Life & Soul

Letters & emails

Let’s share cathedrals with Anglicans

SIR – I found Peter Sheppard’s article (Charterhouse, October 5) about the possibility of Catholics returning to medieval churches interesting. Although living in Ireland for decades, I am an nonagenarian Englishman. Some time ago I wrote to a newspaper suggesting that Catholics and Anglicans share cathedrals and churches. I suggested that diocesan and parish boundaries be adjusted to coincide.

Although full unity may be a long way off, Catholics and Anglicans could, as far as possible, work together as one Christian community. Of course they would need separate Eucharists, but non-Eucharistic celebrations could be ecumenical. Sharing cathedrals and churches, and being in the same dioceses and parishes, would encourage Catholics and Anglicans to feel some sort of unity as Christians. There may be some legal problems, such as “titles”, but with goodwill these could be overcome. Here in Ireland there is no problem having two “archbishops of Armagh” and two of “Dublin”.

If churches were shared, the ones made redundant would, of course, be those with little architectural or historical merit, and could be sold or used as diocesan or parish halls. This way, one hopes, Catholics and Anglicans would not only be drawn closer together, but both would also share the country’s treasure of ancient cathedrals and churches.

Francis Bailey
Killiney, Co Dublin, Ireland

A new model for the Church?

SIR – At the recent synod, in the context of discussions on collegiality – or, as it now seems to be called, synodality – Cardinal Vincent Nichols is reported as having warned how excessive synodality has undermined the Anglican Communion (Cover story, November 2). Does Cardinal Nichols not see that the current model under which the Catholic Church is run has been thoroughly undermined already?

The Church, certainly in Western Europe and North America, has all but lost its moral authority. A structure based on a solely clerical hierarchy has been shown to be not fit for purpose. Is it not time for a new “Reformation” in which far greater influence, indeed perhaps authority, is vested in the People of God at all levels in the Church? And by the People of God, I mean all the people of God including – no, not including but especially – women.

Martin Clitheroe

An unfair portrait

SIR – Tim Stanley doesn’t give a rounded picture of the former Earl of Bristol and Anglican Bishop of Derry (Comment, November 2). Admittedly, in later life his eccentricity and vanity took over, but his earlier achievements were exceptional. He was a passionate supporter of Catholic Emancipation, and it was only after Pitt’s failure to persuade the king to accept it that he left Ireland, and England, in disgust.

Earlier, he had spent vast sums on public works, including a contribution of a thousand guineas towards establishing the first bridge over the Foyle, uniting the two halves of the city of Derry. He also provided the funds for building not only Anglican churches but also Nonconformist chapels (John Wesley praised one of his sermons) and, believe it or not, Catholic churches. He also insisted on appointing only Irish clergy, and not English, to the livings in his diocese.

John Jolliffe
Mells, Somerset

Death in the Amazon

SIR – You’re right to highlight that many bishops and communities are worried by Bolsonaro’s election (World news, November 9). Communities that Cafod, the official aid agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has been working alongside for decades are facing increasing threats as president-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric and policy seeks to eradicate environmental protection and target indigenous communities.

Indigenous and landless rural communities act as courageous defenders of the precious Amazon rainforest and are losing their lives to protect it. Globally, Brazil is the most dangerous country for environmental defenders. Over 1,270 murders have been linked to land conflict since 1985 and according to Global Witness, 2017 was the deadliest year on record, with an unprecedented 57 murders.

The struggle to protect the defenders of the Amazon basin matters to us all – Pope Francis has called climate change “one of the worst phenomena that our humanity is witnessing” – and these policies threaten to damage irreversibly the world’s largest rainforest and increase the rate of climate change worldwide.

Esther Gillingham
Cafod Brazil Programme Officer, London SE1

No space to kneel

SIR – In regard to Fr Rutler’s article of October 5 about pews being Protestant: that may be, but in this country (New Zealand) they have been replaced by rows of chairs. One can stand or sit, but there is no space to kneel. And for anyone like myself, able to get down but not able to get up again without solid support, pews are much to be preferred.

Frances Searls
Dunedin, New Zealand

God is everywhere

SIR – David O’Neill (Letter, October 19) states that he thinks it rude of the priest to talk to God with his back to Him. This prompts the question “Where is God?” Jesus promised that whenever two or three were gathered in His name, He would be in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).

Surely we come to Mass in Jesus’s name, so with the community and priest gathered around the altar, no one has his or her back to God. It is impossible to have one’s back to God anyhow because, as the old Catechism taught us, God is everywhere.

Jan Burr
Guildford, Surrey

Backstreet horrors

SIR – In “The film Hollywood doesn’t want you to see” (Arts & Books, November 2), KV Turley reports that the successfully crowdfunded film Gosnell, about a villainous abortionist, has been denied wide distribution by the American movie industry.

In one way, this is not surprising, as anything revealing the true nature of abortion is liable to be boycotted. But in another, it is not. In any discussion of this matter the “backstreet” abortionist is invariably wheeled out to illustrate how things would be if we did not have clean, safe, legal abortion. Gosnell, with his filthy clinic and barbarous surgical methods, fills this role admirably.

Should the film, however, eventually get even limited distribution and be issued on DVD, it is to be hoped that at least some pro-choicers viewing it will be persuaded to question their stance.

MG Sherlock
Colwyn Bay, North Wales