Letter: How the encyclical is like a BR timetable

Sir: Perhaps the saddest thing about Veritatis Splendor (report, 6 October) is precisely that, as Cardinal Hume stated, there is nothing new in it: there ought to be] Most people will not easily recognise the 'intrinsic evil' of auto-eroticism, sterilisation, etc, but they would of the burning of Jan Hus or Savonarola: Amnesty International recently condemned the new Universal Catechism for approving the death penalty - also a matter of the sanctity of life. Similarly, most people will recognise as 'intrinsically evil' the long catalogue of papal pronouncements inciting hatred of Islam and war (the crusades) as also of its anti-Semitism; an intrinsic element in the genocide of this century.

Yes, we need to remember history. But what people will not recognise is that recent papal pronouncements such as Humanae Vitae will be seen in centuries to come as 'prophetic'. Rather, like the decree of Benedict XIV in 1742 denouncing the Chinese Rites, they will see it as a disaster which finally had to be repealed (surreptitiously in 1939) after the near-total destruction of the Chinese church. This present pronouncement has all the marks of a British Rail timetable: complex, exhaustive, authoritative - but unfortunately bearing little resemblance to reality.

Yours sincerely,


Canons Regular of Premontre

Corpus Christi Priory


6 October