May 31) on “Victorian England’s ‘great convent scandal”.
You may be interested in the sequel to this story. Susanna Mary Saurin entered our community under a false name in October 1874 and was clothed with the habit in June 1875 receiving the name Sister Mary Michael. She made her Profession of Vows in June 1876 and lived an exemplary religious life. Her “secret” was discovered by the community and duly rectified with great charity. “She was always very devoted heart and soul to her Superiors and a word from them was sufficient to correct, guide and console her,” as it says in the written account of her life. She died aged 85 on February 10, 1915 – on the feast of St Scholastica, whose name she bore while with the Mercy Sisters.
The Visitation Nuns
Waldron, East Sussex
Sharing the blame
SIR – My thanks to Matthew Schmitz for his article headed “The statistic that shames Catholic politicians” (Comment, May 31).
While the article deals mainly with US politicians and has a photo of Nancy Pelosi, a “Catholic” politician who supports abortion, we have abortion-supporting Catholic politicians in our own United Kingdom. We have one in my own city who attends Mass and Holy Communion and now also supports decriminalisation of abortion.
We Catholics all have to take some blame for such politicians, as many of us vote for them at election time, while putting money in collections to defend unborn innocents and signing petitions against the aborting of 500 unborn children daily in the UK.
Do we – bishops, priests, religious and laity of the Church – really and truly believe that abortion kills an innocent defenceless unborn child, our brother in Jesus? I ask such a question as we rarely, if ever, get a Bidding Prayer for the 500 innocents killed daily in the UK, while getting an immediate Bidding Prayer for the latest disaster and loss of human life somewhere in the world. This has to change if we are to influence politicians, in the sense that all of us sitting in the pews are regularly made aware of the daily holocaust of our brothers and sisters.
Vague references to the value of human life aren’t enough. We need to really spell it out and hear something like “We pray for the 3,500 unborn children who have died this week under our UK abortion law.” Not only will the Lord hear us, but so will any Catholic politicians who sit in the pews.
Why the laity left
SIR – Stephen Bullivant (Cover story, May 31) presented an interesting and coherent analysis of why Vatican II didn’t “work out”.
However, it was in the first paragraph that the real clue lies as to why the laity have left in such numbers, especially in the West.
St John XXIII stated in his opening remarks to the Council that he wanted the Church to bring people to the appreciation of supernatural values. By design or otherwise, many of the changes to the Mass had the unfortunate consequence of almost completely stripping it in appearance of supernatural significance. It has been downhill ever since.
SIR – The Bishop of Motherwell is right to remind his clergy of the Catechism’s requirement that, during funerals, the homily in particular must “avoid the literary genre of funeral eulogy”.
I heard a priest attempt this quite recently at a Requiem Mass. It not only detracted from his homily, but also failed to do proper justice to the memory of the deceased.
My point, which I fear may have been missed by Philip Goddard and Fr Gerard Bogan (Letters, May 24), is that it would appear that the Archbishop of Glasgow is able to include a eulogy at an appropriate time during a funeral liturgy within his diocese, although (clearly) not during the homily. I do wonder why one of his suffragan bishops appears unable to follow his own metropolitan’s example.