Comment Opinion & Features

Letters: Muslims are looking to bishops for support on sex education


Muslim community is looking to bishops

SIR – Professor David Paton’s warning to Catholic bishops to support parents in standing up to state intrusion into family life is a call that must not go unheeded (Cover story, September 20).

As a Muslim and an activist of 11 years working in the Muslim community to challenge compulsory sex education in schools, I am often asked by Muslim parents whether we can count on other faith groups to support our common desire to protect the family. As time goes by the solidarity Muslim families expect from other communities is often not forthcoming.

While the Church of England tries to stay relevant by distancing itself from its moral positions and the Jewish community seek to go it alone, the Muslim community looks to the Catholic bishops to provide much-needed moral leadership upon which we can join in common cause.

It is one thing to be pragmatic in our responses now that statutory Relationships Education (primary schools) and Relationships and Sex Education (secondary schools) have been rubber-stamped by Parliament. But to welcome measures which curtail parental rights in areas fundamentally related to the upbringing of children is unacceptable.

The Catholic Education Service has got to decide where it stands on its core faith teachings. And all people of faith have to decide whether we are willing to stand up to protect the family or else bear the consequences.

Yusuf Patel
Founder, SREIslamic, London WC2

SIR – You report on the struggle for coverage of the current revolution in children’s sex education (Overlooked, October 4) and the accompanying parental anxiety.

Pope Francis has already warned of the “ideological colonisation” of the family which is taking place by stealth in high places. In keeping with his prayer intention for this month, “That the breath of the Holy Spirit engender a new missionary ‘spring’ in the Church”, it seems apt that the Catholic media should highlight The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, a profoundly prophetic document published by the Pontifical Council for the Family under the auspices of its head, Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, 27 years ago. By experience I found it to be a parent’s catechism highlighting all the hallmarks of the current crisis and providing ample counsel.

The current educational crisis is not new, merely one that has lain dormant but is now dramatically and disturbingly awakening and gaining tragic momentum.

Patricia Cartwright
Ferryhill, County Durham

We do have ‘space for our brokenness’

SIR – I agree in part with Fr Rolheiser (The Last Word, October 4) that we need to create “space for our brokenness” outside of, but alongside, the usual sacramental channels of grace and healing. However he argues that “rituals” for such spaces don’t exist. I would beg to differ. One has only to see how incredibly powerful and positive the effects of apostolates such as Grief to Grace and others have helped countless souls in distress. And at this critical time of need for so much personal and collective healing and reconciliation in families and wider society, I would suggest looking no further than the Unbound ministry of deliverance and healing prayer developed by Neal Lozano.

As the website states, “Unbound is a safe, loving, effective prayer model that helps people to respond to the good news of the Gospel … [It] applies the truth to our lives by using five basic responses called the Five Keys … Repentance and Faith; Forgiveness; Renunciation; Authority; and the Father’s Blessing.” I recommend the book Unbound, or the CD series, to anyone to help overcome past hurts, injustices and lingering resentments in the soul.

It is good to know that Matt Lozano will be coming to Britain in November with conferences to be held in Hallam, Birmingham (for clergy) and Brentwood dioceses. (see for details)

Edmund P Adamus
Redhill, Surrey

Ban these liturgies

SIR – Am I the only individual who feels that the time has come for the practice of Liturgies of the Word and Holy Communion to be abolished in England and Wales?

With everybody’s attention appearing to focus only on the canonisation of John Henry Newman and the Amazon synod, many people appear to be overlooking this serious blight on the Catholic faith. Can individuals really not see that such services devalue the sacred priesthood and the celebration of Holy Mass itself, and show no respect to Our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament?

Surely during the week, in the absence of a priest either through sickness, for pastoral reasons or to enable the priest to have a day off, can the faithful not gather to pray the rosary, sit in adoration or simply read Scripture together?

Do people realise that such services are not a substitute for Holy Mass and that attendance does not fulfil one’s obligation to attend Mass? How can it be acceptable for a lay person to stand at the altar in persona Christi? What do such services say about how some communities value the ordained ministry to the sacred priesthood?

To quote the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (no 93), “A priest also, who possesses within the Church the power of Holy Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ, stands for this reason at the head of the faithful people gathered together here and now, presides over their prayer, proclaims the message of salvation to them, associates the people with himself in the offering of sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Spirit to God the Father, gives his brothers and sisters the Bread of eternal life, and partakes of it with them.”

I believe that there is no place for a lay person to stand at the altar in the absence of a priest and lead the community in a Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion. This practice must surely be of great offence to Our Lord.

Donato Tallo
Eastbourne, East Sussex

What Jesus wants

SIR – Fr Ronald Rolheiser (The Last Word, September 27) leads us to a critical issue: “Søren Kierkegaard once suggested that what Jesus really wants is followers, not admirers.” Too often we are mere admirers, while Jesus wants us to accept Him as the prime example for our life and to follow in his footsteps. We are to study how He was with His Father, and His neighbour, to study what He tells us, and strive to act accordingly.

Jesus’s example in prayer consists of much more than attendance at obligatory liturgy; and rash judgment, gossip, other abuses and polite indifference to another person’s suffering are incompatible with love of God or neighbour.

Love requires an act of the will according to our capacity. Love costs us and often it hurts us, but it makes us truly free.

P Whitney
Doncaster, South Yorkshire