From Mrs Daphne McLeod
Sir, Thank you for printing Fr Rodger Charles' open letter to Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Father General of the Jesuits. Faithful Catholics, including some Jesuit Fathers, have for a long time been extremely concerned about the open dissension and the disloyalty to the Holy See shown by so many members of the Jesuit order today.
Fr Charles is to be commended for his honesty and his courage and you too, for the part you played in publishing his open letter. As with any problem, it does not help to try and brush it under the carpet. Only if everything is out in the open can we hope the right solution, we should all be praying for, is found.
Yours faithfully, DAPHNE McLEOD Great Bookhatn, Surrey.
From the Bishop of Middlesbrough Sir, The Society of Jesus is well equipped, if it so chooses, to defend itself, but I, like many
others surely, felt distress at the way in which it was portrayed in your newspaper (Nov 21). Over the 12 years of my involvement with CAFOD, I came across Jesuits at work in many of the world's outposts, most notably through the Jesuit Refugee Service, and it has left me with a deep admiration for their steadfast commitment to the verypunet
The face of the Church they represent in many desperate and abandoned situations is one of which we can be justifiably proud, going as it does to the very heart of the Gospel message.
Here in Britain my own contact with Jesuits has been through the service of Ignatian apostolic spirituality they offer to the Church and to the wider Christian community. A large number of persons, not least in our own diocese, would want to express gratitude for this precious gift of Scripture based, Christ-centred, prayer and discernment, allied to a strong justice and peace commitment which is its distinguishing hallmark. That is simply to touch upon two aspects of their mission, at
home and abroad, of which I have a little personal experience.
Like every other institution and person) within our Church they have their struggles and tensions. It could not be otherwise in a living Church which tries faithfully to interact with a world of bewildering complexity and appalling inequality. They, again like the rest of us, have to do their fallible best to get the balance right, for example, between the primacy of Peter and the collegial nature of the Church, as expressed both within the world wide body of bishops and in the census fidelium.
The recent Synod in Rome spent much of its time grappling with that very tension. To struggle and openly to get the balance right between the centre and the universal Church is not only necessary but vital. Your report mentions the suspension from teaching in 1998 of the Belgian Jesuit Fr Jacques Dupuis after the publication of his book "Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism".
Just before all that happened I was in Rome, together with the other bishops of England and Wales, to attend a study week. There were a number of distinguished speakers, including Cardinal Ratzinger. The undoubted highlight for most, if not all of us, was the presentation given by Fr Dupuis.
Drawing upon his own life-long experience as both teacher and missionary in the Far East, he gave us a profound insight into the increasing importance of the interreligious dialogue, and of the centrality of Jesus Christ us Universal Saviour. It as therefore a special joy when the painful period of his investigation by the CDF ended with the essential integrity of his theological work upheld and his teaching role in Rome restored. Jesuits come in all sorts of shapes and sizes (don't we all), but what an outstanding contribution they have made and will continue to make within our Catholic Church to the greater glory of God.
Yours faithfully + JOHN CROWLEY Middlesbrough. From Mr Stephen Brophy
Sir, I was interested to read Fr Charles' open letter to the Father General of the Jesuits about the crisis in the Jesuit Order. He is right to date it from the refusal of so many of them to accept Humanae Vitae, This also holds true for the present crisis throughout the Church. Rebellion against the consistent teaching of the Church, reiterated by Pope Paul VI in 1968, that contraception is always "gravely wrong". (to quote the CCC,) is rebellion against the God-given authority of His Church).
Once you have decided the Church is wrong on one issue and you can make up your own !Mild about it, you soon rebel on other issues, in the end believing whatever appeals to you instead of what is true.
So Humanae Vitae is a watershed and only when we go hack and put that right will our general crisis and the Jesuit crisis be resolved. Publishing Fr Charles' letter is a first step in the right direction thank you.
acknowledges the contemporary importance of the Church's dialogue with other religious traditions. The purpose of the declaration is not to rebuke Father Dupuis for having written the book but rather, in making people aware of its existence, to provide the reader with clarifications on certain perceived ambiguities. The Congregation, in providing this service, does so in the hope and the anticipation that the book will be widely read because, in true Jesuit tradition, Dupuis is taking the Church and its teaching into the 21st century. I am sure Campion, Martingdale and Ignatius would be proud of their achievements.
HENRY BROADBENT, West Molesey, Surrey
Released from sin?
From Dr Rosalind Mask& Sir, Whilst I respect Mrs
Margaret Mason's (Nov 30) feeling that she and her group were "released from sin" by writing their sins on paper and burning them, surely the teaching of the Church is that absolution and the grace to do better in the future is obtained through the medium of the priest in the Sacrament of Penance?
Yours faithfully, ROSALIND MASICELL Rowlimd's Castle, Hampshire.
The barons do it again
Front Mr IT van der Linden Sir, Those of you readers who are interested in English history will recall learning at school that, long ago. the Government of the day, led by King John, was forced to make concessions to his noble Lords.
That document is usually referred to as "Magna Carta". Perhaps our Lords Temporal and Spiritual should invite our
"Acting President" to visit Runnymede with them. They could there reflect on the coincidence that they have again opposed a government that is attempting to take away basic rights.
Yours faithfully, TOM VAN DER LINDEN Ewell, Surrey KT19 9TA
From Mr Daniel Bath
Sir, Robert Whelan makes some interesting points, which are worthy of wider discussion. It is possible that providing unmarried pregnant women with housing fit to bring up a child could encourage irresponsible behaviour.
However, to withdraw such support will obviously drive still more women to the abortion clinics. There are always going to be unsolvable dilemmas with respect to social provision. and Mr Whelan's arguments would be better served by a more balanced and thoughtful approach. His attitude encourages people with wellordered — or merely privileged — lives to sit in smug judgement on those who have made perhaps just one mistake.
Yours faithfully ALISON BATH Todmorden Lanes
Bethlehem too still
From Mr Paul Renshaw
Sir, "0 little town of Bethle hem, how still " Yes indeed, how still. The stillness of another municipally-cancelled Christmas and of a Manger Square lacking throngs of pilgrims for another sad and desperate year.
The stillness of the economy, threatening livelihoods. The hidden stillness also of Betidehernites coping with grief and trauma following Israeli forces' Yours faithfully, STEPHEN BROPHY Slough.
recent forcible, temporary reoccupation, and fears that it could happen again. The tragic stillness of the young people one wrote recently, "when I look into the mirror, I see a broken soul and a broken body that is cut to pieces.
"I want to live like everybody else, I want to be free and go to different places without being afraid." Another wrote, "I can't leave my house because it's dangerous outside. Even my own home does not feel safe any more. People are shot and killed in their own homes. If I leave, what makes it certain that I'm going to come back?" Pray this Christmas for the peace of Bethlehem and all she stands for and work for justice for all the peoples of the Holy Land.
Yours faithfully, PAUL RENSHAW, Coordinating Secretary of International Affairs, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Chief Executive, NSPCC