William Oddie helped me on my path to Rome
SIR – Your insightful and moving obituary (November 15) of the former Catholic Herald editor Dr William Oddie was a fitting tribute to an orthodox and influential Catholic.
Although I never had the privilege of knowing him personally, Dr Oddie was a truly inspiring personality in my spiritual journey into the Catholic Church.
During the 1990s, when I was a “young fogey” Anglo-Catholic, Dr Oddie’s literary outpourings helped determine me and many others to keep fighting for the “faith once delivered to the saints” within the communion of the Church of England.
In the 2000s, his persuasive arguments gradually began toconvince many of us traditional Anglo-Catholics that “the game was up” and submission to the Holy See was the only rightfuldestination for all faithful Catholics.
During 2010 I had a rare, life-changing illness and during my 10-month hospitalisation Pope Benedict XVI made his ground-breaking visit to the British Isles, confirming the rightness of the course I had set my heart on.
At the beginning of Lent 2011, I joined other former Anglicans in becoming part of the first wave of converts joining the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (another of Dr Oddie’s favourite causes), gratefully and joyfully becoming a full member of the Catholic Church.
Until his death, Dr Oddie continued to be a frank and faithful voice for traditional Catholicism. In that, he nobly carried on the precedent established by his great mentor, the recently canonised St John Henry Newman.
Ex-Anglicans and the Amazon synod
SIR – I have noticed that theterm favoured by those who oppose change in the life and teaching of the Church is “confusion”. Well, I confessmyself to be confused. Why can the Church approve the ordination of married men who were formerly Anglicans but oppose the ordination of married men who are lifelong Catholics?
Contributors to your columns thunder about upholding the principle of priestly celibacy yet heartily approve of the ordination of married former Anglican priests. Why? Is it because the acceptance of said Anglicans gives a seal of approval to their stand against the ordination of women? Is it a case of compromising one principle in order to bolster another? It seems to me to be a glaring inconsistency.
Can anyone end my confusion? Perhaps the solution to the plight of Amazonian Catholics who go months without the Blessed Sacrament is to persuade the Anglicans to ordain some of them, and then we could welcome them with open arms to our own holy orders.
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Old meets New
SIR – In the autumn edition of the Latin Mass Society’s magazine Mass of Ages, Joseph Shaw states that the community of the Family of Mary Immaculate and St Francis, an institute of diocesan right based in Gosport, near Portsmouth, will celebrate both the New and Old Mass “not as a matter of personal preference among priest members, but as a matter of policy”.
St John Vianney, the patron of parish priests, is well known for saying that “a priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you”. With this in mind – and considering that the community referred to by the chairman of the Latin Mass Society is running a parish in the Diocese of Portsmouth – it might be worth some reflection on the words of this great saint by those who feel personal preference is what matters when it comes to the celebration of Holy Mass.
The salvation of souls and celebration of the sacraments for others are central to the ministry of a priest; inward-facing ministry is not required in the sacred priesthood, but an outward facing one certainly is.
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth promotes the importance of the new evangelisation and is well known for being a champion of it. It is clearly at the heart of his episcopal ministry. With this in mind, proclaiming the Good News and celebrating the sacraments in ways accessible, appropriate and understandable to all the faithful is not only a good but a necessary practice.
The living out of the faith in one’s prayer, liturgical worship and moral life is at the heart of evangelisation. In our increasingly challenging society the faith should be a source of unity for Catholics rather than division.
In a parish which will no doubt cater for a wide variety of souls, surely the celebration of the Mass in both rites in Gosport is a positive thing.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – There has been, quite rightly, much printed material about St John Henry Newman – a wonderful man in so many fields.
His educational work has been highlighted at university level: his views on the proper place of theology as an option – in contrast to the number of tertiary level institutions that are hostile to its inclusion – give hope for a balanced education to many people.
However, his approach to secondary level education has largely been overlooked. Here his approval of the work of the laity and that of women in boys’ schools was very forward-looking for a Victorian writer and theologian.
A different Japan
SIR – Roy Peachey’s cover story (November 15) raises an interesting historical “what if?” What if Japan’s ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi hadn’t banned Christianity in the 16th century and persecuted its adherents?
While we cannot know for certain, surely Christians would comprise far more than one per cent of the Japanese population. The country would also have been exposed more to Western influences. So perhaps – in this parallel historical universe – Japan might have sided with the Allies, rather than the Axis Powers, during World War II.
Then the nation would not have suffered the devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which, as Peachey points out, were Christian strongholds).
This might be dismissed as wishful thinking, but it really does make you wonder if Japan’s history would have been quite different if Hideyoshi hadn’t issued his “Edict of expulsion of the Christian Padres” in 1587.
Portland, Oregon, United States
Why we baptise
SIR – I sincerely hope that Mary McAleese (Week in Review, November 15) retracts publicly her views on the sacrament of baptism. All Christians accept the fall of mankind, the need of a Redeemer, the promise of a Redeemer, the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery and, of course, the divine command from Our Lord to baptise all peoples, after stating to Nicodemus that baptism is necessary for salvation (John 3:5).
Fr Robert Copsey SOLT