From Mr John Phillips SIR — I was pleased to read I R H McEwen's thoughtful analysis (Comment, May 11) of the role of Catholics in the discussions about Scottish independence.
He is certainly correct in asserting that Scotland's Catholics are looking more favourably on the Scottish National Party than ever before (something of a surprise for those of us who recall the time when SNP was said to stand for "Soon No Pope").
If the country's hierarchy is indeed looking "benignly" on moves towards independence, it is not simply because bishops are likely to have more political influence in an independent Scotland. No, the hierarchy is genuinely frustrated that Westminster is imposing policies that are rejected by the majority of the Scottish populace . As Cardinal Keith O'Brien recently said: "The groundswell of feeling in Scotland against the Trident missile system has highlighted a deep sense of frustration among many Scots. We have no wish to pay for or host these evil weapons, yet we have no power to remove them."
Trident is just one area in which Scots have little say over what happens in their own country. The bishops are also deeply concerned about the destructive anti-family legislation pouring out of Westminster. But, for now, there is little they can do about it.
It is true that some prominent Scottish Catholics, such as the composer James MacMillan, are in favour of preserving the union. And there are likely to be extremely lively exchanges among Catholics if the SNP leader Alex Salmond does press the campaign for independence. But Catholics should not be afraid of taking a vigorous part in this important debate.
Yours faithfully, JOHN PHILLIPS By e-mail