An email from Des Wilson (Down and Connor)
Dear Friends in the ACP,
Thank you for the information about what is happening.
I hope the papal visitors will be aware that in the nineteen thirties and forties people were urged to join in Catholic Action.This was defined as participation of the laity in the work of the hierarchy.It is unlikely that any such definition would be acceptable nowadays but there is a possibility or probablity that that may be what we are expected to assent to. It did not work during the decades since the nineteen thirties and is even less likely to work well now. What would be useful to know then is : Is participation of lay people in the church going to involve helping carry out decisions made by the hierarchy, or lay people actually having a real part in making such decisions. There may be the usual arguments about church doctrine not being negotiable, but there are many parts of church life and policy which are.
People may be dismissed with the bald statement – the church is not a democracy. Some few of us have argued through the years that the church ought to be – no other group on earth claims its members are gifted with the Holy Spirit – wisdom understanding etc etc- not even our political parties claim this .So it is entirely inappropriate to tell people they are so gifted and then tell them they have nothing useful to say even regarding doctrine.
Also , we sholud not be asked to use in public worship translations into local languages which have not been approved as useful beforehand by local communities. Archaic language and words which are not in normal use could well be an obstacle to worship.
There is great need for clergy and others in the church to take a lead again in the intellectual life of our communities, there was never in my lifetime a better time for it. The old division between science and religion is old-hat, scientists have their mysteries now just as we have and of the two choices , intelligent creation or an answer of let’s-wait-and-see- if-we-can-invent-a-new- mathematics-and-a-new-geo-physics-to-explain-the-universe , ours is the more logical and rational. We are the real rationalists. So we need people and leaders who will stop hanging their heads as if we are always on the defensive.
No need to answer this letter, sometimes I just feel the need to say things again which some said a long time ago – the main lesson for the visitors should be, that we tell them where we need to go, not have them tell us where they will let us go.I would prefer to have the Cardinals explain why they believe in God rather than have them chiding clergy for sins which most of them did not even think of committing.
Best wishes. I sent word to as many priests in D and C as I could for the last meeting , but ( as some of our old “divines” might have said with complete certainty) the devil intervened and sent a snowstorm and all was in vain.