Having attended the second day of the Westminster Conference on The Church and the West Indian and His Family and the magnificent Mass at the Cathedral last Saturday. I wondered if enough was known about the Church's involvement here.
Your informative article of August 26 on ewly-founded churches among immigrant communities can be no surprise to those who compare last Saturday's joyful but dignified celebrations with what can be found in a typical AngloSaxon Mass on a Sunday morning.
No wonder our Caribbean brothers and sisters feel an ache!
I think our corporate attitude needs drastically changing; we are not consciously racist, but complacent and unaware of the richness others can give to us.
Our cultural and spiritual horizons can be widened by those who have, as Fr Clyde Harvey said, "brought more with them than just sweat and work". God, he told us, has created a new thing in our midst and carnival, something created out of nothing, togetherness and creativity hound by joy, is surely strongly symbolic. Once we let dawn within us the realisation that the immigrant among us has something to teach us, the quicker will we break down the forces of evil that are working harder at division than we are at unity.
In this regard, what help is being given to the chaplains given the mammoth task of spiritually caring for immigrant Britons? It is good, that priests are working full time at this apostolate, but the Achilles heel of apostolic work done at diocesan level is that where success follows hard work and sacrifice, the resultant expansion in the field is not matched by an increase of personnel, 1 briefly saw the respective chaplains of London, Manchester and Birmingham; I recall when the latter chaplaincy began and have heard of the growth in scope and effort but, as far as I know, there is still no increase in the number of priests or trained personnel.
To pioneer, a man needs the grace of God, a great deal of courage and perseverance. Ironically. it is not the hardships that can slow up the vision. but success.
What about all those congregations of Sisters viewing their apostolates at General Chapters this year? Cannot they get involved in this work, which has potential for good far beyond the reaches of the Church's influence (ie, to those who arc not Christian)?
Not only do we need dedicated people to work at liaison between the indigenous and immigrant people, but we need them to prepare the way for psychological awareness among the British themselves that the West Indian (so-called) has something to teach us.
Maybe then we will better sec that life is not made up of compartments and pigeon-holes, but is whole and entire and full of colour which, left to ourselves, we never dreamed possible.
(Sr) Simone Donnelly, OP Dominican Missionary Sisters, Greenwich, London, 5E10.
While respecting Archbishop Bowcn's views on the Lewisham demonstrations, I cannot agree with them, _. Too often. Christians as a whole. and Catholics in particular, draw aside from incipient violence. Could we not rely on our own nonviolence influencing others rather than the other way round?
I have known occasions in the past when a small but committed group of Christians have swung the balance away from violent confrontation towards a calmer, perhaps more difficult, form of witness.
Cecily Ashcroft London. NW3.
The article on the Lewisham incident, in the Catholic Herald of August 19. appears to be completely wrong-headed on two counts.
The Church's legitimate function and sphere of action tics in the propagation of its doctrine and the moral principles derived therefrom.
The translation of those principles into political action is a matter for the individual con
science of each of its followers; and any attempt by the Church to in
terfere with this freedom is bound to undermine its influence and ultimately to destroy its credibility — as in fact has happened in the past.
If the Church, through its leaders, is so ill-advised as to become directly involved in a political controversy by aligning itself with one side or the other, it is in effect saying that those of its followers who do not support the same political line are being false to their Faith. Not only would this be untrue; it is also obnoxious and dangerous.
With the sole exception of the extreme case where the Church's freedom to carry out its pastoral
work is threatened by political action, the Church must never
attempt in the name of religion to herd all its followers into a particularly political lobby or party.
The action of Dr Mervyn Stockwood at Lewisham contraven ed this important principle. Thank God our own Archbishop avoided being drawn into the trap.
My second point is this. I am not connected with the National Front and I hold no particular brief for it; but I can see nothing evil or antiChristian (as the article claims) in a movement which stands basically for patriotism and against atheistic socialism.
The writers of the article have clearly ranged themselves on the side of the Left-wing extremists responsible for the violence directed against the police in Lewisham. This is not an attitude I would expect to see supported by a responsible Catholic newspaper.
(Capt) S. E. Norfolk, RN