ATHER FLANAGAN's reply to Fr. Godden (July 15) seems to indicate that the "Catholic Priests' Association" has been formed without episcopal sanction, and if so can scarcely merit the title "Catholic." If bishops would, to quote Fr. Flanagan, "resent their priests being in the association," it would seem that the priests loyal to the Church, the Pope and the successors of the Apostles, namely the bishops, would not wish to be members of an organisation whose members form a secret society, Catholic priests, like myself, have been horrified to see attacks made upon our bishops, by name,
issued by the self-styled "Catholic Priests Association."
Since Fr. Flanagan refuses to justify his claim to large membership, may 1, in fairness to his association, ask two questions?
First, would members of the Catholic Priests' Association, who are not afraid to be honest with their bishops, write to the Editor of the Ca-rootsc HERALD, and give sufficient information to enable readers such as myself to assess the credibility of the Association. 1 suggest that they give me, as a priest, information as to how I might join the Association, if I had a mind so to do.
Second, if any bishop's secretary could find the time to state that the episcopal authority of his diocese approved of the Association, and supports it, it would be advantageous to Fr. Flanagan and Fr. Whatmore. If none can do so, I suggest that the title of the Association be revised, and restyled as "The Society Of Fathers Whatmore and Flanagan."
As the CATHOLIC HERALD appeared to be banned in St. George's, Polegate, I think the editor is very kind to its parish priest.
(Fr.) Frank Smith Watford, Herts.
REGARDING the incredible claim of the "Catholic Priests' Association" to a membership of 1,600, and Fr. Hanagan's unwillingness to accept my challenge and prove his claim, I do not question Fr. Flanagan's integrity.
I do however suggest that it is,
to say the least, misleading to call an organisation the "Catholic Priests' Association" and then include lay associates in one's membership roll. It would only need 16 priests to shanghai 100 parishioners apiece into associate membership of the C.P.A.
The average Catholic has an immature relationship with his or her parish priest, and tends to agree with whatever he says. To boost membership in this way, I am sure, is easy, and not intentionally dishonest. It is the result of misplaced and fanatical zeal, the delusion that one's own little clique is the sole champion of orthodoxy, the "everybody is out of step except our Willy" state of mind, for which I am sure the psychologists have a name.
Such an attitude is in fact usually quite blameless, being the result of an over-protective Catholic system in which most of us were trained, and from which all of us in varying degrees are trying to recover.
Most of us are getting over our hang-ups gradually, but for some the slightest element of change produces utter panic and insecurity. This is my diagnosis of the "Catholic Priests' Association" and I publish it, not to hurt them, for I love them all, but simply that the harm they do the Church may be lessened.
(Fr.) Brian Godden St. John the Apostle, 296 Sundon Park Road, Luton, Beds.
I SUBMIT that the "Catholic 1. Priests Association" in the guise of Frs. Whatmore and Flanagan are giving bad example by their public criticism of their lawful superiors.
Who gave them the right to sit in judgment on their fellow priests and on the Bishops of England?
Can we please all have more faith in the guidance of the Church by the Holy Spirit, rather than by the C.P.A.
G. S. Preston 29 Eardley Road, Sevenoaks, Kent.
A S a loyal Catholic, 1 think I .1-t.should write to warn your readers of the Modernist tendencies being shown by some of their priests. To conceal their identity from their bishops as the "Catholic Priests' Association" are apparently doing is to take the first step that George Tyrrell and others took down the slippery road.
Pope Innocent XI, in 1687, condemned as "seditious" the proposition that "obedience must be given externally to religious superiors, but it is otherwise with the heart of man, where only God and the spiritual director enter" (DS.2265).
Rory OTolegate Secretary, Latin Mass Pa-ovisionals, London, W.I.
This correspondence is now closed — Editor
Wealth and the Church
YOUR lighter-than-air review (July 7) of my recent book "The Vatican's Billions" is remarkable for its stratospheric levity.
Although more at home with astronomy, as your reviewer suggests, nevertheless the sober reality is that I was brought down here to earth, by the weight of the Church — or rather her colossal wealth — in the form of investments, property, shares, etc.
The figures are all there for anyone, except for your reviewer to see.
A pity! He should take them very seriously, as do many Catholics, here and abroad.
My criticism of the wealth of the Catholic Church, or of the Protestant Churches for that matter, is not an isolated one. I am in good company, beginning with certain Popes, Cardinals, and saints (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard) or reformers (John Huss, Luther) not to mention sundry illustrious names, beginning with Cardinal Heenan himself.
My criticism of the Church is not inspired by hollow or fashionable negativeness: the contrary is the case. Like countless believers, I am persuaded that the Church, as the genuine bride of Christ, should he as poor as her Founder.
Once the Church, or rather the Churches, divest themselves of their earthly riches, then I shall be happy to concern myself exclusively with the British Interplanetary Society.
Avro Manhattan 24 Ansdell Terrace, Kensington, London, W.8.