Comment Opinion & Features

Letters: Support the world’s oldest charity

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It is essential that we support Peter’s Pence

SIR – Concern over difficulties in the financial structures in the Vatican must not overshadow our sacred duty to support the Pope both spiritually and materially (Letter of the Week, November 15).

Peter’s Pence is the oldest surviving charity in existence and was founded in Anglo-Saxon England in the 8th century. Since then it is collected around the world on June 29, to provide the Sovereign Pontiff with funds for him to use as circumstances demand.

The Anglo-Saxon King Ine of Wessex (ruled 688-726) was a protector of the Church. He abdicated, went on pilgrimage to Rome and was baptised there – and gave the Pope a tribute of coins that was the beginning of “Peter’s Pence”. This collection soon spread internationally and has continued ever since.

Every bishop of the Catholic Church meets the Holy Father on their ad limina visit to Rome every five years. This gives the pope unique insight as to where he should dispense the funds at his disposal. Pope St John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council at short notice and used Peter’s Pence to cover the cost.

It is essential that we continue to support the Holy Father for his universal apostolate with this historic fund.

Dr Michael Straiton KCSG
Cuddington, Buckinghamshire

The way forward is to elect pro-lifers

SIR – The call by the Labour Party to decriminalise abortion should it come to power is as shocking as it is sordid and extreme. Much of its lost ground in Scotland was over the issue of abortion – so you’d think it would have learnt a lesson.

The defence of the most vulnerable in our society – the unborn child – is surely a socialist measure if ever there was one. However, the Conservative Party and the Lib Dems are similarly tainted: after all, the Tories are currently managing the false compassion of abortion. The Northern Ireland abortion amendment Bill recently
occurred on their watch.

The Abortion Act was made in Parliament and must be undone there: a human rights issue par excellence. The only way forward is to vote for pro-life MPs whatever their party, on the ticket that abortion is not the baby’s fault.

Bernard Cartwright
Stourbridge, West Midlands

Baying for royal blood

SIR – When I visited Rome I included a tour of the Colosseum. Our guide related stories of the crowds enjoying gladiatorial combat and the killing of slaves was part of the spectacle. Criminals were publicly executed for entertainment.

The recent baying for blood surrounding Prince Andrew by the media and press (Mary Kenny, November 22) brought my holiday tour to mind.

Prince Andrew consented to an hour-long TV interview about his friendship and work associations with Jeffrey Epstein. The Prince did not evade any of the searching queries, and I question why none of his answers are believed. The urge to witness the downfall of this man is reminiscent of a Colosseum performance.

The Prince admits that his association with Epstein was not appropriate, but he does not admit to improper behaviour on his own part. It is important to know and to note that sexual predators are adept at hiding their behaviour from others.

Do we, or the journalists, live in such a sheltered world that none of our or their friends turn out to be inappropriate?

Those of us who are wise find the necessity to prune our friendships and distance ourselves from those who adopt unacceptable patterns of behaviour. Prince Andrew explained how he courteously withdrew from
contact with Epstein.

The aggrandisement of happenings in the line of Prince Andrew’s work makes for novelty reading and a cheap thrill.

Eleanor Care
Barry, Vale of Glamorgan

Twisting the law

SIR – Canon 915 seems very specific regarding reception of Holy Communion, yet so many folk, of no small intelligence, either ignore this Church law or twist it to meet their needs in another area.

It is ignorant to equate abortion with any other life issue. Antonio Ramirez in his letter (November 8) likens abortion to environmental issues and the treatment of refugees – important stuff, of course – as well as the death penalty. But a simple walk through the Catechism would spell out in the most simple terms not only the teaching of the Church, but the level and urgency of all of these life issues.

It is no wonder that two thirds of Americans view the Eucharist as merely symbolic, and view abortion as just one of many problems besetting humanity. Joe Biden left his Catholic faith at the door in Florence, South Carolina, as he “obstinately perseveres in manifest grave sin” by his very public proclamations of abortion on demand, and therefore, as a practising Catholic, “should not be admitted for Holy Communion” (Cover story, November 8).

This is canon law 915, and if you can find wiggle room in it, God help your soul.

Michael Acheson
Port Angeles, Washington

Attlee was no titan

SIR – In his review of Leo McKinstry’s book Attlee and Churchill, Allan Massie writes: “Comparing these titans … with the pygmies of today is to be constantly reminded of our national decline.” Churchill was certainly a titan – but Attlee?

The greatest avoidable tragedy of the 20th century, the outbreak of World War II, was due to the cringeing and pusillanimous appeasement policy of the Chamberlain administration, aided and abetted by both Conservative and Labour Members of Parliament, including, up to the last minute, Clement Attlee himself.

It is a moot point whether the House of Commons of 2019 under the premiership of Mrs May was better or worse than that of 1939. Certainly Tim Bouverie, in his recent highly acclaimed work Appeasing Hitler, gives his opinion that without Churchill the British Parliament would have given in to Hitler, making an accommodation that would have led to our eradication as a nation state.

The parallels with the current situation of Britain and the EU are more than obvious – though not apparently to many of our so-called leaders. That so many of them are prepared to give our country away makes them little different from their less than illustrious predecessors. Times may have changed but the quality is not much worse.

John Hoar
South Molton, Devon

Ruffling feathers

SIR – Fr Michael Rennier’s article on writing sermons (Charterhouse, November 22) reminds me of the best sermon story I ever heard and often repeat about the Curé d’Ars.

A woman confessed to malicious gossip. “For your penance,” the Curé said, “you will go to the market and buy a chicken and bring it to me in the presbytery, plucking it on the way.”

This she did. “Now,” he said, “go and pick up all the feathers.”

She replied: “I can’t, they will have blown everywhere.”

He answered: “So it is with an unkind word.”

Elizabeth Price
Linton, Kent