The movements do not have a monopoly on youth
of Public Prosecutions’ statement on the matter suggests that the Director will have little discretion and that frivolous cases will come to court. However, if one reads all his statement, rather than the small section referred to by Mrs Riches, it would seem that her fears are unfounded.
The DPP, Ken MacDonald, QC, said: “Just as most minor assaults against adults are not prosecuted, I suspect most minor assaults against children would not be either.” Such prosecutions would be “very rare”. He emphasised, reasonably enough, that the far greater vulnerability of children meant that he could not guarantee that it would never be in the public interest to prosecute such cases. He gives as examples “a child who was mentally handicapped or a child who was subjected to sexual abuse or other forms of assaults”. He also referred to the de minimis principle, which is that the law does not concern itself with very small matters.
For further evidence that minor infractions will not come to court one need only look at those 12 other countries in Europe that have banned smacking. What has happened in those countries is that the climate of opinion has changed and with it a change in parents’ behaviour. We should be as concerned with this as much as with prosecutions, especially bearing in mind the available evidence from Britain, that babies are regularly hit, half of our children are hit weekly and 20 per cent are hit with implements.
I am in agreement with Mrs Riches that the state should interfere as little as possible with family life. However, we are engaged in a national debate which has parallels with that which preceded the banning of corporal punishment in schools. I well recall the time that Cardinal Basil Hume banned that punishment in our Catholic schools in Westminster. It seems to me that since then these schools have gone from strength to strength. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt from that experience.
Yours faithfully J M RICHARDS London W10 From the development manager of the Latin Mass Society SIR — Much of Joanna Bogle’s article, “Children of the Revolution” (Comment, July 2), while ostensibly a rallying cry for the “new orthodox” movements in the Church, was actually a critique of traditionalist Catholics — dismissing us as nostalgic for the world preVatican II, out of touch with the emphasis of the new movements on chastity and personal morality, clinging to outmoded controversies regarding the liturgy and shocked by youth movements which promote all-night adoration before the Blessed Sacrament with guitars.
I can assure Mrs Bogle that we traditionalists are tougher than that. I am very pleased that the new movements have rediscovered the need for personal commitment to the Risen Lord, for doctrine, for spiritual activism — in short for the fullness of the Faith. But they certainly do not have a monopoly on youth.
The traditional movement worldwide is an increasingly young and growing movement: in the United States and Canada the average age of our Mass communities is often younger than that of new rite parishes. Our priests are young; our seminaries are packed with young men; our communities of monks and nuns are young. In England and Wales, the rapid growth of the Latin Mass Society’s sister organisation the Traditional Catholic Family Alliance demonstrates our successful appeal to young Catholic families, with many children.
Those Catholics committed to the traditional liturgy and doctrines of the Church are very much part of its future and, as Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, confirmed recently in an interview in The Latin Mass magazine, we constitute a “vast group of faithful”, albeit blanked out by too many of our bishops for years.
Are we listening to the voices of the new movements? Yes. Are we prepared to work with them? Yes. But I would point out that on those topics which Mrs Bogle identifies as particular to the new movements — continence, pro-life issues, the importance of the rosary and confession, commitment to “Jesus Christ as Lord of all Creation” — we traditionalists were fighting hard before those new movements had ever been thought of.
Yours sincerely, JOHN MEDLIN London WC2 the action of American bishops in denying Senator John Kerry Holy Communion when so many other Catholics use contraception and are still given Communion, is to miss a fundamental difference.
Senator Kerry is prominent in public life; as a Catholic, his support for a practice which directly violates the moral teaching of the Church can influence other Catholics and others who look to the Church for a strong lead, who may be wavering, to support the practice themselves. His position is, therefore, a source of scandal. Mrs Stemp will know that, for all Catholics, regardless of status, the Church has made it abundantly clear that contraception and abortion are gravely sinful practices. The Church has also left us in no doubt that, no matter who they may conceal their sinful actions from, God sees all and will judge accordingly.
Because Senator Kerry has quite publicly “nailed his colours to the mast” the bishops, as guardians of orthodoxy, have no choice but to protect their flock by an equally public rebuttal of his action.
However, as is generally the case, those who engage in this sinful behaviour do not tend to publicise their actions and the same public sanctions cannot be invoked. The bishops, in their teaching role, have made plain the gravity of such sins and that these constitute a bar to our receiving Holy Communion. Our consciences are, therefore, informed.
The bishops, through their teaching have, in effect, called for a denial of Communion to all who commit grave sin. As these actions, done in private, are hidden from them, they have to leave the decision regarding reception of Communion to the individuals concerned.
Please God, their very courageous action regarding these errant politicians will serve to awaken the consciences of those Catholics who appear to “get away with it”.
Yours faithfully, MICHAEL J COWIE London SW16
Europe must honour the First Commandment
From Mr D Collins SIR — Despite numerous appeals from Pope John Paul and others, the final new European Constitution does not contain any reference to our Christian heritage (Report, June 25). It seems that a number of countries, such as Poland and Malta, would have liked Christianity mentioned in the preamble, but neither France nor Germany would agree to it.
The European Union needs the blessing of Almighty God. I feel that prime ministers such Tony Blair and Berty Aherne could have done much more to ensure that Christianity was mentioned.
France is well known as the “eldest daughter” of the Church and in the hundred years between 1170 and 1270, 80 cathedrals and about 500 large Gothic churches were built in that country. All types of people, with different skills, worked together for the glory of Almighty God. For many, at that time, it was their whole life’s work, the ultimate service to God and the whole community. How sad that 800 years later French politicians seem to have forgotten about this public witness of faith.
Mr Blair should know that the above mentioned facts are “reality, and not myth”. For these 25 countries in the EU, the First Commandment should still hold true.
Yours faithfully, DIARMUID COLLINS London N13