is that Catholics disagree with each other so violently over the most holy of acts — the Sacrifice of the Mass. Martin Blackshaw (Letters. May 2) cornpares the SSPX to St Athanasius in the fourth century, who stood up to the Arian heresy. Mr Blackshaw implies that the pope of the day, Liberius, excommunicated Athanasius — thus seeming to argue that. since popes can be wrong, we should not follow our present pope. Church history is not so clear-cut about Pope Liberius. Some contem porary writers claim that Liberius supported the Arian condemnation of Athanasius — but they were largely Arian heretics themselves. What is known is that Liberius was under immense pressure from the Arian Emperor Constantius, was forced into exile over the issue and had a good record of opposing the Arians up to that time. As soon as Constantius died Liberius was able to clarify his support for Athanasius unequivocally.
Mr Blackshaw appears to place himself and the SSPX above the Pope and the councils of the Church. All I would say is this: yes, there are many so-called liberal Catholics who question Catholic doctrine, but it is the Pope and those bishops in union with him who defend us against falsehood and heresy. Ubi papa, ibi ecclesia.
Yours faithfully, JOHN DE WAAL London SW16