Bishop Alan Clark, Auxiliary of Northampton
The direction of the Church has been firmly set by the proclamation of the Holy Year. But reconciliation and renewal are never. in a void. The Catholic community in our own country has a positive contribution to make to this world-wide initiative and it must deliberately choose to work in the area of Christian unity. This means a conversion of heart and a deepening of faith which is already at work — but far too sporadically and, at times, unconvincingly.
Do we really seek reconcilia tion with our Christian brethren? Do we acknowledge that our faith demands a radical renewal? Is our charity of sufficient temper to act in confidence and trust?
We need to begin by being a loving and forgiving community, recognising the presence of Christ in other Churches and acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit in reconciling the unreconciled. It is for us in 1975 to create the human conditions for this reconciliation in Christ.
Michael J. Walsh, SJ, editor of The Month' Editing a Catholic periodical rather concentrates the attention. I have come to suspect that if the journals produced by
Catholics .for Catholics were normal commercial ventures, three-quarters of them would have disappeared long ago. What I hear of religious journalism both here and in the rest of Europe suggests that financial pressures are becoming in creasingly a problem, no matter how dedicated are owners and staff. Yet we cannot do without the religious press in all its varieties.
In 1975 I would like to see some attempt to rationalise our considerable resources; to cut out overlapping; to enquire what sort of journals would best serve the Catholic (or, better, the general Christian) community. We need a strong Catholic press with "Insight" type reporting of religious events at home and abroad. We have the reserves of manpower and cash. We should not dissipate them, Michael Davies, author of "The Church 2000 — Recipe for Ruin."
From the earliest times Christians have accepted their duty to defend and hand on intact the apostolic faith received from their bishops, while expecting them to treasure and transmit it as their first duty. I would like to see our own bishops make it clear that they still regard this task as their first
priority, particularly by insisting
that the fulness of the faith
should once again be taught in all our schools and colleges so that young Catholics are not deprived of their rightful doctrinal heritage. The evangelisation of Britain should also be made a priority and much of the effort now devoted to expensive, timeconsuming, introspective and unproductive ecumenism could be diverted to this far more urgent task.
A start should be made on phasing out the proliferation of committees and commissions which cost so much and achieve so little — the tens of thousands of pounds saved in this manner could be gi■)en to Mother Teresa, Sue Ryder, CAFOD, or LIFELINE where every penny would help someone in need.
Finally, as an essential step towards healing the divisions within the Church, I would like to see an end to all restrictions placed on the free celebration of the Tridentine Mass. This would contribute greatly towards a reconciliation among Catholics — and until we are united among ourselves what form of unity can we offer to others?
Fr Michael Ilollings, St Anselm's Rectory, Southall, Middlesex.
Call all kinds and conditions of people to accept Christ's threefold command: Fear not! Follow me! Read the signs of the times!
To this end, implement CIIRISTLIFE 75:
I — SPIRITUAL LIVING: immediate six month crash introduction in every diocese at parish level. Target: Preach and live an intense life of prayer, sharing in worship, concentration on spiritual values. 2 — SELF-GIVING: Target: Realisation of World food and resources crisis, leading to active individual and group commitment to reduce personal and church consumption and expenditure by 5%, — proceedi to Third World.
3 — LOCAL SOCIAL NEEDS: Target: Intense reassessment to result in practical agreement to redirect all possible resources (manpower/money) to stress areas.
4 — ECUMENICAL: Target: Extend programme to all churches — nationwide common Christian witness. A proclamation that this programme will prepare for a National Pastoral Council in late 1975. Theme: HOW WE SHALL WITNESS TO CHRIST IN 1976 AND BEYOND?
Peter Willis, SVP president 15 Cutcliffe Place, Bedford. I would like to see Catholics, by really living their faith, help to re-establish by their example those Christian values our crisis ridden country seems to have rejected. I would like to see Charity preached, the very basis of Christianity, as it affects our daily lives, as parents and children, employers and workers, as voters and payers of taxes.
I would like to hear others say, as was said of the early Church "Look at those Christians how they love one another."
Herbert McCabe, OP, Editor of 'New Blackfriars'
From the Church Universal want to sec:
I —An unequivocal condemnation of torture; a statement that Christians who have engaged in it must regard themselves as unfit to participate in the Eucharist (and hence in eternal life) until they have shown their repentance — normally by publicising the evil practice and campaigning against it.
2— A declaration of the right of Catholics who are not absolute pacifists to be conscientious objectors in a particular war, and a reaffirmation that the deliberate direct killing of the innocent, eg, by bombs, whether planted by guerrillas or dropped from planes by men in uniform, is always wrong.
3 — A radical reform of marriage tribunals, if necessary by abolishing them and leaving it to Christians to determine, with the guidance of theologians and counsellors, the validity of their marriage, and to secular courts to determine the financial and other arrangements. In the Church nearer home I want the next Archbishop of Westminster to be Bernadette McAliskey and I want to see a lot more of Ryan's cartoons.
Colin Mawhy, Master of Music, Westminster Cathedral—
The fundamental cause of the present malaise within the Church is lack of faith. So often, recently, fundamental truths have been questioned: did Christ really rise from the dead; did he physically ascend into heaven; is the virgin-birth factual, or mere pious mythology?
Undoubtedly, the reasons for creation cause great speculation; the amazing facts discovered by astronomers only underline the basic mystery surrounding the extraordinary being who created us.
In the face of this, it is right that our beliefs should he put into terms acceptable to modern man, but in doing so, we have begun to question fundamental truths. All theological discussion ends with mysteries which cannot be comprehended, and it is at this point that faith becomes essential but it cannot be subjected to rationalisation.
I would like to see a rediscovery of faith, and an end to the self-pity which has recently characterised the Church.
Joan Morris, of St Joan's Alliance I would like to see women given posts of ecclesiastical jurisdiction similar to the historical tradition practised through the centuries by superiors of exempt abbeys of women's Religious Orders. The possibility of the reintroduction of such a Christian establishment was brought up by Mgr Bartoletti at the last Roman Synod in his report on the Commission set up to study the role of woman in Society and in the Church. (See the Press briefing Bulletin No. 21, October 23, 1974), My book "Against Nature and God," published by Mowbrays this year, gives the historical data on the subject. The abbesses in the past were in many cases ordained deaconesses installed with the sacerdotal insignia of the pallium, cope, mitre, crozier and pectoral cross.
Today, however, according to the ideas put forward at Rome, women are expected to undertake responsibilities without the assistance of the graces of ordination. I hope for something more reasonable.
Fr S. M. Kearney, Member of the National Conference of Priests Standing Committee Grave problems will confront the British people in 1975. Although relatively unprepared for the immense task ahead of them, the people are capable of both the vision and the will to renew the nation. The situation will likely provide the leadership which will harness the national energies to meet the challenge for the common good.
Great opportunities await the Christian Community in this situation, Will the new society to emerge be influenced by Christian standards? Will evils of materialism be met by the justice and concern of the Gospel? An un-looked for challenge to the Christian has he the vision or the will to meet it? Will it lead to a leadership which is capable of harnessing the Christian potential? Or 1 i1 the whole thing
pass us by rrelevant? The Catholre as a citizen is one thing; as a Christian.
another. For the most part he lacks adult Christian formation There is little evidence of at urgent sense of mission: insipit leadership deprives him of hi: full role in the Church. He doe; not enjoy genuine consultative processes.
We cannot be serious abou renewal or Christian involve ment in society until a deter. mined effort is made to give urgent and immediate priority to adult formation. There is evidence that Christian leadership is passing to the laity — the Church's future demEads we prepare them properly for their great tasks.
Sister Mary McAleese, Parish Mission Sisters, Bootle, Liverpool
Religious sisters are moving steadily out into secular society, to live a completely new lifestyle, to exercise a more vital service and to experience what it means to be a 'presence' in the contemporary urban situation. From regional meetings of these sisters, in the past years, I have witnessed their willingness to join forces with lay women and men and with the priest in the parish community (or communities rather), to form effective apostolic teams.
But sharing the work-load is not enough. From what I have discerned there emerges the need to go further — better still to begin — by reflecting together and in depth, on the whole of their pastoral and living experience in terms of the Gospel.
Amazement may be expressed that this clement is missing — statistics demonstrate that it is, with a few exceptions which are so notable as to make news. And yet, in apostolic Christian terms, all the professional expertise in the world will not compensate for this most essential dynamic within any team of missionaries; above all, if the task is seen to be "to justify the present age before the Christian message."