Sir,—Mr. Ileywood (August 6) accuses the Manifesto on the Martyrs and Ecumenism of blurring the distinction between ecumenical activity and conversion. In fact the Manifesto says this: "It is often said that the Catholic Church's approach to other Christians must be twofold: the missionary work of conversion and ecumenical effort without proselytising. The Martyrs have often and rightly been invoked for the first of these purposes. They arc equally at home in the second: there is no better example of the possibilities of true dialogue than in the way the more articulate Martyrs presented their case before their judges."
Your correspondent sees the Martyrs' ecumenical characteristics as "just two" of the requisite qualities and activities. But the Manifesto is not talking, in this context, about qualities and activities. It is talking about basic principles.
What Mr. Heywood misses is that the contribution of all the English and Welsh Martyrs is both capital and unique. so far as ecumenism is concerned. because they alone. of all English and Welsh Catholics past and present, actually died that all might be one.
This was the point selected by Cardinal Bea three years ago as the reason why ecumenism and devotion te the Martyrs are consistent.
The point is that there is no conflict between preserving the unity of faith and charity to all Christians. The Vatican Council's decree makes it plain that ecumenism is destroyed by a lack of charity and truthfulness, and it is these two qualities for which the Martyrs stand supremely.
Mr. Heywood should not have put the formula "bishops' directives equals will of God" in quotation marks. This is not what I said, as a referencee to my last letter to you will show.
My point is that Christian living involves a search for the will of God, and the Bishops are there to help us find it. When, speaking as a regional conference, they set a modern seal on a long tradition of devotion to the Martyrs, only a Catholic who is out of tune with the current mind of the Church will lightly assume that the finger of God is not there.
James Walsh, Si. Vice-Postulator 31, Farm Street, London, W.I.