READING the replies to my warnings (not "attacks") on the dangers of uncontrolled Lay Councils, as published in your issue of April 18, makes one very sad. How quickly can one become mentally clouded when emotions are upset!
In my letter of April 4 I enthusiastically supported the proper place and function of the Lay Council, so I presume that my critics of April 18 must favour uncontrolled councils, as the texts of their letters make it clear. That means that they feel that they should be competent to judge and decide (by a majority vote of course!) doctrines and moral precepts which take years of hard study to understand at all.
Religion and theology become the only two things in the world where everyone is equally competent. They become the Aunt Sally to be pelted by the crowd who wish to disfigure them.
Will Mr. Bell believe that the surgeon who may be about to Operate on him should first consult the local plumber? Will Mr. Baker believe that the passengers in the air-liner can equally navigate the plane as well as the navigator? Will Mr. Ring give instructions to his dentist as to how his molar should be whipped out?
The good people concerned will answer in an emphatic negative of course. but how is the layman going to acquire his study of philosophy, theology any many other "ologies" to make him competent to advise or direct the priest. the bishops —even the Pope. Lay Collegiality was never visualised by the Vatican Council, and is a doctrine which is untenable in the Catholic Church.
If readers of the CATHOLIC HERALD have any doubt on what uncontrolled Lay Councils can produce, they have only to consult a few sources for themselves. In "The Laity
Commission Speaks", published only last week, we are told that "seeing the priest as a man set apart for the service of God, etc. is a situation that must cease".
The hon. convener and secretary of the "Pastoral Development Council." in a letter to the New Christian (April 3) refers to Fr. Whatmore and myself as "Defenders of a former faidt"--50 the preCouncil Catholic Faith is gone!
Norman St. John-Stevas tells us that "Religion is too important to be left to the clergy" (April 18). "The time has come" said John Horgan of the Irish Times, to "abolish the layman in the Church" (March 12). Revolution is in the air and the "teaching Church" as divinely appointed, is to be supplanted by "the taught Church" in the new democratic Church.
John W. Flanagan (Fr.) PoIegate. Sussex.
SURELY Fr. Flanagan does
not really exist? I have always imagined him as the impish creation of some provocative journalist in the Herahl offices.
But whether or not he is real is probably irrelevant. Liberals need these persecuting figures; if Fr. Flanagan did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.