Sir, While hastening to congratulate you on your evident willingness to keep your paper abreast of the times typographically, and expressing the hope that your circulation will expand to match the need for a paper of this sort, I must yet confess my disappointment at what. in my opinion. is largely missing from the CATHOLIC HERALD.
What the laity in this country (and the clergy too, dare one say it?) urgently need is a
continuing a n d searching appraisal of the world around us in Christian • terms. The people 1 meet every day, many of whom could be described as middle class or intelligentsia or both, tend to see Christianity as having no solutions to the problems of the present (the rise of nationalism and racialism; the pressure on world resources;the threat of wars; the spread of ideologically inspired absolutism; the dehumanisation of contemporary life: the problems of plenty in the richer countries; the difficulties of the young, the fatherless, the old; and so on)—or else they see Christianity as an obscurantist force holding up the search for solutions (birth control and abortion; the punitive aspect of the criminal law: religious intolerance).
What are we to say to such people? How can we show that Christianity, both in its doctrines and ecclesiastical structure and in its analysis and solution of contemporary social problems. is not merely relevant but the necessary answer? Social awareness in the Catholic Press (I may be unfair at this point) seems to be limited to discussion of points on which we practically all agree (racialism and apartheid are bad; we must do something aboutthe old), and to the reporting of what the Council may or may not have said on the matter (nuclear warfare, for instance). We know, or believe, that we have solutions; or, if not solutions, at least appropriate and coherent principles to use in the search for a solution— what is the use of the solutions or the principles, if there is no lively and instructed debate going on in papers such as your own about them?
My plea to youe and to those
qualified to contribute to such a debate, is this let at feast one whole page of your paper be set aside for such a debate each week. Let these topics be examined by qualified experts and discussed by your readers. o Even if this means omitting m some items of a ore parochial nature so as to make room, this is a price worth paying (but I should hope that this would not be necessary).
I see precious little evidence as yet that intellectual Catholics have accepted their responsibility to examine the facts and crystallise opinions on these problems: the Council has indicated the programme of action--but who is going to execute it?
I know that editorially you do not like long letters; but the subject of this contribution is so central to the whole purpose of a Catholic newspaper today, especiallyone such as your own, that hope you will overlook the length and will allow your readers to comment on the points I make. (Professor) A. N. Allottz London. N.3 )1,4 Sir,—"So far the Council has made little impact on the parishioner inthe pew", is but the latest in a series of similar declamations made since the Church's founding, all of them implicit in the more pregnant statement that, so far, Christ's message has made little impact on the conduct of me). Too much should not, therefore. be made of it, and it is probably in any case but another reflection of the requirement of far too many of today's Catholics to have presented to them a comprehensive set of moral case-laws to live by, and so avoid the troublesome business of consulting their own consciences in the light of the clear and unchanging principles of their faith.
People like your Gloucestershire correspondent should reflect that Councils of the Universal Church can only come together at infrequent intervals and they must then th contemporary faithful act not only to serve e contemthful but also to give judgment on and forward guidance to theologians, from work future whose further generations may receive pastoral care. It is by no means their duty to concentrate solely on the more colourful issues that arise from the practice of our religion in the ambivalent climate of today's world. As regards the examples given in your correspondent's letter, are they not ill-cerosen? All men of integrity know from natural principles that theycan sense for themselves. war justifiable as is on that wly justifia a last resort. Equally they know that skin colour has no a bearing on man's fundamental human riehts and Godgiven dignity. The resolution nf existing race inequality is a matter for political solution in the light of those principles. The The not for the Church. contraceptive issue has been withdrawn from the Council.
My own submission is that the Council has concentrated on essentials (though it has naturally taken the opportunity of doing some less essential tidying-up). As a result we shall receive over the years guidance of a quite significant character, as the implications of its work develop into a pectoral message that the faithful can understand.
II. J. Dodson Gp. Capt. (Ret ) Thetford, Norfolk
Sir, — The brush-pushing Brother (November 19) has got hold of the wrong end of the broom-stick: I think that necessary changes coming from above are a very good thing. My objection is to the initiative from below—the attitude of those who have rights and fight for them—this belongs to world orld and not to Religion. The crux of the matter, as I see it, is not humility, or the lack of it, but obedience. A misunderstood Sister.
lee 4 0.-C'e, a•-e–ah.-..
Sir,—It would seem that Mr. St. John-Stevas protests too much. In my letter of November 12, I remarked that I did not believe that the majority of our colleagues would share his views on the problems of Vietnam or Rhodesia. It is, after all, not the first occasion on which Mr. St. John-Stevas a has taken minority view and I to attack him for who am this, as I often find myself in the same position?
Nor is it the first time that
Mr. St. John-Sievas has used your columns to hit back at what he imagines to he a personal attack; it would perhaps have been more appropriate had he answered the case I tried to make in my letter. Does he not believe that the concessions made by Mr. Smith, both in London and Salisbury, moved muchpo
closer to the position
taken taken by Sir Alec Douglas1-Tome in 1964? Would he not agree that had Sir Alec continued to handle these negotiations agreement on independence would probably have been reached? Is not the Conservative Party line to support the Government in imposing penalties which flow from Mr. Smith's illegal act, but to oppose punitive sanctions or the intervention of the United Nations for the reasons outlined in my previous letter? While Mr. St. John-Stevas has strong views on the question of integration of races, would he he prepared to advocate to his constituents a drastic cut in their standard of living in order to obtain a more equal standard in both the Commonwealth and the world7 I hope that these questions interpreted as a personal will not be in "sharp rsonal attack" as it would seem from his article in nt the Caotoc HERALD that n great deal a g there is l of difference between us over the Rhodesian question except insofar as crystal gazing into the future is concerned.
M.C., V.R.D., M.P. House of Commons Sir,—Mr. Norman St. JohnStevas shows lack of understanding of the Rhodesians, or oded community, any red-blomunity, in expecting anything but a on consolidati of the Smith regime to result from the economic sanctions he has in mind. However "lukewarm", the South Africans will buttress Rhodesia against collapse or invasion. Nor is Portugal so "feeble". having successfully defended her policy of "LusoAfrican" integration against terrorist incursions and international censure. Mr. Stevas should study recent progress in Portuguese Africa. Pressed too far, Rhodesia will associate with Portugal and South Africa In what would be a rich and formidable bloc.
John Iligp,Davison,1%.F. House of Commons
Sir,—I read with great interest Lord Strabolgi's article entitled "Dumping Ground for the Aged" (CATHOLIC HERALD. November 19). It is appalling that old people should be so poorly treated by out Welfare State system, and only action can n proat Government level vide the necessary accommodation, staff, etc., to cope with the situation.
There is, however, much that members of the public can do to help old people in mental most hospitals. The obvious way of helping is by visiting these old people, and I have found from contact with two in menial hospitals that staff welcome any interest shown geriatric patients by "outsiders". This fact is further proved by a letter recently published in the British Medical Journal any l pointing out that many hospital patients have few ry visitors and that voluntary organisations and visiting have much to offer such patients. It is obvious then that here is a vast field of Christian social action where such action is both needed and appreciated. Maureen Phillips London. N.4
Sir,—While greatly appreciating the prominence given to a review (signed "Elizabeth Hamilton") of my book Goode in the Jungle in the CATHOLIC HERALD (Of which 1 am an enthusiastic reader) of November 12, 1 am much distressed my disappointment at an inaccuracy which mis states ppointment at a boring sermon as having happened in Tonga. Actually, as stated on page 92, it was in Suva (Fiji). I hate to seem carping but, as it so happens, the Catholic Church was splendidly alive in Tonga, and I cannot bear to think of giving pain or offence to the Vicar Apostolic of the Islands, en ds, Bishop Tonga I Rodgers, an e lightened and up-to-date Australian, who was particularly kind to me. Mani csi Bald win Ringwood, Hampshire.
your readers were kind enough to share their homes during Sir,—Last year many of Christmas with a student from overseas. I would like to thank, in print, all those who did so, on behalf of the students. For many fellow-Catholics from overseas, this visit at Christmas is the only time they enter an English Catholic home. For many others it is a time of great loneliness, since they have no home or family in this country. I would like to ask those who wish to offer hospitality, at at either at Christmas, or other times, to write to this Chap laincy. Rev. A. Florio, National Chaplain for
Sir,— With more possible changes in the Mass there is one desirable one that has not yet been mentioned and that is worthy of consideration. With the quick short ending of our modern Mass there is not only the possibility but the probability that our people, who have just received Holy Communion, should walk out immediately. without any personal and private thanksgiving. That being so would it not be very suitable to have the Gloria said at the end of Mass instead or after the Kyrie where it does not seem to fit in properly. This is a suggestion we would like Fr. Clifford Howard to take up and pass on to the proper authorities in Rome. The Gloria would be a most suitable "grand finale" to the Mass. A Few Prleats in Ireland.
Sir, — Since the unhappy thalidomide catastrophe, we have had a sharp reminder of the old saying that the remedy can be worse than the disease.
Those who are so concerned about preventing the birth of children, other than by means provided by nature. should keep this saying well in mind. remember Mr. Ware, the senior Catholic surgeon of his day, speaking on this subject at a meeting of doctors and priests at Eastbourne in 1932. I have not since heard this aspect being given the notice It deo:ryes, Side effects of birth prevention there surely are. The advo cates of one method are the first to decry the dangers of any other method. We need not look far to see some of these more serious side effects. The coincidence or birth prevention and nervous disorders
is to striking to be brued aside; nor is it difficult to see why nerves are followed by frigidity, which in turn makes for an unsatisfactory marriage, ending all too often in unfaithfulness. Whatever the price of bringing babies into the world, the very real dangers, to say the least, of keeping them out, is far too high even to risk. Further, as far as this country is concerned, what is all the talk about over-population? The trouble is underpopulation by our own people, and that to such an extent that the very economy of the country would be in danger unless sustained by immigration.
Canon W. J. Quinlan. Camberley, Surrey.
Nertc-gAv-xr Sir, — Will you use your influence to get crucifixes put up at or near the entrances to our motorways? Their erection would act as a reminder to at least us Catholics of our duty to drive with great care, especially on motorways. It would be political suicide for any British Minister of Transport to put them up, hut there must be parishes near the entrances who could use sites near the road. Perhaps those -who have suffered through road accidents will give a shove to the idea in their district.
W. Speakman. Bolton, Lancs.
riet°4^-esi Sir,—Our parishioners, invited to a public meeting to consider Planned Giving, raised spirited objections andshowed determined opposi tion. In consequence the scheme was abandoned. Later it transpired, that the parish was already committed to pay almost £1,000 "Professional Fees", to the firm that introduced the scheme. As loyal parishioners we ec ry ra to ntees, so as have given the necessary relieve our clergy of any financial worry or burden on this score, but we want to warn other against the Catholic parishes danger of similar entanglements.
Vasts„.sooso-sw Sir, We the undersigned majority of the College Comon Room have become increasingly concerned about the methods of warfare used by the United States Air Force in Vietnam. We are now satisfied that numerousnon-combatants have been subjected (intentionally or otherwise) to ombing attacks of the most barbaric nature. including the indiscriminate bombing. with napalm and other chemicals, of villages suspected of harbouring Vietcong. with the consequent deaths in a hideous manner of many civilians ; the bombing of hosoitals and medical centres; and the bombing of the Red River Dam complex.
It is held hy some that a
nation at war may use whatever means it should choose in fighting that war. We, however, believing that the morality of any action is determined not only by motive hut also by the very nature of that action and its consequences, hold this opinion to be contrary to Christian ethical principles. We would therefore ask Christians to support the Rev. Paul Oestreicher's recent proposal (made in a sermon delivered in Westminster Abbey) that the United Kingdom Government should dissociate itself from, and strongly protest against, all United Slates atrocities in Vietnam. May we therefore, through your col• umns, make a strong plea to your readers to register their disapproval of the Government's silent condoning of these atrocities by writing to their M.P.'s and Church leaders. (Signed); J. P. Wilts.; P. F. White; L M. Bates; John W. 'Mother; D. A. Stonehardm; John White; R. G. Wilson; T. J. Harvey; V. G. Aslivrin; R. M. Pratt; H. C. G. White; W. Ind; IL P. Reeve; J. Armson; D. N. Swain; J. MurkWelts; A, glummer; J. R. Flock; W. J. Hatehley; J. A. S. Payne-Cook; M. Fox; Jolm Penny; A. T. Hughes; P. Owen 'Dennison; L. Rex HurreR; M.. G. Wimmer; D. )1 Gotha: IL Whiningham; D. Alleodk; Jam Young; John Shepherd; Desmond Parsons; K. (75% of the Common Room). College of the Res-,n-rz7.tion, Mirfield, Yorkshire.