Many read your paper in toe belief that its basic policy is to report fairly upon events affecting matters of Faith and to provide comment both editorially and through articles upon significant aspects of the Catholic life in particular and Christianity in general — all in the context of contemporary society. Such readers could not fail to be struck by the material and pragmatic political note of Norman St John-Stevas's article "Tories are back in business" (October 17).
Sometimes stimulating, sometimes provocative, on this occasion the column seemed either etrangely naive or blatantly propagandist, a platform for the propagation of the rory "gospel according to Norman apropos Margaret," expecially to one such as the writer who is politically neither reactionary Right nor fanatical Left.
Mr St John-Stevas is an honest and fearless advocate through the media of radio and TV on such compelling issues as abortion and education. Unfortunately he can never forget that politically he is Conservative.
He should realise that many Christians feel that the unremitting vendetta of the two-party system of itself has largely contributed to the present ills of the country — robbed as it has been of the voice of a vast number of moderates. Others may view with jaundiced eye the eulogies accorded to Mrs Thatcher and of her supposed winning over of the hearts and minds of the Party at Blackpool. It will be remembered that Tory expediency has alweqs required that a dagger be at hand to plunge into the heart of its leaders when necessary.
Even the great Churchill was cast Mto the wilderness for years before the last war, while in recent years one has only to remember the fate of Lord Avon, Sir Alec DouglasHome and latterly Ted Heath (and perhaps we badly need a "coalitionist" today more than ever).
Perhaps Mr St John-Stevas may more profitably answer two questions much in the minds of Catholics.
First, what are Mrs Thatcher's views on the abortion issue and are they acceptable to him as a Catholic?
Second, in view of her passing reference to Northern Ireland (in which she reiterated the preservation of the United Kingdom) does she envisage the maintenance of that political anachronism in view of the intransigence of the Unionists with regard to power sharing, and if so, how does she propose to satisfy the rights and aspirations of half-a-million Catholics within the Province?
A. Shackleton 'I nnisf see,' Scotland Lane, Horsforth, Leeds. I always find Norman St JohnSieves' aritten and spoken utterances fascinating and provacative, but his column of October 24 is disappointing in that he makes no practical suggestion foi our future salvation.
It is alt very well to say that Archbishop Coggari's message should be related to the whole of our industrial, commercial and economic life. But how?
Tor many years the Established Church in Britain was dubbed "The Tory Party at prayer" facetious perhaps, but with more than a grail. of truth. No woeder that for half a century public school Christianity has not got across the factory floor and into industrial life.
Why doesn't Norman St JohnStevas mention worker priests? Britain today is one of the most pagan and materialistic nations in Europe, Fast or West. We must have faith and works. People without a sense of identity. find it hard to have eit her.
True Christianity recognises that men's true spiritual and human identity is entirely separate from worldly possessions and material success. This is the message priests should take to all people -in Britain today.
Derek Abbott Victoria House, Rodmersham Green, Sit tingbourne.