Comment Opinion & Features

Letters: If not Peter’s Pence, then what?


Wanted: an alternative to Peter’s Pence

SIR – Regarding the letter from P Whitney (November 1), for the past two years I have not contributed to Peter’s Pence because of the sadly well-known financial corruption in the Vatican.

It seems to me that, in these confusing and corrupt times, Catholics need to be careful where we put our donations. Some have stopped giving – but we mustn’t do that. We are called to care for the needy. So, I think we must do a bit of research and see where our donations will do the most good.

Personally, I give to Aid to the Church in Need, which has done more for suffering Christians in the Middle East than any other organisation in the past few years. Also, the Sudan Relief Fund is serving the otherwise ignored and persecuted Christians of South Sudan. And there are many other worthy Catholic charities worldwide. I look them over, pray and give where it seems my donation will do the most good.

And, perhaps, if the donations to Peter’s Pence continue to diminish, the Vatican will finally put its financial house in order and we can all start filling up our Peter’s Pence envelopes once again. That will be a happy day.

Laurie Vasile
Chatsworth, California

We can help you to repair your church

SIR – I am clearly not doing my job properly if Peter Sheppard (Feature, November 1) can write a timely and important
article about the future of the UK’s churches without mentioning the National Churches Trust.

We have been supporting church buildings for over 200 years. Originally, as the Incorporated Church Building Society, our help was solely given to the Church of England, but since 1953 as the Historic Churches Preservation Trust and now as the National Churches Trust, our help is available to any church, chapel or meeting house in the UK that is open for regular worship.

Despite falling congregations and a shortage of funds, we remain optimistic about the future of church buildings. The message that needs to be heard is that church buildings are part of the nation’s shared heritage. Support for their future needs to come from government and Lottery funding, charitable trusts and philanthropists, and congregations.

The National Churches Trust is best known for the grants we provide for urgent repairs to keep church buildings windproof and watertight. In 2018 we awarded 228 grant awards totalling £1.2 million and increased the level of our grant-giving to our priority areas, including Northern Ireland. Any church can apply to us for a grant and it important to note that we also fund unlisted churches.

Roman Catholic churches we have helped include Augustus Pugin’s St Augustine in Ramsgate and Our Lady Help of Christians in Kitts Green, Birmingham. We receive very few applications for grants from Roman Catholic churches and would welcome more.

Of course, fixing things when they go wrong can be an expensive business. So last year we launched MaintenanceBooker (, a website that makes it as easy as possible to find accredited contractors for services such as gutter clearance and repairs, masonry repairs, lime mortaring and high-level maintenance. Tackling essential maintenance tasks sooner rather than later is important as it saves money in the long term.

The National Churches Trust receives no direct funding from government or church authorities. Our work is made possible by the generosity of our friends and supporters, trusts and foundations and from investments. Some of our projects are helped by grants from organisations such as the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Eddie Tulasiewicz, Head of communications, National Churches Trust
London SW1

Great respect

SIR – Your recent correspondents on Celebrations of the Word and Communion should refer to a document, so titled, approved for interim use from Advent 1996 by the Department for Christian Life and Worship of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (published by the Liturgy Office).

I have been a Eucharistic minister since 1982 and have experienced these liturgies in the UK, the US and Canada. In one parish in the UK I have trained Eucharistic ministers to take these services.

In my current parish, deacons and Eucharistic ministers lead a liturgy when the parish priest is not available to say Mass; this combines the Daily Prayer from the Divine Office, and Readings of the Day with the distribution of Communion.

In my experience those leading these liturgies, as you would expect, have always been prayerful and shown great respect for the Body and Blood of Christ. I have never come across a situation where this has not been the case.

Michael Simpson
Minehead, Somerset

SIR – Regarding “Eucharistic services”, I am greatly distressed to read the correspondence of some people who cannot see the danger to the faith caused by unconsecrated hands touching the Body of Christ and the chalice. I urge those souls to read Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Christus Vincit, published this year, especially Chapter 14, entitled “The Eucharist and Holy Communion”.

Also, I do not like the word “service” in this context. In the Catholic Church we have religious rites and ceremonies. The word “service”, in this context, is a Protestant thing.

Frances M Searls
Dunedin, New Zealand

How to be humble

SIR – I write in appreciation of Fr Ronald Rolheiser’s article “The frustrating struggle for humility” (The Last Word, November 1).

Humility is indeed a slippery fish to keep hold of. However, it is important to pray each day for the grace of humility and we have at our disposal a most wonderful devotion for gaining this grace. It is Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother, Including Prayers and Promises of The Seven Sorrows of Mary (TAN Books).

This devotion is recommended by Fr Chad Ripperger (a priest and exorcist) for its extraordinary efficacy. It involves praying a total of just seven Hail Marys while meditating on Mary’s Seven Dolours. In Luke 2:34-35, we read: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.”

Fr Chad says, in this devotion, Mary will do exactly that – read our hearts, and reveal to us our sins, plus grant us the grace of true contrition, provided we ask sincerely. It works. He even uses the devotion in his ministry as an exorcist, for trying to solve difficult cases in which he needs to know the name of the “demon” he is dealing with.

Mary never fails. She will also assist us at our hour of death, if we bear in our hearts, a loving and compassionate remembrance of her sorrows.

Claire Niven
Ross on Wye, Herefordshire