Page 4, 21st November 1997

21st November 1997
Page 4
Page 4, 21st November 1997 — Encouragement given to Catholic worship inspiring for one, former Anglicans teeth-clenching for another

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Encouragement given to Catholic worship inspiring for one, former Anglicans teeth-clenching for another

ANN WIDDECOMBE, in her review, "Resolving the unresolvable" (14 November) does less than justice to the present Archbishop of Liverpool for, in the end, it is by deeds rather words that a man must be judged.

It is true that on the initial meeting of many Anglican clergy with the then bishop of Salford, he expressed some caution but, with the benefit of hindsight, was that not to be expected since the situation was totally new?

However, when it comes to acting, the bishop proved to be kind, considerate and compassionate, truly one of whom may be said that "Beneath a frowning countenance he hides a smiling face" (although to be fair, there was not much frowning).

In the arrangements he made for former Anglican clergy, he showed both imagination and boldness and, in so doing, made their transition considerably less difficult than was the fate of their brethren in a number of other dioceses.

Former Anglicans have much for which to thank His Grace, and it would be unjust and unfair not to place this on record.

Rev Derrick Lowe, Denton, Manchester

AS A FORMER ANGLICAN clergyman, who is now taking part in a two-year formation process at Wonersh seminary for ordination as a Catholic priest for the Portsmouth Diocese, I write to give my support to the stance taken by Bishop Hollis and others within the Catholic hierarchy with regard to the so-called blocking of the Anglican "Roman Option", as reported in the Herald (7 November).

All who urged caution regarding en masse receptions into the Church are, I believe, to be commended. Conversion must always be a very personal and individual matter a unique confrontation with one's own conscience.

For myself, and for other former Anglicans, both clergy and laity, to have been welcomed, encouraged, and supported as individuals in the process of discernment, by the bishop and the diocesan family has been one of the great blessings to have come from the last five traumatic years.

I do not feel that a great opportunity in English Church history has somehow been missed because of the Church's caution.

Kevin Bidgood Wonersh, Surrey

FR BRIAN GODDEN writes a good letter (14 November), but I couldn't help but be quietly dismayed by his suggestion that, with the possible reunion of groups of Anglicans into the Catholic Church, "they could enrich our liturgical life by bringing with them the beautiful riches of Anglican worship'.

As an ex-Anglican I am well familiar with those beautiful riches and yet, for all its undeniable poetic beauty, 20 years of Anglican worship never succeded in making me feel I was anything much beyond a fair imitation of a trainee plaster saint which, although mildly gratifying to my ego, was spiritually deeply unsatisfying.

By contrast, Catholic worship, for all it is often uninspired and with frequently clumsy phraseology has, in three short years succeeded beyond my wildest dreams in making me feel more and more like a complete human being. One who is healed, restored, redeemed, loved and in love with God, with life, with the Church and with the world. Might I respectfully suggest to Fr Godden that any liturgy which can do all that with

out visibly trying is probably enriched enough already. Perhaps according to our needs instead of our desires? Mrs Shirley Dave, Heston, Middlesex

LAST WEEK'S Leader asks "Why they don't attend" Mass. Is the answer partly that the Church has alienated both right and left? I have attended weekly Mass since 1945, and used to feel a much greater sense of awe. It is not only the loss of Latin that has diminished this. Cumulatively, the invasion of the altar by eucharistic ministers, often sloppily dressed, the manner in which Holy Communion is received, the focus on choirs, have put up a barrier to perception that the Ineffable Being, who built the stars and skies, is present. Some ecumenical initiatives have suggested that the Catholic Church is no longer regarded by its leaders as the one, true Church founded by Christ, but as a flawed member of a wider Christian body, whose "other Churches" are virtual substitutes. In effect they have been granted pragmatic "Holy Orders" whatever Apostolic Clirae says. Those who feel as I do either remain to pray through clenched teeth, or are siphoned off by the St Pius X Society, or perhaps go nowhere.

At the other extreme there are those disappointed that the Pope has held the line against their projects. The Vatican Council was to be followed by sanctioning of contraception, remarriage after divorce, Church unity, and the end of both compulsory clerical celibacy and of an exclusively male priesthood. Effective control would pass to the educated liberal laity and to like-minded priests/religious. Frustrated, many, one presumes, have left for political or social activities in the secular world, or joined other Churches, or simply fallen into apathy.

The English hierarchy walks the tightrope between the two groups, occasionally falling off on one side or the other, rather like Harold Wilson in the sixties Labour Party. That political policy eventually culminated in a winter of discontent. I fear that we shall have a century of discontent, with numbers continuing to diminish.

A M Whaits Clifton, Bristol

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