From D. A. Marshall: Sir – Mr Trimble's departure, allegedly because decommissioning has never come to fruition, is a worrying development. He has tried to show the "caring side" of Ulster unionism by some of his actions. The worry now is, who or what will take up the mantle and what tenuous progress has been made, could be lost forever?
Throughout history leaders have had to make regrettable pronouncements which are often said to keep their more radical members placated — Mr Trimble and Mr Adams are no exception to this.
The question of arms handlers and the vast stocks held by the Republican movement, if the truth was known, could probably be matched by the UDA, UVF, UFF and others.
Do we ever hear anything in respect of Loyalist weapon dumps? A more balanced approach to this minor point might, on occasion, result in more favourable responses from the opposing factions.
Whether IRA weaportry has been handed over or not, killing and destruction has dramatically decreased. Preservation of any life has to be seen as progress.
Yours faithfully D.A. MARSHALL Liversedge, West Yorks
From Mr Eamonn Hamilton: Sir — It is impossible in a short letter to comment on all the many inaccuracies and biases contained in Mark Harness's article (comment, July 13).
His overall tone of exasperation with his co-religionists, and their elected representatives, shows such contempt for their history of (proven) injustices, gerrymandering and discrimination at the hands of these bowler-hatted bigots from the Orange Order. 1 wonder how readers would feel if his analysis of marching were transferred to the current situation in northern England involving the BNP. I think it would be seen as the naïve nonsense it really is.
The gentlemen in the photograph want to parade triumphantly down the Garvaghy Road irrespective of the feelings of the residents. (Remember Mr Trimble walking raised hand-in-hand with Ian Paisley when they successfully forced their way down a few years ago'?) The Parades Commission agrees with the residents that the Orange Order in Portadown should discuss this first. The signs are that this may yet happen and the residents will be treated as equal citizens. The bloody history of Inland really deserves a better analysis than this.
Yours faithfully, EAMONN HAMILTON Harrow, Middx
From Bishop Hugh Lindsay:
Sir — May I assure M M Scott (letter, July 13) that the canon law on freemasonry is not doctrinal matter, and so cannot be "infallible teaching". It is a pastoral matter on which the Holy See may vary its judgement as circumstances change: it is also a discipline which may be changed.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law (2335) expressly condemned masonry, mentioned plotting against the Church or civil governments, imposed automatic excommunication and, as far as I recall, forbade ecclesiastical burial. The law was based on various papal documents which reflected the conditions when they were written.
Circumstances have changed between the time of Pope Leo XIII and 1974. Freemasonry was different in various parts of the world; there was no evidence of plotting against Church or state in England, for instance, rather of supporting fellow members and very many charities. In 1974, the Holy See notified our bishops that we could interpret Canon 2335 strictly, and in individual cases, permit Catholics to join the Masons.
That was public knowledge at the time, in the religious and the secular press. and permissions were lawfully given to some Catholics who applied to their bishops. I granted a few permissions after, I suspect, more detailed enquiries than the Holy See would then have demanded.
After some Italian freemasonry scandals, a 1981 declaration of the Holy See was stricter, but still seemed to recognise local differences in masonry. When the 1983 Code of Canon Law took effect, new Canon 1374 no longer mentioned freemasonry but associations, "which plot against the Church"; the penalties were fewer and no longer automatic. However, on the day before the revised law took effect, a declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had repeated the traditional judgement against freemasonry, declared that those who enrol in it are in serious sin; there was no longer any recognition of different forms of masonry in various countries. There the disciplinary matter rests.
A separate question which troubles many of us is whether masonry is, in effect, a form of religion which is of necessity Christian.
Yours faithfully + HUGH LINDSAY Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria
From Mr Brian Brindley: Sir — I am sorry that, in the limited space of a Charterhouse Chronicle, I used words implying that all Anglican sacraments are invalid. I meant, of course, those sacraments — Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, unction, and Orders — that require the intervention of a bishop or priest.
Lay baptism is recognised as valid, always and everywhere. And it is common ground that the "ministers" of matrimony are the parties, bride and groom, not the priest who witnesses and blesses the marriage.
What I did for 30 years as an Anglican minister I did in good faith. When the scales fell from my eyes, I stopped administering acraments.
Yours faithfully BRIAN BRINDLEY Brighton, E. Sussex
Louis XVI's death
From Mrs Marian Lacy Scott: Sir — I was interested to read the review and the excerpts from Antonia Fraser's new biography of Marie Antoinette in your newspaper of June 29.
I feel, however, that I must point out that the assertion that Louis XVI was denied a priest in the last hours of his life is incorrect.
A priest of Anglo-Irish descent, the Abbe Edgeworth de Firrnont was allowed to say Mass and administer the last rites to the King the evening before his death. The Abbe stayed all that night with the King in the Temple where he was imprisoned and accompanied him to the scaffold at Sam the following morning. My great grandmother was an Edgeworth. I have in my possession the book of the Memoirs of the Abbe Edgeworth containing the last hours of Louis XVI, also a tribute to the Abbe from King Louis XXIII. The book was published by Sneyd Edgeworth, his cousin, in 1815 seven years after the Abbe's death.
He died in 1807 in Mitau where, after many a close shave With French authorities, he joined Louis XVIII and other members of the Royal Family in exile.
Yours faithfully, MARIAN LACY SCOTT Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
From Mr Myke RosenthalEnglish: Sir — It has been noticeable for sometime that throughout the media and on many interne sites that a concerted attack is being made against the UK Life League.
I first became aware of it on a family intent& portal when they were accused of being "terrorists" by one of the users of the forum.
I challenged anyone who knows of any terrorist activity under taken by this group to report it to the police and to make it known for all on the site to see. Not one reply has been forthcoming in the last three months.
They then moved their attack on this group to the secular papers claiming the same old "American Abortion terrorists hit the UK".
Really, am I missing something? Can any of your readers name one person who has been killed, murdered bombed, maimed or even injured?
Are we not doing the job of the pro-abortionists by attacking this group without knowing the full and true facts about it? If it were not for them the Parent Truth Campaign would not have been the success it is.
The filth that this government want to teach our children has been put on hold because of their magnificent efforts. They are at the forefront of the abortion campaign fighting for the unborn child by prayer and actions. To label these people as "terrorists" for using all legal opportunities to prevent abortions seems to me that we are now patting the abortionists on the back and saying: "Keep up your murder of unborn babies,we promise not to make it to difficult for you and we will do are best to shut down any opposition to you."
Can you not smell a rat? It is because UK Life League have been so successful that their enemies want therm shut down.
I for one pray they don't succeed.
MYKE ROSENTHIAL-ENGLISH Delabole, Cornwall [email protected]
From Mr PG.
Sir — According to a secular newspaper a man who does not believe in God is to become head of the BBC's religious broadcasting.
We are told that he is a "divorcee who currently specialises in making science programmes" and describes himself as an "openhearted agnostic" and lives with his partner. Apparently the Church of England received the news coolly and the Evangelical Alliance said it was not reassuring.
But a Catholic bishop, the Rt. Rev Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth, was ecstatic, saying: "We welcome this appointment as a sign that the BBC is taking seriously it's commitment to provide high quality religious programmes."
How very curious.
Yours faithfully, P. G. Al.I.EN Bristol
From Mr Jimmy Ingram: Sir — Thank you for the Ronald Rolheiser column each week. He pulls me back from the despair I often feel when reading the letters page and sets my feet on the road again. Without the likes of Ronald Rolheiser I think I would have left the Church long ago.
These articles are gems and I often wish you would publish them in book form.
Yours faithfully JIMMY INGRAM Luton, Beds