I FEEL very sorry indeed for David McDonald (March 24). To be told on your pre-ordination retreat that you could not be ordained must be an appalling body blow.
However, I am quite sure it was the right decision. To ordain a married man who had left his ministry over IS years ago and worked as a civil servant in the meanwhile would have been a major breach in the church's law of celibacy for the clergy. In all other cases of the ordination of former Anglican clergy, the candidate was already married as an Anglican and was making the transition to the Catholic
priesthood very soon after leaving the Anglican Church.
Many people who have the interests of the Church at heart made representations about this case to Rome months ago, so it is surprising that the final decision came so late. Blame too must fall on those who prompted the candidate when his circumstances were so completely different from the other recent cases of the ordination of married convert ex Anglican clergy.
Fr Michael Clifton St Joseph's Church
Colliers Wood THE Lefevbrists are so tar removed from my ways of Christian thinking that I could not have imagined myself ever agreeing with them on any point dealing with religion or religious belief. I am compelled to admit, however, that contrary to my expectations, 1 have discovered that there is one point on which we apparently do agree, even if for totally different reasons. It is the dislike we share for the present-day methods of religious teaching (March 17).
The more I see of modern day methods and experience the effects they are having on the children of our schools, and also on those who have graduated from them, the more do I feel convinced that the old question and answer method is irreplaceable. It is a conviction which comes from bitter experience not only in Britain, but in other parts of the world as well.
The present day catechism books, liberally illustrated with beautifully arranged photographs, printed on superior paper, and accompanied by charts and diagrams ingeniously conceived and painstakingly prepared, may appear extremely effective, but they do so only to the adult eye. Such hooks, I have learnt from experience, have a very superficial effect on the mind of the child, appearing to him or her as no more than another among the plethora of them which are looked at with interest and curiosity for the first time, but then are forgotten leaving no permanent effect on the mind of the child.
In its place the stark question and answer catechism provides
briefly and clearly an unmistakeable starting point for a study of religion. It makes it abundantly clear to the mind of the child what he or she is asked to accept. Or, perhaps, in later years to reject.
In my way of looking at this issue, I would rather deal with one who knows what he is rejecting when he says that he has rejected belief in God and in the practice of religion. It is easier to know where you stand with him rather than with the present day agnostic, emerging unfortunately too often from our schools, who claims to be an agnostic but has only a very vague idea of what he is being agnostic about.
When preparing young couples for marriage quite often One finds that one of them has given up the practice of the
Faith.The Church wedding is being sought for reasons which have very little to do with the fact that marriage in Catholic belief is one of the seven sacraments. When asked, however, why the practice of the faith has been given up, the person involved is unable to offer any cogent or rational reason. Reasons such as: "the mass is boring" or "the sermons arc too long" or "there is not enough or conversely, there is too much singing" are samples of what you hear.
The main advantage of the question and answer type catechism, as I see it, is that it emphasises in brief and simple language the rational basis which underlies the faith. As such I firmly believe that it supplies a need which cannot be replaced in any other way.
London SE19 Fr S Raymond