YOUR correspondent J. Laws (February 13) asks me if I wish to see the Church cease to exist. In one word, "No".
But your correspondent really ought to distinguish criticism of the Pope over matters of policy, such as enforcing a discipline of clerical celibacy, from what he calls "sabotaging the Pope's efforts to protect and safeguard Christian principles, truth and morals". It has been made abundantly clear—and Fr. Catterall emphasises it in the same issue— that clerical celibacy as such does not fall into these categories.
To write of parsons having to bath babies instead of visiting the sick is something of a red herring. All celibate Catholic priests are by no means 100 per cent. available to serve their communities!
A married clergy could well strengthen Christian witness for the sacrament of marriage and help develop the theology of marriage, which I feel is somewhat vitiated 'by continual emphasis on celibacy. As Fr. John L. McKenzie, Si., says: "It has to be recognised that celibacy is not recommended as anything but an option in the New Testament and that even Paul does not associate it with the ministry", and later "The discussion can proceed only on whether it is prudent to retain the law, not on whether the law represents New Testament teaching . . ."
What I am complaining about is the fact that the Pope does not even want discussion, despite the fact that the Dutch hierarchy must have serious reasons for requesting it.
A. F. Brookes Wigan.
AS a married Anglican cler
gyman, may I assure your readers in reply to Mr. J. Laws' letter of February 13 that most of us do not neglect our parishes for our families, nor do we betray the confidences of our people even to our wives. Many of us are called by God to two vocations, and by the grace of God we fulfil them.
Of course, abuses occur, but one does not judge the married state by its abuses any more than one judges the celibate state by other abuses. The real question still is, what is the will of Christ for his Church, and if there is room for difference, what is his will for me.
(Rev.) M. L. Stevens London, W.C.2.
SINCE you have found it possible to publicise the somewhat offensive innuendo of J. Laws (February 13), perhaps you may allow me the courtesy of a few lines in which to ask whether your correspondent is prepared to approach a married doctor or solicitor about anything. Wider observation might have informed him that some Church of England clergymen still have some professional standards.
(Rev.) Stanley Thomas Walsall, Staffs.