From Debra Maria Flint SIR –As a partially lapsed Catholic who (both reluctantly and gratefully) currently worships at an Anglican cathedral, I welcomed the comments of Tony Blair with regard to the Church’s position on homosexuality (Report, April 17).
Mr Blair stated: “If you went into any Catholic church, particularly a well attended one on any Sunday here, and did a poll of the congregation you would be surprised at how liberalminded they were.” But would we really be surprised? I certainly wouldn’t. We all know that when we enter any Catholic church we will be confronted by numerous couples who have one or two children and are sympathetic towards others who may have a homosexual orientation. These people choose to live differently on weekdays to the way they live on a Sunday.
The only problem is that there are millions of other lapsed Catholics like myself who are not prepared to exercise such hypocrisy. We cannot stomach the entrenched views on homosexuality or the ban on contraception or the exclusion of women from holy orders and we are not prepared to pretend otherwise. Most of us, however, do believe strongly not only in God but also in the efficacy of the Mass and the communion of saints. We are true Catholics and we also acknowledge the Creed. I have not noticed any comments on contraception, homosexuality or the female priesthood in the Creed.
Jesus spoke out against hypocrisy in the form of the Pharisees. I would suggest that Tony Blair may be nearer to Him than most people. I hope he will continue with his Faith Foundation. The world is desperately waiting for a new and honest spirituality.
Yours faithfully, DEBRA MARIA FLINT By email From Mr Desmond Keohane SIR – The circumstances of Mr Blair’s reception into the Church were at the time a cause of scandal to many Catholics. His support for abortion, research involving the destruction of the human embryo and homosexual adoption (positions utterly opposed to the teaching of the Church) was widely known – not to say notorious.
Yet at Mr Blair’s very public “private” reception by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster no attempt was made then or subsequently to allay the understandable concerns of Catholics about the true nature of this conversion.
A very simple statement from Mr Blair, a spokesman, or the Cardinal himself that Mr Blair could not have been received into the Church without accepting its moral teachings would have helped to dispel a very general disquiet.
Mr Blair’s reception into the Church had something of the appearance of an “act of state”. Maybe it was this that led him to believe that it was his mission to correct and reform the Pope. Had he been received in more ordinary, less public, humbler circumstances his fellow Catholics could have hoped that the process was as unconditional as that of the multitude of others who have been received into the Church fully accepting her teachings.
Yours faithfully, DESMOND KEOHANE Shucknall, Herefordshire From Mrs Margaret Morton SIR – I read the report “Church should rethink beliefs, says Blair” and my initial reaction was angry amazement at this man’s arrogance. This feeling gradually abated into one of amusement and finally into serene gratitude that Tony Blair does not have the power or authority to do for the Church of my faith what he did for the party of my politics. He and his like will never dismantle Catholicism into “New Catholicism” as he did Labour into New Labour.
Mr Blair is correct in his view that “re-thinking is good” and the Church is constantly re-thinking, but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and not the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. He accuses people who quote Leviticus as grounds for the condemnation of homosexuality of looking at the Old Testament in too literal a fashion. I would respectfully advise Mr Blair to study the beautiful document Dei Verbum to understand the Church’s teaching on interpretation of Sacred Scripture and to appreciate that the pillars of our Faith are Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium – perhaps all three were not fully understood by Mr Blair before he was received into the Church.
Yours faithfully, MARGARET MORTON Thelwall, Cheshire