From Mrs Daphne McLeod
SIR – Your report (July 22) on Not Easy But Full of Meaning, which Bishop John Hine presented, made very sad reading. Faithful Catholic parents and grandparents who find their adult children lapsed and who have unbaptised grandchildren are, understandably, quite heartbroken. At the same time Bishop Hine is to be thanked for bringing this situation out into the open for, until we face up to this problem, we will never solve it.
Pope Benedict XVI, while he was still a cardinal, said in October 2003 that there is “an enormous religious ignorance” because “in the times after the Council it is evident that we have not succeeded in transmitting in a concrete way the content of the Catholic Faith”. It is this failure that led to the production of the new Compendium to the Catechism and it is this “enormous religious ignorance” which has led to so much lapsation. Indeed, some of the responses quoted in your report demonstrate just how ignorant many of us are now.
Who is to blame for this ignorance? I would say the main culprit is not the Catholic parent, for while the home traditionally taught the practice of the faith it was the Catholic schools which taught the doctrine which gave the practice meaning. Catholic schools, following “modern catechetics” which does not “transmit in a concrete way the content of the Catholic faith”, have betrayed the parents’ trust.
Sadly, as the American bishops discovered when they tackled this problem, “the ‘new’ catechetics has not only failed to teach the faith properly, it has been shown to be teaching something else – even pushing young people away from the Church”.
This is borne out by Archbishop Emeritus John Ward of Cardiff’s observation that Catholic children who attend state schools are more likely to stay faithful than those who attend Catholic schools. Until the false teaching in our schools is corrected by the bishops insisting that only sound religious textbooks, written in America or Australia but available here, are used in Catholic schools this problem will not be solved, no matter how many “talking shops” are set up in parishes.
There should be rigorous religious instruction from the pulpit too and weekly in the Catholic papers. We need three years of “intensive ongoing catechesis”, as called for in the recent Vatican document Instrumentum laboris. Fortunately, we have The Catechism of the Catholic Church and now its Compendium to guide us, so that should be our programme from 2006 to 2009.
Yours faithfully, DAPHNE MCLEOD Great Bookham, Surrey From Mr Anthony Hofler
SIR – You reported (July 12) a survey indicating, inter alia, that amid the pressures of modern life families are finding difficulty in fulfilling their duty to attend Mass every weekend and are ill-informed about Catholic teaching. Very often, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Many people surveyed are, no doubt, finding ways of paying their financial debts, and they should make the time to pay their spiritual ones.
I fear that (as shown by other surveys) it is faith, more than time, that is lacking. Missing Mass should simply not be even considered. My experience shows, however, that even if people attend Mass, they will not be necessarily equipped with Catholic teaching, because sermons impart only non-denominational “wool”.
Yours faithfully, ANTHONY HOFLER Bilston, W Midlands