Page 4, 29th May 1981

29th May 1981
Page 4
Page 4, 29th May 1981 — Serving two masters

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Serving two masters

I WAS MUCH moved by Catherine O'Sullivan's poignant letter, May 15. Schizophrenics are in no way morally culpable for uncontrollable suicidal tendencies resulting from their condition and therefore do not forfeit their claim on the blessings and ministry of the Church.

In any case it should be appreciated that this correspondence has been concerned with the Church's manmade laws, which in no way circumscribe the power and mercy of God.

Surely we all pray that in His love the good God has found it possible to take the late.Bobbie Sands into His keeping and will continue to comfort his sorrowing family.

What we have been discussing in this correspondence is altogether different: the theological definition of the conditions for the valid reception of the sacraments and the disciplinary rules governing the rites of Christian burial.

If churchmen make rules they should apply them impartially. That cannot be seen to he the case in Northern Ireland.

Scrupulously for the record, the clergy there have denounced violence. while at the same time they have offered an indulgent ministry to seemingly unrepentant men of violence. Can we wonder that Protestants regard as legendary. the duplicity of the Catholic priest?

Laurie Tanner THE MEDIA have given much coverage to hunger-strikers and there have been many interviews with Catholic priests. From these it has appeared that suicide is permissable if the hunger-striker's conscience compels him to take this action in a 'good cause'.

One of the priests who had just visited Mr Sands in prison stated that he had not tried and would not seek to influence Mr Sands to change his mind because it was his decision to take his own life in accordance with his conscience.

I was reminded of a close encounter with an attempted suicide. a was at an underground station and could hear the train coming through the tunnel as I went down a flight of steps to the platform. An elderly man was just in front of me and I was feeling impatient at the slow way he negotiated the stairs when suddenly he leaped down the remaining steps, grabbed a young woman poised on the edge of the platform and pulled her to the ground.

His vigilance and vigorous intervention saved her life. Can it be possible that a Catholic priest today would pass by leaving the young person to follow her-his own 'conscience'?

One can understand that the Church is concerned to comfort the families of those who are determined to kill themselves, but every publicised suicide makes it more difficult for despairing young people to resist the temptation to take the 'final solution' to their problems.

What about their families? Private pastoral care is one thing. but public actions which can be interpreted as condoning wrong-doing can have most tragic consequences.

Miss H. E. Georgiadis London NI

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