Comment Opinion & Features

Letters: The case for canonising ‘the saint of mass media’

Malcolm Muggeridge (Getty)

The case for canonising ‘St Mugg’

SIR – With the apparent demise of the Cause of GK Chesterton (Week in Review, August 9) is it not time to look at Malcolm Muggeridge as a Servant of God? Muggeridge (1903-1990) was as good a writer as Chesterton and as a Christian communicator and activist more accomplished. He would make a good contemporary saint of journalism and the mass media, but of repentance most of all. At the time of his death he would cry out again and again “Father, forgive me”.

He not only had great wit but also a hidden charisma of reaching out to many in distress. Above all during the social upheavals of the “permissive society”, when too many Catholics preferred to look the other way, he bore public witness to the moral teachings of our faith. One of his favourite quotes was “only dead fish go with the flow”. Of course, he would have regarded the prospect of his sanctity as hilarious, which would make his Cause all the more endearing.

Bernard Cartwright
Stourbridge, West Midlands

The Real Presence is more than spiritual

SIR – In these times of dwindling (towards almost non-existent) belief in the Real Presence, I have thought long and hard about responding to the letter from Peter Couch of Plymouth (Letters, August 23).

The debate surrounding admitting non-Catholic Christians to Holy Communion is a sensitive one, but I do feel compelled to respond to Mr Couch’s closing assertion about “the spiritual presence of Jesus made manifest in the Eucharist”.

Respectfully, this is Reformers’ theology.

Our Lord is not merely spiritually present in the Eucharist, but substantially present. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374: “the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained”). To assert otherwise is therefore contrary to Catholic teaching.

Hence the valid and necessary requirement for converts (I am one) to undertake RCIA – or a similar course of instruction – prior to being admitted into full communion with the Church. I mean absolutely no disrespect in writing this. It is sent in good faith and with charity.

Ben Louis Williams
Lewes, East Sussex

SIR – If Peter Couch were to take a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church – which cannot be done quickly – I think he would find that there are quite a lot of doctrines other than that of the Eucharist where the Anglican community either omit or contradict Catholic teaching. The so-called Protestant Reformation was about a good deal more than Eucharistic teaching, and of course it was about more than the particular issue, in our country, of Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage.

Children who are of an age to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, if well-taught and prepared, are well able to understand in their own limited way the teachings necessary for a sincere and devout Communion.

But, like all children, they will know that they are only at the beginning of a long learning process. Our Lord tells us to become like little children.

Ruth Yendell
Exeter, Devon

SIR – Peter Couch deserves sympathy. If the journey he considers were termed differently – as “reception into full communion with the Catholic Church”, for example – the prospect might be easier for him. Also, this need not necessarily be through the RCIA, although many people are referred to it.

It can be bewildering, but after 40 years as a Catholic, not so shocking, to find that “many of those claiming to be Catholics hold views on subjects that are not … Catholic”. In the city and diocese of Plymouth the missio ad gentes, supported by Bishop Mark O’Toole, can provide the same adult catechesis which has brought many here in Bristol into full communion with the Catholic Church. Mr Couch might also find that there is in Plymouth a community with whom to continue his journey of faith

Pauline Harvey
Bristol, Somerset

Shining examples

SIR – It seems to me that Ann Farmer (Cover story, August 30), in excusing, justifiably to some extent, the tone of Chesterton’s observations on Jews as being of their time, has missed the point that canonisation requires the exceptional from the candidate.

Chesterton may indeed not have been a card-carrying anti-Semite, nor no worse than many a chap of his time, but he can hardly be put forward as a shining example of the best that humanity has to offer.

Jacqueline Castles
London W2

Rimbaud’s trauma

SIR – Thanks to Benjamin Ivry for telling us about the strange and tortured life of Arthur Rimbaud (Feature, August 23).

I wonder if your readers are familiar with Caryll Houselander’s essay on him in her study Guilt (Sheed and Ward, 1951). Her approach is that of a counsellor in matters spiritual and psychological, and she describes him as someone who lost their childhood innocence in a dramatic way, and yet not fully, and not so as never to be regained. She stands by Rimbaud’s sister’s description of his saintly death, and lauds Enid Starkie’s biography (with reservations).

In retrospect, Rimbaud’s tombstone might have carried another inscription. True, we should pray for him, but what about “Priez par lui” also?

Adrian Huchet
London SW17

Police caution

SIR – EJ Stevenson’s letter (August 30) highlights how different memories can be of Hong Kong. I was working as a journalist at the time of Tiananmen Square, and living in a part of the city that was little frequented by expatriates unless they had a taste for traditional Chinese medicine. There never seemed to be much enthusiasm for the police in that neighbourhood.

Less subjectively, it’s worth mentioning that of the 28 chiefs of police during the British administration, only one was born in Hong Kong. Since the handover of 1997, all six commissioners have been native Hong Kongers, including the one appointed during the British era.

Let’s hope China doesn’t decide to take back control.

Lucien de Guise
London SW18

Without Vatican II

SIR – I am sure Elizabeth Price (Letter, August 23) does wonderful work with the sick and dying, but she states that without Vatican II she could not be doing this work. However, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist have nothing to do with Vatican II, and the Scriptures were done into English centuries before that Council.

Nicholas Hinde
Felsted, Essex