Brigadier Clemow expressed surprise (March 29) at the fact that members of the Faith Association were either absent from, or silent during, the study day on the Agreed Statement on the Ministry at Redhill on March 9.
I know Fr Holloway surficiently well to be sure that he would not wish to be present at any gathering at which his presence would be unwelcome. Fr P. R. Olivier, organiser of the study day, had already made it quite clear that he did not want anyone present who might oppose the Agreed Statement and, apart from being a very busy parish priest, I am sure Fr Holloway had sufficient tact to take the hint.
A young friend of mine, a convert just down from Oxford who took up his first teaching post in a Catholic school last September, had invited me to accompany him to the study day.
I was astonished to receive a letter from Fr Olivier stating that he had seen my name on the list of applicants, checked to see if I lived in the parish from which it had come, found that I did not and, although he did not know whether I was the person concerned or not, had written to me just in case 1 was to tell me that I could not come.
Someone had suggested to him that I might be the person concerned! The reason he gave was that only those living in the diocese of Arundel and Brighton could attend as the number of applications had been higher than expected. He hoped I would understand!
I have discovered that several other applicants received similar letters, including members of the Faith Association. It is interesting to note that Brigadier Ciemow, who was allowed to attend, also lives outside the diocese.
Coupled with the fact that the Catholic Truth Society has now banned Faith magazine and The Keys of Peter from its London bookshop, it would seem that we are now witnessing the emergence of a new triumphalism in comparison with which the old seems positively benign. The young teacher who had invited me to the study day has been considerably scandalised by these events.
It is hardly surprising that there is so much suspicion of Agreed Statements if they need to be defended by tactics which would discredit any political party and are totally unworthy of the Church founded upon the Rock of Truth. Only those with something to hide need fear a frank and open discussion.
M. T. Davies 46 Blacklands Road, London, SE6.
You quote Bishop Alan Clark (March 29) as saying: "The Faith cannot he reduced to credal formulae . . ." One wonders why he has been in business then, trying to produce Agreed Statements about what are surely credal matters.
Of course the problem again is the use of words: ecumenism has not improved semantics for many of our theologians. If the Faith cannot be reduced to credal formulae. the Ten Commandments, the very Incarnation itself, in which the Word is made Flesh, and all the Councils and Creeds of the Church are now irrelevant. There are many Christian Humanists who hold just this position.
No: all through history, from the beginnings of the first Revelation to man, which is crowned in Christ, truth as opposed to error has been catalysed by reduction to the correct credal statement, as opposed to the false. That is why humble and honest precision of language and of meaning is essential, especially in Agreed Statements.
Of course, you cannot reduce, ie. express all the fullness of God's wisdom and truth, into any credal stetement: development must go on, hut development in a straight line with continuity of meaning, truth, and moral practice.
An Olympic athlete is a much more perfect being than the baby of some 20 years hack, he cannot be reduced to that stature, but doubtless he was a physically perfect baby, and the growth has been in just one organic straight line. Let us abhor deliberate ambiguity; Christ is Light, not darkness. and not even twilight.
(Fr) Edward Holloway Editor of Faith. Catholic Presbytery, Church Road, Portslade, Sussex. We are asked to find our Faith expressed in the Agreed Statement on the Ministry. It may be the duty of those who cannot find the Catholic Faith expressed unequivocally in this document to say so. It is hard indeed to find any Faith clearly expressed therein, but it seems to come nearest to Anglicanism.
And your contributor, Fr Anthony Jones. in his article of March 29, only helps to make the fog a hit thicker. We look for the truth, not for pessimism or optimisim.
But it does seem strange to find a cause for optimism in the fact that dogmas and structures, regarded in the past as definitive and unchangeable are now un der the theologians' microscope. Which theologians, one may ask? And are the dogmai really less cetain because some theologians are squinting at them down their microscopes? The theologians may end by squinting at each other. This sort of talk will only persuade any prospective convert with any sense to think again, and decide to wait till the scrutiny is over! As has been noticed by many, this statement dodges the issue on the question of the Mass as a sacrifice, and misrepresents the , role at the confessor in the Sacrament of Penance. One wonders how on earth Fr Anthony Jones can hail it as a real advance in understanding of the priesthood — when it only obscures things. The Catholic Church used to present to people a firm, definite teaching, to be admired or hated, loved or rejected. It was solid, rock-like. Now the appearance is given that all is vague, indefinite. We are seen to be a house built on sand.
We no longer make converts. We lose the young because they are given nothing solid to hang Ott to.
(Fr) Tony Chadwick, Chaplain. Thornton College, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
Come now Gerard!
Gerard Noel must often have winced at letters which made sweeping and contentious generalisations on behalf of unconsulted multitudes. In his article on Ushaw (March 22) he has achieved a parody of them.
The decision to close the Major Seminary at Up Holland he pronounces "eminently practical. economic and for the obvious benefit of all" and he assures us that it "was greeted with universal acclamation."
Archbishop Beck's reversal of this decision is sternly reproved as "a piece or hierarchial maladroitness ... incomprehensible and regrettable."
Come now, Gerard, you can do better than that! Your Liberal encomium of Ushaw and its staff is no doubt a grateful reaction to warm hospitality. But a moment's thought must have told you that Archbishop Beck changed his mind because his original decision was greeted in his diocese. where his responsibility first lies, with anything hut "universal acclamation."
Even a Lisbonian like myself must feel that the seminary, built by our generous laity. plays an increasingly important role in the life and theological renewal of the diocese. This role cannot be fulfilled by an establishment. however fulsomely praised. which is remote from our people and our priests. (Fr) F. A. Mooney Christian Education Centre. 152 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool
Gerard Noel writes: Come now, Fr Mooney, you can do worse than that! You will find that the Ushaw Magazine has been far more outspoken on this obviously embarrassing subject than I liked to he. If what you say is right, then all the northern bishops must have been wrong when they made their original decision. (1 notice, incidentally, that no concrete facts have yet been given to refute my assertion.)