carry on campaigning Kindness to animals
IT IS unfortunate that there are misgivings in some Catholic circles about Mgr Bruce Kent remaining as general secretary of CND. To expect him to resign his CND
post because of possible political embarrassment for the Church would be a dangerous precedent. It could mean that once a cause (he it racial equality, community policing or the rights of the unborn) gains the support of one political party, it must suffer the withdrawal of the services of any of its full-time officials who happens to be a priest.
There is a long-standing exception however: in that most notorious hone of political contention, private education, which enjoys enthusiastic support from one political party and incurs deadly opposition from another. Yet in the full knowledge of the different passions tH subject raises between these two parties. the Church continues its controversial role of running private schools and employing priests on their teaching staffs.
So why this squeamishness about the connection of just one Catholic priest with an organisation with whose long-term aims no one would quarrel? Has the supposed difficulty arisen because one political party is more successful at influencing Church opinion than the other? If that is the case, then this acceptance of party political intrusion in Church affairs is a scandal far worse than any embarrassment that may be caused by Mgr Kent's connection with CND.
Cyril Myerscough Middlesex.
MERE may he sound strategic and economic reasons for putting aside nuclear weapons, but right judgment on these depends on skills and knowledge in which the Church is not pre-eminent. The Church was founded to follow its Head, and to lead mankind Into the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit can guide politicians, but purely technical decisions are for the laity, who can afford to be wrong.
If clergy try to answer questions beyond their competence they will come into conflict with Christians who disagree with them arid have the right to say so. How satisfying for the enemies of the Church, indeed of God, who march under the banner of CND for their own purposes.
Loyalty to the CND is a fetter which prevents its members from offering the best reason for abjuring nuclear weapons: they are of Satan, not of Christ. Have not the Popes given us a lead in this? Those that are in and with Christ can proclaim the truth and nothing but the truth; that political advantage, if any, could be no justification for sin. Christians are now called upon for an act of faith, and to muster the fortitude that they are not slow to praise.
The act of faith is central. We are not yet trusting God to help us to defend ourselves by other means.
We must go further. It may be that the rejection of nuclear weapons would lead to military defeat. I think not, but I do not know. We must take what may come, and hide nothing. We arc not asked to accept the certainty of horrifying death, as the martyrs were. In fact, horrifying death is likelier from possessing nuclear weapons, which are nothing but a gamble on the chance that no one will use them.
Bernard Simmons Essex BRUCE KENT is not the first man of God to be persecuted for rightousness sake, but to those of us who know him personally he is certainly one of the best. What worries me is that this whole regrettable episode is likely to bring the Catholic Church into disrepute at a time when Roman Catholics were enjoying a great deal of goodwill from their fellow citizens and when the ecumenical movement seemed to be making real progress.
Bruce Kent is one of this country's Catholic public relations officers and that many lay people see him as a shining light in the Catholic Church. The present furore will distress many in our Church who have been working for peace as a. prime • concern of conscience,
donations, would find it more convenient to send them through us (cheques made payable to St Paulinus Third World Group) we will gladly forward them.
Mr L F. T Bradbury 9 Stablers Walk,
Old Earswick, York. YO3 9UZ WITLI REFERENCE to "a comeback for fish?" in your April 22 edition, I must say that I hope the bishops do not make the retrograde step of reintroducing 'compulsory Friday abstinence'.
Why retrograde? Because it is more akin to externalism and legalism than to the good clews of the gospel. Would the St Paul of the Epistle to the Galatians, or the Christ who said 1 will make you free' have wanted such an abstinence?
Kevin O'Donnell Cheshire ON BEHALF of the members of the Staff/Student Action Group at Dc La Salle College, I am writing to exptess our thanks to you and your staff for the coverage you have given to our campaign to have teacher education courses reinstated here.
Frank Boyce Hopwood Hall, Manchester bearing in mind that Jesus said "love your enemy".
What arc outsiders to think when they see Christian Church trying to prevent a man of God from doing God's work in the world instead of skulking in his steeple house to avoid the flack?
Something like 23 per cent of the national membership of CND are active practising Christians. Only 14 out of a total of 120 members of the CND national council are members of the Communist or Labour party parties. This proportion is very low compared to the share of votes accorded to those two parties ina general election. In any case, despite all the largely unchallenged insinuations of the warmongers, it is not illegal to support the parties of the left, nor is it disgraceful. Some , would argue that socialism is far more compatible with the teaching of Christ than are the politics of the right.
As always, individual peaceworkers like Bruce Kent may well be made the targets of a witchhunt, but the peace movement itself will not suffer from the mud slinging. Adverse publicity has always rebounded in favour of the peacemakers and all attempts to suppress the peace movement have failed ignominiously. As long as there are people of the calibre of Bruce Kent willing to suffer for such a cause then right will eventually triumph. When it does the Church should be associated with that victory.
Carol Burton Spalding, Lines.
MAY WE sympathise with Mgr Bruce Kent's endeavours to apply some other criterion than that of massive nuclear force in the search for peace. • The matter is too serious for this prevarication when many people at the present time are awaiting with great impatience a "less party political line" on this monumental issue.
This is the right man in the right place seen in the company of those in the highways and byways of political life and perhaps others also could show understanding without disparagement to the CND and a more Christian assessment of its motives, which have more nobility than Reagan's rockets.
Pat and Phil Poulain Notts
I TRUST I am not in a minority in being thoroughly unhappy at the remarks by Cardinal Hume. As one who is more in accord with the Cardinal's expressed views on defence, Fr Kent has conducted himself with Christian decency.
Fr Kent works for CND headquarters only on a part-time basis and not in dereliction of his spiritual duties. It would be a great wound to the standing of Catholicism in our Christian community of wicked pressures from the English upper class Tory establishment were allowed to silence the traditional role of individual Catholic clergy in speaking out, fearless of class Pa.)testant respectability, on issues of social concern like peace.
Larry lies East Sussex THE NATIONAL Conference of Catholic Bishops has published the third draft of its pastoral letter on war and peace. What the pastoral has to say about the objectives of nuclear weapons is as folows: "Under no circumstances , may nuclear weapons or other instruments of mass slaughter be used for the purpose of destroying population centres or other predominantly civilian targets. It would be a perverted political policy or moral casuistry which tried to justify using a weapon which indirectly or unintentionally killed a million innocent people because they happen to live near a militarily significant target".
The American bishops do not refer to the fate of the two Japanese cities and in this connection a realistic assessment of future wars is made by the late Lord Louis Mountbatten who wrote "in the event of a nuclear war, there will be no chances. there will be no survivors: all will be obliterated".
The Archbishop of York, Dr Stuart Blanch said "the world obviously will have to live forever with the fact of nuclear disaster either as a consequence of military action or of industrial accident".
Mr Val Peterson, the United States Civil Defence Administrator wrote "if the whole 170 million Americans had air-raid shelters at least 50 per cent would die in a surprise enemy attack. There is no such thing as a nation being prepared for a thermonuclear war". .1 I O'Connor London N12 SUNDAY April 24 was World Day of Prayer for Laboratory Animals; I wonder how many churches remembered so much as a prayer or a mention for these poor defenceless and tortured creatures? Ours certainly did. I was led by the Holy Spirit to be on the march and demonstration leaving Clapham Common for the vivisection laboratory at Carshalton, Surrey.
For those who think vivisection laboratories are solely for medical discovery of benefit to mankind, involving little or no suffering to animals, here and now I thoroughly disillusion you. Of all the experiments used very few if any at all are of real benefit to human medicine. Some are positively damning. Remember Thalidomide — the "safe one" as the drug companies comfortingly told us?
Animals are used to test weedkillers, cosmetics, washing powders, bleaches and many other commercial products. Rabbits arc blinded by shampoos. They are used for this purpose for they have no tears and cry out in agony at the experiments. They are used by the hundreds weekly and treated like disposable nappies. Dogs are smoked to death, forcefed alcohol in locked cages. This is done time and time again, to prove what? Solely that alcohol and smoke will one day do the same to us.
How many Christians are aware that every six seconds an animal is dying in agony in a vivisection laboratory in the cause of making a few people very rich indeed and for no other reason at all?
But my concern is also for the thousands of people (in the main young people) who are hurt deeply at the cries of those tortured creatures and who are unable to recognise a loving God in all this. This is where the Church comes in. Unfortunately it has been the experience of very many of them and older folk also of harsh and indifferent treatment from their
church irrespective of denomination.
Many of them who have devoted themselves to bringing this torture to an end have met with open, sometimes violent hostility. Hundreds of people on the walk last Sunday told me of this and I could have wept. Imagine the encouragement it gave them of having a Church representative present.
God created all creatures out of the same love with which he loves us and expects us to treat them with dignity, kindness and love. Yes. we must care for children; yes, we must help the Third World all we possibly can, but does that mean in caring about one we must neglect another? Sr Francis Talacre Abbey, North Wales, VERY many thanks to the Catholic Herald for the item in Charterhouse Chronicle on animal liberation.
Gerard Noel reminded us that Sunday, April 24 was World Day for Laboratory Animals, surely a matter for deep disquiet. There is abundant and properly documented evidence that in the name of scientific research truly horrific experiments are carried out, often without anaesthetic, involving extreme pain, suffering and cruelty.
In this connection it was wonderful to read (The Tablet 23/4/83) that Cardinal Joseph Hdffner, Archbishop of Cologne, has repudiated the view that "scientists' interests and views are the sole arbiter in the area of animal experimentation".
He urges stricter control and considerable limitation of such experiments and notes the use of chemicals in the cosmetics industry in particular "cannot be justified". There is a growing body of responsible medical opinion which declares that as good and better results can be obtained by other methods and without using animals.
Let us respond to Sr Francis' request for prayer for her work for animal welfare in the Abbey at Pustatyn. Perhaps we might also remember the efforts of other Animal Societies throughout the world often struggling, with very limited funds and under much difficulty, to alleviate by education and practical aid the sufferings of the animal kingdom. My fond hope in that one day, such prayer might sometimes find a place in our Bidding Petitions at Mass.
Meanwhile, as John Ebden used to say in his delightful radio broadcasts, "If you have been, thanks for listening".
Margaret E Moloney