Letters: Catholic concerns are society's too


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The Independent Online

I was heartened to read your leading article of 3 September, following the publication of Cardinal Martini’s comments on the Catholic Church. The tone was positive, sympathetic and critical. I pray that that be the way discussion and argument about the Catholic Church and its stances will take place in the future.

The issues that attract the wrath of the media are centred on the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage. One would have hoped that a thoughtful journalist would look for the big idea behind what makes the Church so unpopular. The Church is essentially concerned for the family, where children can grow up with a sense of security, where they learn basic values of living in a community. I suggest that the break-up of so many families, with often consequent damage to the children, must be the most serious social problem of our time. This surely is a concern for the whole of society.

There are no simple answers.  The Church must learn to present  its case in positive terms rather  than in prohibitions. In its official documents the large picture is presented in detail, but the  popular version comes across  in negativities.

On the other hand, the media must learn that that there is more to the Catholic Church than scandals. There will always be disagreements, but perhaps from honest dialogue something positive can emerge for the benefit of all shades of belief.

Rev Bernard O’Connor OSA



In your leading article on the death of Archbishop Martini your views come across as being as authoritarian as those of Pope Benedict.

Why does everyone have to agree with you on contraception, homosexual relationships, remarriage of the divorced, women priests, clerical celibacy, etc? At least the Pope can draw on scripture, tradition and the magisterium for his authority; yours is just that of an ephemeral newspaper. Your purple passage on the Church being tied up in “the moth-eaten brocade of worn-out dogmas” misses the mark. Brocade, fabric woven with metal threads, resists the moth.


London NW5


Michael Day asserts that “Cardinal Martini caused controversy in his final days after refusing artificial feeding, contravening church policy on end-of-life issues” (4 September). This oversimplifies Catholic teaching.

According to Pope John Paul II, the administration of food and water should be understood as part of “the normal care due to the sick” and thus as “in principle” obligatory. A later statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took a similar approach.

However, if a person is imminently dying, and if artificial feeding would neither extend life nor bring relief from symptoms, then it is not obligatory, as both these statements in effect recognised. Catholics are not obliged to receive care or treatment that has become genuinely futile, though their aim in refusing it should not be to  hasten death.

Prof David Albert Jones

Director,  The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford