From Mr Paul Ives SIR — Your leading article (February 16) on the subject of abortion was indeed a timely reminder of the importance of the Church's witness that every human life at conception is made in the image of God. A society that kills nearly 200,000 babies a year is spiritually sick. The Church has contributed to this in that it has had the remedy to hand for 40 years but has ignored it, Paul VI implored the bishops and clergy to teach Humanae Vitae "as the most important work and responsibility committed to [them]". He broadly predicted what would happen if they failed. They mostly ignored him and his predictions have been proved to be remarkably accurate and are grimly reflected in contemporary society. John Paul II devoted great energy to expounding Hurnanae Vitae's teaching in his Theology of The Body but to no greater effect.
The hierarchy and clergy's generally negative response to this teaching has had much wider implications for the Church. The decline in recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the loss of faith, the lack of vocations and the general enfeeblement of the Church can all be traced to their response to Paul VI's plea. The failure to respond positively to such an urgent call for clear teaching on such a supremely important matter as co-operating with the Creator's will in the creation of human life has led to confusion and has subtly and surely undermined the Church's teaching in every sphere and rendered Her prophetic voice impotent.
But the good news is that it is not too late. Natural Family Planning has been proved to be reliable and is easily taught. The contraception culture itself and the link with abortion is now being questioned more and more, and not only by Catholics. A major initiative to represent the Church's teaching is surely what is needed for the 21st century.
Yours faithfully, PAUL IVES Epping, Essex