Last updated 17 August 2012
In addition to the letters published in
this week’s issue of the The Tablet you can find more correspondence here, available free.
When will priestly celibacy rules change?
Most contributors to The Tablet, commenting on the news item that Fr John McDade SJ has asked to be laicised - allegedly to marry (The Tablet 14 July), seem sceptical that the celibacy rules will be changed. At present you can be ordained a Roman Catholic priest if you are a baptised male Catholic with the required moral and doctrinal qualities. You could be even married if you belong to an Eastern rite Catholic Church or if you are an ex-Anglican married priest or a Roman Catholic whose wife is dead.
Will the celibacy rules change? Or rather will they change again and revert to what they were in apostolic times and for many centuries after that? How sure is the Church that the present celibacy rules have to continue to be for ever the way they are now? Do "the signs of the times" invoked by Pope John XXIII point that way? Those from the grass roots of the Church including clergy and to whom the Holy Spirit has access need to be listened to respectfully and with an open mind, not silenced by the diktat of authority. How can we dismiss outright the view of those who say that when faced with a clear alternative, Jesus himself chose a married man to be the first pope? Do the choices that the Lord made count for nothing? The great pity is that in the meantime the people of God remain tragically deprived of much of the priestly ministry they need and have a right to.Alfred Agius, Hounslow, London
Lobby for economic justice
Peter Selby addressed the question - five years into the past crash - of whether your readers are ready to take action (The Tablet, 4 August)?
His conclusion: Supporting actions that will rein in the debt explosion and restore to the people and their representatives control over the instruments of exchange is the aim.
The Christian Council for Monetary Justice, not well equipped for action but active in debating possibilities, has advocated ending usury for the UK - and fractional reserve banking - by getting the Bank of England to take away from commercial banks the creation of most of the money in use. This can be achieved in a single step when the government instructs the Bank to issue, free of interest, all the money needed for the real economy as repayable debt. Any willing existing agency, such as high street banks, mortgage lenders, or credit unions, could administer the distribution of this interest-free credit for an administrative fee.
The real economy of goods and services, in this context, is seen to include finance for public infrastructure, industry and business (but not for financial services), for residential property purchase and for affordable short term credit for consumables. What are the possibilities for action? A realistic first step would be an attempt to get a wider public involved through such energetic agencies as www.38degrees.org.uk or www.avaaz.org.
Let all of us pester them, and our elected representatives, to put this action high on the agenda.Canon Peter Challen, on behalf of The Christian Council For Monetary Justice, London SE14
Texts are 'spirit' of Vatican II
I wonder what this "spirit of Vatican II" is that Robin Houghton (The Tablet, 4th August) writes about?
To me the spirit of Vatican II is found in the Council texts. Not in some "Will-o'-the-wisp" intangible concept. Having read some of the Council documents, I do not recognise the spin placed on the Council by some who argue that accepting the teachings of the Church is optional. The Holy Spirit leads through and is revealed by the texts of the council documents. For instance: to me, the Spirit of Vatican II informs me that a Christian's conscience is to be formed within the framework of church teachings. The same Spirit tells me that it is the Holy Father and those bishops in communion with him that hold the authoritative teaching authority in the Church. These notions are crystal clear in the texts of the council documents and it is there that we find the living and breathing Holy Spirit!
Mr Houghton, in chiding Fr Sean Thornton to read the council documents, implicitly accepts my believe that the Sprit of Vatican II is found in the texts - or have I missed something? Or is the Spirit of Vatican II a mask for disobedience against the Church within which the Holy Spirit is enshrined as part of the Holy Trinity? Which surely is a sin against the Holy Spirit.Christopher Keeffe, West Harrow, Middlesex
Don't deny women's ability to think
Archbishop Muller's indication that the CDF could "broaden the degree of latitude allowed to Catholics, theologians in particular but also priests and bishops, to debate some of the vexed questions which arise at the interface of faith and modern society... " seems to be good news and is deserving of a one-handed round of applause. At last mother church seems to show signs of realising what any parent or teacher knows already - that forbidding the discussion of an issue is the best way to stimulate it, whilst also guaranteeing that any debate that does take place is liable to be based on limited premises, so remaining ill-informed, counter-productive, stressful and combative rather than constructive.
Yet, look at the way in which the intellectual work of the "Green Sisters" is denigrated, if not actually condemned. The magisterial church simply assumes that any "new approaches" in theology, parallel to traditional ones, will never meet even if deductively extended to infinity. The truth is, to follow my geometric analogy, that they lie in new and different planes to traditional constructive/deductive theology precisely because they have different starting points. Consequently, like parallel lines in different planes, they will eventually meet, "at least at infinity", with a consequent star-burst of mutual enrichment.
Why does adopting a modern, stimulating, and rationally acceptable "ecological spirituality" linking spirit, matter, eternity and time, seem to challenge some traditional theologians? Catholic thinkers must be left some intellectual freedom to constructively develop and integrate holistic approaches, badly neglected since Teilhard de Chardin.
So, let us encourage the "Green Sisters" to extend the debate and follow their truth for our mutual benefit. It will be found that there are neither intellectual nor religious heretics lurking out there. Parallel thought-lines in different planes, truth-inspired but ultimately dependent upon the same Divine reality, are destined to meet and blend to the advantage of all. Proclaiming the Gospel, to be effective, must be in context and rationally argued to be effective in modern society. Or do I detect a whiff of machismo among those theologians who still inwardly deny women the ability to think?!Dr David Paterson, Balcombe, West Sussex
Why are we always told that "N O'Phile", the author of the monthly "From the Vineyard" column, is a senior Catholic priest? Would his views on wine be any less worthy of respect if he were a junior priest, or a middle ranking rabbi, or even a postulant adherent of Wicca?John Camp, Great Billing, Northampton
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