Once again, there were so many, worth-while topics in the Catholic Herald of May 13 that one had to decide where rather than if to respond. The most important was probably Christian unity, where I was grateful to see Fr Frederick Robinson saying what I suggested 10 years ago to Fr Bernard Lee ming — that the power of binding and loosing is the key. Yet the decision to turn that key cannot be made in a vacuum. I think it should be made, but why and by whom are questions I have not seen answered adequately. There are fundamental aspects of sequence and authority which even Fr Robinson has skirted round.
And Catholics having access to both human and divine sides of the door, what I am terribly concerned about is that some may forget the key works backwards on the wrong side. Let me explain. Perhaps the gravest and easiest error of thought is to confuse the image with the fact. At least, that— in the context of God — is what the First Commandment is all about. I feel very unfitted to make such a pronouncement, but it does seem to me that that is what is happening here.
Inter-communion is usually seen at present as the symbol of Church unity. But bless us, if the Eucharist is really the Body and Blood of Christ then it is the only possible cause of Church unity, however symbolic it may become after the event.
If there is any doubt at all about the validity of any non-Catholic ordination, it seems to me that the real challenge to Catholics is to remove that doubt, using the power of binding and loosing. The fail-safe answer is not recognition but conditional ordination, just like conditional baptism.
However, if the Church's prior decisions on the form of ordination are first relaxed, in principle the conditional ordination could be en masse by the college of bishops, or by bishops in individual cases. It need be no more harrowing than a recognition.
That mav lead us to a further common confusion of fact and theory — the doctrinal issue. Let there be no doubt that it is valuable to be "right": truth must be pursued. At the same time there should be no doubt that human words — symbols — are only "hooks to hang ideas on," and the ultimate commitment is to Christ, God's Word, and not to a theory of Him.
In my view anyone is fit to be a Christian who understands this and is prepared throughout his life to ioin in Christ's prayer before the Crucifixion: "Not my will but Thine be done. Father." And no-one fit to be a Christian should be denied the sacraments and means to unity for historical reasons.
But now the converse, and my warning. If someone does put symbolic unity before accepting the delegated authority of Christ, that breaks the First Commandment, and the key is on the wrong side of the door. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!" D. J. Taylor North Malvern, Worcestershire.