Opinion & Features

Letters & emails

Catholics need a dash of confidence

SIR – Hearing Boris Johnson expounding in the House of Commons his belief in the greatness of the United Kingdom, his unchecked confidence in its future and his insistence that what seems impossible is possible, it occurred to me that in 40 years of being a Catholic I had never heard a similar rousing recommendation of the Church. I had never heard something that would make a young person think: “Yes! That’s for me!” Perhaps John Paul II came near to it.

More often there is an apologetic tone, defensive and afraid to state Church teaching on matters which aren’t popular. There seem to be too many seeing the Church through the eyes of the world and not the world through the eyes of the Church.

Where are the voices proclaiming that what the Church offers is hope on a grand scale, that its teaching on marriage, relationships and service offers a way of life that will transform the world, and that its record in providing education and aid to the poor in the world is second to none?

Michael Jennings
Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

No one should ever be called a ‘vegetable’

SIR – You report the death from starvation and dehydration of Vincent Lambert in France (Week in Review, July 19). He had not made a written advance directive allowing such a death but, being “en état végétatif”, was unable to exercise the right of a conscious person to remain alive.

Following last year’s Supreme Court judgment, UK law now permits patients with certain disorders of consciousness, including those in so-called “vegetative states”, to suffer the same fate without any legal process, provided their families have agreed.

Guidance issued by the Royal College of Physicians to reflect this judgment says: “We refer to [vegetative state] … with no intention of causing offence, but in recognition of the fact that it is still the most widely used clinical term in the UK for this condition.”

We might well ask why this is the case.

Most would now recoil from terms such as “mentally retarded” or “spastic”. Pope St John Paul II taught that applying the term “vegetative” to a person without awareness is “demeaning their value and personal dignity”: they will “never become a ‘vegetable’ ”.

When, in the way we describe and therefore think of other people, we replace the terminology of diminishment or disregard with a vocabulary of respect, then recognition of their equal rights becomes all the more natural – indeed, imperative.

Andrew Todd
Worthing, West Sussex

In China’s shadow

SIR – Patrick Kleaver (Letter, July 19) raises the possibility of both underground and “patriotic” Catholics in China being outlawed as “enemies of the people”. This reminds me of the rumours about the introduction of a social credit system in China, whereby every citizen’s behaviour will be tracked by state technology and given a “score”.

I was raised in Macau, where the Church is still free from the control of the mainland. However, with the tense situation between Macau and Hong Kong and mainland China, intervention may come sooner than the deadline signed by the

Portuguese and the Brits – 2049 and 2047 respectively – before which the autonomy of Macau and Hong Kong would supposedly remain intact.
We have seen massive anti-extradition law demonstrations in Hong Kong recently. The protesters receive support from the Church’s hierarchy there, as reported by Benedict Rogers (Rest of the World news analysis, June 20). The attempt to pass the controversial extradition law has been suspended, but the social situation remains unstable.

As a side note, I am a cradle Catholic Chinese who returned to attending Sunday Mass weekly after a fateful meeting with Opus Dei in Japan, having lapsed for two years since going to university here in Edinburgh. Eventually I came across the Latin Mass (FSSP). The Old Mass opened my eyes and strengthened my understanding of the faith. Moreover, the bells, incense, Latin and chants drew a Chinese student friend of mine into becoming a Catholic too.

Is Latin really an obstacle? Men desire the mysterious. Let’s bring back the Tridentine Mass in mission countries to draw more conversions.

Sam U Ho

View from the pew

SIR – In his letter, John de Waal (July 26) highlights some of the failings of our present bishops, citing current divisive issues ranging from LGBT rights to same-sex marriage, where there is little or no forceful or widely promulgated guidance for the laity.

Sermons are bereft of proper teachings of the Church and the Magisterium, regarding what the average person in the pew would regard as bread-and-butter topics they wish to have clarified. Reality tells us the ordinary faithful do not read press releases from spokesmen or bishops.

In so acting it should be stressed that this failure of the bishops to give effect to Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a serious dereliction. Both of these require a bishop to act as a principal teacher of Catholic doctrine, and also state that he is obligated to explain the truths of faith and morality when applying the truths of the Gospels to our own times.

I stress “our own times” as the list provided by your correspondent emphasises the speed of change and the heady rise of new and recent issues, which are not met with the same rapidity of response by the bishops; indeed, silence has been the hallmark of the hierarchy.

What hope is there for local priests when the faithful ask them for guidance in their daily lives on these matters? What hope is there for the average parent when faced with a questioning child who is surrounded by those who accept the secular responses which, by default, have gained almost universal support?

Tim Ryan
Surbiton, Greater London

Leaving Remain

SIR – Stuart Reid (Charterhouse, July 19) wants a second referendum on EU membership because he didn’t like the result of the first. He thinks the result would be a vote to Remain. I beg to differ.

After much agonising, I voted to Remain, because I thought that by staying in the EU we could thwart the rush to a United States of Europe. The
arrogant and intransigent attitude of the EU negotiators and their attempts to humiliate Britain for having the effrontery to vote to Leave made me change my mind. I think there are many people like me.

I am convinced that if there were a second referendum, for which there is no justification, there would be a bigger Leave majority than in 2016.

Would Mr Reid then want a third vote … and a fourth … and a fifth?

Andrew Hughes