In addition to the letters published in this week’s issue of the The Tablet you can find more correspondence here, available free.
Mark Brolly's news report, "Coleridge tells ‘turbulent' diocese to get in line", (The Tablet, 21 July), regarding the episcopal ordination of Robert McGuckin as bishop of Toowoomba do not match what I, a member of the congregation and a newcomer to Toowoomba, experienced that day.
Archbishop Coleridge, drawing on the Rule of St Benedict, whose feast it was, did speak of the importance of obedience in the life of the Church but that talk of obedience was placed in the context of Bishop McGuckin's motto, "Remain in my love".
Whether or not Archbishop Coleridge intended a reference to Bishop Emeritus Bill Morris's situation, only the archbishop knows, but I would think it unlikely that he would have intended any such criticism in that setting with Bishop Morris present and taking a prominent part in the liturgy. Your article does mention the applause for Bishop Morris; it was long, loud and affectionate. Mark Brolly does not mention the warm applause accorded Bishop Brian Finnigan (an auxiliary in Brisbane) who had administered the diocese since Bishop Bill's departure, nor the ovation received by Bishop McGuckin himself.
The feeling of those who packed the cathedral and met at a social gathering afterwards was not one of having been chided or told "to get in line". The Diocese of Toowoomba will always have a special place in its heart for Bishop Bill Morris and will always wish the events of May 2011 could have been avoided, but the tone of the ordination day was one of welcome to Bp Robert McGuckin, unity, looking forward and gladness at the diocese's again having a bishop of its own.Gerard Hore, Toowoomba, Queensland
Sr Tamsin Geach OP (Letters, 28 July) quotes from the encyclical Humanae Vitae: "It is not licit, even for the gravest of reasons, to do evil so that good may result therefrom." Those now declining numbers of us who were alive at the time of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control know that no one, even the four dissenting theologians on that commission, could demonstrate why contraception was contrary to Natural Law and therefore evil.
At the end of the commission, 16 bishops were added to it and, having heard the evidence submitted, nine voted that contraception should no longer be declared evil, two abstained, one (Cardinal Wojtyla) did not attend, and only the three curial members voted for the status quo.
It is important to note that the curial group throughout Vatican II had formed the minority vote on most of the documents approved by the majority. Is it therefore justifiable to suggest that had the question of the "malice" of contraception been submitted to the whole Council, change in teaching would have been advocated?
Pope Paul VI said of the commission's findings: "The conclusions which they came to the Pope cannot accept; for they are not conclusive in themselves and some of their proposals went much too far away from what the Teaching Church has always said." In other words, his problem was that he could not contradict recent previous papal teaching without admitting this teaching was erroneous.
It was only when married men were allowed to study theology at the beginning of the twentieth century that it was suggested that intercourse had a unitive as well as a procreative purpose in marriage. Pope Pius XII in his 1951 address to midwives said: "Personal values, and the need to respect them, is a subject that for the past 20 years has kept writers busily employed. In many of their elaborate words, the specifically sexual act, too, has a position allotted to it in the married state. The peculiar and deeper meaning of the exercise of the marital right should consist in this (they say): that the bodily union is the expression and actuation of the personal and affective union".
I see this as a near paraphrase of Matthew 19:4-6, where Jesus quotes Genesis: "They two shall be one flesh therefore are they no longer two but one flesh." What Paul VI failed to see was that in admitting that intercourse does indeed have a unitive as well as a procreative meaning Vatican II had admitted as true what Pius XII had tacitly denied - the very teaching of Christ himself - that intercourse makes the couple emotionally no longer two but one.
The relationship of marriage surely remains the same whether a couple should or should not conceive a child. The purpose of contraception is to allow them that freedom to be one flesh whenever the emotional need for that oneness arises. The question I have never seen addressed is: has anyone outside the marriage the right to tell couples they may only be "one flesh" at the restricted times in the month demanded by natural family planning? And this, after the "evil" of contraception could not be demonstrated by any 1960s pontifical experts on birth control?Elizabeth Price, retired Chairman of Movement for a Married Clergy
Daniel McNamara (Letters, 21 July) reminds us that John Paul II's Theology of the Body justifies the teaching office's condemnation of contraception by saying that "the purpose of sex is a physical expression of love and out of such love life is produced".
I venture another point of view. The truth, surely, is that from sexual love life may sometimes be produced. In humans, unlike animals, fulfilment of sexual love does not depend on the fertility of the woman. If it did, it might indeed point to the Creator's intention that its prime purpose was procreation, and contraception would then clearly be thwarting God's purpose.
Nor is this distinction mere pedantry: it goes straight to the heart of the question, "What is the prime purpose of sex in humans?" Since the time of St Augustine, the Church has taught that the answer to that question is procreation. However, something of the Creator is reflected in all creation, most perfectly on this earth in man, and this is true of sex, which is a direct reflection of the Trinity.
Our understanding of the Trinity is that first there is the Father (almighty power) whose perfect self-knowledge (wisdom) lacks nothing of the Father and so is true God of true God, of one being with the Father, whom we call the Son. Father and Son gaze on each other and, recognising perfection, infinitely love each other. This Love (Spirit) they give to each other, a self-gift who binds Father and Son into the triune Godhead. So the Spirit proceeds from Father and Son, but her "primary" source is mutual love.
In reflecting its Trinitarian origin, sexual love can be seen as the primary principle, from which may proceed the child, its secondary fruit. It would appear that this Trinitarian perspective reverses the teaching that procreation is the primary principle of "best" sexual love: it is the secondary principle and love is the first. If correct, this goes to the root of sexual ethics.Christopher Irven, Gillingham, Dorset
Commenting on the roots of the banking crisis, Stephanie Browning is right, of course, we all sin (Letters, 28 July); that is why we have national laws which prohibit, among other things, theft. Even so, some burglars thrive but there are penal consequences if they are caught. The chaos is easy to imagine if Parliament abolished all the laws prohibiting theft. Similar chaos happened because Parliament deregulated lending and rent controls in the 1980s and let this spurious freedom rip for 30 years.
There were no penalties for banks that sold multiple worthless bundles of bad debts to each other until 2008 when they collapsed. Now the poorest citizens are made to pay a health-damaging penalty by Parliament from their already inadequate incomes towards a consequent deficit reduction policy, while the wealthy bankers are effectively untouched. Some "mea culpa" from the MPs and peers on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards when it reports in December will be very welcome; blaming the banks alone will not be acceptable.Revd Paul Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Regarding the court ruling in Germany that infant circumcision went against the human rights of the child (The Tablet, 14 July), the conclusions of your leading article call for a rebuttal. The lives of babies or children of either sex are of no lesser moral worth than the lives of the foetuses which they once were. Their human rights to bodily physical or mental integrity must enjoy priority over the religious or any other rights of those into whose case they are entrusted.
Is it all credible that Almighty God, Supreme Intelligence, would have endowed humans with body parts intended to be arbitrarily cut off or damaged, however well done the surgery, in order that parents and clergy may claim this as evidence of their own religious observance? Of what price is the child's inability to give informed consent? You mention German leaders' anxiety in the context of the Holocaust. The Holocaust, with respect, simply does not come into the argument, nor does political, or even religious, conviction. The German court has got it right. The existence of a child's right to be brought up in accordance with the religious beliefs of its parents cannot be a blank cheque for the infliction of such barbarisms as are mentioned in your article.Norman Svendsen, Wallington, Surrey
Surely a parent has not only a right but a duty to decide what is good physically and medically for infants unable to decide for themselves.
Jews and early Muslims lived in countries and climates which made early circumcision a must. Making it a religious rite ensured it was done at an early date. I know that during the last war my doctor brother sailed in the Mediterranean in a vessel where he was professionally overwhelmed by men seeking circumcision.Mrs Coleman, Selmeston, E Sussex
In the editorial regarding the Olympics (The Tablet, 28 July) you say the Games provide the "chance to redevelop one of the most run-down areas of the urban industrial landscape". You should have added "in London". There are many more deprived areas in other parts of the country which will only receive the crumbs from the rich man's table!Howard J Curtis, via email
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