Christ's word cannot be changed

25th October 1996 at 01:00
Ian Feely is clearly embittered, not surprising since he seems to have held senior posts in a Catholic school under false pretences. As a former Catholic head, I always believed that the purpose of a Catholic school was to provide a Christian education based on church teachings.

The statement that the Bishop Wright affair demonstrates that clerical celibacy is wrong is as absurd as saying that an act of adultery proves marriage should be abolished. The rule on celibacy (being a church law) could be changed but there are good reasons for maintaining it, unaffected by the lapse of any individual.

If the Pope had taught anything new, anything that was a divergence from accepted teaching, then Mr Feely would have a case. The Catholic church is not at liberty to change the teaching of Christ to suit the fashion of any age. No one whose conscience is offended is under any constraint to remain a Catholic.

Of course RE departments should be staffed by specialists. Would any head appoint a physics specialist to teach history? Children have an entitlement to be taught all subjects in a secondary school by specialists in that area. Children are also entitled to be taught the accepted truths of their faith, not a version amended by the head to suit his own feelings. I would argue that the decline in church attendance by the young is more a result of dilution of Christian teaching and an attitude of "do what you like" rather than a straightforward and honest teaching of traditional Christianity.

Faith is not a matter of opinion, changing according to an individual's circumstances. We all offend against the ideals set out by Christ and the church never condemns those who acknowledge their failings and strive to do better. There is a certain arrogance in the argument that the Church is wrong and a Sussex headmaster is right.

We must all follow our conscience and live with our own imperfections; we must deal with everyone with understanding and Christian charity but, if we refuse to accept the church's teachings, then why should we bother to call ourselves Catholics?

MARY KILBRIDE 47 Arundel Drive Battenhall Worcester

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