The Catholic Party

From Mr Richard North

In his article in September’s ND, Fr Aidan Nichols has provided a masterly reprise of the history of the Catholic ‘party’ in the Church of England. However, it appears to me that something more might usefully be said regarding the fortunes of Catholics within the CofE in the years since 1992.

While the events of that period have been traumatic in many ways, the need to confront the challenges which they posed has stimulated a significant and encouraging redirection of energies within the Anglo-Catholic Movement. In the years subsequent to the ordination of women to the priesthood, we have achieved much together; we have got to know each other better; and as a result we have become more cohesive, more positive and more focussed on important issues.

Not only has the Movement emerged from the past thirteen years in much better heart than might have been expected, it gives the appearance of being more at peace with itself, and more united in purpose, than the other integrity. Are the proponents of women in the episcopacy reluctant to make any provision for us because they recognize that our integrity is actually more vibrant than theirs?

Two things follow. The first is that great credit is due to all those who have exercised a leadership role within the Anglo-Catholic Movement over the past thirteen years, and especially to the Episcopal Visitors. The second is that, while we cannot afford to be complacent about the future, there is equally no cause for despair.

Richard North
11 Larkfield Road, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7DB

Struggling on

May I crave your indulgence to respond to Father Ignotus aka ‘God’s priestly fool’ (ND September)?

I too am a parish priest who suffers from a psychiatric disorder. Like him I have to visit a doctor each month and am regularly seen leaving Boots with my pills and potions. Unlike him I am not bi-polar, I just get the lows coupled with mood swings which can lead to erratic behaviour when the pressure is on. But I too experience my condition as a ‘serious life-long struggle and challenge.’

I want to say to my brother priest that I derive great support from the knowledge that others, some quite high profile figures, know all about depression – the ‘black dog’ as Churchill called it. I found the article in ND both intensely moving and helpful, as I found myself recognizing so much that was true of my experience. I feel sure there are others out there, clergy and laity, who found the same.

For me I suppose the whole thing is now truly part of my persona as a patient, but also as a priest. I have lost count of the number of people whose pain has been the more readily understood by me as a result of all this. All the more odd that whilst I have enjoyed huge love and support from my people the local hierarchy has not been as supportive as has that of Father.

When all this was at its depth my bishop’s chief contribution to the healing process was to talk about early retirement. He was appalled that I could sit through a Eucharist in one of my churches, at which he presided, looking so ill. Can’t have that! I thought it odd that when my father, himself a priest, continued to preside at worship whilst dying of cancer, a physical affliction, and looking like death warmed up, nobody said anything of the sort.

I work on. Like Father I try to avoid points of unnecessary stress (next year I must get a professional to do that damned tax return!).

Most of my people do know of my condition. Lay support here for the most part has been unhesitating. I will however probably be here for the rest of my time because (although my people assure me they want me to stay!) nobody else is interested in someone like me. Moreover there are benefits to Benedictine stability.

I salute Father’s courage in his daily struggle and to any others like us who may read this. Peace be with you.

[Name and address supplied]

Dream on

From Major Patrick King

James Bevan’s article on poverty, debt and aid (ND August) would be fabulous in a fair world. Nothing is fair in the third world, and until great strides in society occur there never will be. To many countries to help oneself from the kitty is endemic. It is a brutal existence for many; you only have to read of the Niger crisis to see that.

Many of us who lived in Africa can tell you of the grandiose schemes – many of which do not work, or in which the money had been ‘transferred’. If the aid comes in, what comes first? A new fleet of Mercedes top of the range autos, followed by another arms deal.

If these nations clear their debt, they will soon be in deep debt again with more grandiose schemes which, you can bet your boots, will in no way help the majority of the country, especially the poor. We can only pray and keep praying that something major will happen, and soon.

Patrick King

Size counts

From the Rector of St Magnus the Martyr

I have recently returned from a visit to Mongolia with, amongst others, the Bishop of Gibraltar. There we were hosted by nomad families and certainly rode over the ‘singing sands’, so was pleased to read in August’s edition ‘On Camels and Anglo-Catholics.’

As Mrs Wiffy-Wickes was quoting from The Towers of Trebizond, may I complete her line about Fr Chantry-Pigg and his church which was ‘several feet higher than St Mary’s, Bourne Street’? Miss Macauley continues, to tell us that it was ‘some inches above even St Magnus the Martyr.’ This is the sort of relativity we are keen to promote!

Philip Warner
St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6DN

I don’t believe it!

From Fr Christopher Pearson ssc

I sense a little mischievousness on the part of the editor of ND for publishing the letter by Tom Sutcliffe. Does he really hear himself in that last paragraph? It has to be the quote of the month…no year! ‘….and to render ever less tenable the nonsense and falsehoods littered in the Bible.’ It beggars the belief he doesn’t have!

Christopher Pearson

37 St Agnes Place, London SE11 4BB