From the Shadow Secretary of State for Overseas Development Sir, I was saddened to see your story two weeks ago following my launch of the Conservative Party International Development Paper "First things First". You seem to have completely misinterpreted my position; I am sure, inadvertently.
The facts are these:
1 On coming to power, the Conservative Government will refuse point blank to fund any organisation or activity which is involved in coercive abortion.
2 On coming to office I will rigorously scrutinise every funding line in the Department for International Development. Any funding that is currently supporting coercive abortion will be stopped.
3 I will take direct action on any example. with evidence, brought to me of any breach of this policy.
Just before your story appeared, I had written to Clare Short after the horrific pictures of the baby in the gutter in China appeared in our newspapers. urging her to conduct a similar review of all funding lines, which she has refused to do.
Although the issue of abortion in UK politics is a free vote issue, I have always been firmly pro-life. The next Conservative Government International Aid Policy will reflect that.
This is no more and no less than I have said in the past. There has been no U-turn. There will be no U-turn.
I hope this sets the record straight.
Yours faithfully, GARY STREETER House of Commons, London SlA OAA
Where to get Tamezin
From Miss Hilary Schlesinger
Sir, We were delighted to see the mention of Tantezin Magazine in your report (Feb 16) "Teen mags prompt Catholic complaint"
Unfortunately the address given for obtaining copies of the magazine was incorrect. May we ask you to publish the correct address which is
1,Chel sea Embankment London SW3 4LG Tel: 020 8992 4025 Fax: 020 8992 3472 We will also shortly have a website and email address.
Yours faithfully HILARY SCHLESINGER London SW3 4LG
Rails still in danger
From Fr Derek Turnham
Sir, I am writing to draw your attention to two factual inaccuracies in your report "Priest told rails must stay" in The Catholic Herald of 23 February 2001.
The first factual inaccuracy is the headline itself. Canon Michael Ryan the parish priest of St Wilfrid's York was not told that he must retain the communion rails he had applied for permission to remove. The Historic Churches Committee of the Diocese of Middlesbrough in fact "referred the matter back to the applicant with advice." The matter therefore continues under discussion. Your reporter, Josephine Siedlecka, was told this very clearly by Father Joseph Crawford the chairman of the Historic Churches Committee.
The second inaccuracy comes in the last paragraph where you report that 415 parishioners have signed a petition to have the rails retained. This is not the case rather "a petition of 415 names against the move, gathered from across England, Wales and Scotland had been sent to the Historic Churches Committee". The quotation comes from your own earlier report of 26 January 2001.
Yours faithfully, DEREK TURNHAM Communications Officer, Diocese of Middlesbrough.
From Mr Strafford Calderon
Sir, On reading the recent apology in Lamb's Passage for breaking the confidentiality of the Catholic Writers' Guild in a report on 2 February, I was sorry to see there was not also an apology to Mrs Lynette Burrows for describing her in the same report as an "agent of chaos", and for tacitly
siding with homosexual critics
infuriated by her comments on
I was not there to judge her remarks for myself, but this looks like an outbreak of political correctness (not to mention backstabbing) I had not expected to see in this newspaper.
Yours faithfully„ STRATFORD CALDECOTT, Plater College Oxford
Plainsong not rock
From Fr Michael Clifton Sir, Mr Austin Hughes (March 3) speaks of the "spiritual quest evident in so much modern rock music".
Even if this were true (which I doubt) it does not sanction the use of this type of music for Church use. Most rock music and all rap music replies mainly on a heavy beat reminiscent of the sounds of pagan jungle tribes from which this type of music orginates.
Furthermore, ordinary rock music is heavily syncopated (off the beat) to give a swinging effect which is totally alien to any good music. Syncopation is used in classical music but only for special effects. Also, rock musicians bawl out their songs in a totally unmusical way while rap "singers" like the dreadful Eminem are encouraging their listeners towards violence and worse.
Yet so many Churches introduce "rock music" to attract the young. We need to encourage the young towards a better appreciation of proper music. A start has been made in a way in that traditional plainsong is becoming popular in charts.
Meanwhile I am with Ratzinger all the way in this as in everything else he writes.
St Thomas Aquinas Church Richmond Surrey TWIO 7HT
From Mr Henry Broadbent
Sir, Fr Mark Elvins (Feb 23) says there is a "need for something like a charities 'watchdog— to ensure that homelessness charities are involved only in activities that are consistent with their charitable purposes and that they are cost-effective.
As far as I am aware such a body already exists in the form of the Charity Commission. In the updated Statement of Recommended Practice (HMSO : October 2000) it says: "The Charity Commission aims to give the public confidence in the integrity of charity."
Their declared objectives are as follows: "to ensure that charities are able to operate for their proper purposes within an effective legal, accounting and governance framework; to improve
the governance, accountability efficiency and effectiveness of charities ; and to identify and deal with abuse and poor practices."
Yours faithfully HENRY BROADBENT [email protected]
From Mr Michael Davies
Sir, You are to be congratulated on your excellent editorial on Newman (Feb 23). It would have been easy for you to take a politically correct stance and portray the great cardinal as patron of the indifferentism which Cardinal Heenan termed "ecumania", whereas, he explained, "The ultimate aim of ecumenism is the reunion of all Christians under the Vicar of Christ", a sentiment which concurs exactly with the conclusion of the Apologia cited in your editorial.
You also stress correctly that Newman is the greatest English exponent of the power of the Church to establish Truth. In a letter dated 9 August 1879 to Miss Whingates, an Anglican lady, he explained:
"One note of the Church, then, is this clear authoritative teaching. There may be many opinions among its members on points which it does not teach, but not on those points which it teaches as the truth revealed. It teaches and its theologians believe only one and the same doctrine. There must be no differences as to the way of salvation.
"Now can 1 trust my soul to the Church of England? Is it a teaching Church, considering hardly any two adjacent pulpits will proclaim the same doctrine, and that not in minor points, but the way to be saved. This way of salvation is distinctly different in the Low Church, High Church, and Broad Church. Considering without faith we cannot be saved, have I not a right to ask, who in the Church can tell me what saving faith is? Do clergymen even so agree in their belief of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as to give the same sense or attach the same importance to the.... [Athanasian] Creed? or attach the same idea to baptismal regeneration etc. •
"hi consequence who has faith in the Church of England ? Have you ? You can have faith in the word of the Catholic Church. Can you in any other Church ?"
Yours faithfully, M. T. DAVIES, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9AQ
From Mr Arthur Kemp
Sir, I share Mr McLane's concerns about the reception of Holy Communion under both kinds, and I think it stems from a deeper problem, that I call "the mania of ministry". I believe that the reason Holy Communion is nearly always given under both kinds these days is a misguided attempt to justify the use of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Added to this we have "Ministers of the Word", "Ministers of Welcome"...ministers, ministers, ministers!
I fear that we are in danger of forgetting what Mass attendance is all about. For some, it would appear that simply being there is not enough — and that they have to be doing something while they are there — hence all this fanatic and largely unnecessary activity. All that we really need to do at Mass is to focus on the action of Christ taking place on the altar — spiritual activity as opposed to "being busy".
At any time, but particularly during Lent, it would be good to recall how Our Lady behaved at the foot of Calvary which is effectively where we are, when we attend Mass. She didn't rush around "ministering": to people at this critical moment, but rather remained still and silently offered her sufferings, uniting them with Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. I believe if we strove to make our attendance at Mass more "altarcentred than "pew-centred", then the "mania of ministry" and all the resulting problems that go with it, would eventually fade away.
Yours faithfully, ARTHUR KEMP, Richmond, Surrey.
Irritations of Classic FM
From Mr I W Rickard Sir. While I cannot comment on Brian Brindley's strange nocturnal music-listening habits, I commend his listing of some of the most irritating features of Classic FM.
But he omits perhaps the most irritating of all, namely, the sheer flogging to death of the most popular pieces in the station's limited repertoire. I propose a total embargo of at least six months on the follows: Handel's Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks, and Coronation Anthem; Vivaldi's Four Seasons; Mozart's Clarinet and Horn Concertos; Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata; and Bach's Brandenberg Concertos. I could go on. A decent period of silence for these otherwise excellent pieces would allow them to recover from their endless repetition.
BBC Radio 3 remains the world's best classical music station. As Mr Brindley notes, however, some of Radio 3's music is pretty inaccessible.
To get around this, listeners need to equip themselves with a copy of Radio Times, and be prepared to do a little planning. They will then find much of the music of which they have heard fragments on Classic FM, but with neither the repetition nor the incessant chatter.
Yours faithfully, JOHN RICKARD Woking, Surrey