Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Letter: Freedom of faith

Sir: Where on earth has David Aaronovitch been for the last thirty or forty years?

He dismisses (The Clash of the Icons, 24 January) the Pope's message of freedom in Cuba with a word that was once unprintable. It aptly describes his own view that contemporary Catholicism is not about freedom: "Dignity, yes. Freedom, no," he claims.

At the II Vatican Council (1964-66), for instance, the Pope and bishops had much to teach us Catholics about freedom. Religious liberty for every human being had a document to itself. Their teaching on the Church in the modern world puts human dignity and freedom together: "Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward towards his goal by freely choosing what is good ..."

Individual Catholics and their institutions may not always succeed in living up to our teachings, but that has always been the history of the human race and of the Church, however inexcusable it may seem, especially to those who come later.


Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle (1974-92)

Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria