From Dr Aidrew Nash Sir, Fr Sean Finnegan has been so generous in his praise of my introduction and notes to the new Gracewing edition of Newman's Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England that it is perhaps churlish of me to respond to his further criticisms of Newman's text itself (Letters, Jan 12), particularly after Dr Ker's authoritative rebuttal of his original review.
However, Fr Finnegan now says that, despite scratching his head, he cannot think of Newman having ever used satire to the extent found in Present Position. Well, may I suggest a re-read of Newman's novel Loss and Gain which is one long satire on the Oxford of his day; worldly dons dispensing spiritual advice over their claret, Evangelicals earnestly discussing how best to convert the Pope, and AngloCatholics romanticising over monastic architecture while planning married bliss in a comfortable parsonage. And Newman's sharp depiction of the Church of England's different parties holding mutually contradictory positions on major theological question surely has continuing relevance today, especially in ecumenical dialogue.
But Newman was writing satire even in his own Anglican days. Fr Finnegan might like to look at the Tamworth Reading Room articles, originally published in The Times, in which Newman pokes sustained fun at the Tory Minister Sir Robert Peel's adoption of liberal utilitarian ideas. Or there is the whole series of reviews Newman wrote for the British Critic magazine in which, from the Tractarian, i.e. "Anglican", standpoint, he satirises numerous aspects of Anglo-Saxon protestant culture. How much we need such satirical edge today when our church-going Prime Minister supports human cloning, Anglican bishops approve embryo experimentation, American Episcopalians want gay marriages and the Methodists back the morning-after Pill.
As for the judgement that Present Position is Newman's "best written book", this description is not mine or even Dr Ker's but Newman's own.
Yours faithfully, ANDREW NASH Deputy Headmaster, The Oratory School, Reading.
From Ms Clare Ward Sir, I fear that Stratford Caldecott's article, "The Pope, the laity and the new Pentecost", (January 19), is somewhat misleading as far as the foundation of the youth movement, Youth 2000, is concerned.
Youth 2000 was founded by a young Englishman, Ernest Williams, some 10 years ago. He was inspired to organise prayer events for young people after attending World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela in 1989 where the Holy Father invited the youth of the world to become, "witnesses of the love of God and faith". Since its launch in 1990, nine cardinals, 22 archbishops and 92 bishops from 14 countries have attended Youth 2000 retreats internationally or have given it support.
One of the main thrusts of Mr Caldecott's article was that the new movements working in this country almost exclusively have overseas foundations, which, he suggests, has hindered the way they have integrated with the local Church.
I feel it is important to emphasise that Youth 2000 is a flower of the English Church. It is an English initiative which has now spread all over the world with groups in Europe, the Americas, Australia and more recently in Africa.
As English Catholics this is surely something to be proud of. There are a plethora of positive things happening in the English Church and this is a great source of hope for all of us. Please support them and pray that they continue to reap fruits as the Church enters a new springtime.
Yoiursvfaithfully, CLARE WARD Youth 2000 National Office, [email protected]
Wanted — manly men
From Mrs Anne Barbeau Gardiner Sir, I just received the issue of Jan 5, which was full of excellent articles as usual, except for still another titillating essay on the Decadents who converted a century ago. This is getting pretty repeti tious and it appeals to maybe two percent of your readers. Why do you want to keep turning off the manly sort of reader, as you are doing by publishing such weird stuff? As Leon Podles shows, in The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity, we Catholics seem to be doing everything possible to drive the masculine sorts of men from the pews and from the Church. And then we complain that Mass attendance is dwindling.
Yours faithfully, ANNE BARBEAU GARDINER [email protected]
From Rev. John P Dewis Sir, Fr Richard Barrett (Jan 5) rightly quotes Canon 937 in support of daily prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, for which purposes churches should be open part of the day. However in his unbecoming remarks about the English College chapel he appears to have overlooked the General Instruction of the Roman Missal — paragraph 276 of this document says "It is highly recommended that the holy Eucharist be reserved in a chapel suitable for private devotion and prayer. If this is impossible because of the structure of the church, or local custom, it should be kept on an altar or other place in the church, that is prominent and properly decorated." Paragraph 266 says "It is fitting to maintain the practice of enclosing relics in the altar or of placing them under the altar..."
Yours faithfully, JOHN P DEWIS Prov. De Alicante, Spain.
Worry about the Guides
From Dr M. White Sir, Well done the Catholic Union in writing to the Guide Association about the new Young Leaders programme. As an Anglican, involved with an ecumenical group, I have also been in touch with the Guides, The "Young Leader" age group is from 14 upwards — exactly the age group which is under so much pressure from teenage magazines offering
an often sordid message on sex. The last thing they need is more pictures holding out condoms, and suggestions that lesbian and homosexual groups are invited to lead talks. They are badly in need of a fresh and challenging alternative, and specifically one which can open up the topics rarely mentioned in the media: the value of lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, the value of chastity, the need to acquire the skills required to found a home, the importance of training in unselfishness, co-operation, and a spirit of service. It is very good that a Catholic group is offering to open up a genuine dialogue.
Yours faithfully, MARGARET WHITE Christian Projects in Family Welfare, London SEll.
A matter of priorities
From Sr Frances Byrne Sir, It appears to be increasingly acceptable to abort a baby and totally unacceptable to kill a fox. That cannot surely be right?
Yours faithfully, FRANCES BYRNE Havant, Hampshire.
From Mr Frank Davis Sir, I appreciated and am grateful for Fr Elvins's shrewd analysis of the causes of homelessness, but would question his suggestion of setting up through each Catholic diocese a "network of cooperation" to advise the Government on the problems of homelessness. It would be better to build on ecumenical co-operation at grassroots level.
Last winter in Banbury we opened our first Winter Shelter for rough sleepers and the funding appeal was signed jointly by an Anglican, a Catholic, a Methodist, a Quaker, a Salvation Army Captain and a URC member. However, because a substantial sum was required, the appeal would have failed without enthusiastic co-operation from the local newspaper and the support of the local community. The Lund Principle, "that churches should not do separately what they can in good conscience do together" is well known. The Corby Principle, set out in Together Locally (Churches Together in England 1998), is less well known: "Churches should not do on their own what they can do with the community".
Yours faithfully, FRANK DAVIS Banbury. Oxon.
From Miss Stephanie Bowles Sir, I see that free copies of a paper which describes itself rather presumptuously as "Catholic Woman" and which is really the organ of the National Board of Catholic Women, is in all our churches again.
This paper boasts that it "is a forum for the views and concerns of Catholic women" at the same time insisting that it won't allow a letters page to air these views. Indeed it goes even further and claims that the letters in some Catholic papers, which dare to question their quaint beliefs, "make particularly uncharitable reading". So what it really does is promote the "views and concerns" of the women who run the national board.
What are these views? On page three we read a glowing account by one of the board's Diocesan Links, of a women's day at St Peter's Winchester which ended in Mass with "women taking a major part in the Liturgy including the readings the Gospel and the Homily"! It is not permissible for lay people to read the Gospel at Mass or to give the homily. The 1997 instructions from the Vatican make this very clear in Article 3, even adding that "the diocesan bishop cannot validly dispense from this canonical norm".
I could go on but I have said enough to demonstrate that this paper does not reflect loyal Catholic views and should not be imposed on faithful Catholics who attend church. Parish priests do not have to accept it.
Yours faithfully, STEPHANIE BOWLES London, SW126.