From Ms Penny Thomson
Sir, I am a young Catholic, who has also been involved in the Guide Association over the past eight years. I have been an active member of both Guides and the senior section, and have gained great enjoyment and experience from both.
Many young people will be as disappointed as I was when I realised that this exciting, wholesome and challenging organisation is now selling the same nonsense to young girls that the rest of the secular world is promoting. Particularly through the Look Wider programme, the message is: nothing matters except having a good time and doing exactly what you want; God is some kind of idea which you can mould to suit yourself; and above all sexual relationships are all about condoms and the issues surrounding homosexuality, marriage seemingly deemed irrelevant to the topic. This pack claims to help 14 — 25 year old girls make the most out of life?
Young people are bored to tears of being pumped with this same old story wherever they go. They hear it at school not just once but in several areas of the curriculum, it is the substance of all their magazines, and girls clubs are all full of it. The teenage culture, especially for girls, is saturated with it!
It is a shame that the Guide Association believes this will attract new members. What has been so appealing about the programme is that it has offered a different outlook on life, with activities based on giving service. facing challenge and acquiring life-skills.
Girls were also encouraged to take their faith 'seriously, and to apply the values inherent in their religious beliefs to their way of life. All of this would inevitably lead to greater self-respect. I am heart-broken to see this excellent formation for girls slip down the plug hole at a time when it is so much needed and yet so rare.
The changes to the Look Wider programme should not be supported. They are not progressive, they are nothing new and they won't achieve anything other than the further degradation of women. The Guide Association must not be allowed to act simply as another passage of entry into the lives of young girls for warped and one tracked organisations and individuals. If you would like more information on this subject, please contact me at 14 Chestnut Avenue, Crosby, Liverpool. L23 2SZ or email pennytOtelinco.co.uk
Yours sincerely, PENNY THOMPSON, Crosby, Liverpool, L23 2SZ
What's wrong with Catholic Woman?
From Mrs Anne Dodd
Sir, Like Stephanie Bowles, (Jan 26) I also read the current edition of Catholic Woman. The paper comes out quarterly: in view of this. I find it entirely understandable that it has been decided not to have a
letters page. A constructive exchange of views is possible in a daily or weekly paper but not so easy in a quarterly.
It is made clear on the front page of the paper that the Message Board of the National Board of Catholic Women website can be used for feedback and comment — much more immediate, interactive and public, I would have thought, than a three-monthly letters column.
Incidentally, the paper is not "imposed" on faithful Catholics any more than The Catholic Herald is imposed. It is offered to be read, enjoyed and learned from like any publication. I rejoice that the NBCW exists. It is a forum, representing the whole range of Catholic women, where differences that exist, as in any family, can be discussed in charity. It aims to be inclusive and not divisive. That I think is wholly applauded.
Yours faithfully, ANNE DODD Abingdon, Oxon.
Top Tory on abortion
From Mr & Mrs John Boylan
Sir, The following appeared on BBC CEEFAX this morning (24 Jan) at about 8.15:
"Shadow health Secretary Dr Liam Fox has called for a 'huge restriction if not abolition' of abortion, it is reported. The senior Conservative is thought to have urged shortening of the 24 week limit on terminations. He asks Tories to pray for change, in the Conservative Christian Fellowship prayerbook, the Independent
reports." Dr Fox reportedly said they should ask God for 'a huge restriction of our pro-abortion laws'.
We feel sure that just a mention of this report in the Herald will give a big lift to all the prayerful people who have been keeping this challenge in mind for many years and cause them to say "thanks be to God".
Yours faithfully, J BOYLAN, Bradford, Yorks.
Sir, The author of your leading article "Are Catholics the New Jews" (date) has a good point when castigating Matthew Parris for advocating the declaration of religious interest as a precondition of taking part in parliamentary debate on life issues.
This is mainly because it is sloppy thinking in the extreme to confuse a religious or other ideological conviction with personal interest. It is well known throughout history that loyalty to ideological or religious conviction, far from being in their personal self interest, has often cost people dear.
The author, however, weakens his own case when in the same article he criticises the parliamentary debate on cloning for its bad science and childish moral theology, without making any reference to the proper forum of that debate, philosophy. Science, in the end just provides the mathematically measured and calculated evidence with which to brief decision making; while moral theology bases itself on premises of Divine Revelation that can only he properly appreciated by people with the gift of faith.
To the extent that moral theology itself is based on rational common sense, it is in fact performing a function proper to philosophy. Inattention to that fact gives ground to those who would want to insinuate that opposition to treating the human embryo as no more than human tissue is based purely on esoteric religious presuppositions and therefore unreasonable.
So, if people like Matthew Pains wish to insist that ideological interests be declared as a precondition to constructive contribution to the debate on life issues, it does not take too much research into philosophy to identify Socialism also as an ideology. Should not people like Yvette Cooper, Evan Harris and Anne Begg have the label "(Socialist)" appended to their names as indicating a prejudice on their part likely to inhibit their objectivity in their conduct of the discussion? By visible and tangible yardsticks the National Socialists excluded Jews, Gypsies and Slays from the human race; and the International Socialists are excluding human embryos, the comatose and the terminally ill.
Yours faithfully, A.D.WADE London, NW9 9AB
Persecution of hunting
From Mr Graham Moorhouse
Sir, Which of your readers if their home was plagued with large rats, would think it a crime or a sin to buy a cat to keep them down? How come, then, when a countryman turns the instinct of hounds to catch and kill foxes, which are vermin in his environment, does he become some sort of monster?
Why all this cant and double standards? I'll tell you why: because he is perceived as a toff. And toffs, you see, are to Labour supporters what blacks are to skinheads. They are a subgroup of humanity which they still have a licence to hate without being non-PC.
How else explain why your hunt saboteur will happily drive pass a 100 working class fisherman on his way to harass huntsmen? Your working class fisherman causes far more suffering to animals, both in quality and quantity, than does any huntsmen, and he takes just as much pleasure from his sport as does any huntsman. So concern for animal suffering is clearly not the well from which the antihunter is truly drawing his juice.
It is particularly egregious when Catholics join in this injustice. For have we not ourselves been long the victims of similar injustice. Should not Catholics of all Englishmen understand what it is like to be persecuted and calumniated because a self-righteous majority have decided that what you believe and do is not to their taste?
Yours sincerely, GRAHAM MOORHOUSE Dartford, DA1 2NN
Why do churches empty?
From an anonymous correspondent
Sir, Congratulations to Father Rolheiser on his excellent article "Re-discovering how to fill our
Churches". This analysis of the present situation was very perceptive, but I wonder, has anyone really answered the question of why the churches have emptied in the first place? The reasons are of course many but in my experience the correct matching of priests with parishes has a lot to do with the problem. If I could take the example of my Lancashire parish in the early 1990s.
This had a weekend attendance of 1500 and was run by a zealous and missionary priest assisted by a curate and an active Legion of Mary which regularly visited the whole of the town often to deliver articles written by the P.P. The parish was famous for its fourpart choir, and excellent liturgy. On Sunday afternoons coachloads of pilgrims came to venerate the relic of one of the Lancashire martyrs. The Christmas and Holy Week liturgies were packed and inspiring, and the May and Corpus Christi Processions drew crowds from far and wide.
What happened? The Parish Priest retired and a "Liturgist" was appointed. Not content to leave well enough alone and rejoice in the numbers coining to Mass, the Parish and its people were treated with contempt! The curate soon left the priesthood and the new incumbent now ministering alone — the Legion of Mary also being sidelined — arbitrarily and without consultation changed the Mass times with the result that a large proportion of the people left, and another chunk departed on discovering that the choir, which had recently sung in Westminster Cathedral, was virtually banned from singing anything except hymns. An extreme and sour Puritanism descended on the parish where even the Christmas and Holy Week liturgies were mainly said. The Sunday pilgrimages soon dried up and parishioners voted with their feet to such an extent that last week there were less than 500 people at Mass.
The relevant authorities did and continue to do nothing despite repeated requests, and a proud and thriving parish has been brought to its knees at the whim of one man.
The same thing I might add has also happened with "trendier" parishes where a more traditional priest has been appointed, had those responsible for such unfruitful appointments worked in industry they would have been sacked! A word that sums up this and many other blunders in the local church is pride!
In order to save my poor parish from any further embarrassment I would prefer to remain anonymous.