March - April

Letters To The Editor

FAITH Magazine March-April 2004

A New Evangelisation

Dear Fr Editor,
I hesitate to criticise when there is so much that is good in Faith magazine, but I shall offer these thoughts anyway, for what they are worth. Your January editorial discussed the fact that John Paul II's ideas have not been readily diffused through the Church. Well done for summarising the scope of John Paul II's teaching; this was a helpful exercise, and one which...

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

FAITH Magazine March-April 2004

John Cahill on an enthusiastic and thorough explanation of Confession; Robert Wilde finds God in the desert of the heart, mind and world; Suzanne Stevenson on...

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Notes From Across The Atlantic

Notes From Across The Atlantic

Anti-Americanism Cont'd

“The often extravagant ravings of anti-American hatred, the media imputations—sometimes the product of incompetence, sometimes of mythomania—the...

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Cutting Edge - A Monthly Review Of Scientific News

Cutting Edge - A Monthly Review Of Scientific News

FAITH Magazine March-April 2004

The Beatified Scientist

An important part of combating the myth of the opposition of faith and science is a proper historical appreciation of the irreplaceable...

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Animal Rights: Another Perspective

A Question Of Human Dignity

I applaud James Legge for directing attention towards questions to do with the relationship between animals and man (Faith, January/February 2004). They are, as he says,...

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A Meditation For Easter

The New Life of Spring

Easter is a joyful time. A time for celebration. Spring is in the air. Birds are chirping. Local grasslands are carpeted by daffodils. Days are lighter longer. Our...

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Rescuing The Theology Of History

Introduction: The Catholic Faith in the Lord of History

The Catholic commitment to the theology of history has its foundation in the solemnly defined historicity of the Church’s Eucharistic...

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The Passion And Death Of Jesus In John's Gospel

The Continuity Of Divine Life And Love

St. John introduces his account of the passion and death of Jesus with an explicit statement that the narrative of the death of Jesus that follows is a...

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Sunday By Sunday

FAITH Magazine March-April 2004

Our regular guide to the Word of God in the Sunday Liturgy


07.03.04 Lk 9, 28-36

Mountains were places associated with divinity. Mysterious and...

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  • Letters To The Editor

    FAITH Magazine March-April 2004

    A New Evangelisation

    Dear Fr Editor,
    I hesitate to criticise when there is so much that is good in Faith magazine, but I shall offer these thoughts anyway, for what they are worth. Your January editorial discussed the fact that John Paul II's ideas have not been readily diffused through the Church. Well done for summarising the scope of John Paul II's teaching; this was a helpful exercise, and one which reminds us all how much the Pope has achieved. However, there was a very serious omission made in neglecting to include the Pope's catecheses which have been collected and published as The Theology of the Body. This has been one of his most important achievements; it certainly represents the summit of his personal, pre-papal thought. This teaching tackles head on the root cause of the popular spread of dissent against papalauthority, which is the confusion over sexual morality in the wake of Humanae Vitae.

    Humanae Vitae has become the touchstone of orthodoxy within the modern Church; those who reject it inevitably end up rejecting the teaching authority of the Church on not just sexual matters, but on morality in general, and often on matters of faith also. In Theology of the Body, the Pope has created a Trinitarian anthropology, a positive, aspirational way of looking at matters concerning inter-personal and particularly sexual relationships, instead of the cynical and commercialised perspective offered by today's world. Since the vast majority of people will enter into some form of sexual relationship, and since the wrong sort of relationship leads so many Catholics to part company with the Church, for these reasons I believe that the fresh approach offered by John Paul II on thesematters is far more important for the New Evangelisation than the reconciliation between faith and science offered by the Faith movement - though I do not deny the importance of this also.

    The Church's "weird" ideas about sex are far more of a scandal to the modern mind than her attitude to evolution or to science; sadly, most people have more interest sex than in scientific matters (hence "Sex and the City" and not "Evolution and the City"). If we can work out and diffuse widely a convincing and positive apologetic for Catholic sexual ethics, then we will have won half the battle for the modern mind. There are millions of "walking wounded", victims of permissive approaches to sexual morality, who are aching to be told the truth about human love in the divine plan, and who will find healing and happiness through it. This, I feel must be our priority; if we don't act now, there simply won't be a society in the Western world left to evangelise - as its bedrock, marriage andthe family, will have been destroyed. Yours faithfully,

    Richard Brown
    Family Publications
    King Street

    The Editor Replies:
    Richard Brown’s comments are sincerely and constructively made. They may also represent the views of a number of our friends in what we call ‘neo-orthodox’ circles. With equal sincerity, and motivated by the same sense of pastoral pain, we would ask him and others of like mind to ponder what we say here by way of editorial reply.

    It is quite true that the immediate crisis of our times is characterised by devastating sexual chaos. Faith Movement has never shied away from addressing that crisis. Actually, for many decades we were the only ones in the field offering a reasoned and attractive formation to the young on these issues. So naturally we welcome the Holy Father’s teaching in this crucial area.
    However, the modern world’s revolt against Christ and his Church over sexual teaching has been so successful precisely because of the more fundamental rejection of the entire truth and credibility of Christianity in the first place. This is why the Holy Father himself recognises that any adequate answer to the moral chaos must be rooted in a new anthropology – that is to say, in a coherent vision of Man’s place in creation and of our relationship to God.

    Obviously this must be grounded in what we now know about the reality of the material cosmos. Otherwise we will just be talking a private language, one which the world will go on regarding as an elegant fantasy. Without connecting our preaching to these new facts of life, we will not convince minds or capture the hearts of today’s sophisticated and paganised youth.
    It is just not true to say that the philosophy of science has no great impact on the faith and morals of the young. Even the most barbaric yobs on our spiritually blighted housing estates will tell you that God has been ‘disproved’ by science, before they swagger off chanting the lyrics to Bad Touch by the rap group The Bloodhound Gang:

    “You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals,
    So let's do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel”.

    Right there you have the direct link between science, religion and ‘Sex in the City’! If you think that matter in formless and directionless evolution is all that exists, then you will see no reason to accept old fashioned religious certainties in doctrine or in morals. And if you think that human beings are just animals with unbridled physical passions, then you will behave accordingly.
    In fact, the animals do not ‘do it’ without restraint on the Discovery Channel, because nature is fraught with control and direction. The Wisdom and Charity of God frames everything as its Law and its order. But in order to show this, we must be able to demonstrate that God is a certainty from the evidence of creation. We must also be able to show that the human body, with its energies and passions, is integrated into “covenantal relationship” with God through the spiritual soul, which does not evolve like matter.

    In short, what we urgently need is a new and clear philosophy of the relationship between matter and spirit. Only through such a framework can we lead the enquiring soul to grasp the length and the breadth, the height and the depth of the vision of Man in Christ. These are not just academic concerns. They can be argued at sophisticated or at basic pastoral level, but argued and taught they must be, if we are to win back our lost generations for Christ.

    At Faith events we continue to address basic apologetics, as well as catechetical doctrine and all these challenging moral, personal, and spiritual issues as an organic whole. Experience convinces us that this remains the best way ahead.

    Dear Fr. Editor,
    As we know the picture in all of Europe is a slow and disappointing diminution of the numbers of Catholics who practice their faith and that Europe is now a mission territory in which less that 10\% of Christians practice their faith. To us who cannot imagine life without the Mass, Church, the Sacraments and prayer, the large scale apostasy in Europe is quite difficult to comprehend. I often wonder “Whatever happened to the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council “ ? The opening address to Vatican II by Blessed Pope John XXIII has this key message: “ . In fact, by bringing herself up to date where required and by the wise organisation of mutual cooperation the Church will make men, families and peoples turn their minds to heavenly things…...Nowadays….the Church…. considers that she meetsthe needs of the day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching. ” This was a splendid opening address, delivered forty years ago, and it said nothing about changes to the Liturgy, nor anything about a review of the priestly and religious life. This address was concerned mostly with the need to set about finding new words to convince the peoples of the world of the importance and validity of the Gospel Message in the twentieth century and that the Church should be a catalyst for peace and unity among the whole human race.
    Looking back to the period 1965 – 1985 I cannot recall that the Catholic Church in England made much attempt to demonstrate the validity of the Church’s teaching. The only attempts I remember to demonstrate that our Catholic Faith is relevant to modern life have been in the Encyclical Letters of the Popes and they have a very small readership. Could it be, I wondered, that one among the many causes of the quite amazing apostasy of Europeans from their Catholic Faith is a result of the failure of the Fathers at Second Vatican Council to find those ‘modern words to demonstrate the validity of her teaching’? This thought prompted me to read ‘Gaudium et Spes’ which it seemed might expound the true purpose for which Blessed John XXIII called Vatican II. Gaudium et Spes is an excellent documentwhich has over 35,000 words in which 93 topics are discussed and there were plenty of words which might make people turn their minds to heavenly things. The 93 topics attempt to deal with everything which Christian people in 1965 might have found worrying and each topic sets out the Christian message which their spiritual leaders might have felt the need to explain. It seems to be a little out of date, because so much has changed in both world politics and society since 1965 but even so I found it to be a substantial document which probably deserves to be better known. Once the Second Vatican Council was over most of the Catholic clergy must have felt that the changes were truly modernising the Old (and out-of-date) Church of the Council of Trent and that they would bring to the Faith anew lease of life. Because this did not happen, and in Europe there has been this disappointing abandonment of Christianity, it is natural to have doubts about whether the Second Vatican Council’s intentions “ to demonstrate the validity of the Catholic Church’s teaching “ were properly implemented.
    These thoughts reminded me of Dr. Eamon Duffy’s book The Stripping of the Altars which is a study of the religious changes in England at the Reformation. Dr. Duffy reaches the conclusion that the pre- Reformation Catholic Church in England, in spite of many grievous abuses, was in vigorous good health and that there was very little popular desire among the people for the Protestant changes to their religion. Prof. Duffy presents firm evidence that the Reformation in England had to be pushed through with political effort and often against great local resistance by means of force, using guns, swords and the execution of the most recalcitrant. It appears from Dr. Duffy’s research that more people died resisting the Reformation in England than has been previously recognised. The criticism ofthe Protestant Reformation has always been that it was revolutionary and that, although changes were needed, these necessary changes were rushed through impatiently without giving thought or time for the Holy Spirit to guide them. Is it not true to say that the changes to religious practice in the Roman Catholic Church following Vatican II might also be said to have been pushed through too hastily and to be ‘in the Protestant mould’. One obvious point in this regard is that, in the post Vatican II enthusiasm for change, many traditional religious practices were discouraged which have subsequently needed to be revived, often as a result of the leadership of the present Pope. These are the same religious practices mentioned in the Ecclesia in Europa: Eucharistic Adoration, Confession andpraying the Rosary and the very ones removed by the Protestants at the Reformation.

    The list of changes, which Dr. Duffy points out in his book were introduced by the English Protestants at the Reformation, and which led to the execution of so many holy men and women who died as Roman Catholic martyrs in England, is both shocking and interesting. So many of the items became the most noticeable changes introduced by the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council that it might almost seem that our martyr ancestors died in vain; the stone altar had become a wooden table set ‘in the middle of the people’, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the annual Corpus Christi celebrations were abandoned, Confession was discouraged in some subtle way, few therefore came to confession and the weekly three to four hours on a Friday & Saturday were soon reduced to one hour orless, many priests objected to the saying of the Rosary, Latin gave way to English, the Sacrificing Priest was changed to a ‘President of the Assembly’ , fasting was abandoned as an out of date practice, the intense silence and prayer which was the special mark of a Catholic church changed to a place where the ‘community’ met together and ‘chatted’ about their personal affairs, churches were often locked during the week because no one came to pray anymore, people no longer “ bowed their knee to Jesus”…and there was much more .. to recall once more the opening address of Blessed Pope John XXIII to Vatican II – unfortunately….the people turned their minds away from heavenly things!

    There were many good things from Vatican II such as the message that our religion should pervade every moment of our lives and the importance of knowing the Bible and the spirit of toleration. However, did we not lose that reverence and solemnity which is a part of our ‘contact with God’ in his holy temple, because this was such a strong feeling in Catholic Churches in the past and in its place mankind and his activities were suddenly made to seem more important and therefore the messages of Vatican II fell on stony ground. This loss of the ‘presence of God’ was surely followed by a general loss of the sense of sin, so that people abandoned confession and subsequently Mass. With few people coming to confession it was inevitable that people abandoned Holy Hours & Benediction and thusthe ‘love of God grew cold’. The candles are once more alight before the images, the Rosary is being prayed and here and there Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has been revived. We are still waiting for the long queues for confession which will mean the people have turned their hearts and minds to heavenly things but will anyone begin to demonstrate the validity of the Church’s teaching? Yours faithfully,

    Joanna Barrett
    Lynwood Drive


    Embryonic Questions

    Dear Fr Editor,
    Although recently retired I have worked as a doctor in Sexually Transmitted Disease since 1976 and held a University Senior Lectureship in Human Anatomy and Embryology for 20 years. This rather unusual combination prompts me to commend your excellent editorial “The Debate About Homosexuality” and to comment on Moira Shea’s article “To Use Or Not to Use? Embryonic Questions.” The Church’s teaching on the meaning and purpose of human sexuality is central to your editorial and relevant to the other contribution.

    Although you deal with the issue of homosexuality from a much wider perspective you logically conclude that, if it is morally permissible, which it is not, to artificially separate the procreative and unitive functions of sexual intercourse by the use of contraception, then all other modes of sexual congress are morally permissible if discerned as being an expression of love between two individuals whatever their sex.

    Moira Shea’s contribution presents a lengthy but confused discussion of human embryology from which she concludes that “If science provides sound evidence that biologically human life does not become present until some time later than conception (she suggests the end of the embryonic period, an interval of eight weeks after fertilisation) recognition of that fact …would possibly open the door to considering the limited use of embryonic stem cells which have been artificially created specifically for therapeutic purposes”. It is difficult to believe that she has seriously considered the implications of this statement.

    Whether an intentional omission or not she does not discuss the means by which the embryos, to be used as a source of stem cells, are to be generated apart from a passing reference to cloning which is another issue both morally and scientifically. The main thrust of her argument is to distinguish between a human embryo conceived by sexual intercourse and one created in the laboratory by in-vitro fertilisation. The use of in-vitro fertilisation in assisted reproduction effectively separates the procreative and unitive functions of human sexuality and is incompatible with Church teaching. This letter is not an appropriate vehicle to describe the means by which in-vitro fertilisation is achieved but suffice to say they involve an abuse of human sexuality. Nevertheless Moira Shea proposesthat this is a morally permissible means of generating human embryos for research and subsequent therapeutic use.

    The human embryo, brought into being as a unique individual by either internal or external fertilisation, possesses the innate capacity to initiate, sustain, direct and control his or her subsequent development. This capacity is self-evident during the pre-implantation period of embryogenesis, which extends to the sixth day after fertilisation. During the following six days the embryo, conceived after sexual intercourse, establishes the intimate vascular relationship with the mother necessary for survival and continued development. The vast majority of in-vitro fertilised human embryos, although possessing the same innate capacity as internally fertilised embryos, fail to implant when transferred to the mother.

    There are no developments in modern science or technology that challenge these facts and the available evidence indicates that the various claims made to justify human embryo experimentation have not been realised. Pre-implantation diagnosis of certain genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in some at-risk couples has generated a desire for external fertilisation with the subsequent discard of potentially affected embryos. This, like pre-natal diagnosis, is eugenics in practice.

    To suggest that human embryos be brought into being by external fertilisation and subsequently destroyed for the as yet unproven benefit of other individuals is unnecessarily provocative since there is already ample evidence of the therapeutic benefit of adult and umbilical cord stem cells in the treatment of disease. Yours faithfully,

    John M McLean BSc MD
    St Brannocks Road

    Moira Shea Replies

    Dear Father Editor,
    Concern that my article “To Use or Not to Use? Embryonic Questions” (Faith, Nov/Dec 2003) contradicts the Church’s teaching was raised by three of your correspondents in Letters to the Editor (Faith Jan-Feb 04).

    Kurt Barragan refers to the teaching in the Catechism that “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception” (2270), and quotes from the Holy Father’s more recent reaffirmation of this moral stand. But the question I raised was, bearing in mind that for lack of evidence to the contrary the Church cannot do other than hold that a new human life begins at conception (although it is not de fide) and must be respected accordingly, and bearing in mind too that the Church also holds that “the human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual” (CCC 362), what is the situation if science now provides sound evidence that biologically human life begins at some time later than conception? – is genetic potentially at conceptionsufficient corporeity for ensoulment?

    Matthew Ward points out that our present Holy Father has constantly taught that it is “gravely wrong and sinful” to separate the unitive and the procreative aspects of sex and therefore “the creation of embryos outside the union of husband and wife (whether for IVF or research) is wrong, isolating, as it does, the procreative aspect of that union.” Does this rule out using embryonic stem cells for medical purposes out of love for those whose diseases could be cured or relieved, provided, as I also wrote, there is no alternative such as adult stem cells, and provided also that these cells have no potentiality for developing further? It is as I noted in introducing the subject, a big “if” – possibly it is an “if” too far, but I feel it needs airing, and as your third correspondent JosephBailey writes, we need to provide a reason in the secular world for the Church’s stand.
    The difficulties Joseph Bailey finds with my article relate to the human soul. He believes that the embryo is a human being because it is “the product of human parents” and to doubt the presence of soul “makes the embryo into some sort of intermediate or transitional state of life; at conception it is the “material potential, which also encodes for a brain beyond the control of Nature, that requires the infusion of the human soul”.

    But the Church teaches that “every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents” (CCC 366); not, therefore, “infused” by God because the material potential “requires” it. With this teaching in mind there seems no reason why the implications should not be considered should science provide sound evidence that biologically human life begins later than conception. Yours faithfully,

    Moira Shea

    Bishop Galeone and Marriage

    Dear Fr. Editor,
    What a pleasure to read Bishop Galeone’s excellent article (Faith Nov/Dec 2003) on the damage done to marriage and society by artificial contraception and his plans to courageously teach Catholic Sexual morality in his diocese – after years of timid silence. Such a programme as he has in mind has been running in some dioceses in Italy (e.g. Spoleto-Norcia) for many years, and NFP is taught there properly by committed Catholic doctors and their spouses, in spite of which Italy still has the lowest birth rate in Europe and broken marriages are a serious problem there too. Unfortunately, it would appear that the increasingly common breakdown of marriage among Catholics may not be halted and reversed by the bishop’s excellent and important plans for the unashamed teaching of Catholic sexualmorality.

    The beautiful Catholic teaching on marriage has difficulty making any impression on couples where one or both spouses do not practice their faith or where one of the spouses is not a Catholic. The ten minute Sunday sermon cannot compete with the media, even for those among the 10 \% of European Catholics who happen to be present. The only effective influence for stability and patience in marriage today is probably the witness of parents, relatives and other Catholics, who preach by their example the validity of those Christian virtues which are read out at so many weddings from Chapter 13 of St. Paul to the Corinthians. When human passions are aroused St. Paul’s sentiments go straight out of the window and unless Christians have the ‘properly formed consciences’ mentioned by Bishop Galeonethere is little chance of St. Paul coming back in through the door to put right the damage.

    Unfortunately I fear that every broken Catholic marriage is yet another witness against the validity of our Catholic faith and its teaching about marriage; each break-up may often spur two other discontented Catholic couples to break-up in the same way. The use of contraception is one among many causes which break-up marriage, but the root cause of the failures among Christian marriage in our times must surely be the successful promotion in our society of passion, prejudice and selfishness which have overwhelmed the foundations of Christianity. In a letter from St. Francis Xavier we read:“If only there were someone to train them ( Chinese) in the principles of Christianity I am sure that they would become very good Christians.” I fear that we still need that ‘someone’ to do the trainingtoday. I once heard of a parish priest whose bishop told him to stop speaking against abortion because guilty people were being upset. How did such a spirit of timidity enter into the Church which has always been a sign of contradiction? Does such timidity permit the devil to take control?

    Full marks to Bishop Galeone and his courage and may God bless his work but, because the love of God has grown cold and the people do not have ‘properly formed consciences’, his programme is only a first small step. It is never too late to put right the faults and cowardice of the past but to increase the number of good Christian witnesses to combat the bad looks like a challenging project. Yours faithfully,

    Philip Audley-Charles
    York Way,
    London, N7

    The Debate About Homosexuality

    Dear Fr Editor,
    I found your editorial on Homosexuality (Faith Nov/Dec 2003) a very strange mélange of profound truths and complete non sequiturs! Whilst all men suffer from the sin of Adam and therefore must constantly struggle with temptation and sin, clearly not all temptations are created equal. There is a world of difference between the man who is tempted to bed his neighbour’s wife and the man who is tempted to bed his neighbour’s dog. The former is healthy yet sinful (if deliberately entertained), the latter is unquestionably pathological.

    The issue is whether we should encourage men with deeply pathological disorders, especially pathological disorders with grave moral implications, to enter the seminary. If we answer "Yes", as you apparently do, why not open our seminaries to men with strong paedophile inclinations, or even those struggling with homicidal temptations? If not, why not? Why and where do you draw the line? Is it merely where the lines of pathology and political correctness currently just happen to intersect?

    Surely no one who is not a few slates short of a full roof would knowingly employ a kleptomaniac as a checkout assistant, a drug addict as a chemist or a dipsomaniac as a barman! To do so on the grounds that God loves them in spite of their personal difficulties and "we are all sinners", is to reduce the faith to no more than a fuzzy feel-good religiosity.

    There is also the very serious issue of the Church’s constant teaching concerning avoiding the occasion of sin. To put a man who has to struggle constantly with serious same-sex attraction in a seminary is the equivalent of suggesting that a normal healthy heterosexual young seminarian should spend his vocation helping out in changing rooms of a group of young chorus girls. The same censor must also be applied to the so-called, "close supportive loving friendships" of homosexuals. This shibboleth is the sort of pompous high camp so beloved of Liberals and Modernists.

    Celibacy is also problematic in the context of a man whose sexual temptations and fantasies are pathologically orientated towards his own sex. Celibacy is not merely avoiding sexual sin, we are all called to do that, priest, laymen, married or single. Celibacy is the surrendering of a great good (marriage, family, children) for the sake of the Kingdom. In what sense can a homosexual, who would not want marriage if it was offered to him on a plate, be said to be making a sacrifice of this good for the sake of the Kingdom? Yours faithfully,

    Graham Moorhouse,
    Shepherds Lane,
    Dartford, Kent,

    Dear Sir
    Your editorial on Homosexuality was interesting. I have three points:

    You say that homosexuality is not an “orientation” and talk about “a phase” and “corruption”. The Catechism calls it a “condition” and while for some it can certainly be a phase and perhaps others are corrupted, though I have never met any, most of the 40 or more homosexual men I know would say they have known since they were, say, 3 ½ that they were in some way, as the Spanish say, “diferente”, without of course until much later knowing what the difference was. I sometimes wonder how many homosexual laymen priests know and whether they do not merely come across the depraved or those uneasy with themselves. Again most homosexuals I know are perfectly relaxed and happy, though it is certainly difficult to preach too many of them because of what they perceive as the Church’s antipatheticattitude.

    The Church and the gay lobby seem to share a sentiment that the only basis for a deep and lasting emotional relationship is sexual activity. Again, with a number of long term couples I know, as I dare say also with heterosexual couples, that is definitely not the case. The original impetus to the relation may have been sexual attraction, but even at the start they may have been barely, if at all, acted out physically. Most homosexual men I know do not want, see clearly that there is no such thing as, homosexual marriage, but they do think that their stable relationships should be recognised in legal provisions for inheritance, pensions, insurance, mortgages etc. The Church’s apparent hesitancy about these tends frankly to weaken rather than strengthen the position on homosexual“marriage”.

    (This is hardly for me to say) The Church’s perceived attitude on homosexuality makes honesty very difficult for homosexual priests. In one community of Catholic monks, with which I am well aquainted, there appears to me that there are members who are (to use a strong word) terrified to admit to their homosexuality, even perhaps to themselves, while any admission of homosexuality by others is made behind closed doors to close friends and then not in what I should call an open and healthy way. These monks teach boys (with parents) who live in the modern open world, and it does not seem good that boys should be brought up in an atmosphere of equivocation. But all this goes for parish priests too. Yours faithfully,

    David Dell
    Bryanston Place
    London, W1


    Dear Father Editor,
    I do not think that the Catechism is such a “Jewel” (Faith Editorial, Jan/Feb 2004).
    One can find in it a wealth of superfluous passages like that quotation of Dame Julian of Norwich (313); and yet pursue in vain six hundred pages to find the teaching on the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium: it simply isn’t there (unless one wants to read it into the phrase “above all” in 891 and then, led by the footnotes 418-421, consult the Lumen Gentium 25 with the references therein).

    This is worrying because I do not know of a moral doctrine that has been infallibly proposed by the Extraordinary Magisterium. The implication is that we cannot be sure that any is irrevocable; and yet we are supposed to live as if all have been infallibly proposed.

    An excessive volume of details makes it impossible to find out what the authors consider essential and what is merely and embellishment, so that the “local catechisms”, referred to in Fidei Depositum No.3, can be prepared with an ethos which is incompatible with the Catechism; and yet “loyal” to it in what they actually say.
    The “In Brief” statements do not give us a guide. For example, the sole – and restricted in its scope – reference to the Infallibility, in all these statements, is in 2051.
    The body of the article on the Hierarchical Constitution of the Church has to be credited for giving us at least some kind of account of the Infallibility of the Extraordinary Magisterium (891), But, unfortunately, even that account limits the object of infallibility to the matters which are revealed, in the narrow sense of that word: it does not include those matters which are intrinsically connected with it (the secondary object of infallibility).

    The last sentence of 891 is taken from the third paragraph of the Lumen Gentium 25 but omits the phrase “which must be religiously guarded and loyally end courageously expounded” (similar phrase can also be found in the fourth paragraph) with which the corresponding sentence in the Lumen Gentium ends, which phrase has been put in the conciliar text exactly in order not to limit the scope of infallibility to matters revealed in the narrow sense. Yours faithfully,

    Michael Skarpa
    Hawes Road

    Dear Fr. Editor,
    The “Faith” movement’s firm commitment to the theory of evolution puzzles me. I have read Fr. Holloway’s chapter on this subject in the “Catholicism” and might be tempted to go along with it, if there were a scrap of evidence to back up its general drift; but it seems to me to be nothing more than a brilliant display of philosophical arguments to make the theory so impressive that the bedazzled reader tends to forget the little matter of there being no hard material facts to substantiate it.

    There must be few areas of scientific debate where an unqualified and not particularly intelligent layman may wade in and demolish a theory firmly established for 150 years, but evolutionism is one such: there is simply no evidence for it. In fact this is not a debate between faith (creationism) and science (evolutionism), but a debate between two different kinds of faith. St. Paul says “Faith is the evidence of things not seen”. Is this not the position of evolutionists since their “eye hath not seen” one single fossil at an intermediate stage between species?

    Consider the claim that birds evolved from reptiles over millions of years. This means that for most of that vast period there were pathetic highly vulnerable creatures with front limbs that were inadequate to run, swim or fly with. How could such an unfit animal survive predators? The same applies more or less to all “inbetweenies”; they would all become rapidly extinct.
    Think also of the scorn they would have to endure from their peers! The mockery of the hyenas, for example, would be particularly galling: that is, if their excruciating laughter had fully “evolved” by then. Perhaps they could only manage a chuckle at that stage?

    But hey, hang about a bit; I have just had another thought. Supposing the predators were also only half-baked and as inefficient as their normal victims. Perhaps in these conditions our lizards and crocodiles would have an outside chance of eventually soaring up into the air and singing gloriously like larks. But this is a bit hard on the imagination. I wish I had a bigger brain so as to be able to figure it all out.

    Imagine an environment where all the creatures were at an intermediate stage between one animal and the next one up the scale. What a bizarre spectacle! And don’t forget the plants. What would they look like? This is the stuff of a certain literary genre of which Darwin was the first outstanding exponent – science fiction.

    A few more questions from this slow witted amateur: Why were some animals content to remain in a lowly state while others were able to follow an upwardly mobile urge? Why is demonstrable evolution not happening today and again, why oh why are there absolutely no “inbetweeny” fossils, but only perfected species with sufficient defensive equipment to look after themselves?
    I will stop now. My dog is looking at me in a most speculative fashion. I think he is getting ideas above his station. As for next door’s cat, she has always looked down on me from the top of her wall with serene contempt as if she knew something I do not. I know that these impressions are, like the evolutionary hypothesis, completely unfounded, but they can be very unsettling nevertheless. Yours faithfully,

    Jim Allen
    Seymour Drive

    Dear Fr. Editor,
    I was saddened to read in the “News Roundup” section of the Jan-Feb magazine the snide little piece entitled “Welcome for the New Archbishop”.

    If the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not block any terna for the new Archbishop of Southwark, how does the writer know? If she or he knows someone in that particular dicastery who is leaking such confidential information then the people working for it need to be more carefully scrutinised and disciplined.

    The clear implication that Bishop Crispian Hollis is unorthodox is as outrageous as the comment that the phrase “salvation of souls” is “terminology long unheard in these isles” is absurd.
    If the Faith movement want to be relegated to the fringe of what is going on in the Church in these islands rather than in the vanguard of authentic and respected reform, keep on publishing the views of the author of “News Roundup”. Yours faithfully,

    Fr. David Grant
    St Paulinus Presbytery
    Monkton Road