A great deal of nonsense has beeen written, and 1 daresay will continue to be written, about Fr Hubert Richards' departure from the priesthood.
But I really think that the prize must go to Miss Kathleen Gabb for her letter on the subject. Miss Gabb says that Fr Richards is of the fibre of which "saints and prophets" are made, and claims that it is he and his like who will bring the Church into the future. What absurdity! Fr Richards, it is true, has been showered with praise, honour, and publicity — but this does not make him a saint.
His books and writings — at one stage he appeared to suggest that St Joseph was the actual father of Our Lord — brought him fame and atten tion, hut in no way served the cause of the struggling Church of Christ in its mission of preaching salvation to all people.
He and others who have left the priesthood amid much dis cussion and newspaper coverage are not the stuff of which saints and prophets are made. The true hallmark of a saint is piety and humility — and adherence to the authentic doctrine of the Church sometimes even to the point of torture and death.
A true saint would shun publicity —many went to great lengths to do so --and regard the idea of being the cause of open dissent within the Church with horror. A true saint would not expect the Church to change for him, or seek to "fulfil himself" through wtitings, but merely humbly struggle to use all his talents for the glory of God and the furtherance of His work.
Our real saints today are priests working loyally in parishes and schools, preaching and teaching the true doctrines of the Church, for which our English martyrs died. They will not, it is true, make the headlines in the .secular press, or achieve distinction in this world as Fr Richards has done
but are these things the hallmarks of sanctity?
Fr Richards appears to have been canonised already by his supporters, whose emotional outbursts do not serve the cause of unity and tolerance amongst the People of God and only Make our Church appear inward-looking and argumentative. Cardinal Heenan has set us all a far better example by urging us to pray for Fr Richards.
The real cornerstones of the Church today are those priests, nuns and layfolk who remain
Ursula Nash (Mrs)
2 Redford Avenue, Wallington, Surrey,