From Mrs Alba Thorning Sir, A concerted effort from all pro-lifers could make a considerable impact on political parties when we vote at the election. It will, if nothing else, influence their choice of candidates in the future. But this miracle will only occur if sufficient numbers of pro-life voters select a pro-life candidate amongst those presenting themselves for election. Or abstain from voting at all.
To give someone who is pro-abortion or pro-choice a vote is the equivalent of placing your signature on the doctor's form endorsing the operation which will destroy an unborn baby's life.
Abortion isn't a woman's problem, a doctor's problem, it's our problem. As long as our democracy allows those who willfully destroy unborn human life to walk free of prosecution we are all equally culpable for the brutal deaths of those babies. Religious and laity, to blinker ourselves behind the belief that "I wouldn't abort or cause an abortion" is to be culpable of the next aborted baby's life for our taxes pay for that operation.
All of us are equally involved in the death of millions of babies for either we have not tried at all, or not tried enough, to repeal the 1967 Abortion Act over the past 34 years. Whilst the blood of the innocents cries out for justice, Our Lord's eyes are so blinded by tears that the calumnies that affect this world make little impact, compared with the cruel, deliberate killing of an innocent life. Chaos is Satan's ultimate aim for this world, abortion is the tool we have given him to achieve his goal so far.
Yours faithfully, ALBA THORNING Headington, Oxford
Act of Settlement
From Mr Kevin O'Neill
Sir, James Munson asserts that the Act of Settlement has become "a guarantor that our Sovereign will be a Christian" (-Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie". Mar 16). Does he mean by "Christian" someone like Our Lord or someone like the Anglican Bishop of Oxford?
Yours faithfully, Knvusr Surrey Quays, London SE16
From Mr Stephen Oliver Sir, Your article (Mar 9) concerning plans to restore the old high altar at Westminster Cathedral as the main altar for liturgical celebrations made mc wonder whether this might n'ot be the perfect moment for some truly radical thinking.
Since recent writing on the liturgy, particularly Cardinal Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy but also works by Aidan Nichols, Klaus Gamber and others all seem to agree that the ad orientem or ad apsidem position is the ancient and traditional one for the celebration of the Mass, why should not the cathedral's administrators recognise this in their plans?
In short, the temporary altar currently occupying the sanctuary could be removed, as suggested, and the high altar under the baldacchino be used to celebrate Mass, not versus populum as previously mooted, but with the priest facing the same way as the people, now clearly established as the earliest tradition of the Church.
Such a decision would also have the merit of being very cheap since the altar would not, as currently suggested, have to be moved forward to provide room for the clergy presiding behind it. In this way the cathedral could send out a clear signal of liturgical restoration and renewal that other churches around the country might wish to follow.
The London Oratory and a few other churches have up to now been rare prophetic voices in recognising what liturgical scholarship has revealed to us. and it would be splendid to see the cathedral joining them. As is now widely recognised, the adoption of Mass celebrated versus populum was nowhere demanded by the documents of Vatican II, and a truly dignified and Spirit-filled celebration of the Novus Onto seems unlikely to occur until real renewal takes place.
Yours faithfully, STEPHEN OLIVER Clitheroe, Lanes Prom Mr Michael Olizar Sir, Philip Fowke (Letters, Mar 23) reminds us that Henry Clutton was initially commissioned to design Westminster Cathedral. Clutton who died in 1893 lies just yards away from the mortal remains of Francis Bentley, who died in 1902, who was to come up with the successful design for the cathedral.
Their graves are both found in the little cemetery of St Mary Magdalen's in Mortlake whose most famous incumbent is perhaps that eminent Victorian Sir Richard Burton.
Some may find it ironic that whereas Bentley's tomb is spalling with an all but indecipherable inscription, Cluttons still stands seemingly unweathered by time.
Yours faithfully, MICHAEL OLIZAR Putney, London SWI5
Too many bishops
From Mr Bryan J Phipps Sir, Referring to your article "A & B awaits new bishop" (Mar 16), with falling Mass attendances and the decline in the number of vocations, plus the closure of churches, would it not make more sense to reduce the number of dioceses and thus the need for the present number of bishops?
Arundel and Brighton, for example, could be returned to the Archdiocese of Southwark. After all, didn't Rome say some time ago that Britain had too many bishops?
Yours faithfully, BRYAN J PHIPPS
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Accuracy and Africa
Fmm Miss Olivia Matthew Sir, While I understand that it was necessary to report on the issue of sexual abuse against nuns in Africa, it was a shame your reporters did not try to verify their facts and put them into context. You claimed that the document prepared by Sr Marie McDonald described "widespread sexual abuse in sub-saharan Africa", implying that African Catholic priests by and large were doing nothing other raping nuns and forcing them to have abortions.
However, the sweeping generalisation made by your reporters made it evident that they had not seen the report for themselves.
They were further not put off by the fact that even the National Catholic Reporter, which first published the story, said the evidence was anecdotal.
It has now emerged that the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa themselves, with whom the report originated had no idea how the NCR had got their hands on the report.
They had taken care to present the whole context pointing out that the majority of priests and religious who heroically live out their religiously vocation. Clearly the problem of abuse is horrific, whatever the scale, and I am in no way trying to justify it.
However, tarring the whole continent with the same brush, a continent about which many people already harbour prejudicial misconceptions, is simply shameful.
Yours faithfully OLIVIA MATTHEW [email protected]
From Mr Philip Daniel Sir, The Catholic Directory for 2001 lists my name as chairman in a section concerned with Polish priests in Great Britain, the Catholic Council for Polish Welfare (p629).
This is unfortunate as the Council which was founded in 1940 was not a Polish Church institution but a British effort to help our Polish friends during the war, which disbursed very large sums until the need for it ceased in the 90's with the new political situation.
With the agreement of our patron, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, we ceased to operate as an active charity in the course of 1999. It had not been our council's intention that any entry should be retained after 2000.
Yours faithfully, PHILIP J DAMEL Redhill, Surrey
From Mr Ken Connelly Sir, It is going to be more and more difficult in this country for future generations to lead Catholic lives.
The increasing pressure from the "culture of death" makes it harder all the time both to hold the faith and to practice it. So Professor Scarisbrick's call for a Catholic alternative to NHS institutions (Mar 16) is to be welcomed.
And so too with Catholic schools, many of which accommodate themselves to the National Curriculum and transmit a "liberal" version of the faith, which will not stand up far long. The present situation is selfperpetuating — the Times Education Supplement cited a report which stated that young teachers are quitting Catholic schools because they are unable to cope with the Church's "heavy-handed" attitude to morality and marriage.
These young teachers must be the generation brought up on Weaving the Web, Here I Am and now Icons.
We need independent Catholic schools — outside the National Curriculum — staffed by orthodox Catholics who accept the Catechism.
Yours faithfully, KEN CONNELLY Harrow, Middlesex