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LETTERS


An anti-war Pope In Professor George Weigel’s passionate endorsement of the decision to beatify Pope John Paul II (“Miraculous legacy”, 22 January) there is one striking omission in the assess- ment of the Pope’s teachings, which one would have expected in the reference made to the John Paul’s signal contribution to Catholic Social Teaching: his vigorous teaching about war and peace. Schooled by his experiences in Poland during the Second World War and his early ministry in the Cold War, John Paul greatly hardened Catholic teaching against war. He was building on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes (which as a young bishop he helped to draft) where war is described as a “curse on the human race”. In his encyclical of 1991, Centesimus Annus, the Pope recalled his pas- sionate words of the the previous year aimed at preventing the first Gulf War, “Never again war!” John Paul never lost this deep- rooted need to condemn modern warfare. Perhaps it is not surprising that Weigel over- looks this. For over a decade later, when George W. Bush’s administration was preparing to invade Iraq, he and Michael Novak conducted an unsuccessful rearguard action in Rome to try to stop the Pope – and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – from condemning the war. The Catholic Church today –thanks to John Paul II and the present Holy Father –is much more resolutely opposed to war than distinguished admirers like Professor Weigel are prepared to acknowledge. As we rejoice in the inheri- tance of John Paul II we need to avoid the danger of being selective as we seek to learn from his teaching. (Fr) Ashley Beck Beckenham, Kent


Michael Walsh (“Glow of his shadow”, 22 January) argues that it is a trifle hard for the average Catholic to identify with a pontiff. It is as certain as can be that the soul of Karol Wojtyla is rejoicing in heaven, for he was a holy and heroically virtuous man. However, despite what he himself said about the role- model aspect of saint-making, can we ordinary Catholics really identify with the lives of recently canonised saints, so many of whom seem to be “professional Religious”, living lives beyond the common experience, and for whom holi- ness in the traditional sense was presumably, as it were, part of the job? I feel that so many modern saints have been unrealistic role mod- els for our present day. The Vatican’s attitude to saint-making seems to be a bit like the British honours system –to reward the great and good, while the “real people” are known only to those around them, and to God.


Do we really need saint-making at all? John C. Cotman Balvicar, Oban, Argyll and Bute


16 | THE TABLET | 29 January 2011


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‘John Paul II never lost his deep- rooted need to condemn modern warfare’. Photo: CNS


Lost opportunities I write as a lay Anglican (but Tablet reader of long standing), who has followed the debate about the ordinariate (“A unique moment”, 15 January) with great interest. It has good and not so good features but what is most regrettable, I feel, is that it has done nothing to further and heal relationships between our two Churches. Those crossing the Tiber (to use that very


unfortunate phrase) have, it seems, to go through a kind of divorce procedure, leaving behind the Anglican Church which has nur- tured them, merely taking with them certain aspects of Anglican liturgical practice and cler- ical tradition. There is no option to leave half a foot behind, to help form a link and a growth in the Spirit between our two Churches, which, at least in the Catholic wing of the Anglican Church, are often quite close together. Bear in mind the growing ecumenism at grass-roots level of the last few decades, espe- cially in areas such as the retreat movement, various developments in spirituality, even in monasticism, where denominational issues are frequently simply ignored as far as is possi- ble. If the Catholic Church had taken more time over this issue, they might have come up with a more exciting solution whereby peo- ple minded to take this step could be members (at least for a time) of both Churches. That might have led to some of our church build- ings – including some of the many fine Anglo-Catholic churches around – having a new ecumenical role. An exciting prospect! Roger Doe Cranbrook, Kent


Anger of Irish Catholics You reported (News from Britain and Ireland, 22 January) that comments “were shouted from the floor” at the public meeting held by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and his team in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Anger at the abuse and the way it was handled by Church authorities was expressed openly. However, like the other public meetings held in the dio-


cese of Armagh, the meeting in Cookstown was orderly and courteous, as the cardinal requested. Anger was expressed quite strongly, and the comments quoted were made. However, a wide range of other comments were also made, calling for the voice of the laity to be heard in the Church, particularly women’s voices, a place to be made for laity at all lev- els of our Church, both at the level of ministry and of governance, a complete reform of gov- ernance, to be undertaken, including at the level of the Holy See, and an end to be put to a culture of power and dominance among us clergy, which was seen as one of the main causes both of the abuse and of the silence with which it was responded to by those who had respon- sibility to deal with the revelations brought to their attention. (Fr) Frank Brady SJ Portadown, Co. Armagh


Not so old, but how wise? The reference to an “elderly couple” in your first leader (“Not equal before the law”, 22 January) is puzzling, especially given the pres- ent Government’s eagerness to abolish the fixed retirement age and raise the state pension age for both men and women. The B&B owners in this story (they did not believe that unmar- ried couples should share a bed) are aged 70 and 66; both choose still to work, and to open their house to paying guests, following pub- lic, not private, standards. Discrimination knows no age boundaries. Perhaps referring to an “elderly couple” was a misguided attempt to mitigate their stance by implying that they were of a generation that grew up before civil partnerships? Without the need to spell out specifics, how closely do they ques- tion the habits of married couples sharing a bed at their B&B, whose behaviour may also contravene Christian values and beliefs? Edna Greenhalgh London SW1


When the great bell tolled I am fairly sure I’ve heard that melancholy low C of Cologne Cathedral’s “Bell of St Peter” which sounds only on very special occasions (Notebook, 15 January). On Saturday 19 June 1999, thousands of Jubilee 2000 cam- paigners surrounded G8 world leaders meeting in Cologne to demand the cancella- tion of Third World debt. The biblical jubilee, when debts were cancelled, was marked by the blowing of a horn. Cologne Cathedral did the modern-day equivalent and their bell tolled across the city, including the back street where Columban Justice and Peace members were allocated to form our part of the human chain. The great bell heartened our resolve and made us believe that the millennium could indeed be a special time of jubilee deliverance. Ellen Teague


Columban Justice and Peace, London


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