Page 9, 3rd August 2001

3rd August 2001
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Page 9, 3rd August 2001 — Suicide and diminished responsibility
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Suicide and diminished responsibility

From Mr Jim Allen Sir, I enjoy Fr Rolheiser's weekly article because it always, among other things, has an original angle. However, his effort on July 27 was too original by far for me!

Without going into his private opinions on suicide, I would question the prudence of voicing them in public. While reading the view that suicide can be a "disease", I had the sense of C.S. Lewis' "Screwtapc" standing behind me saying, "Beelzebub! What a useful idea."

Just imagine a -sensitive" university student, having failed his exams after months of frantic study, drained of nervous energy and thinking of ending it all, but otherwise having nothing wrong with him that a month's activity in the open air would not cure.

Then he reads a priest and an

award-winning columnist saying

that he night well be suffering from

an implacable disease and that, when the deed is done, God will "embrace" him and "all will be well" and his problems will then be over. A few extra nudges from the "Father of Lies" who is always in attendance on these occasions, and he takes the fatal pill.

wish that Fr Rolheiser, as a loyal son of the Church, would submit his theory to the Magisterium and request a clarification of CCC 2282/3.

This uses the term "diminished responsibility" which, in my view, does not translate directly into "disease".

Yours faithfully, JIM ALLEN Torquay.

Incitement to lust

From Mr S McCullough: Sir, I was very sorry to read the film review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, by James Abbott in a Catholic paper (July 13). After telling us that the film isn't worth watching he ends by suggesting that we, "Leave the ladies at home, make the excuse that you have no choice but to lake your younger brother or obsessed son to the pictures and prepare for an uncomplicated, pleasurable 90 minutes of mindless gawping."

Writing this was not just a waste of time, it was a sin, for as Christ said, "You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery, But I say to you that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt 5:27,28).

I really do hope that this is the last we will hear of Mr Abbott.

Yours faithfully S. MCCULLOUGH London NW9

Bridgettine blunder

From Mr Neville Edwards: Sir, The compiler of the Calendar in your issue of 20 July ought to have known that St Bridget's day now ranks as a feast, not an optional memorial, in England. She is a co-patron of Europe and proper readings should have replaced those of the feria.

Yours faithfully NEVILLE EDWARDS Diss, Norfolk.

Restore popular piety

From Miss Lydia Jackson: Sir, There are several items in this week's Catholic Herald which prompt me to write with a suggestion of how we could rediscover a "civilisation of love". The first is through a return to "devotions". Besides the daily recitation of the Rosary there is the Divine Mercy devotion also which Bro. Stanley Villani Cencio from the Philippines is promoting.

It was instructive to attend one of his missions since it showed how far we have strayed from the culture of "popular piety" as understood by Mary Kenny. Piety will have to be re-taught for it to return to the home. Prior to the 1960s one could tell the seasons by the devotions which changed month by month as part of Catholic culture.

Another thought came from "Pastor Iuventus" who is having difficulty in finding a role for his priesthood in the parish. Could it be that the "priesthood of the laity" expounded by Vatican II should not be directed at being special ministers, but rather in praying the Divine Office (previously the preserve of the clergy) and the Divine Mercy devotion in the home?

Central to the latter prayer is the offering to God the Father the body, blood, soul and divinity of His dearly beloved Son; the same prayer in essence is that said directly after the Consecration in the Tridentine Mass but which has been dropped in the Novus Ordo. The clergy could then reserve to themselves the Mass and the Sacraments and leave the laity to augment that which is missing from the current form of worship.

Family devotions would then fill up a spare half hour or more each day which could come out of -television time. The ratings for such programmes as "Big Brother" would drop because one had better things to do with one's time.

Yours faithfully LYDIA JACKSON London W2

Positive thinking on disability

From Ms Liz Elmore Sir, The headline, "Disabled warn of rise in suicide rates" which appeared in the July 13th edition of The Catholic Herald was certainly eye-catching. However, the content of the article itself was certainly misguided in its gloomy, doom-laden aspect. May I offer a different way of looking at the same subject?

As Christians, we are taught, and should believe, that we are all made in God's image and likeness. Christianity also teaches the positive way to live, in the avoidance and discouragement of wrong-doing, and we recognise that we have a duty — born out of love — to care and provide for those who are unable to care for themselves. Sadly for society, Christian beliefs are no longer given much credence, which has led to much abuse of the system which our welfare state set up so that those in need were no longer dependent on what voluntary bodies such as the Church could provide.

We all know that there is abuse of every welfare benefit and hiding our eyes from this fact, or letting our emotions take over from common-sense, is counter

productive in terms of helping those in genuine need.

St Paul himself, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, expresses his views on people who are capable of working but choose not to do so. And isn't it now thought that St Paul was in some way "afflicted"?

Whatever that might have been, it did not prevent him working to establish God's Church here on earth, in an age which had none of the benefits in terms of medicine or technology which we have today.

One of the internationallyacclaimed disabled people of our times, who has worked in the 'normal' world amongst 'normal' people, is Professor Stephen Hawking. No-one can question the appalling extent of his disabilities, nor can they deny the contribution he has made to society in terms of the taxes he will have paid into the communal coffers from his earnings. He, and all other people with disabilities who are well-known figures should be icons of encouragement in overcoming the negative responses to disabled people which can be provoked by articles such as the one you published.

Mrs Stevens-Bevan may be disgusted that her incapacity benefit will be reduced when she reaches retirement age, but this is a fact which is clearly stated when the benefit is allocated on a long-term basis. If Mrs StevensBevan was not aware, it may be that she assumed it would always stay the same and did not read the small print. It is not true that the majority of people, disabled or not, have to live on a reduced income when they reach retirement age?

There are so many ways in which any problem can be approached; always portraying people with disabilities as poor, pitiable victims is a sure way of lowering society's perception of them. If this is how Mrs Stevens Bevan and all others who claim to speak for and on behalf of all disabled people choose to continue, then she must not complain that the "status of disabled people appears to have diminished in the national consciousness." What "status" was that? A more positive portrayal of disabled people would be more likely to evoke a more positive response towards them and their needs. There needs to be a shift of emphasis away from dis-ability and on to ability. That way, not only society would benefit, but those people who are, or become, disabled, will have the dignity and respect that they themselves merit.

What anyone campaigning on behalf of disabled people should be ensuring is that society gives them every encouragement and assistance in overcoming the obstacles that they will inevitable face along the way.

Yours faithfully, LIZ ELMORE Kettering, Northants.

The Office on line

From Mrs Ruth Dapple Sir, I am enjoying your new Pastor luventus column. It really does give us laypeople a whiff of what parish life is like from the priest's perspective.

With regard to this week's column — yes you can download the Office from the Internet — the site is www.univeralis.com . The only proviso is that, although it seems to be a British initiative, it goes by the American calendar. Also, it is still under construction but otherwise useful.

Yours faithfully, RUTH DIPPLE Lechlade GIos GL7 3SE

Mobiles in Church

From Mrs Jean F. Skinner Sir, I cannot believe the following an extract from a church newsletter: "Mobile phones seem to intrude everywhere. Churches, confessionals, even altars and gravesides are no stranger to their shrill insistent tone... While it's bad enough to receive calls in such places, to make one is worse. Like the lady who phoned while queuing for Holy Communion. The urgent mission was to tell those at home to put on the oven before her arrival home to tackle the vegetables."

Yours faithfully, JEAN SKINNER Leicester.




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