Letter: Challenge of Catholic life

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The Independent Online
Where is this atypical church that Jack O'Sullivan attends or smokes outside ("Pity the bishop...", 22 September)? His diatribe says far less about current Catholic reality than about men like him - those who view all human activity in terms of sexuality and "power". It stands in sad contrast to your sensitive Inside Story on Roderick Wright in the same issue.

O'Sullivan does an injustice to the thousands of lay Catholic women and men who control parish finances and schools, lead (non-Mass) Communion services, plan liturgies or events, educate children or adults, run charity or human rights campaigns, or represent parishes in regional and ecumenical bodies. The shortage of priests is so acute that a few parishes now get by without one. For all its painful faults, priestly celibacy does not disempower the modern laity; individual apathy does.

Unintentionally, O'Sullivan insults women more deeply than the church does, by imputing their faith and loyalty to a bizarre mixture of passivity and gender attraction. As for his thirst for role models, if Christ himself is insufficient simply through failing to have sex, clearly no human in history can match O'Sullivan's exacting standards. How about becoming a role model himself? He could do much more good inside the church than skulking outside it.

Clare Davies

Bletchley, Buckinghamshire