From Dr Sheila Clyde Sir, The Nolan Report has achieved one of its objectives: to give reassurance that the Church is taking the problem of child abuse seriously. But, in doing so, it may have opened up the possibility of difficulties in the future.
We know from recent events that teachers as well as priests are subject to false accusations of abuse. To insist they are still to be deemed guilty in spite of acquittal is another form of abuse and an infringement of their right to their good name and to its restitution if it has been falsely taken away. For anyone who has been accused of abuse to have his name placed on a register for 1(10 years is abhorrent to our system of justice, under which a person is held to be innocent until proven guilty.
Abuse of any kind is a betrayal of trust. To abuse a child is to destroy the child's natural trust in adults. to whom he or she looks for protection, and as such, is totally deplorable. The unlikely possibility of abuse in the confessional can be simply prevented, by returning to the "old fashioned" confessional where priest and penitent entered by different doors and a solid wall with a fixed grill separated both.
The severe recommendations of the Nolan Report, whilst pursuing a laudable goal, could well discourage a young man from pursuing a possible vocation to the priesthood or inhibit parents from praying for a priestly vocation for their sons. This would be to the detriment of the whole Church.
Yours faithfully, SHEILA CLYDE, Oxford From Fr Bryan Storey
Sir, I use a modern version of the traditional confessional within the church area. It is a very popular, discreet method of confession in line with the accumulated wisdom of the Christian community over centuries. Physical contact is impossible on account of separation of priest and penitent. Many times 1 have offered people the opportunity to confess face to face and have been asked to use the confessional in preference.
It happens to be my preference too, much encouraging Godcentredness, prayer, forgetfulness of self and of the identity of the penitent. I submit that the experiment of reconciliation rooms has discouraged confession and that this method alone has within it the dangers the Nolan Commission is trying to avert.
Yours faithfully, BRYAN STOREY, Tintagel Catholic church
From Mr E.H. Shipsey Sir, In regard to the recent incident in America; I sincerely hope we are not set on going down that fruitless path of total revenge. There are a good many decent God-fearing followers of Islam in this country of ours. They have no truck with those blasphemous clerics who, by their actions and words, persist in flying in the face of Allah.
In the words of a Muslim friend of mine, and I quote: "These socalled leaders of Islam are nothing but blasphemous in the eyes of our beloved Allah the Almighty. Jihads and Fatwas are but convenient conscience cloaks to hide the true identity of these followers of Animan (Lucifer). They have blinded the eye of the Faithful with their wickedness. They lead many of our unfortunate brothers and sisters down a treacherous highway which only adds to their master's final residence in Hell."
Yours faithfully, E M SHIPSEY Peacehaven.
Pope or antiChrist?
From Mr William Morgan
Sir, Gerald Hanratty, (September 14), fails to provide an answer to my key question, in regard to the leadership of the Society of St Pius X, of how "any Catholic can both recognise John Paul II as a valid Pope, and also accuse him of teaching heresy to the whole Church and of endorsing a rite of Mass lacking doctrinal rectitude".
Rather does he devote his letter to an attempted refutation of the sedeva.cantist position — that the See of Peter is in theological reality vacant.
Mr Hanratty carefully abstains from committing himself to any view on the present situation: but the logic of his position is that the charges brought by the late Mgr Marcel Lefebvre and his priestly Society of St Pius X against John Paul II and his Conciliar predecessors must be entirely unjustified.
As to his a priori rejection of sedevacantism. it is based simply on his interpretation of the wellknown dogmatic definition of the Vatican Council (1870) that "Blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the primacy over the Universal Church".
Obviously, that dogma does not exclude the See of Peter being vacant at any given time — something which comes about every time a valid Pope dies or abdicates, and which persists until a valid successor is appointed. Nor does it exclude the possibility of invalid claimants (antipopes) being widely recognised; something which has happened some 30 times in the history of the Church.
If Mr Hanratty cares — as I have — to devote a little time to studying the Great Schism of the West (1378-1417), he will discover that, for a period of 39 years, there was no universally accepted Roman Pontiff; but rather at first two and then three rival lines, the support for whose claimants fluctuated amazingly with the passing of the years.
Yours faithfully, WILLIAM MORGAN Monks Kirby, Warwicks.
From an unnamed correspondent Sir, John Paul II has now governed the Catholic Church for more than 20 years. Surely then he must be either the legitimate Pope or AntiChrist. If he is not the legitimate Pope, then the gates of Hell have prevailed against the Church and the promises of Christ are nullifled.
Yours faithfully, NAME AND ADDRESS WITHELD This correspondence is now closed — Editor
Catholics don't sing
From Mr Ronald Shillingford
Sir, It was interesting to read (Sept 7) letters from two people who say that Catholics do sing if given the chance. I beg to disagree! As an organist with many years experience of playing in Catholic Churches you feel as if you are playing for yourself; or could it be that all Church organists have cloth ears? From my experience most people will have a go but are rather shy. And instead, all you hear is someone who is out of tune or mumbles the words, thus giving one the impression that they have poor communication skills and are not using their ears properly.
This was clearly the case when
yet again I was in London and decided to attend the Saturday evening Mass at Westminster Cathedral where there was some music being used along with a cantor. I felt more sorry for the cantor who struggled to get the congregation to sing hymns and parts of the Mass. It was appalling to say the least: the hymns were unfamiliar and got slower and slower at the end °leach verse. As well as the fact that most people could not understand the Gregorian printed style of music provided on the service sheet. At the end of Mass, before the priest had even left the altar, most people had walked out. If you come to church in the wrong spirit of mind then how could you possibly serve God? 2,000 word essay please!!
Yours faithfully, RONALD SHILLINGFORD Birmingham.
From Fr John Buckley Sir, The Catholic Church in Tottenham North London is situated directly across the road from the main entrance to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It is one of the oldest churches in the diocese of Westminster tracing its history back to the French emigre priests who established it after the French Revolution.
The close proximity of the church to the football stadium has on occasion caused some difficulty regarding services in the church itself. On Saturday afternoons when matches have traditionally been played it is hardly possible to conduct a wedding service, for example. More recently matches are played at other times such as on Sunday afternoons and on Monday evenings. There is an effect on church attendance when matches are played. This is practically unavoidable given the location of the church.
Haringey Council, within whose bounds lie the stadium and the church, operate a bye-law which states that there maybe no parking in the high road, Tottenham in the two hour period prior to the commencement of matches. On Sunday 16th September there was a game scheduled for 2pm, a new Liming unknown by and large to 12pm worshippers. During that 12 noon Mass the traffic wardens descended with enthusiasm on those cars parked outside the church. A number of worshippers received parking tickets. There was considerable consternation, disquiet and anger when the congregation left the church. The priests on duty did their best to calm the situation. We live in a world where the God of money takes precedence over everything else and that includes the right of people to practise their religious faith without interference from any source. Haringey Council, desperate as all may be for money, stands indicted on that score and above all for its failure to advise the church about the new timing arrangement for the match.
The priests of the parish share the concerns of their people. The "God of Mammon" thundered into the lives of Tottenham parishioners on this occasion under the auspices of Haringey Council, A new form of persecution has begun . Now there is a price to be paid for the practise of the Catholic Faith in Tottenham parish.
We say to Haringey Council, shame on you. To our parishioners we say. Take heart, have courage in the face of this offensive. The cause of Christ is a worthy one. the only one that assures victory over the forces that afflict our society wherever they emanate from.
Yours faithfully, JOHN BUCKLEY Church of St Francis de Sales, London N.17.
From Ms Hilary Shaw
Sir, Can we hope that Liturgiam Authenticam will at last ensure a fitting translation of our liturgy? Let us bring hack "Good will!" That amazing early Christian Latin hymn "Gloria in excelsis Deo" celebrates God's merciful message of peace and goodwill, or by an alternative translation his promise of peace to all people of good will, that basis of every human relationship.
The present translation "peace to those who are God's friends" is a psychological disaster. As our Lord himself reminds us, (John 16:2) people will do terrible things to others believing that they are obeying God's commands. We had an appalling example of this last week. The volunteer hijackers who crashed intentionally to their own deaths in order to ensure the deaths of thousands of others, believed themselves to be "God's friends" destroying his enemies. But good will cannot justify harming others.
The great Latin hymn continues with a mounting crescendo of praise: "Laudanus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi... "We praise thee, we bless thee, we adore thee, we glorify thee, we give thee thanks for thy great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty."
As a teenager growing up in a world corroded by scepticism, materialism and self-satisfied secular humanism, this repeated proclamation of the reality of God's great glory encouraged me to maintain my faith.
But modern teenagers like starving sheep are offered only a banal eviscerated paraphrase: "We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory." No wonder that their faith becomes anaemic and they wander off in search of stronger sustenance.
This is just one example from the emasculated English text that we were offered 30 years ago. One could continue the quotations on and on. Is it not time to give these hungry sheep something better?
Yours faithfully, HILARY SHAW Port Navas, Cornwall