Loss of faith or new insights?
Anne Brolly, Lower Templestowe Vic.
To me the jargon 'Loss of Faith' is an authoritarian declaration made by those who 'know'. Where is the humility? Where is the journey?
Voice of hope
George Ripon, Hughesdale, Vic.
I'd like to think that the American Voice of the Faithful (Letter to Pope Benedict, OLC #109) gets a constructive response from the Vatican as compared to the 25 Australians who wrote on the question of conscience. I would not bet on it. It strengthens the case for the election of bishops (OLC #95) by the "People of God".
A different path
Helen Hendrey, Mornington, Vic.
I read with interest various articles about 'church' and ponder and wonder more and more but this is the first time I have written about any of my thoughts.
In the article on Ted Egan (Holy Mousepad, OLC #109) I read - among other things - "every parish or community in the Church has stories of strong catholics who have fallen by the wayside..." (my underline) I wonder who decides where the way is and where the wayside is?
Maybe it's just a different path that the Holy Spirit of God leads them on.
From damaged heart to freedom
Trish Taylor, Eltham, Vic.
Twenty-six years ago, my bankrupt husband walked away from a wife, who loved him absolutely, and four wonderful kids, aged from nine years to 15 years. I immersed myself in my faith journey, read a million books went to a million prayer meetings and discovered the most powerful relationship with my God.
I remarried after 13 years and although I carry a cracked and damaged heart I will never regret where my journey has led me. It opened me to a freedom I'd never have thought possible. Rather than destroy my faith it allowed it to blossom.
I receive the Eucharist five times a week and work voluntarily for a number of organisations. There are many aspects of the Catholic Church which I find questionable but it, like the rest of us, is part of our human condition; frail and vulnerable to error.
Strange the way we travel this road! All of us have the ear to hear and the heart to follow. Maybe Ted has to take this path for a time. I go along with Julian of Norwich. All is indeed well!
Peter Byrne, Melbourne.
"Catholic guilt" is a cliché, not a myth. No thinking Catholic believer today suffers from the least kind of guilt. It's just a pejorative that non-Catholics - and the media - like to throw around, with Catholics as the victim targets. I'm surprised that the Catholic media fall for that old chestnut too.
Ted Egan's abandonment of his Catholic faith, for reasons unspecified by Ted himself, is attributed by you to an imagined lack of pastoral concern. Rubbish. You had an agenda to portray a supposed lack of pastoral concern as an influencing factor in Catholics abandoning their faith - which may or may not be true - and you fastened your literary claws on Ted Egan and blamed the Church for his apostasy. Ted didn't. Why should you?
Robert Leach, Noosaville, Qld
Your article on Ted Egan is most confusing. It claims that people like Ted Egan – previously staunch Catholics - leave the Church because divorce, abortion, homosexuality or some other factor in their lives contradicts the Church’s moral teachings. It calls for “support from the church ”for such people but implies that strong adherence to Church teachings is part of the problem. Pastoral support should be given to all and a harsh judgemental attitude to those who fail in one or other of the Church’s moral teachings should not be condoned.
The comment about politicians who support their party’s pro-choice position on abortion is not accurate. Many Catholics have called on their fellow Catholics politicians to support the Church’s pro-life stand and have argued that those who do not should not be receiving the Eucharist. To me that is a logical position. You can’t have it both ways. There is a crisis in the Church and it pertains to this very issue: Catholics wanting to remain fully incorporated into the Church while in open defiance of its teachings. The ideal is for them to be reconciled without any compromising of the Church’s stand.
One could draw the conclusion from the article that the Church should be less definite about its moral teachings so that people who transgress would feel more comfortable.That would be disastrous. We would all then live in a morally grey and murky place where clear directives and strong moral stands no longer exist.As always, we should look at the example of Christ who was not known for vacillation, weakness or ambiguity. His stand on marriageand divorce is well known, as are his words on the fifth and seventh commandments(specifically anger and lust). His recommendations for those who would scandalise children aren’t exactly meek and gentle.
The comment about Cardinal Pell associating being Catholic “with subscribing to a package of teachings” is unfair. The Cardinal is rightly concerned that the Church’s teachings on freedom of conscience have been twisted into a license to do what we want. His concern cuts right to the heart of the crisis within the Church which is essentially a struggle between those who would fashion to Church to their liking and those who struggle to change their lives in accordance with God’s will as revealed through the scripture and the magisterium.
The difficulty faced by the church (and that includes all Catholics not just the hierarchy) is to stand by its moral teachings in the face of fierce opposition from without and unfortunately, from within,while at the same time providing pastoral direction and spiritual assistance to those who transgress. However, it is understandable that those who wish to proceed with actions directly in conflict with Church teaching will either feel guilt and perhaps eventually respond to perceptive and kindly pastoral care or alternatively decide that they are right and the Church is wrong – and leave.
It is not the Church’s responsibility to make people comfortable in their transgressions. It is the Church’s responsibility to call transgressors to repentance – for the sake of the sinner. That’s why we have the sacrament of Reconciliation: “Your sins are forgiven. Go thy way and sin no more.”
The New Testament is our guide; Christis our guide; the magisterium – under the direction of the Holy Spirit –is our guide.Moral vacillation, moral ambiguity and moral uncertaintyare roads to no-where.
Brent Egan, Stanmore, NSW.
Thank God for priests like Fr George (Letters, OLC #109). He, and others like him, constantly remind me and reassure me that The Church is not one of the many options that I "could have voted for" but is, in fact, Divine. I bet he is a fly in the ointment for his congregation!