Mrs Ann Johnson and Fr Killian Twell (April 21) miss the point when they place tradition and Christian values in opposition to women's equality with men in the Church. There is no conflict between them.
The fact that Our Lord chose only men to be his apostles was appropriate for the society of the time, in which women were not supposed to appear in public roles, far less preach.
Fr Twell's accusation that such a view suggests that Christ was less than just or wise is not only unworthy but untrue, since he came not to change the structure of social relations, but to establish a new covenant between God and humanity.
The aim of those who support equality for women, including the availability of the priesthood to women who are called to it by God, is to raise women to the status of full human beings in the cornmunity. To deny women such equality is
Referring to the letter (April 21) from a "traditionalist" priest, may I say that the "tradition" of calling priests "Father" has no basis in the Bible. In fact, Christ was, for once, very explicit in his command to us that we were not to call priests "Father."
The very early Church appears to have obeyed him whom they thought of as divine. So we never hear talk of "Father Jesus" or "Father Peter" or "Father Paul." Only in fairly recent times have people "interpreted" Christ's words to mean the exact opposite of what they in fact say.
This highlights a distinction we have to make. A "tradition" may be a teaching about what Christ said, as recorded in this case in St Matthew's Gospel; or it may be one of "the customs and commandments of men" which Christ repudiated when they stood in the way of the new law of brotherly love which he had introduced.
• May I conclude with a simple remark, also based on Christ's teaching? Christ told those who wished to love him perfectly to take the lowest place. If being a priest involves taking the highest place, it would appear that those wishing to love Christ perfectly cannot allow themselves to be priests. A. Stephens Wetheral, Cumbria.
to ignore, first, the honour-giveñ to them by Our Lord himself and, secondly, the extremely important influence of women in rearing and educating countless generations of good men. It is a commonplace to hear successful men, whether priests or laymen, refer to the vital influence of their mothers.
Today women have shown their abilities in the world outside the home in the professions, the arts, politics, etc.
Is Fr Twell really stating that these proofs of equality are merely derived from "ideas of contemporary society owing little to the Gospels and the teaching of Christ?" On the contrary, Christ emphasised the worth of all human beings without distinction by sex, and made no statements about what their social roles should be.
What is most disturbing, however, is that any priest should be so ill-informed as to equate the legitimate desire of women for equality with popular arguments justifying divorce, abortion, fornication, etc.
I beg Fr Twell in all charity to ignore the imbecilities of the popular Press and read a few of the many serious, non-extremist books which discuss the question properly. If he would like some titles as a beginning I would be happy to suggest some. I have no doubt that as a fairminded man he would both enjoy them and receive considerable enlightenment.
(Mrs) Mary McDade Leeds
May I cast the proverbial spanner into the typewriters of those about to prolong the correspondence concerning Patrick O'Donovan's wellphrased and pungent comments (April 7) about Fr Adrian Hastings' recent outburst in favour of married clergy?
I have received news from the Liverpool archdiocese about the new minimum rates of pay to be given to their clergy. Though a distinct improvement, I doubt whether any who have relinquished their priesthood and married would consider returning and subjecting their familes to such a sub-standard salary.
Until the conversion of England or reunion is achieved, the question of a married clergy must remain purely academic. (Mgr) Sidney Leacher Reading, Berkshire,