Mr John de Waal's letter about consultation (July 20) would have been somewhat different, I think, if he had had the chance to read in full the discussion programme, "Building the Christian Community," published by the Laity Commission. May I explain how the question of the selection and appointment of Bishops has come to be presented for discussion in both "Church 2000" and the Corp mission's discussidn programme? The "Church 2000" Working Party was aware that the Laity Commission was preparing its discussion programme, but it felt that in commenting upon the different ministries in the Church it could not ignore that of the Bishop and the associated question of how Bishops are appointed. So it put forward its views and some proposals.
Our discussion programme, "Building the Christian Cornmunity," takes a different line. It commences with a consideration of leadership in general, then goes on to consider knowledge of the diocese and
of the Bishop's task, before going on to a study of the new directives of the Holy See. The aims are (a) to help people to 'think about the question of the selection and appointment of Bishops in the context of the Church's life; and (b) to assist our Bishops in deciding how to apply the new directives of the Holy See to the life of the Church in this country.
Mr de Waal talks of "undue haste" in pursuing the matter. The new Instruction was promulgated by the Holy See in March 1972. We do not expect to have in all the replies to the discussion programme before the end of this year and will then have to summarise them and the "Church 2000" comments, I doubt if we shall be able to present a report on these in time for the Low Week meeting of the Bishops' Conference, so it will be October, 1975, before the Bishops can decide on drawing up rules for this country. So we could expect to have something, definite by 19Th. Is four years "undue haste"? Phoney consultation is accomplished much more ouickly 1 On his More general point about his not being consulted about the selection of members of the Laity Commission and the Diocesan Councils. In Mr de Waal's diocese (Southwark) his Archbishop nominated a group of people to form a diocesan Laity Commission. These people are working hard to encourage the formation of parish pastoral councils in every parish, with the full approval of the Archbishop. As and when sufficient parishes in a deanery have such councils, deanery pastoral councils are formed and these then provide two representatives for the diocesan commission. That diocesan commission elects a representative to the National Laity Commission.
Southwark Laity Commission produces a quarterly newsletter, copies of which are sent to every parish. A year ago, the National Laity Commission sent a display leaflet, describing its work and membership to every parish. If for some reason this information has not reached Mr de Waal, or any other of your readers, I would suggest that they seek information from their parish priests; failing that, they could write, for Southwark, to Mr W. Farrelly, chairman, Laity Commission, c/o Archbishop's House; others could write to me.
Kevin Muir Secretary The Laity Commission 44 Grays Inn Road, London WC1_.