From the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Westminster SIR – It seems that there may have been some misunderstanding about the plans for the future being considered within the Archdiocese of Westminster. There is a consultation being conducted about the future and it is apparent that one consideration is that there will not be enough priests for each parish to have a resident priest in the future. All parishes, however, will have a parish priest whether he is resident or not. There is no discussion about an idea “that our parishes should be run by lay persons in the imminent future”. There is every hope that lay people may be encouraged to fulfil their baptismal role in many and various ways, as the Vatican Council wished and this will include the laity assuming greater collaborative and complementary roles in the life of the parish.
I am also unaware of any “marked bias” against increasing the number of priests coming from abroad. We have many priests from abroad but we have two most important considerations to guide us. It is unreasonable simply to import priests and call them to spiritual leadership in a Westminster parish when their training, tradition and culture has not prepared them for these specific responsibilities. It is also a matter of ethical concern that, while seminaries in some parts of the world may well be full to overflowing, the ratio of the number of ordained priests to Catholics still remains well below that to be found in this country. Are we really to invite priests to minister here when their own people have as great, or much greater, need?
Yours faithfully, JOHN ARNOLD London SW1