Back to basics for Catholics

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Leonard Franchi makes some interesting observations in his letter of last week. It is true that Catholic schools should be teaching the Catholic doctrine and that we should not be ashamed to say that that is what we intend to do. However, I think that there are a number of parts of his letter that I would take issue with, one of which is where he says that "The TES Scotland needs to know what Catholics actually believe".

I think we must first of all distinguish between the beliefs of the Catholic Church, based on the words of Jesus, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. These teachings are not necessarily based on the words of Jesus but are teachings that the Church has put forward as it has adapted to the changes in society that have taken place over the centuries. Even at the beginning, the leaders of the Church recognised that they needed to change if they were to meet the aspirations of the Church members.

This is seen in the reading for last Sunday (Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29) where the first full council of the Church took place to decide what was required for new members to be fully part of the Church. They saw that some of the old Jewish beliefs weren't applicable for the new Church members and introduced change.

This has continued through the years right up to the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s where the Church again realised that it had to adapt to changes in the expectations of the people in areas such as changing the mass from Latin to the language of each country.

Mr Franchi mentions the fact that you can't call Kerry McLaren a "lay chaplain". I am sorry but I believe that there are more important issues for the Catholic Church to worry about. We have to worry about the issues that new generations of young people, and that includes young Catholics, are worried about, such as the justice of war, world debt and poverty, how we treat those who are less well off than ourselves.

My favourite modern Pope is Pope Paul VI, the man who had to take forward the changes proposed by the Second Vatican Council. He had to work very hard to ensure that he did not alienate the "traditional" Catholics and the "modern" Catholics, all of whom I like to think actually have the best interests of the people of God at heart.

I believe that Pope Paul will be very disappointed if he sees us arguing about things such as the definition of what is and what is not a chaplain while forgetting about the real teaching of Jesus. He would also be disappointed if the Catholic Church decided that it was never going to change its teachings ever again. I believe that there must be reasoned change in the Catholic Church.

The one thing that we should not forget, and therefore never change, is that Jesus told us to love everyone as he has loved, and continues to love, us.

Tom Tracey

Merino Road


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