Sir,—The account which you give of the Slant to the left is timely and useful. To ask questions is to stimulate thought and for many years the difficulty has been to get Catholics to play their part in public affairs.
Two world wars, the 1930 "slump" and an Ecumenical Council have been necessary to get the people of God to move. They are still somewhat reluctant, and there is the danger that the "slant" should become too pronounced. To be a healthy tree, it must stand upright and grow from the roots.
The Council (or is it now the College of Bishops?) has issued 16 documents and these are already published in one volume, together with an introduction and a "Message to Humanity" and notably, after the functions of Bishops the most prominent among the decrees is the apostolate of the Laity.
We have a decree to ourselves, as well as two chapters in the Constitution on the Church, and our responsibilities are underlined in the pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
Catholic Christianity is now "under obedience" to play its part in directing the world towards that state envisaged by Pope John as the "Kingdom of Truth, justice, love and peace."
There has been a growth of consciousness since Pope Leo XIII issued his first encyclical in 1878 on the "evils of modern society", nearly 100 years ago. It is this awareness that has been developed and crystallised in Vatican H, and the importance of Slant is that it is in line with this intrinsic principle which is part of the very nature of the Church's life, her mission to mankind. It is historical orthodoxy, as Michael Novak said again and again in The Open Church, the book which attracted so much attention early, during the Council, and historical development is much the same thing.
In the CATHOLIC HERALD of May 20 you report that the Pope has briefed a working party to give effect to his hopes for World Justice and Development. It should be remembered that from his earliest days he was brought face to face with the social question, and while Archbishop of Milan it was his settled policy to meet the workers.
This should encourage Slant, if they hope to maintain the historical line of advance and depend on prayer and the gifts of wisdom and understanding promised by the Holy Spirit.
J. M. D. Scott Oxford.
Sir,—How much will remain of the Church when the wolves, now not even clothed as sheep, have finished mauling it?
Less than enough to cling to?
M. Berkeley Haywards Heath, Sussex.
Sir,—"Whether Slant is corning up with the right answers or not, there can be no doubt that the movement is asking some of the right questions."
I am gazing at an imposing array of masculine f aces printed in the CATHOLIC: HERALD. Would it be the right question to inquire why women are excluded from this excellent work?
J. J. O'Connor Woodside Park, London, N.12.
Sir,—Your editorial on the left movement among Catholic I intellectuals shows clearly how important is the task facing the Church in Britain today. The most important dialogue that the hierarchy and clergy have to inaugurate is with their own laity.
The days of didactic teaching are over for ever—not just for the clergy, but for doctors too. It may have escaped the attention of many that the laity are becoming more and more educated and want to know, quite reasonably, the reason behind much of the Church's thinking and teaching.
After ten years in the Church, it still amazes me how little integration there is of the laity into church life. The more one is what may be called "educated" the more likely one is to be distrusted and in some cases ostracised by clergy at the parish level.
If we wish to look around for the failure of the Church in Britain today, we need go no further than the failure of the Church to integrate intimately into its full life those whom great expense it has educated and then abandoned. Dr. H. P. Ferrer Sale, Cheshire.
Sir,—All praise to you for publishing such a devastating exposition of the nature, aims and objects of the "Catholic left". I am sure the Bishops will be most grateful to you.
John O'Keeffe has clearly shown that this group of intellectuals (are they really?) is prepared to refuse the assent to Papal encyclicals required in Humani generis by Pius XII, to question the validity of the arguments from reason for God's existence (a point restated by Vatican II), to oppose the Apostles' successors in the matter of Catholic schools, to refuse to recognise the obvious meaning of the militant atheism of Karl Marx and generally to, reject the fundamentally spiritual other-worldliness of the Church.
This article will be a valuable warning to loyal Catholics to see and understand these young men for what they really are. Such writings as have read of theirs have varied from the merely immature to the downright false, slanderous and malicious, as, for example, when Neil Middleton wrote in a non-Catholic journal that our Bishops are "theological illiterates" backpedalling into obscurantism as hard as they can go and anxious to forget all about Vatican II.
Much of what this group stands for has already been roundly repudiated in Ecclesiam suam by Paul VI. Much more is diametrically opposed to the clear teaching of Vatican II, for example the Constitution on Revelation and the Declaration on Christian Education.
An article like John O'Kceffe's makes one realise how wise Christ was in not choosing his Apostles from among the "intellectuals" of his day—and there were plenty of them! These new leftists seem to think that Christ founded a debating society, not a Church. One wonders if they regard daily Holy Communion as far more important than a debate on television. I hope and pray that the rest of us— genuine progressives and conservatives alike—will show more maturity, moderation, balance, charity and spirituality than has so far been visible in the writings and speeches of these young people.
Geraint Legge St. Helens, Lanes.