Comment Opinion & Features

Letters: Why is the Church unable to resist radical sex education?

(CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Young Catholics are turning the tide

SIR – I am writing in response to your cover story, “Class Struggle” (September 20). I believe that the somewhat evasive response of the Catholic Education Service to new guidelines for Relationships and Sex Education is compatible with a long-term reluctance by the Church to teach about vocation, anthropology and the role of human sexuality.

In the decades following Vatican II, and particularly after the publication of Humanae Vitae, a distinction was drawn between “life” issues and “social justice” issues. The perils of indiscriminate sexual experimentation and a contraceptive mentality were sidestepped. In an increasingly competitive and individualistic culture, marriage or celibacy were downplayed as generators of social capital, and vocation was reduced to the pursuit of certain careers. Ultimately, respect for creation and gender equality became disconnected from fidelity to one’s body and lifelong commitments.

Yet tradition renders all these issues seamless, because they speak of God’s infinite generosity, the human condition and our destination, as men and women created in God’s image.

The People of God argued which sins to drive out and the Devil laughed out loud: a generation grew up theologically unchallenged and they are now writing public policy.

But not all is lost: there is a small but vibrant percentage of young Catholics who are willing to answer the universal call to holiness. Groups such as the Dominican Youth Movement or Youth 2000 are good examples. Let us pray that more will have the courage to swim against the tide and to stand for life. Even if their teachers disagree.

Fernanda Mee
Youth coordinator, St Dunstan’s, Woking, Surrey

What is a cathedral’s primary purpose?

SIR – Bishop Davies, in his article on our cathedral in Shrewsbury (Feature, September 13), raises a series of questions, liturgical, aesthetic and historical, which deserve a careful and considered response. He seems to understand our cathedral as primarily a shrine for the reserved Blessed Sacrament, rather than a place for the drama of the liturgy and the site of his cathedra (not mentioned in the article).

With respect, I would like to address two minor points which might have confused the reader. The cathedral is by Edward Welby Pugin, not Augustus, his father; indeed at 19, it was Edward’s first major commission.

The photograph accompanying the article depicts the church before the pre-Vatican II restoration, which was carried out in preparation for the celebration of the building’s centenary in 1956; considerably before the second restoration of the 1980s. The stencilling is not original but was added only at the end of the 19th century, the church being restored in the 1950s to Edward Pugin’s initial design. The altar rails were moved one bay into the nave at the same time, to allow space in the sanctuary for a more dignified celebration of a liturgy appropriate to a cathedral.

Fr Peter Phillips
Shrewsbury diocesan archivist,
Sacred Heart, Moreton, Merseyside

Extraordinary Mass

SIR – I read with interest the ongoing debate in your Letters pages over the Ordinary and the Extraordinary forms of Holy Mass. Personally I can accommodate the fact that both are part of the rich heritage of our faith and valid forms of Mass.

I took the opportunity while in the north of England last week to attend an Extraordinary Form Mass. In his homily the priest launched into a criticism of ecumenism, considering it a false teaching, stating that what is more important is what divides us rather than what we share with other denominations, that people of other faiths cannot be saved, and so on. Does the Extraordinary Form help to promote a rather regressive theology?

Matthew Freeman
Dorking, Surrey

SIR – I quite agree with Matthew Sferrazza (September 13) that much of great value was lost during the post-conciliar implementation of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. However, neither is the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI without value.

Turning back the clock may not be desirable or possible, especially when sentiments are strongly held. In due time, perhaps, we may see the mutual enrichment between the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the one Roman Rite hoped for by Benedict XVI.

The provision for the proclamation of the readings in the vernacular in the Extraordinary form, in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum 2007, is an example of this, of which Elizabeth Price (Letter, August 23) seems to be unaware.

Jackie Wilkinson

Amazon delivers

SIR – While I agree with the point made by Fr Dominic Allain (Diary of a City Priest, September 20) that “the true and clear vision of God is not revealed to indigenous wisdom … or even to the culture or religion of Israel”, it is also true that “the creation itself, “like the Old Testament did”, “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19).

I take the “sons of God” to refer to the Church. And it seems to me that what the creation is eagerly awaiting is the stream of divine grace that Ezekiel foresaw in his vision: “I saw water coming out from the threshold of the Temple … where the water flows, everything will live” (Ezekiel 47:1, 9). The Temple is the body of Jesus, the Word Incarnate, whose divine grace flows into the Church as Wife of the Lamb from his Paschal mystery.

The Amazon region, along with the whole of creation, waits with eager longing for this river of divine grace that flows out from the Church, since she is one body with Christ. The river promises not only clean water and a poison-free earth, but also a restoration of the sacredness of all creation through rediscovering our shared origins in the Word “without Whom was made nothing that was made” (John 1:3).

The Amazon region cannot “suggest a new Pentecost” and the religion and culture of indigenous people “cannot teach the Church something she never knew”, yet it can remind the Church of something she may be in danger of forgetting: that by nature she is missionary and her mission is to the whole world and to the whole of creation.

Fr Freddy Warner, SMA
Our Lady of the Rosary and St Patrick, Walthamstow, London

Those feet

SIR – Is Melanie McDonagh (Charterhouse, September 20) aware that William Blake’s question “Did those feet …” refers, as I understand it, to the legend that Christ spent part of his childhood in Britain, having been brought here during his hidden years by Joseph of Arimathea.

Nicholas Hinde
Felsted, Essex

Neglected prophet

SIR – As Joseph Pearce points out (US news analysis, September 20), the US has wholeheartedly embraced Newman. But why is there little enthusiasm in his homeland?

John Walls
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire