' of birth control refers to the serious side effects of contraceptives other than through means provided by nature. He refers specifically to nervous disorders, frigidity, and marital disharmony leading to unfaithfulness. In compiling this list he gives a renewed expression to a point of view frequently referred to in your columns and to be found elsewhere in the Catholic community.
Contraceptives are used by nearly 80 per cent of married couples. Nervous disorders affect one in five in the cornmunity, marital breakdown of a serious nature one in eight marriages and frigidity is not an uncommon complaint.
The first possible explanation is that events as common as these are likely to be associated together by chance. If chance is not operating but there is a distinct causal relationship between contraceptives and these conditions, then evidence must be offered showing at least one or more of the following: (a) That those who do not use contraceptives suffer none or significantly less of these conditions.
(b) That these conditions are reversed or significantly ameltorated by the avoidance of contraceptives after they have been used.
(c) That the use of the infertile period or total abstinence prevents the development of cit has a markedly beneficial effect on these conditions.
There is no satisfactory acceptable scientific evidence in favour of any of these hypotheses or if there is, those of us interested in this problem would appreciate very much to have the necessary reference to it.
Contraception includes abortion, a variety of male and female methods and the hormonal means collectively known as the "pill". In any Case it would be necessary to study each method individually to reach valid conclusions regarding their effects. Art alternative view to the link between contraceptives and these. difficultieS is the following one: Nervous disorders which include the whole array of psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders and frigidity are closely connected by the common nature of the pathology. The evidence for this in the personality and neurotic disorders is overwhelming.
Personality and neurotic disorders gravely impair harmonious inter-personal relationships leading to sexual and marital disharmony. The evidence for this is strong, but further work needs to be done.
Marital disharmony, frigidity and nervous disorders are thus found to be linked, stemming from the difficulties present in the spouses, which remain unrecognised by themselves or those observing them from the outside.
In the absence of this recognition, contraceptives or the use of the infertile period are one of the many possible "explanations" offered for these conditions which in fact have a more fundamental origin.
While the Church must under no circumstances be precipitated into a hasty conclusion regarding the use of individual contraceptives, the conclusions reached must be based on unimpeachable truths concerning the nature of man.
M.B., M.R.C.P.E., D.P.M.
Sir,—Your correspondent who signs herself "Misunderstood Sister" is more correct in her choice of a nom-de-plume than she realises, for I think she has misunderstood the whole situation as regards the various changes that have been introduced, or have been suggested, for lay-brothers.
In her original letter she implies that it is the brothers who are kicking against the goad. This is not so. All these changes have come from the superiors, and none, to my knowledge, has been instigated by a brother.
If it were a case of the brothers clamouring for increased recognition and better conditions, then I would be the first to agree with her that there was an undercurrent of trade unionism about the whole affair and something lacking in that spirit of obedience and humility which are part and parcel of this particular vocation.
The superiors have decided on this policy for several very good reasons—to increase vocations by appealing to a wider section of the laity; that due to the higher standard of education nowadays a brother should be given the opportunity to use his increased capabilities; to enable a brother to take a more active and public part in the apostolate and thus relieve priests of such work as can be performed by lay people; a desire to even things out within the limits of the rule and constitutions of each particular Order.
Repository Shop Steward Sir,—With reference to the letter from "A Few Priests in Ireland" (December 3) suggesting the transference of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo to the end of the Mass, perhaps the writers are unaware that Archbishop Cranmer effected this very change in the Anglican Rite of Holy Communion drawn up in 1552 and used (with very little alteration) down to the present day.
Craruner seems to have been influenced here by the Zwinglian attempts to make the new eucharistic rites resemble as closely as possible the Jewish Passover which culminated in the Great Hallel (psalms of praise and adoration).
It may also interest your readers to learn that one (at least) of the "new" Bidding Prayers authorised for use by the Catholic Hierarchy of England and Wales is a Cranmerian Collect, with not a word or comma unchanged or omitted.
Is this intended to be the thin end of an ecumenical wedge?
Rev John Medestlf
Bright on 7
Sir, — Your correspondent, Ann Fisher (December 10), asks what one is supposed to do at those Masses where hymns have been introduced— follow the Mass or sing the hymns, adding that it is impossible to do both.
It would seem that she is unfortunate, both in the hymns chosen and the times she is asked to sing them. The singing of vernacular hymns or psalms can be a very satisfactory means of congregational participation in the Mass: it is not an alternative to "following the Mass", nor need it hold up the action of the Mass. But both the hymns themselves and the times they are sung must be appropriate.
A hymn or psalm, either specific or seasonal and not too long, makes an ideal preparation, before the action starts. A one-verse hymn or psalm verse is fitting as a preparation for listening to the Gospel.
While the celebrant is occupied with offering the bread and wine, the congregation can join with him by singing words analogous to his actions and prayers.
To express the unity and communion with each other, in Christ, when sharing the communal sacrificial food at the altar rails, it is most fitting that the assembly should stand and sing together in thanksgiving: and this in great preference to the custom of silent withdrawal in private thanksgiving, the time for which is surely after Mass. To sing together in thanksgiving before dispersing is more than apt.
Hymnals in current use are sadly lacking in a sufficiency of hymns appropriate to Mass. For example, few hymns to the Blessed Sacrament in popular use are relevant to Holy Communion, to Christ as our rood. It is hoped that such deficiencies may soon be remedied.
Rev. Wilfrid Trotman Pinner, Middlesex
Sir,—In reply to Mrs. Bledowska's criticism (December 10) of my review of The Holocaust Kingdom, may I say that I do not accept all facts in books at "their face value". This book is, however, written with obvious fairness and lack of hatred, and I found no reason to doubt the author's integrity.
Far from wishing to slander the Poles, I have a great admiration for them. Their attitude to the Jews and to the Protestant minority in their country, however, does not suggest that religious tolerance is among their many virtues.
Sir,—In your issue of December 10, you published a comment on St. Bride's Church, East Kilbride, under the heading "Parishioners say church is too cold". That re port is misleading. It was provoked by the fact that the church was the subject of a meeting at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, in which an architectural appraisal was made of its qualities. Had your reporter taken the elementary trouble to attend the meeting before writing about it, he might not have presented you with a distorted version of the facts; had he had the elementary courtesy to get in touch with me as the author of the appraisal, he might have acquired a more balanced and responsible view before rushing into print.
Let us at least have the facts right. The appraisal was not conducted by the architect but entirely by me; the architect merely commented on my
criticisms. It was not the sequel to the building's winning a Bronze Medal, nor to its praise in the Architectural Review (incorrectly given).
I chose the church as the subject for a discussion for reasons which were explained at the meeting which your reporter failed to attend. The church did not suddenly be come the centre of a controversy between those who designed it and those who use it. There is no controversy except of your reporter's mak ing. Criticisms of the church's beating are understood and have been discussed on all sides.
Nor did the parish priest merely comment on the cold ness of the church; I discussed his views with him while visiting the church and he wrote a letter which was read at the meeting. He is a fair man; he also agreed that the church is an outstanding piece of church architecture.
That such an appraisal could take place at all was entirely due to the fairness and disin terest of the architect in allowing me to assess his work freely, so that his experience could be useful to the profession as a whole. With many of my criticisms he agreed. With my praise, on both architectural and liturgical grounds, your reporter is clearly unacquainted.
In a serious and responsible discussion of this kind, pre pared carefully and professionally, it is disturbing to encounter t h e intrusion of superficial comment, especially from the CATHOLIC HERALD.
Some of us are deeply concerned that new churches should from time to time be the subject of intelligent critical comment, looking at the churches built since the war, no one can be complacent about their architectural quality.
It so happens that, despite the obvious and corrigible fault in its heating, the church at East Kilbride is one of the most significant Catholic churches to have been designed this century. and it forms part of a corpus of work by a dis tinguished architect, Mr. A.
Coia, whose churches are already landmarks in the development of the Church's life in Great Britain.
It would surely be more useful in the service of the Church if your paper could promote serious, informed and constructive discussion on church de sign, rather than stimulate an artificial controversy which is of service to no one.
Patrick Nuttgens, Director The institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York.
The report was not misleading. The architectural quality of the church was recognised. Our reporter spoke to both the parish priest and the architect, Mr. J. Cola, and both agreed the heating of the church was unsatisfactory. Of necessity the report had to be written before the appraisal was given in London.—Editor, Sir,—"Teenagers go to Mass with wrong motives". This was a seriously misleading headline to the report on page 3 of your December 10 issue.
"The regular Mass-attenders among them (the teen-agers questioned) revealed (my italics) they go either because the Church tells them (40 per cent) or because they derive some spiritual benefit from it (38 per cent). About one in three go through habit and a little more than one in ten go because their parents make them.
"Some of the comments were: 'If it was not compulsory, I would still go, but not every week.' 1 feel guilty if I don't go to Mass.' I'm scared of dying and going to hell.'" All these motives are worthy, some admirable (spiritual profit), o e sufficient ("I might go to hell"). It is most unfortunate that young people should be misled into thinking that such motives are discreditable.
Though they were judged "wrong", no suggestion was given as to why they were so judged, nor were others more worthy suggested. In fact, the critical headline apart, the article purveyed a sense of pseudo-objectivity.
Finally (on this point), the headline misled as to the content of the article much more than half of which dealt with other connected subjects.
Rev. R. M. Riley Hull
Sir,—A few comments are called for on Kay Bernard's article on the "new morality" (December 3) I would not argue with the basic premise that children must be shown how to lead happy, fulfilled lives which contain contented sexual fulfilment. Some of her points, though sound, are too much like the old presentation of morality — generalisations which are not true and which people will not accept.
She talks of those not showing sexual restraint outside marriage "making a mess of their lives, experiencing misery and despair". She says also that pre-marital sex is selfish and promiscuous. This is true sometimes but by no means always.
Young people can build up relationships and become very attached to one another. This can lead to a full sexual union which is an expression of love, though outside marriage, and certainly not promiscuous. This in fact happens and there is no evidence tor saying that such people live any more miserable a life than those who are virgins when they marry.
Miss Bernard has failed to take note of her own advice. When she says earlier that guidance must be "peppered with hard facts". In dealing with this problem one must distinguish between promiscuity and a pre-marital sexual union based on love which are different things.
I am not advocating premarital sex by any means but attempting to approach the problem on more solid ground.
Adrian Norridge Sheffield University.
Sir,— St. Augustine said: Love, and do what you will, and this is apparently the standard of the "new morality". Social sanctions should n o t dictate sexual ethics, but solely a sense of personal responsibility.
This seems an honest approach. Yet selflessness and mature wisdom are required for its true observance. How can impressionable young people be expected to appreciate the possible consequences of their actions, or understand fully their own or others' inmost feelings? How can they foresee at the beginning of a love affair what wounds will be inflicted, what permanent scars remain, if the intimacy ends?
Damage to heart and selfconfidence may result from the most ethereal relationship, but sexual intercourse, at least for the serious-minded boy or girl, is an act of profund self-committal that affects the whole being. Looking back on our own past mistakes, we may perhaps find them hard to regret, but o n 1 y because through the goodness of God every experience has value for us, not because they were desirable in themselves.
The traditional sanctions have proved a help as well as a bane to the individual. In the past no girl felt pressed to give herself to a boy for fear of hurting his feelings or seeming ungenerous, and no boy had cause to feel diminished by her refusal.
Then, of course, the issue was simple—sex before marriage entailed the danger of pregnancy. Now chastity must be advocated as a value in itself. While the celibate priest or monk offers himself to God for the sake of his fellow-men, bride and bridegroom give themselves to one another for life-long mutual help and the creation of a family. Sexual intercourse is the sign and expression of this self-giving. It can never be reduced to an instinctive act, nor an act of kindness, nor one of curiosity or simple weakness.
The reasons that are adduced to justify sex before marriage apply equally to extra-marital affairs. As the Quaker report implied, relationships commonly called adulterous can be deep and meaningful for the participants.
But if social sanctions were universally lifted, temptations to infidelity would prove far stronger, and confidence would be gravely weakened, until only heroic trust and strength of character could preserve the ideal of marriage.
Mrs. A. Coggoe Scarborough