This is my first letter to a Catholic newspaper during 27 years as a priest. I write to protest strongly against the publication of the harmful and confusing articles in your January 23 issue by Mr St John-Stevas, Mr Quentin de la Bedoyere and Fr Michael Ingram about the recent Vatican Declaration on Sexual Ethics.
Despite the helpful and balanced editorial in the same issue, you are guilty of irresponsibility in allowing these articles to be published. Last Sunday for the first time I felt that I could not in conscience leave copies of your paper available in the church for parishioners. The writers of the articles do not seem to have clear ideas about objective morality and subjective morality. Objective moral principles do not change and the Church has seen fit to remind us solemnly about them in regard to premaritd1 sex, masturbation and honiosexuality. The Church also reminds us o(the need for prudence and compassion in trying to assess subjective guilt.
Clear guidance given in the Church's teaching should be accepted with faith and humility and prayerfully reflected upon. People should be helped to understand this teaching and encouraged to try to live in accordance with it, The personal opinions of your artistes' writers do not really matter compared to the teaching of God's Church.
Such writers do great harm by confusing people and they make the task of parents, priests and other counsellors more difficult, Mr St John-Stevas' article. with its insulting heading, would leave one to believe that he had not read the declaration carefully and in its entirety. He is strangely inaccurate for a legal man in describing the Declaration's treatment of homosexuality. His statement that the document is "the episode of Humanae Vitae all over again" is true in the sense that he and others criticise the solemn teaching of the Church in both documents. with resulting confusion. It is articles like his and not the teaching of the Church that "needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt" as he irreverently puts it. Fr William O'Callaghan The Presbytery.
Beechers Green, Stroud, Glos.
I am happy to agree with much of what is said by Fr Michael Ingram, OP, in his article of January 23 on the "Vatican Declaration", and especially delighted to hear him say that 'counselling a homosexual often means trying to help him accept his condition without feelings of guilt". I only wish he had said "always".
it is. however, sad to see him going along so unthinkingly with those of his fellow-therapists who draw conclusions on the nature of homosexuality entirely from their clients in the consulting room rather than from the wider world outside it.
It is not surprising. considering the way in which they are pressurised and preached at. that a large number of homosexuals find themselves in need of psychological help.
But modern scientific research is beginning to produce an objective distinction between cause and effect in this area: it is sad to see so many analysts and therapists stuck in a rut which simply brings their profession into disrepute. If. as he says, he will change his views on homosexuality on the basis of one exception to his premise, I suggest that he should get to know me, his fellow Dominican, a little better. His theory is rapidly dying around him: it would be nice to see him make the great leap forward.
Giles Hibbert, OP Blackfriars, Oxford.
I feel i must speak for the homosexuals who support the recent Declaration on Sexual Ethics. Thank God there is one Church in the world which stands firm.
I am a practising Catholic convert who is now no longer a practising homosexual, am now at the last hurdle of trying to overcome selfabuse. I know I will be physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually , better for overcoming this mortal sin.
1 have been much happier since I ended sexual relationships with other people two years ago. D. R. Kirkham Address supplied.
As a professional journalist, I must ask you whether your headline "Vatican sex code gets little support" is justified by the content of the subsequent news report. On my reckoning, the sources quoted as being for the Declaration were: Fr Tucci and other Vatican sources: Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles; Archbishop Bernadin of Cincinnatti; Mrs Phyllis Bowman of SPUC; Mr John Braine, and the National Festival of Light.
Against the Declaration you quoted: Fr Sean O'Riordan; a meeting held under the auspices of the Catholic Children's Bureau; the Catholic Renewal Movement; an unnamed Jesuit priest, and Mr Peter Hehblethwaite.
However, as you say in your leading article: "It doesn't compel assent" (or presumably dissent) "to quote numbers." Nonetheless, in an eight-page paper I suppose it is true to say that the three features on this subject (if I have read them aright) those by Norman St John-Stevas, Fr Michael Ingram, OP. and Quentin de la Bedoyere — are against. For what it is worth. may I be permitted to express my agreement with those who are for. (Mrs) Peter Matthews I Edwardes Place, Kensington High Street, London, W8.
The Vatican's Declaration on sexual ethics makes sound sense. The Church has always stressed the wholesome and creative qualities of sex, and wisely denies her members the follies of fornication, the sordid antics of adultery, the indignity and degradation of intercourse between coiled, capped, sheathed, mutilated or pill-taking partners. and all the dubious and decadent irregularities on the deviant sex bandwagon.
In a sick society it is obvious that these salutary prohibitions should he greeted with howls of indignation on all sides, from the groves of Lesbos, through the rubberware factories and down to the foetusshredding clinics. But it is sad that so many of the faithful are unable to accept such teachings as part of the divine prescription for national health as well as for eternal salvation.
The Church knows human nature very well indeed, and, ever compassionate, she also knows right from wrong far more lucidly than many of her contemporary "counsellors," writers, politicians and priests appear to do. If there is any disaster to come it will surely be not for the Church but for those who fail to follow, with love, prayer. humility and forgiveness, this magnificent and much-needed guide to sexual ethnics.
(Dr) Margaret Matson Heath Cottage, Boxers Hill.
• Ox ford.
While it is right that a Vatican document on sexual ethics should be subjected to scrutiny in your paper, I hope that we are not about to have further evidence in your columns of our Catholic preoccupation with sexual morality. Would that we all gave as much attention to the injustices in the world. to the great moral questions involved in the use of resources and the distribution of wealth, globally and in our own society (and maybe within the Church itself), for thus might the Church regain some of its lost credibility. (Mrs) Marie Whalley 9 Peaks Hill, Purley, Surrey.
The most succinct answer to critics of the Vatican's declaration on sexual ethics was heard at Mass on the Sunday following the declaration's publication — in the second reading. taken from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians:
"Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since ,c)t, received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God."
This is not to say compassion is wanting for sad cases. But surely unlawful sexual satisfaction has never been worth the sacrifices made for it.
(Mrs) Katie Jaffa Flat 3, 218 Sussex Gardens, London, W21 In the seemingly endless discussion about homosexuality, so many people, including self-styled Catholic homosexuals, are giving their views, that the view God takes is in danger of being overlooked.
God gave effect to His views at the time of Sodom and Gomorrha. Perhaps it is thought that the God of the Old Testament is not the same God to-day. Perhaps He has changed His views in tune with modern thought.
I am surprised to see that your Catholic paper is to open its columns to Bishop Hugh Montefiore, whose chief claim to fame, before his attack on Concordc, seems to have been his suggestion that Our Sacred Lord and Saviour was a homosexual.
One can scarcely imagine a more blasphemous remark. Was this cleric unfrocked? Not a bit of it. He was promoted to a bishopric. Please spare us any further letters in favour of sodomy. Let us give homosexual activity its proper name. Of course, our Blessed Lord was compassionate, and merciful to sinners, but condemned sin. We must surely follow him.
P. W. Dooner 14 Palmer Street, South Petherton, Somerset.
The Christian injunction to pray for sinners is denied if sin is no longer admitted. and merely called by smooth names. Surely it is our duty as Catholics to support the Vicar of Christ when, as custodian of faith and morals, he reaffirms the sinfulness of acts which deliberately transgress the Sixth and Ninth Commandments — unless these, too, are denied, Is it coincidence that the decline in attendance at Confession where Grace operates to overcome weakness — is accompanied by an increase in the clamour to deny the objective existence of sin? At a time when many agree that Christian values are at grave risk. should we not be applauding the Holy Father when hc states the Catholic position in areas where the young, especially, are confused and vulnerable, and require clear guidance? The Pope's restatement of the Christian precept — to treat with compassion and understanding those who sin — tends to be minimised by those who claim that the Vatican statement is harsh.
Our Lord always loved the sinner but never denied the sin. He said to the woman, taken in adultery: "Go and sin no more."
R. H. S. O'Grady Redlap house, Dartmouth, Devon.
I note with interest the Vatican's declaration on sexual ethics condemning certain sexual practices.
I await with equal interest a declaration from the Vatican condemning in equally strong terms murder committed in the name of religion. B. P. J. Crowe It Cloverdale. Shelf, West Yorkshire.
While I agree with the Pope's courage in cracking down on this permissive age, I do not agree with his attitude to homosexuals.
A true homosexual has been horn one, and cannot help the fact that he is unable to love women. Many of those I know bitterly' regret this and long to be normal. I think that we who arc normal should thank God on our knees that we have not this sometimes agonising problem instead of often condemning these less fortunate people, and I cannot see that following their inborn instincts where they arc sincere and loving constitutes a grave sin. (Mrs.) M. D. Mander Gate Farm.