The story in the Catholic Herald on August 18 stating that the K nights of St Columba had withdrawn from a “secret agreement" to help raise funds for my defence against a summons, under which I am charged with breaking the election law, is un worthy. It gave readers the impression that the Knights had let me down, which is totally untrue.
In the first place. there was no "secret agreement". 1 myself told the Catholic Herald, when they heard of the summons. that the K nights had offered help — which is hardly indicative of any kind of "clandestine" or "confidential" arrangement.
The facts. quite simply, are these: The KSC heard that I had received a summons and immediately contacted me (I did not approach them) to see if them) to see if there was any way in which they could help me, such as by raising money for my defence. I told them that SPUC had 160 in the bank and was trying to raise funds for the General Election campaign, the postage alone for which could amount to well over £2,500.
Added to that, I had been refused legal aid and had no private resources; although I was determined to fight the case, come what may. Douglas Mulch, the Supreme Action Convenor of the KSC, told me not to worry: they would circulate their councils asking them to help with donations.
Immediately after this I went away to stay with my husband's family for a holiday. It was during my absence that the Knights circulated their councils — but then learning that SPUC required as little publicity as possible at that point in time, felt it best to circulate a second notice to their branches for fear that in raising funds they might publicise the case. There was no question whatsoever of them letting me down.
I would also stress that the only reason for not publicising the case too early in the proceedings was that oz—le. not fully aware of the facts, might panic and do nothing in a General Election.
I genuinely care nothing for myself in this: my only worry has been to ensure that people concerned about the plight of the unborn child come out fighting in a General Election, doing everything possible to -nsure that we vote for candidates, regardless of party, with a genuine respect for human life.
I would also like to take this opportunity to assure your readers that I have no intention of "wiltings" under the present attack, which I consider to be nothing more than a' direct attack on the freedom of speech and the voters' right to know the views of candidates on the most vital issue of abortion.
We have taken counsel's opinion and I have a good case for the defence. We will be ciculating all our branches with instructions, and we will be glad to advise any other groups interested in working in the General Election to ensure that we achieve a pro-Life Parliament.
Finally, may I make it absolutely clear that of all the lay organisations in Britian. the KSC least deserve to be attacked. From personal experience over ten years I know them to he the most effective and generous-hearted organisation, unstinting in their support and never asking credit for anything they do.
I could give many, many instances of their help. But. I think that two will serve to demonstrate the spirit in which they work: that they are ecumenically minded in the very best sense can he seen by the fact that in some areas where we have no branches, non-Cathlics anxious to attend the mass lobbies and other events organised by SPUC have been enabled or helped to do so by local KSC branches organising fundraising activities to contribute towards or cover their fares and expenses.
Secondly. SPUC has always been very proud of the fact that our London rallies, generally considered to be the biggest mass demonstrations since the war, have been acclaimed by the police as a credit to the organisers.
However. this could never have been achieved without the Knights, with the police and ensuring that everything has been conducted with the utmost peace and dignity, The KSC have never been given credit for this although. God knows, they deserve it.
Phyllis Bowman Director, The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children 7 Tufton Street, Westminster, London, SW1.
I would like to clarify your story "Knights hold back on SPUC defence", published on August 18. The facts, if fully reported, would have done us credit and not shown us in a disparaging light. They can be confirmed by Mrs Bowman, and are as follows:
1. We have never refused any assistance to SPUC, and we are the first organisation she always turns to for help.
2. We were given to understand, in her absence in America, that she would need financial assistance for her defence against the charge levelled at her.
1 We responded immediately by appealing to our members for donations.
4. We learnt later that SPUC wished to play this infringement of electoral law in a very low key, and we were asked to withdraw our circular asking for donations. We readily complied.
5. If, subsequently, money is needed. Mrs Bowman knows she can rely on the Knights. We will of course take steps to advise our members and others of the true facts and ask them to draw their own conclusions from your front page exclusive item.
Chris Seneviratne Supreme Knight of the Knights of St Columba. Leeds.
The facts published in the letters from Mrs Phyllis Bowman and Chris Seneviratne add to those published in the Catholic Herald on August 18. They do not contradict them.
What is still unclear is the motive for the withdrawal of the circular, and who asked for it to be withdrawn.
If some have inferred that the Catholic Hearld gave the impression that the Knights had let SPUC down I would refer them to the penultimate paragraph of the story which said: "But the Knights made it clear that this did not mean they were going back on their anti: abortion stand, nor on their support for Mrs Bowman and the ideals of SPUC." --Editor.
It seems to me that Mr John Peters (August 25) would have been more precise to describe me as con corned rather than as perplexed with regard to conscience or, better still, with regard to the "formation of a good conscience" in the case of those perplexed Catholic couples who have difficulties in reconciling the exigencies of responsible parenthood with those of conjugal love, once they already know from "their own experience" that the rhythm period does not offer them a satisfactory solution.
In reading his letter, I have gone over again those parts of my moral theology texts which have to do with this matter and. honestly, I could not find any other objective norms different from the one I referred to in my letter of August 4, namely, to choose what seems to them the lesser evil, not because it is evil, but because in their case it seems to them to be the alternative nearer to God's will.
Indeed, I would be very obliged to Mr Peters if he could only let me know of some objective moral norm which might have escaped me up to now.
As far as I know, 1 have only been trying all along to be as Catholic and as orthodox as the late good Pope Paul himself, who publicly approved the Canadian Bishop's Document on Humanae Vitae, where the solution I have mentioned is clearly proposed to such perplexed couples in paragraph 26 (see my letter to Catholic Herald of December 30. 1977).
(Fr) Alfred Micallef B'bugia.