MAY I TAKE issue with Ronald Rolheiser's "Selfishness and Solitude" (Catholic Herald, 23 August). Those of us who work in psychiatry are often non-plussed by the pyscho-babble used by socalled spiritual leaders. Now we have a priest who makes a blanket statement that solitude is a dangerous place, a selfish place where "It is not good to be alone for reasons that have to do with human maturity and morality".
A sign of the mature person is the ability to be alone without having recourse to "addictions, pornography etc." A good marriage is where each partner matures to the extent they can be alone. If a celibate was never able to be alone in the first place, he should question his ability to live such a vocation. To condemn solitude in such a wholesale way further convinces many of us that those who are forced to adopt celibacy as part of their priestly life, are simply drowning in a sea of loneliness and
are not able to pursue any sort of meaningful spiritual life, let alone lead others!
Solitude will always be an essential part of human and spiritual growth. We read enough of the abuse by celibate priests and religious which shames many good Catholics and causes them to leave the Church with great sadness. This article further illustrates the insidiousness of enforced celibacy where those individuals who are unable to spend any meaningful time in solitude become a danger to themselves and to others.
Dr R Howes Liverpool
I MUST THANK Fr Rolheiser for his wisdom and insight about loneliness, particularly about being alone. People who live by 12-step programmes could not state it better: "It is no accident that we like to he alone when we act out in relation to our addictions... Bad morality doesn't want an audience.
Nobody watches pornography with his family".
Even if one reader is waiting to find a way out of isolation and addiction, 1 for one would be grateful if you would publish this address for help and hope: Augustine fellowship, PO box 3935, Dublin 1. Sex and love addiction might be the problem, instead of lack of "enough" or the "right kind" of sex or love partner.
Name and address supplied
I WONDER why Fr Rolheiser chose his vocation if he feels so strongly about the "wrongness" of solitude and the "virtue" of marriage. And I'm sure Fr Rolheiser needs no reminding of how many hours and days Christ spent in prayer, fasting and meditation. It's a pity he didn't remember this before he wrote his article. If Christ was sent as the perfect example, then how can solitude be wrong, immature and immoral?
As ONE OF six siblings, with two children of my own, I find Fr Ronald Rolheiser's argument that solitude means selfishness extroadinarily naive. Families in my experience are more selfish than celibates, and many a mother is like Lady Macbeth, for whom nothing matters but getting the best for her husband and children. Quite the most self-sacrificing people I know live alone.
Fr Rolheiser also ignores the fact that the hermit or
solitary is a type of rcligivue
recognised in the Church. Anchorites offer spiritual" advice to visitors, and some orders like the Carthusians and Camaldolese combine a basically solitary existence with some elements of a communal life, but their high holiness gives the lie to Fr Rolheiser's argument that maturity cannot be achieved in solitude, and that it is always bad to live alone. Sheridan Gilly
Department of Theology University of Durham